The birth of the mattress topper was related to the mattress pad or the mattress cover but it has taken on a life of its own with the use of materials like memory foam and latex in them.
Originally the mattress toppers were sold largely to protect the mattress from stains, damage, wear and tear and anything else that could affect the longevity of a mattress or render the warranty invalid (a stained mattress will not be replaced by any manufacturer.) Still nowadays many people use a simple mattress pad that will top the mattress, made of cotton for breathe-ability and either tied to the corners, elasticized at the edges to fit over the mattress or zipped to completely contain the mattress. They may also serve a secondary function as protection to the sleeper from allergies brought on by dust-mites or other potential allergens.
However mattress toppers have taken on much more the look and feel of the pillow-top finishes of plush mattress sets, these days. Of course they will still serve the protective function but sometimes they are made quite thick nowadays – 3 or 4 inches – because as well as protecting they offer great comfort benefits to an overly firm mattress. They are able to add an extra comfort layer to an old mattress, rejuvenating it.
Of course if the old mattress in question is sagging, moth-eaten and worn out then a mattress topper won’t help much, no matter how thick it is. But providing the mattress has retained its shape well then well-made cheap mattress toppers are good options, as they can be a great way of getting extra comfort without having to go to the expense of replacing the mattress completely.
Those toppers that use memory foam and latex are probably the most popular nowadays and can be bought in most standard bedding centers as well as online. A 3 or 4 inch mattress topper in queen size, made from good quality memory foam, will probably cost between $150 and $300 online, so it is a significant saving over having to buy a whole new mattress. Do not skimp on price though and go with an established manufacturer – there are plenty of toppers from companies like Serta that will use a decent memory foam – as there are cheaper brands available that may use less memory foam of a poorer quality or density than is needed to provide good comfort levels.
Some of the best mattress topper sets are so comfortable they are used almost like a futon mattress, especially in Asia. They will be rolled out on the floor and can act as a mattress!
Mattress toppers serve a couple of functions –both protective and comfort-based – but as they have been developed they have become thicker and more luxurious so that the comfort factor outweighs the protective factor for most people. This is no more in evidence than with the latex mattress topper.
Originally mattress covers, pads and toppers were virtually interchangeable as a protective layer to keep the mattress stain-free and in good condition so that the warranty wasn’t invalidated; sometimes they were also used to keep the sleeper protected from allergies and dust-mites.
As time has gone on the mattress topper has been made with more and more luxurious foams, made into 3 or 4 inch pads that really add a huge amount of comfort to the top of a mattress. Nowadays you will see many memory foam and latex mattress toppers being marketed by the same established companies that make the mattresses and they have become a big business in their own right. They will resemble the plush pillow-tops that quality luxurious mattresses often feature.
In Asia some people now use mattress toppers as a type of futon mattress, rolled out on the floor and ready to go! In the US they can be used on a new mattress or on an old one that is a bit too firm for the owner’s liking but has still retained a decent shape. They will not be able to revive a dilapidated sagging mattress, but a 4-inch latex foam mattress topper will add a natural, super-soft, cushioning layer to the top of a firm, supportive mattress. Some people with bad backs might use a topper to soften up the surface of an orthopedic mattress and make it less firm.
Latex foam toppers may use the natural Dunlop-style latex or the Talalay latex which will usually be a mixture of natural and artificial latex. Both are very breathe-able and provide great cushioning for pressure points on the body, but the Talalay latex has a more open cell structure that makes it slightly less dense and softer than the Dunlop style latex.
Latex mattresses can cost thousands of dollars, which is out of most people’s budgets. Quality latex mattress toppers are available for $300-$400 and are far more widely accessible, so that more people can experience a little layer of luxury without it costing the earth!