How To Choose A Mattress Topper

photo of a woman testing a mattress topper in a shop

Replacing your mattress can be very expensive, so a mattress topper is a great way to revitalize or change the style of your bed instead.

With some careful research, the right one will give you what you need at a fraction of the cost of a brand new mattress.

In this article, you’ll find both a list of the key factors which can help inform your decision making, and also a breakdown of the pros and cons of each type of material.

By cross-referencing the two sections, you’ll hopefully have a clearer idea about which type will be the right kind for you.

Do I need a mattress pad, topper, protector, cover or encasement?

First of all, it’s useful to understand the difference between the various categories of products available for your mattress.

Mattress covers, protectors and encasements

graphic illustrating that a attress protector stops spills and bed bugs

These are all about protecting your mattress (or topper) from catastrophic spills and/or providing hypoallergenic protection from allergens such as dust mite.

Reducing the living space for bed bugs is also a good reason to use a 6 sided encasement! This completely encloses your mattress rather than just being a fitted sheet with extras.

Different manufacturers use different terminology, so it’s important to check what the product does, and how many sides it fits. They can also sometimes included a padded top to offer some extra comfort. But their main function is usually protection.


Mattress pads might add some extra padding and comfort, but it still won’t usually be as much as a topper. Much like covers or protectors, they are often designed to protect against fluids, oils and spills, or help with allergies.

You can also find heated pads for use in the winter, and cooling pads for the summer (or any time really) if you have issues with overheating in bed.

Some mattress pads are designed to do more than one job, which might affect the overall feel, quality and price.

photo of a mattress pad
As a rule of thumb, a mattress pad tends to be thinner than a topper.


A mattress topper is likely to add a more significant layer of softness, cushioning or support for your body than the previous categories.

You can even use both at the same time to further improve the quality of your bed. By placing a mattress pad, cover or encasement over the topper, you can help protect both the topper and the mattress.

Having said that, some companies use the terms interchangeably. They may call their product a topper or pad, but it’s actually much thicker or thinner than you would usually associate with that category.

So it’s always worth checking how much padding it actually provides, along with the features.


  • Encasement: completely encloses your mattress on all 6 sides to protect it from damage, and you from allergens like dust mite and bed bugs.
  • Cover/protector: protects the mattress from damage, but often only on 5 sides like a fitted sheet. May provide some allergen reduction too.
  • Pad: might add some comfort, protection or help with temperature regulation.
  • Topper: a thicker layer that’s designed to add comfort or better body support.

Key points to consider when choosing a topper

With so many types of mattress topper, it’s perhaps more helpful to first decide what you want or need from yours. Then you can work out which material will best meet your needs.

Personal preference (and even gut feeling) will probably play a role too. But if you like to weigh up the pros and cons, here are some of the key factors to take into account.

A) Price

A higher price doesn’t necessarily guarantee it would be better for you personally. It’s about meeting your needs, not simply buying the most expensive you can afford.

Plain egg crate foam, polyester and some cotton toppers tend to be the cheapest. With higher quality cotton, feather and down in the middle. Memory foam and wool can be quite expensive, with latex even more so.

B) Pain relief, firmness and extra support

If it’s extra support for your back and limbs that you need, memory foam and latex are usually more effective than the other materials. They are better at holding the shape of your body and supporting your natural posture.

C) Comfort and Softness

With such a dizzying range of materials, brands, densities and thicknesses you should be able to find the perfect level of softness and comfort. But your definition of comfort may be different from the next person’s.

Would you prefer a topper which molds to your body, such as with latex or memory foam? Or are you more suited to a naturally soft material such as down or cotton?

In many ways, achieving softness is much easier than firmness with a mattress topper. You could try a low density memory foam topper, or one of the many relatively inexpensive fabric toppers which literally just add an extra layer of soft material.

D) Thickness and density options

Toppers tend to fall in the range of between 2 and 8 inches thick. If you need to revitalize an aging mattress, sleep on your side, or if you weigh more than average, you may need to look at thicker options. The materials with the best range of thickness are memory foam and latex.

In addition, the density of a topper is important in determining how much support it will provide you. Memory foam and latex toppers tend to have the most choice, allowing you to find just the right comfort level you need.

See the memory foam section below for more information about thickness and density.

E) Reducing the noise of a partner moving

Memory foam and latex are good at reducing the transmission of movement from your partner. So if you sleep with someone whose tossing and turning keep you awake, they are good choices.

