How to Compare Memory Foam Mattress Toppers

How to Compare Memory Foam Mattress Toppers

June 9, 2016

by Andrew Schneider Bedding Specialist

Memory foam mattress toppers add softness to your mattresses, while cradling your body, but not all mattress toppers are the same. How do you choose the best mattress topper? What qualities should you consider? Before you buy, spend some time thinking about thickness, firmness, density, gel and mattress compatibility so you choose the best mattress topper for your needs.

Gel memory foam mattress topper on mattress


Memory foam mattress toppers tend to have a thickness between 2 and 5.5 inches. The more softness and support you want to add, the thicker your topper needs to be.

Take into account your sleeping position when you choose a mattress topper. If you sleep primarily on your back or stomach, your weight is dispersed over a relatively large surface area, and the moderate amount of thickness of a 2-inch topper works fine. In contrast, if you sleep on your side, all of your weight is concentrated into a narrow part of your body, and as a result, more pressure is placed on your hips, shoulders and knees. In this case, you may prefer a 3 to 5.5-inch thick topper.

Layers of memory foam on bed


If you want a cushy bed that you sink into, you need a soft or plush firmness rating. In contrast, firm and medium toppers are considered to be the best for providing relief for aches and pain, as they absorb movement and provide stability. Finally, plush firm, the perfect compromise for many sleepers, invokes the sense of lying in a cloud but still supports your back and joints.

Gel memory foam mattress topper on mattress


The density of your mattress topper refers to the pounds of material per cubic foot of mattress. If you buy a topper with a density of 3-pounds, every cubic foot of the mattress contains 3 pounds of foam or gel. The more support you want; the more density you need.

If you're just looking for a bit of a boost, 2 pounds of density may be enough, but if you want serious relief for pain or discomfort, turn up the dial to 4 pounds or higher. Three-pound density is the perfect compromise and the most popular.

Memory foam topper and pillows on bed


Traditional memory foam pads for mattresses feature a thick layer of polyurethane foam, but you can also find mattress toppers that contain gel. These toppers feature gel beads infused into memory foam. They tend to cost a bit more than traditional toppers of the same thickness, but they offer greater air flow. The cooling nature of a gel-infused mattress topper is ideal for steamy nights and sleepers who love the cool side of the pillow.

Thick memory foam topper on bed


If you like the peace of mind of an old-school name in the mattress industry, you can stick to mainstay brands such as Simmons BeautyRest, Broyhill, and Sealy. If you prefer to focus on specs rather than labels, ignore the brand and focus on the numbers. Find the firmness, thickness and density you like, and then choose a less expensive memory foam mattress topper that meets your needs. Most memory foam mattress toppers receive high customer ratings, regardless of brand.

Memory foam mattress on bed

Mattress Compatibility

A mattress topper is ideal for softening a hard bed and adding support to an aging mattress. Unfortunately, though, if you have a pillow top that is too soft, a pillow top mattress topper doesn't alleviate that, and it may be time to switch to a new mattress. Similarly, a mattress topper cannot revive every old mattress. If your mattress has broken springs, worn-out memory foam or other serious issues, it may be time to shop for a memory foam mattress rather than just a topper.