Just as there are many different types of mattresses, there are a variety of mattress toppers (also called pillow top mattress pads) available. Each one has something different to offer, and what may be an ideal choice for one person won't work for another. There are health concerns, comfort preferences, dollar value and sleeping partners to take into consideration when deciding what kind of mattress topper will be the best choice.
The primary reason for adding a mattress topper to a bed is additional comfort. A good mattress topper can add support to a mattress that is a bit too soft for those with joint pain, or it can add luxurious softness to a mattress that is too firm, while not taking away from the support of the mattress. There are toppers made with materials like memory foam that help to minimize movement while asleep, which can be a huge asset to those with partners who are light sleepers. A pillow top mattress pad can also help to prolong the life of a mattress that is in good condition, though it won’t salvage a mattress that is ready to be replaced.
Some consumers are concerned that adding a mattress topper to their bed will mean having to buy all new sheets, as well. Pillow tops -- which go on top of the mattress but beneath the fitted sheet -- are available in a variety of thicknesses. If a fitted sheet is already snug on the bed before a topper is added, or if the topper purchased is one of the thicker ones available, you may have to buy new fitted sheets with deeper pockets.
Memory foam is the most popular type of mattress topper, and consumers say it offers the most support to those with arthritis or muscle and joint pain. It's also a cheaper choice for those who want to try memory foam without investing in a $2,000+ foam mattress. Latex foam offers similar support and is made of rubber, a natural material that is generally hypoallergenic (although some people do have latex allergies). Feather mattress toppers add cushioning rather than support and are good for those who like to feel cozy and swaddled in softness while sleeping. Wool mattress toppers are available in various blends and offer optimal softness and temperature regulation, but their high cost make them the least popular choice in mattress toppers.
As with most products, choosing the best mattress topper comes down to personal preference and need. This ConsumerSearch buyer's guide offers an in-depth look at the four main types of pillow-top mattress pads, including pros and cons of each, health and comfort concerns, and durability and pricing information.