F) Body heat

Memory foam and latex mattress toppers tend to retain the most body heat. The thicker and denser they are, the hotter they can feel, despite the attempts of manufacturers to add elements like gel cooling or ventilation tubes.

Wool, down and feather toppers are good all year round, as they provide extra warmth in winter yet reduce heat in summer. Don’t forget that the outside material can also contribute to the temperature by wicking away sweat.

G) Allergies

Some materials are better for certain allergies, so it’s worth checking the list below. Some are also more resistant to bed bugs, mites, mildew and mold than others.

H) Ease of cleaning and moving

Remember that you need to remove it from the packaging, get it onto the bed and potentially remove it for cleaning. So do be aware of the overall weight of the mattress topper.

Egg crate is the easiest to transport, whilst feather, down and cotton are easier to move than memory foam or latex.

Some toppers can be machine washed, but many can’t. It can be a chore if it needs to be done by hand, which is another good reason to use a cover as well.

I) Warranty

The standard warranty time seems to be around 2 years for many mattress toppers. But this can be as short as one year and as long as 5 years. But remember that you won’t get a replacement just because it’s compressed under your weight over time.

What type of material to choose

Mattress toppers come in a range of very different styles and materials. So it’s important to know both what you hope to gain from using a topper, and what the pros and cons are of each material.

Let’s take a look now at the different types to give you a better idea of what your options are.

1) Latex

latex mattress topper example

Latex toppers tend to be expensive, but like memory foam, can provide excellent support and comfort.

Natural latex comes from the sap of rubber trees, and is produced by one of two processes: Dunlop or Talalay (hence the name some toppers have).

Some latex toppers have mostly natural ingredients. Synthetic latex is, you guessed it, mostly made from synthetic materials. And blended has a mix of the two. Check before buying if this is an important consideration for you.


  • Excellent at providing comfort and pain relief at pressure points by cushioning your body. Good for keeping your body aligned.
  • Usually firmer than memory foam, but still feels comfortable.
  • Natural latex might have better resistance to microbe and dust mite build up.
  • Very durable.
  • Excellent at preventing motion transmission from your partner.
  • Usually not as hot as memory foam.


  • Can be expensive.
  • Can feel hot in the summer if it isn’t a high-quality latex topper.
  • Often quite heavy to move.

2) Memory foam

woman touching a memory foam mattress topper

Memory foam is one of the most popular choices of both mattress and mattress topper nowadays.

A high-end memory foam mattress can be incredibly expensive though, so a topper is a good way to get some of the benefits of memory foam without breaking the bank.


  • The memory foam will conform to your body, providing a supportive and relaxing surface to sleep on.
  • It can provide support if you have joint, muscular or back pain.
  • It helps reduce how much the noise and movement of a restless partner disturbs your sleep.
  • You can get it in a range of densities, so you can find the right firmness to suit you.
  • It’s durable, hopefully lasting for many years to warrant the higher price.


  • Memory foam sometimes has quite a strong chemical smell at first, though it dissipates after a few days.
  • You may find it holds body heat, so if you tend to overheat, look for a breathable memory foam topper.

Understanding memory foam thickness and density

Whether you’re looking at memory foam mattresses or memory foam toppers, you’ll find a confusing range of thickness and density options.

It’s useful to understand that both elements affect the level of comfort and support. The spectrum of thickness and density keeps expanding, but let’s take a look at the difference between the most commonly found figures of each.


The choice of density of a mattress topper is very important, and is measured in pounds per cubic feet, or kg/m3 in some countries.

Most toppers have a density ranging between 2 and 6+ pounds per cubic feet. Higher density usually means higher cost, but also much better support for the body and longer-lasting conformity to your body shape.

3 pounds or under per cubic feet – will feel much softer and less supportive than higher densities. Your body will sink into it faster than higher densities. More light-weight and easily transported too.

4 to 5 pounds per cubic feet – a good option for most people, providing a balance of soft, yet supportive surface. Will mold to your body a little slower than lower densities.

6+ pounds per cubic feet – better for people who have medical needs and/or in need of a high level of support for the body. Will take longer to conform to your body shape and weight, and support you for much longer than lower densities.

And if you’re a heavy person, a higher density might be a better choice so you can benefit from the extra support for longer during the night.


Most memory foam toppers are either 1, 2, 3 or 4 inches thick:

1 to 2 inches – usually provides a little extra comfort, but can be quite firm if the density is also high. Good for those with a firm mattress who just need a little extra comfort and support for the body.

