Projects & Improvements

How To: Make Your Own Mattress

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Making your own mattress could be a good option if you are concerned about sleeping on the factory-made chemical-sponges known as a conventional mattress. Or maybe you’re just the type to get into customizing everything. Either way, inspired by a recent question posed to Ask Umbra over at Grist, we’ve poked around for some resources and techniques for assembling a fume-free place to rest your head.

What you’re actually trying to avoid are flame-retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, which have been linked to brain and thyroid problems in rodents and cats. Since another big reason many opt for a natural mattress is allergies, we recommend starting with some kind of structure to lift the bed off of the floor. A platform bed or futon frame are the obvious choices.

Here’s the process, step by step:

  1. To start assembling your mattress, a nice, thick slab of latex will form your base. 3″ pads are available in two firmnesses from Natural American Home, for $300.
  2. Add a wool or cotton mattress topper like this one or this one from Satara, Inc. to add to the comfort of the latex base.
  3. Then, wrap the two layers in a mattress pad. What you’re looking for here is absorbency, breathability and warmth — oftentimes when a mattress makes you too hot, it’s this layer that’s the culprit.
  4. Finally, top your mattress with your favorite organic cotton or bamboo sheets, and voila!

For one-stop shopping, Soaring Heart Futon & Natural Bed Company in Seattle caters to the customer going the self-assembly route. Their Three Layer System is composed of a 4″ latex and wool bottom layer, a 3″ cotton middle layer and a 4″ wool top layer.

We love the hamster-nest vibe of this approach, and we’ll be giving Soaring Heart a call when we finally get that Case Study platform bed we’ve been dreaming about.