Best Pillow Top Mattress
If asked to picture a comfortable mattress, many of us would imagine an inviting stack of pressure-relieving layers crowned by a thick, cloud-like cushion. This ideal vision describes a pillow top mattress to a T. But what exactly is a pillow top mattress and is it right for every sleeper?
Well, keep reading, because we’re about to dive into the cozy world of pillow top mattresses! You’ll find out what goes into a great pillow top, how they differ, and what to watch for when it comes to warranties. Plus, we’ll go over which sleeping positions work best with this type of mattress (attention back sleepers!) and how to choose the perfect model for you.
Best Pillow Top Mattress 2021 - Top Reviews & Comparison
Best Pillow Top Mattress for Back Pain
In need of a pillow top mattress that’ll help ease your back pain? Then you should definitely check out the line of Helix Luxe beds. These models are outfitted with plush foam pillow tops and interior layers of zoned support to help lift the hips in line with the shoulders, ensuring proper spine alignment across multiple positions.
The Luxe line features six beds, from the ultra-soft Sunset to the firm Dawn. And while these mattresses may differ in terms of construction and feel, they’re all built to offer sleepers a satisfying balance of pressure relief and support. This can be a major draw for back pain sufferers, as it means the beds offer an ideal combo of give and lift to alleviate tension in the shoulders while positioning the hips on top of the bed. Helix also sells a Standard line (all the same models, but sans pillow top and zoned support) as well as the Helix Plus (a bed designed specifically for heavier folks).
Best Latex Pillow Top Mattress
If you’re an eco-friendly sleeper looking to snag a bed that’s as green as you are, you’ve got to take a look at the Avocado Pillow Top mattress. This bad boy’s built with all-natural latex, organic cotton, and wool batting for a supremely cozy structure that also happens to be good for the environment.
Though the Standard Avocado is quite firm, the added pillow top on this model makes for a comfortable medium firm feel. While many sleepers will likely enjoy this balanced vibe, I think it could be especially well suited to back and side sleepers who need to hit that sweet spot between pressure relief and support. I should add that not only is latex an all-natural material, but it’s also durable, cooling, and incredibly bouncy, making for a buoyant bed that doesn’t sleep too hot.
Best Pillow Top Mattress for Stomach Sleepers
Now, I wouldn’t normally recommend a pillow top mattress to stomach sleepers as these folks tend toward firmer structures for support at the hips and lower back. But that doesn’t mean a pillow top model is totally out of the question. So, if you like to doze in prone, but also want the cushiony goodness of a pillow top mattress, feast your eyes on the Saatva!
This bed features a traditional innerspring build with a sturdy coil-on-coil construction for optimized support. But though the mattress in and of itself is quite firm (receiving a 7/10 on the firmness scale from me), it’s capped off with a gentle pillow top for a touch of pressure relief. In my experience, the foam is soft enough to offer some immediate comfort, but not so soft as too sink the hips out of alignment with the shoulders. Overall, a solid option for stomach sleepers in need of a little extra cushioning.
Best Pillow Top Mattress for the Money
Given how luxurious they are, pillow top mattresses tend to be a little expensive, which is something you’ve likely noticed on your search. However, not all pillow top models break the bank; to prove it, allow me to introduce you to the DreamCloud Premier mattress.
Built with a quilted pillow top over gel-infused memory foam and pocketed coils, this bed balances bounce and sinkage in a way that should appease a wide range of sleepers. You’ll likely experience a little sinkage into its gentle foam top layers, but should retain enough mobility to move around the mattress with ease. Therefore, I’d highly recommend it for combo sleepers or those in need of pressure relief across multiple positions. The bed also features excellent edge support, so could be a nice fit for couples. In general, the quality of the mattress is superb and is only heightened by its relatively affordable price tag.
What Is a Pillow Top Mattress?
A pillow top is an additional cushioning layer attached to the top of a mattress. As a general rule, a pillow top is at least two inches thick. Unlike extra cushioning layers that sit under the cover of the mattress, a pillow top is a distinct piece of padding sewn to the outer covering. Though the main body of most pillow tops is connected to the mattress, the outer edges are typically detached. Pillow tops are so named because they offer a luxurious feel similar to a thick, flat pillow.
A Euro top is comparable to a pillow top but is made of denser, higher-quality material that is fully secured to the mattress surface. This additional structure makes a Euro top more supportive at the edges. A Euro top is typically a more expensive option than a pillow top due to its superior construction and durability.