3 inches – a popular choice if you’re not sure which thickness to choose. Provides a good level of softness and support.

4 inches – provides even more support for the body parts that most need it.

Some density + thickness combination examples

So now we have a rough idea of how density and thickness affect the comfort and support, how do you choose the best combination?

A rule of thumb is that higher density means you can get enough support with less thickness. But a 2 inch topper with a low density really won’t provide much support and could be too soft.

Likewise, a very thick topper with a very high density might prove unnecessarily firm, not to mention heavy.

Here are two useful examples:

1. You prefer a firm surface or sleep on your front

Try a thinner 2 or 2.5 inch topper with a high density of 4+ pounds. That will provide good support (the density) but stop you sinking into the topper in an uncomfortable way (the thinner material).

2. You sleep on your side or back

Try a medium thickness of 3 inches to get more support for your back and limbs. Then either a low density of 3 pounds to add some softness, or a higher density of more than 4 pounds to provide firmer support if you prefer that.

The reality, however, is that with the huge range of material types, additional layers, and variation of manufacturing between countries and companies, it’s hard to predict exactly how a mattress topper will feel.

So it’s worth asking in advance if the company can offer advice based on your size and needs. And if you can try one in a store or they have a returns policy if you’re not happy with the topper.

3) Wool

At the opposite end of the material spectrum is the natural material of wool. It can be fairly expensive too, but there are some good reasons for this.


  • It’s a naturally soft and comfortable material.
  • It’s durable, often lasting for many years.
  • It’s ideal for allergy sufferers who may have problems with synthetic materials.
  • Bed bugs and mites generally stay away from wool.
  • Good for keeping cool in summer and warm in winter.


  • More expensive than other other fabric materials.
  • Doesn’t provide the same cushioning as memory foam.

4) Goose and duck down or feathers

Bedding made from goose or duck feathers, or softer and more luxurious down, is known for its softness and comforting feel. If you’re an allergy sufferer or need a firmer topper though, it may not be right for you.


  • That soft, luxurious feel that many people have come to love from down-filled duvets and pillows.
  • Durable, often lasting for several years.
  • Helps reduce movement disturbance.
  • Good temperature regulation in the summer and winter months.


  • Not ideal if you need a firmer topper to help with aches and pains.
  • May not be thick enough to disguise a lumpy mattress.
  • Risk of feathers eventually poking through, though good quality toppers are designed to avoid this. And down should minimize this risk compared to feathers.
  • May need fluffing to keep shape (getting a segmented topper can help with this).

5) Cotton and polyester

There’s a vast range of mattress toppers and pads made from cotton, and often with a mixture of cotton, polyester and other materials. The price can also vary greatly with these.


  • The possibility of finding extremely soft high-thread count material.
  • Range of options from synthetic to organic.
  • Often easier to clean than other materials.
  • Polyester toppers can be very affordable.


  • Not as durable as other materials like latex, wool and memory foam. The cotton is more likely to compress in a shorter time.
  • High-quality cotton can be quite expensive.

6) Egg crate

a mattress topper on a bed

Egg crate mattress toppers refer to the shape, specifically the little bumps as you can see in the photo.

It’s important to note though that you can get an egg crate topper made either from good quality memory foam or from more basic foam.

Because of that, the price can vary a lot for products which may appear identical at first glance.

Since we’ve already looked at memory foam above, let’s have a look at what you get from the more basic foam models.

Since it’s made from foam, it might not provide the same luxury as other types, but it’s a good choice if you’re on a lower budget or are using it for camping.


  • Generally cheaper than other types of material.
  • Light-weight and thin so it’s easy to roll up and transport.
  • Good to use for camping or holidays.
  • Can be placed on top of each other to get a thicker padding.


  • Doesn’t provide as much padding or comfort as other materials.
  • Less durable and can start to fall apart with frequent use.
  • Can be warm in the summer months.

You might also like

For some specific recommendations of excellent mattress toppers in each category, you might like to read my mattress topper reviews.

86 thoughts on “How To Choose A Mattress Topper”

  1. Melissa Elliott

    I have a six inch latex mattress with no padding. It’s just a piece of medium (but to me pretty firm) foam. It’s too hard. I wake up in pain. I have fibromyalgia. I got latex to avoid the chemicals in memory foam. I’m considering getting a foam topper anyway out of desperation after a few years of pain. I can’t afford more latex. I’d prefer to get a down or down alternative or something similar because I tend to pile quilts and comforters on the leather couch. How do the thickness and comfort tend to compare between comforters/duvets/quilts and toppers? In other words, would it work as well to buy a comforter/cotton blankets and lay on it? I’ve also thought about getting two toppers, one memory foam and one fluffy. Would they work together or against each other? Thank you.

