What is a Mattress Topper: Is it Right for You?

What is a Mattress Topper: Is it Right for You?

What is a Mattress Topper: Is it Right for You?

While the mattress you sleep on may have been the right choice for you when you bought it, years later that may no longer be the case, or you may not share the same mattress preferences as your bed partner, especially if you’ve just moved in together. We know a new mattress might not always be feasible, but a mattress topper may work to solve your problems.

What is a Mattress Topper?

As the name suggests, a mattress topper lies on top of your mattress. Depending on your sleep needs and preferences, a mattress topper may:

Mattress toppers come in a variety of materials and are sized to fit standard mattress sizes. A mattress topper is not the same as a mattress pad, which we’ll discuss below.

Mattress toppers range in thickness from 2 to 4 inches. Thinner mattress toppers are best for brand-new mattresses where you want just a little extra softness. Thicker mattress toppers are best if you want to add height to your bed or want the benefits of memory foam without buying a memory foam mattress.

Different Types of Mattress Toppers

The main difference between types of mattress toppers is the material they’re made from and how thick they are. Here’s a quick overview of the most common types of mattress topper materials available.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is popular because of its soft, cushioning ability to mold to your body. Even the insoles of some shoes are made with memory foam now. Memory foam toppers distribute your weight to relieve pain in your joints..


If you’re looking to make your bed firmer or bouncier, a latex mattress topper can help. Latex is a great hypoallergenic material (unless you're allergic to latex) because it’s naturally resistant to dust mites and bacteria.


Feather or down mattress toppers – sometimes known as featherbeds – are ultra-soft with zero extra support: think of a down-feather duvet or comforter. However, feathers might escape or your topper may become lumpy as the feathers move and shift.


Wool mattress toppers are expensive and can be hard to find, but they provide durability and comfort. They’re also naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. Wool toppers are known to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Poly Blend

One of – if not the – most affordable mattress toppers on the market, poly blend mattress toppers are designed to give you the softness of a feather topper without the feathers, making these a more animal-friendly option. They’re also lightweight and breathable for hot sleepers.

Egg Crate

Egg crate foam is so-called because of its distinct, eponymous shape. They’re mostly used to cushion mattresses that are too firm or to provide better airflow beneath hot sleepers.

Mattress Topper vs. Mattress Pad

Although they may sound similar, a mattress pad is not the same thing as a mattress topper.

A mattress pad is:

  • 1-2 inches thick
  • Usually doesn’t change a mattress’s firmness or softness
  • Can be cleaned like a bedsheet
  • Usually attaches to the mattress like a fitted sheet or with rubber straps
  • May include cooling technology to help hot sleepers

A mattress topper is:

  • 2-4 inches thick
  • Can change a mattress’s firmness or softness
  • Not shaped like a bedsheet
  • Generally lies on top of the mattress

While neither a mattress pad nor a mattress topper will give you the full protection of a dedicated mattress protector, they can certainly help protect against stains, spills, and general wear and tear. 

Some people like having both a mattress topper and a mattress pad. If you have both, the order of your bed accessories should go:

  • Mattress (bottom)
  • Mattress topper
  • Mattress pad
  • Fitted sheet (top)

You should be sleeping on top of your fitted sheet with the mattress pad beneath that, and the mattress topper beneath that.

Reasons You Might Need a Mattress Topper

Every sleeper has unique needs and preferences. A mattress topper can help you find the exact level of comfort you want, especially if you’re not ready to buy a new mattress just yet. These are just a few reasons why you might need a mattress topper.

To Make Your Mattress Firmer or Softer

For some, there’s no such thing as a mattress that’s too soft. For those sleepers, a memory foam or feather mattress topper is just what they need. For others, sleeping on a soft mattress doesn’t feel good, so a latex mattress topper can provide extra firmness.

This works especially well for couples. When one partner prefers more firmness and the other prefers more softness, separate mattress toppers (if the couple has chosen to get two twin mattresses) can be a win-win situation.

