May 2020

What is a Mattress Topper?

Welcome to all you need to know, and probably would rather not know, about mattress toppers. Mattress toppers serve many useful and valuable purposes when choosing the right bed. Toppers can take an uncomfortable mattress and make it bareable or turn a great mattress into one that's fabulous!

Updated 2020: If you’re thinking of buying a mattress topper to improve your mattress then this guide should help you make a more informed decision on the right one. Mattress toppers serve a number of purposes from comfort to mattress hygiene and this guide will help you understand the type of topper you may need.

Coolblue Hybrid Mattress Topper
Mattress toppers can improve the comfort of your current mattress

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is an additional comfort layer that is added to a mattress to increase longevity and increase the comfort of your mattress. We recommend that all One-Sided mattresses should have a topper as this helps t increase the notoriously short life span of no-turn mattresses. For two-sided mattress models having a topper is really more subjective based on comfort, especially if you want to soften the mattress.

The confusion with mattress toppers starts when you try to buy a mattress topper in retail shops. This is where the struggle for the elusive ‘perfect mattress topper’ begins with so many on offer.

The problem is the market is flooded with hundreds of different mattress toppers, some are brilliant and some way below par for the job. You can find toppers everywhere from bespoke bed shops to discount shops meaning that there is a huge variety of offerings. Prices vary greatly and in some cases the only option you’re presented with is what size you want rather than the depth or firmness of the topper!

With mattress toppers one size does definitely not fit all.
With mattress toppers one size does definitely not fit all.
Toppers can only soften and not firm up an existing mattress
Toppers can only soften and not firm up an existing mattress

What’s the best mattress topper?

There are many different types of mattress topper from foam toppers, natural fibre and latex mattress toppers. A topper is used to increase the comfort layers of a mattress so will only ever soften a mattress not firm it.

The best mattress toppers should be:

  • At least 5cm deep or more
  • Two-sided/fully turnable
  • Tape edged to increase perimeter support
  • Be based on a breathable natural fibre ie Latex.

The importance of a mattress topper

Firstly you need to make sure it complements the bed you have and is of the necessary depth to have any real benefit. At John Ryan By Design, we have individually matched our mattress toppers to our range and also have a range of stand-alone toppers that can be bought separately to fine-tune your existing mattress. We offer hybrid foam and natural latex mattress toppers.

As a rule, of thumb, the correct mattress topper can make a great mattress into a fantastic one. On the other hand, a topper can make a bad or unsuitable bed, much more bearable.

Our site has received many comments from readers who questioned that if the mattress was expensive and had adequate comfort layers already, why was it deemed necessary to add further by way of a topper? This is an excellent question and the quick answer is that toppers increase the comfort and extend the longevity of your mattress.

There’s much more to toppers than meets the eye so read on for a more detailed look.

What are the benefits of a mattress topper?

The benefits of using a mattress topper can be split into two categories, increasing comfort and increasing the longevity of the mattress. They are an excellent way of increasing the life of your bed and providing you with flexibility. Let us go into a little more detail on the benefits of mattress toppers.

1. Providing additional comfort layers
If you choose to sleep on a core mattress without adding an additional topper, it will not be too long before the softer top component compresses under your bodyweight and the mattress will become discoloured through perspiration. Adding a topper gives another layer which will compress before the mattress; giving you more comfort but ultimately a layer that can be easily turned and rotated. We’ve spoken on mattress construction about the issues with one-sided mattresses; a necessary construction method with foam beds. A topper helps to address this issue.