    1. Hi Melissa
      Have you looked into getting an egg crate topper instead of memory foam? Perhaps that would add some extra comfort without the chemicals of memory foam. I’d say that a decent down or down alternative topper will generally feel softer and better padded than a normal duvet or comforter. It depends how much fill they use, but usually it’s considerably more than bedding meant to go on top of you.

  2. Stephane Lacombe

    Hi Ethan. I want to submit to you what I have decided to get in regards to mattress and topper combo, and I would like to get your opinion on it. I’m a side sleeper who has hip pain, back pain and overheat issues. From now on I have decided to stop buying mattresses with an integrated topper, or hybrid mattress. Instead I chose a good quality coiled mattress with almost no topper on it (because the store where I buy it from doesn’t have any with NO integrated topper whatsoever), bought what I think is the best topper for my needs and will replace the topper every time it gets worn out. The mattress is a Simmons Beautyrest one so I sticked to a renowned brand to ensure quality. I combined that with the Lucid 4 Inch Bamboo Charcoal Memory Foam Mattress Topper that’s ventilated and low density. Having coils in the mattress as well as bamboo charcoal + ventilation in the topper I think will maximize air flow therefore minimize overheating. A coiled mattress will maximize support therefore prevent back pain, and finally a low density 4” topper will eliminate hip pain + give me the plushiness that I love to have for a bed. So again, what Is your opinion on all this? Have I done my homework correctly?

    1. Hi Stephane
      It’s hard to give an opinion without trying the combo myself personally. I know from the past that sometimes the feel of a mattress or topper is different to what you expect from reading about it, or even giving it a quick test.
      In theory, I think this could help with the pain issues as 4 inches is a good thickness and memory foam is often great for pressure point relief. My worry would be about the overheating. No matter what they say about ‘cooling’ or ‘ventilation’, I always find memory foam builds heat as the night progresses if the weather is hot and there’s no air conditioning. But if you can combat the room temp at least a little, then hopefully the warmth of the memory foam can be offset.
      Let me know how it turns out if you have time to pop back though, as I’m always interested to hear how people’s experiments went!

  3. I am trying to figure out what size memory foam mattress topper to buy for sleeping in my car. It is between the Lucid Gel 4 inch or Dreamfoam Gel Swirl 3 inch since they don’t have a 4 inch. I am planning on just using the topper as a mattress on top of my seat and plywood. Please let me know what you suggest!

    1. Hi Alison
      I would be tempted to get 3 inches just so you can roll it up easier, depending on the density. Tricky to predict though, as I don’t have any experience of using them in a car.

  4. Hello,

    My daughter is going to college this fall and currently sleeps on a firm mattress. What type of mattress topper do you recommend?


    1. Hi
      There are many options, so it’s kind of hard for me to pinpoint one precisely for you. It depends on your budget, the material she’d like, what kind of support is needed etc. Are you looking for a topper to make her mattress softer, or a topper to make whatever mattress she will have in college as firm as her current mattress?

    1. Hi Sofia
      If it’s designed by the manufacturer to add comfort and/or support, then yes it could be a good option. I’d make sure you have a trial period to be on the safe side.

  5. We have a great memory foam mattress that is firm. However, I am experiencing shoulder pain and hip discomfort. I am a stomach sleeper and feel more comfort when my arm is able to drop a little lower. Everything I am reading makes me think that a softer topper might help me. What would be recommended to soften the firm mattress and seek more comfort on shoulders especially and hips?

    1. Hi Mike
      If you don’t have a problem with overheating and are on a budget, you could try an egg-crate topper to add some softness. Another option is a thick down-alternative topper with plenty of fill to add softness. There are so many different ones of those to buy, I’d look for one with a no questions asked trial period to see if it works for you.

  6. We have a 3” memory foam pad topper, what can we put over it to reduce it from holding body heat? We live in Florida, need I say more :(
    Thanks for the informative article and also the one on snoring.

    1. Hi Dee
      I’m glad you liked the articles. That’s a tricky one – memory foam is famous for heat retention, as it seems you know already…
      Have you looked into slumbercloud products? Perhaps they might help a little. I think they have a trial period, so you could find out.

