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Memory Foam Mattress Toppers vs Pillow Top Mattress Pads: Which is Better?

Memory Foam Mattress Toppers vs Pillow Top Mattress Pads: Which One is Better?
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If you’d rather save on a mattress than splurge (which, same), you’ll need a good mattress topper to get your proper beauty sleep. Regular pillow top mattress pads are typically pretty inexpensive, but if you’re looking at memory foam mattress toppers, they’ll cost you a little extra. So which one is worth the investment? I’m comparing the two to help you figure out which one will get you that sweet, sweet sleep.


Is your current bed a little uncomfortable or very uncomfortable? This is the first way to determine whether you need a memory foam mattress topper or pillow top mattress pad.

Pillow top mattress pads aren’t much thicker than your typical pillow top mattress. In fact, they’re designed to be thin because your mattress should already be doing a pretty good job in supporting your body, but you could use a little more fluff. For this reason, it may be best to look at mattress toppers if you need more firmness and support.

Memory foam mattress toppers are thicker and made of one or more materials. Cheaper mattress toppers are usually two inches thick and are only made of one material. As you increase in price, they can become four or more inches and use two or even three different materials. You should buy a memory foam mattress topper if your bed is keeping you up, hurting your body, and you need something firm to support your body throughout the night.


Both memory foam mattress toppers and pillow top mattress pads can extend the life of your mattress. When you sleep on a mattress pad or mattress topper, it takes some of the weight and pressure off your mattress. Over time, this can decrease the chance of a sagging bed.

Mattress pads are less likely to prevent sagging, meaning most of your weight is on the bed itself. Memory foam mattress toppers are supposed to support most of your weight, meaning they could extend the life of your mattress significantly.

Pads and toppers may also prevent dust mites and allergies. Memory foam mattress toppers are more likely to keep away pests because they’re upgraded forms of mattress pads. The best way to tell is if the product claims that it’s “waterproof.” This means it’s been coated to keep out water, dust mites, and allergies.


Pillow top mattress pads, being the thinner option, are going to be much cheaper. Lower-end pads can be purchased for under $10, but these won’t provide much support. They’re more like quieter mattress protectors, so if you want something that’s cushiony, pick up something a little more expensive.

Mattress toppers can be cheap or costly; it all depends on what you’re looking for. As mentioned before, you can get one that’s four inches thick and use high-density memory foam in combination with regular memory foam but expect to pay a pretty penny. Alternatively, you can get a decent, basic mattress topper for under $50.

White mattress topper on bed in dark room

(Image via Unsplash)

Material Types

Pillow top mattress pads aren’t flashy. Most are made with cotton and use a polyester, stretchy material to wrap around your mattress. On the other hand, mattress toppers can be made of tons of different materials, from cotton and down to memory foam. The best mattress toppers are made with at least one type of memory foam because it hugs your body while providing support.

You’ll likely run into a material called high-density memory foam in the two-material types because it can provide more support. Mattresses that are too soft could benefit from high-density memory foam to provide a little pushback.

Another type you may run into is gel memory foam. While it may not look soft to lay on, it is a dream come true for hot sleepers. The gel material doesn’t hold heat like regular memory foam mattress toppers, keeping you cool all night long.


No one wants to spend money frequently on a new mattress pad or topper. Between the two, a pillow top mattress pad is likely to wear down quicker. Like a pillow top mattress, the material can quickly become bunched up if you toss and turn all night long, which may tear and wear down the fabrics.

Memory foam mattress toppers may also bunch up, but the most common problem is the topper sliding off by the morning. The best way to stop this is to get straps that will hold down the topper throughout the night.

The Verdict

While there are pros and cons to each, memory foam mattress toppers are the clear winner here. And we’ve rounded up the best memory foam mattress toppers for you—check it out here!

Last modified on May 25th, 2023

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