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Mattress Toppers vs. Mattress Pads: What's the Difference?

If you are looking to enhance the comfort of your mattress, you might be confused between choosing a mattress topper and a mattress pad. And in this post, we will walk you through each bed accessory to help you make an informed decision. A mattress topper provides an extra layer of cushioning and support for sleepers, whiles a mattress pad protects the underlying mattress from damage. If these definitions do not cut it for you, then keep reading this post, as we dive deeper into the difference between these two.

What is a Mattress Topper?

A mattress topper is a 2-4-inch layer of extra material that is placed on top of mattresses to provide support and extra cushion to sleepers. The main idea of a mattress topper is to change the feel of your mattress.

For example, let's assume you have a hard/firm mattress in your guest room, and you have someone coming over who prefers a soft mattress; well, what you can do is get a mattress topper to change the feel of the mattress -- from hard to soft--as opposed to getting a whole new mattress. Similarly, if you have a soft mattress, you can get a firm mattress topper to change the feel of the mattress from soft to hard.

That being said, most mattress toppers out there tend to have a softer feel.

Types Of Mattress Toppers:

From memory foam to wool toppers, there are various mattress toppers designed for various individuals, and in this, we will explore the various types of mattress toppers to help you make a reliable decision.

1. Memory Foam Mattress Topper

As the name suggests, memory foam toppers are mattress toppers made of memory foam. These types of toppers are designed to conform to the shape of the sleeper's body, providing sleepers with pressure relief. However, one thing you might want to note is that these types of toppers tend to absorb heat, making them a bad option for hot sleepers.

We recommend memory foam toppers for side sleepers and individuals with joint pains who need that extra support.

2. Latex Foam Toppers

While a memory foam mattress tends to absorb and conform to the shape of your body, latex foam tends to be more bouncy. Latex foam toppers are made from rubber trees and even though latex foam might not conform to the shape of your body as memory foam would, it tends to have a good airflow which makes it cool to the touch.

These types of toppers tend to be a bit firmer than memory foam toppers, making them ideal for back sleepers, and stomach sleepers, and it is known to provide back pain relief for individuals with back pain. We also advise individuals who are hyperallergic.

3. Wool Mattress Toppers

Wool toppers are designed to be soft. These toppers provide more comfort, and a great cooling effect, and tend to be a good option for hypoallergenic individuals. The downside to these types of toppers is that they are super expensive. These types of toppers are known to distribute weight evenly, making them a great option for couples.

4. Cooling Toppers

Just as their name suggests, these types of toppers are designed to provide a cooling effect to users. They are often made of memory foam infused with gel to provide a cooling effect. That being said, cooling toppers can be made of any of the materials mentioned above to provide additional cooling.

Benefits of Using a Mattress Topper:

Now we know the various types of mattress toppers, let's take a look at some generic benefits these mattress accessories may offer:

1. Improved Comfort

As stated earlier a mattress topper can help you change the feel of your mattress. So, if you have an old mattress that has lost its firmness, you can easily get a mattress topper to suit the level of firmness you desire. This helps you improve the comfort level of your mattress without necessarily getting a whole new mattress.

Additionally, another way a mattress topper can provide comfort for sleepers is by regulating the temperature of your mattress. For example, if you need a warm sleeping surface, then getting a mattress topper made of memory foam will help you keep your surface warm; alternatively, if you need a cooler sleeping surface, then getting a mattress topper made with good airflows such as a gel-infused memory foam topper will do the trick.

2. Enhanced Support

Mattress toppers tend to provide additional support to help you alleviate pressure points or provide proper body alignment. Also, if your mattress doesn't seem to support your sleeping position, you can get a mattress topper to adjust the firmness of the mattress to support your sleeping position.

3. Increase Durability

By placing a mattress topper on top of your mattress, you tend to provide your mattress with extra protection from wear and tear, and any activity that can affect the aesthetics and longevity of the mattress. Similarly, if your mattress is old, you can get a mattress topper to provide the necessary support and comfort you need until you get a new one.