  7. Hi,
    I bought an expensive mattress from dreams bed shop, its too firm for my back. I sleep on my side, wake up with sore back each morning.
    Thinking of a 3″ memory foam topper after what ive read on this page.
    Would this be good?

    1. Hi Gaz
      Sorry to hear that! Do they not have a returns or exchange policy? A memory foam topper might help, but I would definitely get one with a returns policy so you can test it first before committing even more money to a bedding surface that might not suit you.

    1. Hi there
      That’s great to hear! Good luck in your search – I know it can be confusing, so take your time and hopefully you’ll get the right one.

  8. I am sleeping on a hide a bed sf. I feel the bars and have tried to add thickness with a pad. Not working. Can you use a topper on a hide a bed and what type? I’m elderly. Any help would be apprecited. Thanks

  9. Angie Slingerland

    Hi Ethan,

    Thank you so much for this article. It’s very informative! I have a bit of a strange question. I sleep in a queen-sized bed with my partner and would like to get a mattress topper but my finances are very tight. Do you think it would work if I put a twin-sized topper on my side of the bed? My partner has no problem sleeping but I have bad hip pain that wakes me up at night (I sleep on my side).

    1. Hi Angie
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked the article. I guess it depends in part on the weight and the effect it has on the overall bed. Perhaps get one that has a free trial period and test it out!

  10. Kateryna klyuchnyk

    Thank you so much for the useful information. We have a very firm mattress and I would like that soft luxury hotel feel so most probably I would go with a down topper. Does this sound like a good description? Top panel: 100% cotton, 300 TC with a sateen outer and 70% white duck and 30% feather filling
    Bottom panel: 100% cotton, 220 TC with a 95% feather and 5% down white duck filling. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kateryna

      You are very welcome! How thick is that topper you’re thinking of? Which one is it exactly?

  11. This article was very informative, thank you! I have a full size futon with a good quality mattress for occasional use. However we will be hosting a long term guest (several months) and would like to make this more comfortable (sometimes you can feel the slats through the mattress. I was thinking a high density thick (4”) memory foam topper might do the trick. Is there a better option you might suggest? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Debbie
      You’re welcome! That would probably cover the slats very well, though just 3 inches would probably do the trick as well. One thing to think about is storage during the day, or after they leave, as toppers that thick can sometimes take up a fair bit of space, even when rolled up again.

      1. Hi Ethan,
        This is really helpful information and thanks so much for that. If I may take a little of your time just want to clear my mind, if the mattress is made of high-quality foam like firm, about 4 inches (the seller got 6 inches too) do I need to put a topper, and is polyester type fine just to make it soft? Like, I saw one online and it’s saying polyester as in no other mentioned like combined with anything.

        1. Hi Leizel
          Thanks for your comment – I’m happy to hear the article was useful. Only you can decide if you need to put a topper on the mattress. But if you feel you need to make the surface softer, then yes, a topper can help and polyester is fine for that.

  12. HI Ethan,

    We would like to get a natural latex topper to reduce partner disturbance but are worried about the heat factor – what do you think of placing a cooling mattress pad over the latex topper?

    1. Hi Rachel
      Thanks for your question. You could certainly give it a go, as long as they are well made, so will both hold well to the mattress and each other. My advice would be to try and find companies that offer a free trial, combine the two and see if it works for you. If bot, send one or both back.

    1. Hi Billie
      It depends – they can do if they are relatively soft and the mattress they cover is sagging. And if they are quite thick and soft, then you could either call it ‘conforming’ to your body or sagging depending on the way you see it I guess. But you can get firmer density toppers if you want as little sag as possible.
      A protector usually goes over the mattress, but I don’t see any reason you can’t put it over the topper as well if it stretches over both.

  13. Hi! This is incredibly helpful, thank you so much!
    I am looking to get a memory foam topper and I’m not able to test them. When deciding height and density, should I just go with what sounds best for my body, or should I factor in compensation for the mattress being incredibly firm and wanting some extra softness? In other words, is a mattress topper at a certain specific height and density going to feel different on different mattresses depending on the mattress firmness?

    1. Hi Kelly

      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad the article was helpful for you. This isn’t an easy question to answer, but I’d say if softness is your goal, it doesn’t make sense to get a dense memory foam topper to put on a firm mattress. I would go with a softer feeling topper if you have the option. Are you really not able to find any to test? Some can be sent back if you’re not happy. I’d check carefully what returns or trial periods are offered where you are to see if you can give yourself some room for experimentation.


