Introduction to Mattress Toppers

Mattress toppers are pads that have been designed to make mattresses more comfortable to sleep on. They are used with new mattresses, but also with older bedding that needs adjustment, either because it is too firm or because it is not providing sufficient support. Mattress toppers provide a way for a consumer to make their bed more comfortable for their specific needs, rather than purchase an entire new bedding set. They are also useful with pull-out beds, helping the user to avoid feeling the metal crossbars.


Mattress toppers are sometimes referred to as overlays or bed toppers. They also, as of recent times, sometimes have the words “mattress pad” in their names. Here it is necessary to make careful distinctions. Until not to long ago, a mattress pad was a waterproof or water resistant pad to protect the mattress from stains and spills, or a pad with a heating element to warm the bed. Now, a mattress pad may combine elements of mattress protection with elements of a mattress topper – providing stain proofing and added comfort. But because an old term has taken on a new meaning in this process, it’s important to look carefully and ask questions about what the function of different bedding items are.

Another name that must be watched carefully to avoid confusion is “pillow top.” Pillow top mattresses have extra layers built into the mattress itself for extra comfort—this is one feature that may distinguish a higher priced mattress from the basic model in the product line. However, there are also mattress toppers called “pillow top mattress pads,” which are purchased as a separate item from the mattress and do double duty—both protecting the mattress and providing additional comfort for sleepers.

Types of Mattress Topper

These are some of the basic types of mattress topper:

    Chenille Pad—chenille is a fabric with pile, and as a mattress topper, it helps wick away moisture to keep the sleeper dry.

    home institute 1Eggcrate Foam—these wavy mattress toppers, made to help distribute weight and increase comfort, come in various thicknesses and can be made of a variety of materials.

    Feather Bed—sometimes referred to as an over mattress, this comforter-like item is stuffed with a combination of feathers and down, and not only adds comfort but also helps regulate body temperature.

    Foam—both latex foam and memory foam, the latter of which is made to mold to your body and provide extra support, are available for mattress toppers. Some of the latex varieties claim anti-microbial properties that prevent mildew and dust mites.

    Sheepskin—sometimes referred to as wool or fleece sheepskin may have elasticized corner straps to help keep them in place. They add comfort, wick moisture, and help regulate body temperature.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Introduction to Mattresses
  • Mattress Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Blankets
  • Organizing a Linen Closet
  • Bed Sheets Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Featherbeds
  • Air Mattress Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Throw Blankets
  • Introduction to Dust Mites