That being said, if you have been using your mattress for more than 8 years, we recommend you get a new one, as opposed to just adding a mattress topper on top of it. This is because the mattress topper's support depends on that of the underlying mattress. Therefore, if the underlying mattress has deteriorated; then, a mattress topper won't provide the necessary support you need. Remember: Mattress toppers provide additional support.

4. Cost-Effectiveness

Mattress toppers provide a cost-effective way to get a new feel, comfort, and support without getting a brand-new mattress.

Pros and cons of using a mattress topper:

In as much as mattress toppers might look like a dream come true based on the benefits from the previous subsection, they may have some nightmares as well. So, in this section, we will take a look at the pros and cons of a mattress topper, so, you can make an informed decision.


  • They are a cost-effective way to improve the feel and firmness level of your mattress
  • They are easy to maintain since you can easily take them off and clean them
  • They ensure better sleep, improve conformity and provide additional support.


  • They do not permanently resolve any underlying lying problem of the actual mattress
  • You might have to change them every three years
  • They are more expensive than mattress pads\

What is a Mattress Pad?

Mattress pads are purposely designed to protect the mattress they are laid on from damage in the form of wear and tear, stains, scratches, burns, and many others. They often have a thickness ranging from 0.5 inches to 1,5 inches, and as a result, they do not alter the feel and firmness of a mattress.

 Therefore, if you are someone who loves the mattress you have, and you want to maximize its durability, without altering its feel, then you might want to consider a mattress pad. Even though mattress pads might not alter the feel or firmness of your mattress, they tend to regulate the temperature of the surface of the mattress for additional comfort.

Types of Mattress Pads:

Just like mattress toppers, mattress pads can be classified based on the type of material used in their construction. Some common types of mattress pads include:

1. Cotton Mattress Pad

These mattress pads are made from 100% cotton or blended with polyester; this makes these mattress pads breathable, and soft. Cotton mattress pads are durable and machine-washable; this makes them easy to clean, and a preferred choice for most people.

2. Fiber Mattress Pads

These are made from synthetic or natural fibers such as polyurethane, eucalyptus, or vinyl. These mattress pads tend to be water resistant and they are affordable compared to the abovementioned options. They can also be easily maintained and cleaned, and are a great option for individuals on a tight budget who need a pad to protect their mattress.

Benefits of Mattress Pads:

1. Protection

As stated in the definition mattress pad provides you with the protection needed to maximize the longevity of your mattress.

2. Regulated Temperature

Mattress pads tend to improve the comfort of your mattress by regulating the temperature of your body as you lay the surface of your mattress.

3. Reducing Exposure To Allergens

If you have certain types of mattresses such as fiberglass mattresses or even latex mattresses, then getting a mattress pad will be a great way to prevent you from damaging the surfaces of the covers of this mattress, minimizing the risk of being exposed to the fiberglass or latex material, which can cause an allergic reaction in the case of latex, or can be toxic when exposed, in the case of fiberglass.

Pros and Cons of Using a Mattress Pad:


  • They tend to be less expensive than mattress toppers
  • They provide temperature regulation for sleepers
  • Maximizes the durability of your mattress by protecting against spill, wear and tear, and other forms of damages
  • Minimizes the risk of being exposed to allergens


  • Less Comfy: Mattress pads do not provide the extra plush, softness, or firmness a mattress topper might offer.
  • Due to how light they are, they may wear out more quickly than a mattress topper would.

Key Differences Between A Mattress Topper vs. a Mattress Pad?

The build of a mattress topper and a mattress pad sets them apart, and in this section, we will take a look at the difference between both:

1. Thickness

Generally, mattress toppers are thicker than mattress pads; mattress toppers have a thickness ranging from 2 inches to 4 inches, while mattress pads have a thickness ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 inches.

2. Support and Comfort

Due to their thickness, mattress toppers tend to provide additional support instead of mattress pads. This can be great for individuals who need those extra joint support. Mattress pads on the other hand barely offer any form of support.

