Mattress Too Hard? Retrofitting Mattresses with Toppers or Pads
After a recent visit to London sleeping on my father’s much too hard guestroom bed, and sleeping on a similar guest room bed at home when my husband and I were keeping each other up with our hacking coughs and colds, I began to think of what you could do to retrofit a bed which is not old, but where the mattress is just way too hard. I then made a quick marketing survey around our offices and found a bunch of other people in a similar position. Until recently, conventional wisdom had it, that the firmer the mattress, the better it was for you. Unfortunately, this has turned out not to be true, and us baby boomers are finding our backs and joints are hurting with our extra firm mattresses.
Just to get our terms straight, “mattress toppers or mattress pads” are for retrofitting existing mattresses to make them feel softer and give the back more support. These pads are most often made of memory foam or latex and vary from 2 inches to 5 inches in depth. Depending on the construction and materials used, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300-$800 for a premium mattress pad or topper.
Next on the food chain are various kinds of pads also called “mattress pads” usually made out of wool, alpaca and wool, synthetic down or real down. There are two kinds of wool mattress pads. Some wool mattress pads are unencased, a bit like a sheepskin rug only finer, some are encased in some kind of covering like cotton. Most people would agree that some kind of wool pad lasts the longest out of this category of pad. All these kinds of mattress pads are designed to give your mattress an extra degree of softness and comfort but not necessarily enough support for severely aching joints and backs. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 for this kind of pad.
The last kind of “mattress pad” is usually made of cotton and is for hygienic purposes only and for mattress protection. These kinds of pads are priced under $100.
I am disappointed to report that we tested recently a well- known brand of memory foam wrapped in down mattress pad, and it got the big thumbs down. Why were we disappointed? It was fabulously comfortable but it smelled to high heaven of the anti-microbial it was sprayed with, and goodness knows what else. Even after a week of out-gassing, our staff uniformly said it smelled like skunk or rotten cabbage. Also, the number of people recently who have written to me after bad reactions to memory foam, convinced me that this material is a loser, even though it seems to hold out such promise. So then the next best thing was to examine natural latex. This turned out to be as comfortable as memory foam, in fact even more so, but thankfully odor-free. Of course, if money is no object then the 3 inch or 5 inch Royal Pedic mattress pad at $742, or the new Euphoria mattress pad at $497 upwards is the best way to go. I have a Royal-Pedic mattress pad on my own bed and am totally in love with it. The problem for most people is that this price is almost the equivalent of an inexpensive bed.
However, in my own house, I have that 2-year-old less expensive bed which is my refuge when my husband has a bad cold or snores too loudly. That is when I, followed by a troop of three Siamese cats, switch beds at 3 a.m. Then in the morning when I get up, I have had a creaking back.
So that is when I decide to spring for the Euphoria natural latex mattress pad. It made a very significant difference to the feel of the mattress and the support to my back. I liked the “feel” of the latex, supportive without being too soft. But the real proof was waking up the next time I had to use the guest room without getting out of bed feeling like a cripple. It does not make my “cheapo” guest room bed into a Royal Pedic equivalent but the difference and improvement is quite distinct. Enough to make the purchase worthwhile.
So what is a cost effective solution for a mattress pad or topper? We have added a number of mattress pads recently, which are listed in our new Mattress Pad Comparison Chart. The wool or even the wool and alpaca mattress pads are beautifully healthy and long lasting but not for those who are looking for the Princess and the Pea approach. Reusing an existing spare comforter you might have tucked away in a closet, is the most cost effective solution of all. It does not give you any support but it does make the mattress feel a bit softer! I am a fan of the lambs wool mattress pads, the Elite at $69.95 upwards if your mattress is not overly hard already is what I have on my bed but I put it on top of the Royal Pedic Pad using it as much as anything just to protect the mattress. Along the same lines, but MUCH thicker and luxurious is the new mattress pad by Vista Wool at $299.00 which has every member of staff here putting one on their own “to buy” list. This is for the pampered or for “the to die for” gift. It is not cheap but it is certainly quite sumptuous and feels wonderfully soft underneath the sheets. What we like about this kind of wool mattress pad is that by using a vapor steam cleaner, we can restore the pile and nap of the wool, when it gets mashed down over time. It is also a lot softer than the encased wool mattress pads. A Vista Wool mattress pad is truly a luxurious indulgence; not quite enough support to really relieve aching backs (although it did improve mine somewhat), but the comfort level was a dramatic improvement.
One thing I have to warn you about is when you add a mattress pad, you add extra depth to your mattress, and guess what – your regular sheets will no longer fit. Luckily both the Diva 400tc or Dreamfit 300tc sheets fit just fine, as they are made precisely for the more popular deeper mattresses on the market today. My personal favorite is the new Diva Dots 400tc sheets. The factory where they are made told us they were trying to compete with FieldCrest Charisma. Since I own some Charisma, which was unbelievably expensive, I did a comparison, and quite frankly like the Diva Dots better as they seem much silkier.