    1. Hi June
      It depends – in theory, wool toppers can be soft. But manufacturers also make firmer ones. So you’d need to check what they say about it. The thickness will also depend on the manufacturer – 3 inches is probably a good minimum to aim for.

  14. This article has really given me some knowledge! My fiance and I just purchased a new mattress. He likes firm and I like soft. We ended up getting a medium mattress. He likes it, but I have had trouble sleeping because it is too firm. He says we can exchange for softer but I was thinking a solution could be a topper. It will give me soft yet have the firm support from the mattress he needs. I wanted to get a 4″ gel memory foam and fiber one. It looks like it is memory foam inside of down feather. I would love a recommendation. Its not easy buying what we need when we dont even know what will work! Thank you!

    1. Hi Dani
      Thanks for your comment. Are you think about getting a single topper to sit on one side of the bed? That could work, but would obviously create a ridge in the middle. But if you don’t mind that, then yes, a topper to soften one side should work.

  15. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. My daughter has a firm Therapedic mattress. She has lower back pain due to an earlier ski accident. She complains of the mattress being too hard and having too much discomfort to sleep. I want to get her a topper and am hoping memory foam will be softer. I was considering 3 or 4 inch. Do you think this would help? Unfortunately it is an Australian Summer, so I guess it would heat her up a bit. Would it give her the sensation of softness? Thanks

    1. Hi Jul
      You’re welcome. I’d say it depends on the density of the memory foam you choose. You can get softer memory foam. But you’re right in that its not great for hot weather. Have you thought about trying a fabric instead? Sometimes just a couple of inches of a softer fabric can help soften the mattress considerably. See if any shops where you are will give her a no questions asked trial period. Many companies do these days.

  16. Hi the article was very helpful, thank you. Can I ask, would it be a problem if the mattress topper was lets say 10cm longer than the mattress?

    1. Hi Phil
      I think it depends on the overall size, and the type of topper and mattress. I think the main issue will be an aesthetic one, and getting a sheet to fit nicely over the top of both topper and mattress. Then perhaps the risk of sitting on a surface you think will support your weight, only to dump yourself on the floor!

  17. I’m 6 months pregnant and in the hospital (possibly long term), the bed is very soft and makes my hips hurt, I want a mattress topper to try to help. How do all these factors change with an extra soft mattress?

    1. Hi Tenley
      Sorry to hear you’re facing a long time in the hospital. Are you talking about bringing a topper into the hospital, or for home when you are out?

      1. For use in the hospital. The nurses said a lot of women use egg crate toppers. I got a 2″ one from target and it helped but only a little. Of course most sites don’t seem to list the density so that doesn’t help

  18. Hi there,

    I have recently moved to a fully furnished flat. The bed i now sleep on has been causing me so much pain. I sleep completely comfortably, right through, however when i wake up my back is so stiff and sore i can hardly move. I have found a duck feather topper that i can afford, am I wasting my time?

    1. Hi Cass
      It’s impossible to say! The thing is, for some people too soft causes pain, and for others too firm. I guess it depends what you’re trying to achieve whether the topper you bought is the right choice or not. Does it have a returns policy?

  19. We have had a Tempurpedic mattress with a built in 2″ topper for many years. It has always seemed a bit too firm for me but my husband likes it. I sleep on my side and have scolosis of my spine. My back hurts so much when I get up in the morning that it’s terribly painful. What kind of a mattress topper might help?

    1. Hi there
      I can understand the frustration if you wake up in pain every day. What material is the topper section?

  20. Hi Ethan, I just got a (used) futon and it is so hard and uncomfortable I’m beginning to think I’d sleep better on the floor. I can’t really afford to replace it and so I was wondering what topper would be best to remedy this.

    1. Hi Denise
      Oh, sorry to hear that! I’m not a fan of futons for that reason – they are always too hard for me. If you’re on a budget, you could try an egg-crate topper as they tend to be quite low price.

  21. What happens to egg crate toppers over time? Do they breakdown? Do they retain pieces of sloughed-off skins, etc.? I start mouth-breathing and get a dry cough and other signs of allergic reaction during a guest night at relative’s home. The egg crate foam topper is thin about 2 inches thick and probably 10 years old. Could it be time to get a new topper? What is the usually life time of a thin, inexpensive egg crate mattress topper?

    1. Hi Pat
      Thanks for your comment. I think up to 3 years maximum on average. So your relative’s 10 year old topper is probably long overdue replacement.