Similarly, mattress toppers can offer great comfort for those that need an extra soft mattress or a firmer mattress. They can be useful by providing additional support to individuals whose mattresses are quite deteriorated (between 4 to 6 years old).

3. Temperature Regulation

Both mattress toppers and pads tend to offer users some form of temperature regulation. However, mattress pads are designed to not only protect but to offer users temperature regulations.

4. Complete Protection

Even though a mattress topper might offer some level of protection, it is important to note that most mattress toppers do not have water-resistant properties as mattress pads do, as such, liquids that fall on your mattress may get absorbed and get to your mattress.

5. Price

Mattress toppers are more expensive than mattress pads.

When to Use a Mattress Topper vs. a Mattress Pad?

When it comes to deciding whether to choose between a mattress topper or mattress pad, there are five things to consider; these include:

1. Comfort

If you need an extra layer on your mattress for maximum comfort, either to make your mattress firmer or softer, then you might want to opt for a mattress topper. This is because they tend to be thicker; hence, provide users with the right level of comfort they need.

2. Support

If for medical reasons such as back pain, you need a layer that can give you the right joint support or provide your body with the necessary support it needs to be based on your sleeping position, then you might want to opt for a mattress topper.

3. Protection

If you are on a tight budget and the only thing you need is to protect your mattress, then you might want to opt for a mattress pad instead of a mattress topper.

How to Choose the Right Mattress Topper or Mattress Pad for Your Needs?

We all have different sleeping preferences, as such, you might be wondering what is the right mattress pad or mattress topper for you based on your sleeping needs. Well, in this section, we will break everything down to help you purchase the right type of accessory for you.

1. Your Sleeping Position

One thing you might want to consider is your sleeping position. Depending on the position you find yourself sleeping in at night, certain types of mattress toppers might be a good choice for you. Below is a list of the various types of sleeping positions, and the type of topper we recommend:

  • Back Sleepers: For back sleepers, you might want to opt-in for a latex mattress topper since they tend to be soft but bouncy.
  • Side Sleepers: For side sleepers, we recommend that you purchase a memory foam or a gel-infused memory foam topper since they take the shape of your body and they tend to provide the support needed for your pressure points.
  • Stomach Sleepers: Might want to go in a latex mattress topper. Since they provide firm support.

It is important to note that feather and wool toppers are ideal for side and back sleepers who need a super soft surface to sleep on. However, if you have back pains, then you might want to stick with a latex mattress topper.

2. Your Body Temperature

If you tend to be a hot sleeper then you might want to opt for a cooling mattress topper such as a gel memory foam mattress topper. Or other alternatives such as a cooling mattress pad made of wool or feather.

If you just need an extra layer to regulate your body weight, then you may opt for either a topper or a mattress pad.

3. Body Weight

Your body weight will determine the thickness of the mattress topper you get.

  • Individuals who are 130 pounds and under should get a topper of thickness 2 to 3 inches
  • Individuals who are above 130 pounds but below 231 pounds should get toppers between 3 to 4 inches
  • Individuals who are above 230 pounds should get toppers that are thicker than 4 inches.

Also, we highly recommend that individuals who weigh above 230 pounds should avoid feather and down, and wool toppers since they toppers are most soft, and may not provide the necessary support needed for such individuals.

Quick Notes Just Before You Leave:

We hope at this point, the difference between a mattress topper and a mattress pad is clear. Below is a quick recap of what is above:

  • Mattress toppers provide extra support, comfort, and some sort of temperature regulation, whiles the mattress pad protects the underlying mattress as well as provides temperature regulation.
  • If you need extra support or comfort, then getting a mattress topper will be good. However, if you need to just protect your money, then you can purchase a mattress pad instead.
  • Due to the additional benefits mattress toppers offer, they tend to be generally more expensive than mattress pads.
  • You must consider your body weight, the type of sleeper you are, and your sleeping position to ensure that you choose the right mattress topper or mattress pad for you.
  • Whether you buy a mattress topper or mattress pad, it is better to clean and maintain them regularly. Not only will this prolong the lifespan of the product, but it will also make it more comfortable to sleep on.


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