The cover of a pillow or Euro top is typically made from the same material used for the mattress covering. Options can range from a simple synthetic poly blend to high-end fabrics like Tencel and silk. Pillow and Euro-top mattresses are widely available in stores and online. Both are typically filled with one of the following materials:
- Memory foam – Memory foam is a viscoelastic material made from polyurethane that responds to heat and conforms to the body. It has a slow response to pressure and reduces motion transfer. Memory foam can absorb and retain body heat and “sleep hot,” though newer forms of the material incorporate gel or open-cell technology to help decrease heat retention. A pillow or Euro top made from memory foam will feel plush and offer plenty of sinking.
- Polyfoam – Polyfoam is also made from polyurethane but lacks the viscoelastic properties of memory foam. Polyfoam has a quick response to pressure and is typically used to complement memory foam or latex. Low-density polyfoam has fewer foam particles per square inch than high-density foam and is less durable. Low-density foam may degrade within a few years of use.
- Latex – Latex foam is a natural material made from the sap of the rubber tree. Latex feels firmer and bouncier than memory foam and has very little sinkage. It also has natural ventilating properties and doesn’t typically retain heat. A pillow top made from latex will have a supportive, medium-firm to firm feel.
- A combination of foams – A pillow top with a greater percentage of memory foam will feel more plush and elastic. One made primarily from polyfoam will have a quicker response to pressure and offer sinkage without the body-hugging conformity of memory foam. A pillow top made mostly of latex will display that material’s bouncy, supportive properties and transfer more motion than memory foam.
Pillow Top Mattress Options
Now that we’ve gone over how pillow tops are made, let’s look at the types of pillow top mattresses available on the market. They differ in terms of firmness, bounce, and support, and offer a range of options for almost any sleeper.
Memory and Poly Foam
Memory and polyfoam are two of the most commonly used mattress materials. Many mattress companies utilize a combination of memory and poly foam to create a plush and supportive feel. A pillow top on memory or poly foam mattress can add an additional layer of soothing pressure relief and comfort. This combination of materials may feel too soft to sleepers who prefer firmer and more buoyant support.
Latex is known for its slightly bouncy, supportive feel, and natural cooling properties. Latex is a natural material that generally costs more than foam but may be more durable, as well. A pillow or Euro top on a latex mattress can offer long-lasting core support with a luxurious surface feel. The springiness of latex makes it a more appropriate choice for sleepers who don’t mind a bit of motion transfer.
Innerspring mattresses contain an internal network of steel coils or individually pocketed steel coils. The coils offer bouncy support while foam comfort layers add plush pressure relief. Support around the edges of the mattress is generally more robust and durable in innerspring mattresses than those made entirely of foam. A pillow top on an innerspring mattress typically feels soft and luxurious but with a springy supportiveness thanks to the internal coil structure. To learn more check out my top picks for the best innerspring mattress.
Bed-in-a-box mattresses are tightly compressed and rolled in the factory and shipped in a box or bag directly to the buyer. These mattresses are often made from all-foam materials such as memory foam and latex but may also contain steel coils. Pillow tops are becoming more common in bed-in-a-box models as the popularity of direct-to-consumer bedding sales surges and new competitors enter the market. A bed-in-a-box pillow top mattress can be a great option for the sleeper who values convenience, free returns, a generous trial period, and a lower price.
When looking at pillow-top options, don’t forget to keep the cover in mind, as well. Some folks prefer a pillow top with a quilted cover, whereas others will look for hypoallergenic, organic, or natural materials. Cover materials may be less important to folks who plan to use a mattress pad or other sort of bedding layer over the pillow top.
Who Should Consider a Pillow Top Mattress?
Just on looks alone, a pillow top mattress can’t be beaten for the promise of comfort. But is a pillow top mattress a good choice for everybody? It all depends on your personal preferences and primary sleeping position. Consider a pillow top mattress if:
- You’re a sleeper who likes a cushiony surface – If your idea of slumber heaven is a thick, luxurious surface layer, a pillow top mattress could be the answer. Pillow and Euro top mattresses are designed for pressure relief and are a great option for folks who like sinking into cloud-like comfort. If you prefer firm support, however, you may want to choose a mattress with a stiffer surface feel.
- You’re a back and/or side sleeper – The thick plushness of a pillow or Euro top mattress can be a perfect fit for a back or side sleeper. Back and side sleepers typically do best with a soft yet supportive mattress that contours around the hips and shoulders and helps to align the spine. A pillow top mattress can be a good choice for back and side sleepers who like a cozy surface layer as well as pressure relief.