  22. Hi. We are both in our 60’s and subsequently experience our share of aches and pains. I also have back and neck issues and fibromyalgia. After a lot of research, we recently invested in a 100% latex mattress and two pillows from a reputable Australian company-quite an expense! Initially, we both found it uncomfortable, but my husband has quite quickly settled in and finds it quite comfortable. I am a light sleeper and find the partner disturbance no less than our old bed, but my biggest concern is that I am having difficulty adjusting to the new bed and pillow. How long should it take to ‘break in’ the new latex mattress and pillow? I slept on a holiday mattress recently with a very soft padded top and it was so comfortable. I was wondering if I should I be considering a soft mattress topper? Any advice would be appreciated. We really can’t afford to replace the mattress and I would be very nervous about what to buy.

    1. Hi Sandie
      Thanks for your comment. It might take up to a month to break in, so I would push it to the return date and see if it gets better. You could consider putting a softer mattress topper over it to soften it if there’s still no improvement for you.

    2. Hi Ethan! I enjoyed reading your article, and like others, I’m hoping you can give me a suggestion. I have a pull-out sofa bed that my son uses on occasion ; he is 25, not overweight, but can feel the bar when he sleeps. He mostly sleeps on his back. I was hoping to leave the topper on the sofa mattress when I convert it back to a sofa. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks in advance!

      1. Hi Lynn
        Glad you liked it! Are you sure the topper will fit on the sofa when it’s in the sofa position? They can be quite large, and sofa beds are often made to precise dimensions.

    1. Hi Woody
      I would look at getting a memory foam or latex topper and choosing a firmer option. See if you can get one with a trial period to give it a go and see if the firmness works for you.

  23. Hi , are the gel infused memory foam toppers actually cooler as they claim or is it a sales pitch? I am considering buying one as I have a very firm bed for some of my guests who love firm but too hard for others. Dont want to overheat my guests. Thanks Joanne

    1. Hi Joanne
      Thanks for your comment. That’s a very difficult question to answer! I think there’s a bit of both involved. The main complaint is that they can be cooler for a while, but certainly not miraculously cool all night long. My advice would be to read customer reviews on sites like amazon to check what others have said about the one you’re thinking of buying, assuming it appears there. You can’t beat the views of people who have no reason to hype a product they’ve bought!

  24. Hi there!
    Thanks for the article! A new mattress is not in our budget but ours is the worst! I wake up every morning with back pain and I am a stomach sleeper! Looking to spend some money on a decent topper, our current mattress is very soft. Having trouble deciding if we should go firm topper and what thickness… thoughts?

    1. Hi Allison
      You’re welcome, and thanks for your comment. If your current mattress is really soft and sagging, perhaps it might be worth saving for a new mattress rather than risking a topper just not being able to firm it up properly. Alternatively, you could try one that has a returns policy, so you don’t risk splashing out on one only to find it doesn’t cover the softness properly. Part of the problem is that although some toppers can be quite inexpensive, the ones that tend to be firm also tend to more expensive. It’s cheaper to soften than it is to firm, so the expenditure might still be a lot.

  25. Hello Ethan – I’m hoping you can advise me somewhat …
    We used to have a memory foam mattress which made me super hot and hindered, rather than helped, my husband’s back issues.
    We decided to try and deal with both problems and got ourselves a wool futon. We’re not new to futons and know they can be hard, but in the past, I never ended up suffering from shoulder pain like I am now.
    Since our futon was rather expensive, we’re thinking about adding a topper rather than thinking about replacing it.
    I am leaning toward a latex (even though I know they *can* sometimes run hot) because it’s natural and durable. I’m not sure which one to get though … I’m assuming a 3″, to help cushion my shoulders, but should I choose “soft” or “medium” …? Because “latex runs on the firmer side” generally, I’m thinking soft even though I am naturally inclined to choose medium. Thanks so much for any help/ideas you can provide. I want to get it right so we can both start sleeping well again.

    1. Hi Janet
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you’d be thinking soft over medium, and I don’t think that’s bad idea considering how hard your current setup is.
      Considering how you must already be disappointed, my feeling would be to try to avoid further problems. I’d be very careful to check that there’s a returns policy. That way you can always try a soft one, and if it’s no good after a week, send it back. It can take a while for pains to resolve if it’s the bed that’s causing it, so if you can trial one for a week or two, that would be ideal!

  26. Hi there,

    I’m wondering if mattress toppers (specifically wool toppers) can be washed and if yes then what the best method of washing is. I’m potentially interested in getting a wool mattress topper but I have cats and just in case I need to know what I’m getting into re: washing/drying needs of a wool topper!

