Mattress pads have become increasingly popular in recent years and for good reason. They can increase sleep quality and level of comfort. However the words: mattress topper, mattress pad, and mattress protector are often used interchangeably, which definitely confuses our customers.
1. What is the difference between a mattress topper and mattress pad?
The terms mattress pad and mattress topper are often used interchangeably. A mattress topper solely refers to something that is supposed to enhance the comfort level of the mattress by placing an extra softer layer or pad on top of existing, and probably too hard mattress. A mattress pad however can refer both to a mattress topper but also to a thinner kind of pad, most often made out of cotton, which is there to protect your mattress for hygienic reasons. These mattress pads for hygienic protection are also often termed as mattress protectors, which further confuses the consumer!
2. What kinds of mattress toppers exist?
The most popular mattress toppers seem to be made out of either memory foam, synthetic or natural latex. We recommend natural latex, which while being more expensive than the other two materials, has the benefit of being dust mite and mold spore unfriendly, as well as being superbly comfortable. We love the feel of memory foam but dislike its odor. It also tends to harden at temperatures below 65° and takes a time to spring back into shape.
3. What are the benefits of a good mattress topper?
A good mattress topper (a.k.a. mattress pad) can really enhance the quality of your sleep. Those of us at 50 plus years who bought extra firm mattresses not too long ago, appreciate that the extra layer of “squishiness” does in fact alleviate aching joints in the morning, and feels delightfully luxurious. By adding a mattress pad or topper to an existing mattress you can sometimes prolong its useful life. Be clear that adding a mattress pad cannot save a mattress which has already served it useful life as the lack of underlying support still resides in the mattress and box-springs.
4. Explain the difference between the choices of various kinds of mattress pads or toppers:
Cotton mattress pads: Pure cotton mattress pads are thin, quilted and easily washable. These are often known as mattress covers or protectors and extend the life of a mattress by protecting it from bodily fluids. They will have an elastic edging which neatly fits around the side of your mattress. Cotton is naturally hypoallergenic and allows you to “breathe”.
Wool Fleece mattress pads: are like sleeping with a very soft sheepskin rug under your sheet. At first glance, that does not sound very appealing but rest assured, a wool fleece mattress pad is pure, self indulgent luxury adding softness to your mattress. As a wool product it has all the advantages of wool but a wool fleece mattress pad does not offer the same support to the back as a layered wool topper and they tend to mat down over time. Cheaper wool fleece pads are thinner and coarser, and will mat down more quickly than a thicker and plusher one like we offer. Wool fleece pads will spring back to life quickly with a vapor steam cleaner and some can also be washed, but will tend to shed in the process, so we prefer the steam cleaning method.
Natural Latex mattress pads: Latex comes from the rubber tree and is a very durable and resilient material which also has the advantage of providing a cushion for aching joints and back. Latex can either be synthetic or natural rubber. The blended synthetic kind can last longer, but the natural kind is very long lasting [up to 20 years]. Latex is naturally hypoallergenic and does not harbor dust mites and mold. Mattress pads made out of latex are extraordinarily comfortable providing both comfort and support. The only disadvantage to a latex mattress pad of any quality is that it will cost as much as some cheaper mattresses, which might make you question their value. A night on a latex mattress pad would change your mind in a heartbeat. A great latex mattress topper is the Royal Pedic Organic Pillow Top Mattress Pad.
Wool and Alpaca mattress pads: Alpaca is a kind of very soft wool from the coat of the Alpaca (part of the llama family). It is even softer and lighter than cashmere, so a mattress pad made out Alpaca is very soft. In fact, a 100% alpaca mattress pad would be too soft as the pad would compress too fast under the weight of the human body. Alpaca mattress pads are mixed with wool for durability. Wool mattress pads are great for allergy sufferers since they are naturally dust mite and mold resistant. This is because wool absorbs moisture from the body making it comfortable for you. Wool dries out quickly so it is inhospitable to allergens, which prefer a moist environment. Wool is also a perfect insulator as the air pockets in wool fibers act as an insulating vacuum. Strangely enough, a wool mattress pad will keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The disadvantage of a wool mattress pad is it can feel on the hard side compared with some of the other materials reviewed and it is not washable. On the plus side, they are superior in their ability to repel allergens, offer excellent pressure point relief and are very durable.
Latex Core mattress pads with Wool and Cotton covering: Just simply the best of all worlds but these tend to be on the expensive side and like a “mini- mattress.” The Royal-Pedic Mattress pads weigh about 70lbs and are either 3.5 or 5 inches thick but are the perfect blend of both support and comfort.
Memory Foam mattress pads: Mattress toppers constructed out of foam tend to be lightweight but are not breathable so some people complain that they sweat at night. Not good for those people who run “hot.” Nowadays they are very inexpensive and run from the open foam “egg-crate” type to those encased in other fabrics to try and disguise the out-gassing of the odor from the memory foam. The odor from even an expensive memory foam mattress pads have an overpowering smell with a number of our staff complaining it smelled like “skunk cabbage.” The other disadvantage of memory foam is it does not spring back into place and has permanent indentations from the body. Therefore we do not recommend this kind of mattress pad.
Down or Feather mattress pads: Feathers are actually a better filling than down for mattress toppers because they are more resilient, but they have a habit of clumping and needing a good regular shake out. The feather stems can also poke through the cover fabric which is not comfortable for the sleeper. There are also many of us who are allergic to feathers. A down mattress topper looks very luxurious but tends to flatten out as soon as you lay on it. For that reason, we do not recommend down as the filler for a mattress pad or topper if you are looking for relief from aching joints and pressure points. If you’d like to see what a down mattress topper feels like, simply take a down comforter and lay it on the mattress under your sheet.
Synthetic Down Alternative mattress pads: The same reservations we have about down filled mattress pads we have about its synthetic cousin. It mats down very quickly so the useful life of this kind of mattress pad is limited. None the less, they are affordable and the quilted pillow top pads do offer additional comfort and relief from a hard mattress. We have carefully selected our synthetic down alternative mattress pads to ensure they offer comfort, quality and longevity.