- You like the look of a thicker mattress – The substantial profile of a pillow top mattress can add aesthetic appeal to a bedroom and help your bedding stand out.
Pillow Top Mattress Buying Guide
With so many pillow and Euro top options to choose from, how do you decide which one is best for you? Below, we take you through the process of selecting the perfect pillow top mattress.
- Know your needs – Are you looking for a pillow top mattress for comfort alone or is pressure relief your priority? Do you like the hug of memory foam or is the firm, bouncy feel of latex more your style? Will you be sharing your bed with a partner who has different sleep preferences? Make sure to know your must-haves when you start your search.
- Think about thickness – Pillow tops usually range from about two to four inches thick, but more isn’t always better. When considering thickness, know what sort of surface feels most comfortable to you. Choose a thinner pillow top if you’re looking for gentle pressure relief and a thicker one if you’re after a deep, cloud-like feel.
- Go for quality – A pillow top mattress can be a durable layer of comfort or flatten out and lose its shape after just a year or two. To make sure your pillow top can stand up to nightly use, pick a model that utilizes more durable materials like memory foam and latex. When in doubt, ask a mattress company representative or salesperson how long you can expect your pillow top to last.
- Consider a base – Some pillow top mattresses need a supportive base or box spring for proper support. A base can also raise a mattress to a more comfortable level. Using certain mattress models without a base can void the warranty, so be sure to understand how to use and care for your new mattress.
- Utilize the trial period – Most mattress brands offer a risk-free trial period so test out their products. Trial periods typically last from 30 days to as long as a year for some bed-in-a-box brands. If you’re not sure about a pillow or Euro top or want to test its durability, check out the terms of the trial period and give it a try. Many companies offer free exchanges and returns if you decide a particular model isn’t right for you.
- Establish a budget – When it comes time to shop for a pillow top mattress, know now how much you can spend. A new mattress is an investment that can last years, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Pillow and Euro tops range from value-priced to expensive, putting them in reach of almost any buyer.
- Plan for delivery – Whether you buy your pillow top in a store or online, you’ll need to arrange for delivery. Shipping and delivery to your doorstep is typically free with most bed-in-a-box and online brands. More mattress stores are offering free delivery as new companies enter the industry and prices become increasingly competitive.
- Read the fine print – Before committing to a pillow top purchase, be sure you understand the warranty and return policy. Many mattress brands offer a 10-year limited warranty that covers flaws and defects in materials and workmanship. Some higher-end manufacturers offer generous warranties that last for 20 years or even a lifetime. A prorated warranty covers part of the cost of certain repairs and/or defects after a defined period of use.
How long is a pillow top mattress good for?
It really depends on the type of materials used! Latex tends to be slightly more durable than traditional polyurethane or memory foams, and steel coils tend to be more durable than all three foams. So, pay close attention to the construction specs of your bed before buying.
Can you flip a pillow top mattress?
Unfortunately, no. As the name suggests, a pillow top mattress is meant to have the pillow top layer on top of the bed, so flipping it would be antithetical to the design. But you can rotate the bed 180 degrees to prevent sagging!
What is the advantage of a pillow top mattress?
The extra layers of foam up top help to establish some immediate comfort and sinkage, which can be great for folks in need of deep pressure relief at the shoulders, hips, and lower back.
How do you fix a sagging pillow top mattress?
I’d recommend rotating your bed 180 degrees. You can also slip a piece of plywood under the mattress where it’s sagging, which should help stabilize the shape. None of the mattresses on this round-up need box springs, but you could use a slatted bed frame if you so choose.
- Comfort – If you appreciate a plush, cozy feel, a pillow top mattress could be a great choice. Pillow tops are all about sinking into a luxurious cushioning layer that relieves pressure points and promotes a good night’s sleep.
- Pressure relief – Pillow and Euro-top mattresses are a good choice when pressure relief is a priority. A thick comfort layer can help reduce orthopedic pain, banish muscle tension, and decrease stress on the joints.
- Temperature control – A pillow top made from latex, polyfoam, or a cooler form of memory foam can help isolate the body from a mattress made of a warmer material such as memory foam.
- Softness – The plush softness of a pillow top mattress is both a pro and a con. If you prefer a firmer surface, you may want to skip the pillow top and go for a mattress with a medium-firm to firm feel and no additional padding.
- Durability – Durability may be an issue with a pillow top made of lower-density foam or for heavier folks who might sink through and apply more pressure to a comfort layer. A pillow or Euro top made from higher-density materials such as memory foam may last longer but could potentially retain more body heat due to the reduced ability of air to flow through the tightly-packed foam.