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Sarah
      Thanks for your comment. Mattress toppers can’t usually be washed because of their size, and wool toppers definitely can’t as it will ruin them. The secret is to get a protective cover to make sure it doesn’t get dirty in the first place.

  27. Hi, I had some back issues and thought firm mattress would help and got an extra firm mattress. It is too firm for me and I wake up stiff every morning. We then got a 3 inch memory foam topper but that feels like I sink in it and it is hard to change position at night. I have always dislike memory foam but I did not realize that only 3 inch will give me similar feel. I am not sure what to do now as I have spent so much on all this and I need some expert advise? Just want some decent cushioning on the bed. Thanks

    1. Hi Harleen
      Thanks for your comment. How long did you try the mattress on its own for, and then with the mattress topper? Sometimes it takes a while to get used to a new firmness. And can you take either back for a refund or replacement?

    2. We also have an extra firm mattress and dislike memory foam. We still wake up stiff and sore after a year and a half. Did you ever find some decent cushioning? We’re considering 4 inch basic foam.

  28. Hi there,

    I run a B & B and two of my guests commented that the mattress is hard I mean firm. I actually chose the firm mattress and its good for our back but I’d like to consider buying a mattress topper to add a bit of softness. I don’t know anything about mattress topper , I only use mattress protector. Do you have any suggestion what type I should buy for our B & B guests? Many thanks.

    1. Hi Lourdes
      Thanks for your comment. Well, it depends which country you’re in, as you can’t buy the same mattress toppers all over the world. I’d say that temperature also plays a role, as you don’t want to add too much heat if it’s in a warm region. And of course cost – how much you’re willing to pay. In my experience of staying in hotels, they tend to go with cheaper cotton or polyester toppers – presumably to save money and add some softness without going too overboard.

  29. Hi. I want to buy a mattress topper to use on my bed. I have an electric heating mattress pad that is on my bed all the time, but only used in the winter. Suggestions for a topper. Thanks.

    1. Hi Justine
      Thanks for your comment. Do you mean one that you can use for the other 3 seasons in place of your electric topper? How comfortable do you find that topper? Do you feel you need firmer, softer?

  30. Hi Ethan, thanks for your very informative article, I found it very helpful. I especially appreciate the comparison. Question for ya, if thickness doesn’t really correlate to firmness than what does thickness provide? The thicker the better it masks a lumpy mattress? Also, if you were heading to college and had to make a choice which topper would you buy? My parents are paying so money is not a factor…to me at least! Thanks in advance Ethan…much appreciated.

    1. Hi Zachary
      Thanks for your comment, and it’s nice to know the article was useful. Thickness and firmness can be confusing. One rule of thumb is that generally a thicker mattress topper can end up feeling softer. And if you’re a heavier than average person, you might find it’s a good idea to choose a thicker topper of your chosen firmness to help offset the effect that your weight will have. But if you choose the thickest, it also then runs the risk of extra sagging. So if you need a firm support for your body, thicker doesn’t necessarily mean better.
      There’s also a sad fact in that some companies make very thick toppers and mattresses because they appear more luxurious, and therefore more expensive! So some experts say there’s no real need to splash out on extra inches of topper or mattress.
      Having said that, you might be right in that if the base mattress is in really bad shape, a thicker topper will do a better job of masking it.
      As for going to college, well that’s a tricky question! It’s a personal choice really, but I’d also think about how long you’ll have that size bed for, how easy it is to transport, and what type will suit your needs best. If you can, go and try some out in a store, then make your choice. Or even ask family or friends if they have toppers and see if you can try them out for a minute!

  31. I want to buy a memory foam firm mattress topper. The firmer the better. Should I choose 2′, 3 or 4 inch to ensure that it is really firm?

    1. Hi Onzj
      Thanks for your comment. The firmness is a separate point to the thickness to a certain extent. Are you able to go to a local mattress shop and ask to test out some toppers? That’s a good way to find out what might suit you best.

    1. Hi Sherry
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs, there’s not a lot that will prevent them from hiding in spaces around the bed, despite what some manufacturer’s might say. So even if they don’t nest inside the topper itself, they might end up in the space between the topper and the mattress. If you have a problem with bed bugs, they need to be dealt with properly, no matter what topper you have.

  32. Be sure to buy deep pocket sheets that will not only cover the entire mattress, but cover the mattress topper as well.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.