With so many bedding options available today, it can be confusing to sort out how each one works, and which product is best for you. From mattresses made in various styles and materials to accessories including mattress toppers, mattress pads, and mattress protectors, shopping for the right combination can be overwhelming.
To decrease some of that overwhelm, this post will help you understand the difference between two popular products: Mattress toppers and mattress protectors.
The Differences Between Mattress Toppers and Mattress Protectors
Learn about the benefits and differences between these two popular bedding products so you can decide whether to add one or both to your bed.
A mattress topper is a bedding accessory that rests on top of a mattress. Toppers are available in most standard bed sizes, from twin to king. The thickness of a mattress topper can vary from anywhere between one and four or more inches. Mattress toppers are made from a variety of materials, including latex, memory foam, feather down, bamboo, and wool.
The purpose of a mattress topper is to change the feel of an existing mattress, by either adding additional firmness or softness, along with an extra bit of luxury. There are even intrepid DIYers out there who build their own mattresses using layered toppers, and some people bring toppers along to use for travel or camping.
You might want to buy a mattress topper if you:
- Have a mattress that is either too firm or too soft
- Want to add a luxurious feel to your existing bed
- Have an older mattress that’s starting to lose some of its support
- Own an RV and want to add a topper to an uncomfortable mattress
- Have hip or shoulder pain and want a softer surface for your body’s pressure points
- Want to build a DIY mattress
- Want to bring a topper along when traveling or staying with friends or relatives
However you use a topper, most are not designed to protect a bed from spills or stains. That’s where a mattress protector comes in.
Mattress protectors are made to do what their name implies: Protect a mattress from dust, dirt, sweat and spills. Some mattress protectors are noisy due to added vinyl or other waterproof materials. MarthaStewart.com, suggests finding a mattress protector that keeps outside elements at bay while remaining breathable.
Mattress protectors come in two basic styles. One style zips around and completely encases the mattress and is a good option for people with dust mite allergies. The other style wraps around a mattress like a fitted sheet and is a good choice if you want to prevent spills, stains, and other messes.
Unlike mattress toppers, mattress protectors don’t offer any additional comfort or support, though some come with padded tops that add a bit of plushness to the protector.
You might want to buy a mattress protector if you:
- Have young children and want to protect their mattresses (or yours, if they frequently end up in your bed)
- Have pets that sleep in your bed with you
- Are a hot and sweaty sleeper
- Experience incontinence
- Have a dust mite allergy
If you decide to purchase both a mattress topper and a mattress protector, read our guide to the best way to layer the most common types of bedding.