There are many resources available for consumers who want to browse and comparison shop for mattress toppers. HomeInstitute.com offers a basic breakdown of the different types of toppers available, which is handy for those just starting their research. There are also several publications and websites that discuss choosing a mattress topper based on lifestyle needs, health concerns and sleeping preferences, including Good Housekeeping magazine and Allergy Consumer Review.
Amazon.com is the gold standard of vendor sites, as it allows consumers to search for mattress toppers based on style, price and consumer reviews. AllergyBuyersClub.com offers a useful chart that lists the best types of mattress toppers for allergy sufferers, complete with technical specifications and a list of pros and cons. ConsumerReports.org offers a helpful report on several different mattress toppers; a paid subscription is required to view the full report.
Mattress toppers come in four main types: memory foam, latex foam, feather and wool. Each type has something different to offer consumers. Here are some tips to consider when buying a mattress topper:
Comfort vs. support. Most consumers looking for a mattress topper either have a mattress that is too firm and needs some extra cushioning, or have a mattress that doesn't offer enough support, which may cause discomfort for those with arthritis and other aches and pains. Before shopping for a mattress topper, it's best to determine if you're looking for comfort or support, as that will affect which type of pillow top is the ideal choice for your needs. Both memory and latex foam are best for those looking for support, while feather and wool offer optimal softness.
Allergy concerns. Those who suffer from allergies or want a mattress topper that will resist mold and dust mites will want to look into options that are hypoallergenic and/or anti-bacterial. Mattress toppers that incorporate natural materials like latex foam or wool are the best choices as they are naturally hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial, though there are also hypoallergenic options available in memory foam and feather toppers.
Durability. All mattress toppers should last for years, but some will require a bit more maintenance than others. Feather and wool pillow tops will compress after awhile and need to be shaken or steamed to fluff back up, while memory and latex foam retain their shape. However, there is no easy way to clean memory and latex foam (though you can wash their covers), while feather and wool mattress toppers can usually be dry or steam cleaned, and some are even machine-washable.
Consider your sleeping partner. For those with a sleeping partner to consider, there are a few additional factors to take into account. If a partner's tossing and turning is disturbing your sleep, consider a memory foam or latex foam mattress topper. These materials conform to the body, resulting in less motion transfer. If the temperature of the bed is a concern, mattress toppers made with natural materials like latex foam, feather or wool breathe easier than memory foam and help to regulate body temperatures, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.