For Pain Relief

Memory foam mattress toppers are excellent for removing the pressure from pain points in your joints, especially if your mattress is too firm and you’re looking for a somewhat softer sleeping surface. On the other hand, if your mattress is too soft — maybe you’re a stomach sleeper, someone who would benefit from a firmer mattress — a latex topper can help you find relief.

As a Mattress Protector

Mattress toppers aren’t the same as mattress pads or mattress protectors, but because they do provide an extra layer between you and your mattress, they offer some protection from:

  • Stains
  • Spills
  • Sweat

Mattress pads and mattress protectors can be purchased separately and used in combination with a mattress topper for maximum protection. 

To Regulate Body Temperature

Cooling gel and egg crate mattress toppers help a hot sleeper stay cool throughout the night, while a cold sleeper can snuggle up on a wool or memory foam topper (keep in mind that some memory foam toppers contain cooling gels).

You can also buy two different toppers for different seasons – one to keep you cool in the summer and one to keep you warm in the winter.

To Absorb a Partner’s Motion

Innerspring mattresses are notorious for their bounce – including when your partner gets into or out of bed, or just moves around during the night. A good mattress topper - especially one made of memory foam – can act as a shock absorber to help isolate movement between partners.

When a Mattress Topper Isn’t Worth It

Mattress toppers are generally good investments. However, there are two main reasons why you should skip buying a mattress topper.

Your Mattress is Too Old and Worn Out

The best mattress topper in the world won’t fix a truly outdated mattress. Signs you need a new mattress, and not just a mattress topper, include:

  • Your innerspring mattress is too noisy
  • Your mattress is sagging
  • Your mattress smells bad
  • Your allergies have gotten worse due to mold, mildew, or dust mites
  • You wake up in pain
  • Your mattress is more than 10 years old

If any of these – or all of them – are true, come into Mattress Warehouse to find out from our scientifically-designed bedMATCH system what kind of new mattress you need.

Your Mattress is Brand New and Just Right

If you just bought your mattress and it feels good, then there’s probably no need for a mattress topper. Buying a mattress suggested by our bedMATCH system should mean you’ve found the perfect mattress to suit all your needs and preferences.

However, if you’re part of a couple that’s had to make significant compromises on a new mattress, consider buying a twin XL-size mattress topper for your side of the bed. Two twin XLs equal one king-size mattress. If you and your partner sleep in a queen-size bed, you may need to consider a custom-made mattress topper for your side of the bed.

What to Look for When Buying a Mattress Topper

Finding the right mattress topper is important. We know you want assurance that you’re getting exactly what you want and what you need. In addition to looking for a mattress topper that will fulfill your sleep needs and preferences, look for these qualities in your mattress topper.

Material Certifications

Not all of the materials used to produce mattress toppers are created alike. There are varying levels of quality to consider, as well as ethical and environmental considerations. Some common certifications you might find include:

  • CertiPur-US: the product is free of certain dangerous chemicals or materials
  • Climate Neutral: the manufacturer has committed to reducing greenhouse gasses
  • Forest Stewardship Council Certified: the materials come from responsibly managed forests
  • Global Organic Latex (GOLS): meets strict health and environmental guidelines for latex products
  • Global Organic Textiles (GOTS): meets strict health and environmental guidelines for other organic material
  • OEKO-TEX Certified: the product has been tested and met the standards for non-toxic materials throughout the production process
  • Wool Integrity NZ Certified: for wool products, this means the wool has been ethically grown, exported, transported, and manufactured

Customer Reviews

What do others think of this mattress topper? What do they say most often about it? Check with the store’s website and sites like Consumer Reports for objective third-party reviews.

In-Person Testing

Nothing beats feeling a mattress topper in person. Find your nearest Mattress Warehouse store to check out swatches and samples of our mattress toppers today!

Shop Mattress Toppers at Mattress Warehouse

If you’re looking for the perfect mattress topper, simply head over to your local Mattress Warehouse to speak with one of our experienced and knowledgeable Mattress Warehouse Professionals. They’re ready to answer any questions you may have and help you pick out the mattress topper for your best sleep yet.
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