2. The longevity of the mattress
Moving on to the longevity of the mattress we need to tackle the uncomfortable subject matter of sleeping directly on your mattress. This means there is nothing there to combat the three main enemies to your mattress:

  • Body Perspiration – On average the body releases up to two pints of moisture each night. This is through sweat, breathing and other fluids. The only place for this to go is into the covers, duvet and ultimately your mattress. A mattress topper allows you to stop sweat and perspiration from reaching your core mattress. So even though the topper and covers will still absorb perspiration, it is far cheaper to remove, wash or even replace these than the entire mattress.
  • Dead skin and bacteria – These will inevitably end up on the closest layers to the body and by using a topper again you can keep these away from your mattress.
  • Undue settlement and indentations – As we have discussed on sagging, eventually foams will compress somewhat as this is the nature of the foam structure. By using a topper, you ensure that the top layers take any sag and not the mattress. It also allows you to replace the topper should you need to, ie if your body weight increases significantly pushing the original suitable mattress towards its limits. Ultimately it will allow you to replace the top layer or tweak the mattress feel later on.

The additional benefits you get from utilising toppers will, in the long run, pay dividends, it allows your mattress to stay newer for longer and provides you with increased comfort. When the topper has taken all it can after the barrage of nightly activities, it is a small expenditure to replace as necessary rather than reaching the stage where the complete mattress requires replacement.

A deep mattress with a mattress topper on top
An extra-deep mattress topper can help extend the life of your mattress and improve mattress comfort.

Can a latex or foam topper be used on a pocket sprung mattress?

The answer is yes. It will change and soften the top layer of the pocket sprung mattress, but any quality mattress topper should be suitable for a pocket sprung mattress. The type of topper you choose will determine the extra sink it provides. If you need more guidance on how a topper may affect the feel of one of our mattresses, then please get in touch for tailored advice.

A suitable topper can help you sleep even more comfortably

Top 5 Mattress Topper Facts

1. A suitable mattress topper will protect your mattress from the three evils. Body perspiration, dead skin/ bacteria and indentations/ settlement issues.

2. A high-quality mattress topper will provide additional comfort layers, providing you with an even more comfortable and forgiving mattress.

3. A mattress topper will help extend the life of a mattress, especially a no turn Memory foam mattress as you can turn and rotate the topper to reduce compression or wear. It can also be replaced more easily and cost-effectively than the entire mattress.

4. Usually, the topper is made of the same or similar material as the mattress ie memory foam with a memory foam topper vs natural wool pocket sprung bed with a wool or cashmere topper. This is to keep consistency with the mattresses comfort and response levels. However, there is nothing to stop you from experimenting with different topper materials.

5. A mattress topper can make a good bed fantastic, and make a bad bed much more bearable!

What’s the best mattress topper material?

When looking for a mattress topper you’re faced with a number of different materials all of which have a set price point and lifespan.

  • Polyester based (synthetic – cheap end of the market – short lifespan)
  • Wool or Natural Fibre (Mid end of the market – longer lifespan)
  • Natural Latex (High end of the market – Longest lifespan)

If you’re wanting a topper to primarily help protect the mattress then a polyester-based protector or topper is probably your best option. These toppers are around the £20-£50 price tag for a Kingsize.

If you’re wanting to help soften up the top comfort layer slightly then a Wool or Down topper is more suitable as the polyester topper compress and flatten very quickly. Whereas a natural fibre topper can be shaken and when turning the mattress. They also compress and settle far slower meaning they last longer. These toppers are around £100-£250 price tag.

A hand made mattress topper
Toppers offer you an additional level of protection against wear and tear,

If you’re looking for the ultimate in comfort then a Natural Latex topper is your best bet. These natural mattress toppers will add a deep comfort layer to the top of your mattress and extend the lifespan of your bed. They can be fully turned and have an amazing rebound rate. These toppers command a price of £200-£500 depending on the blend of latex, depth and cover type. We tape edge our 100% Natural Latex toppers making them easy to handle and robust to last. Zip-off covers are found on entry-level and cheaper toppers, they can make the topper hard to turn as they stretch and warp over time.



A mattress protector should be the very least of your efforts to help reduce the damaging effects of sweat and other fluids during your time spent in bed. A mattress topper is a great way to increase the comfort layers of your mattress. They also help to reduce the wear and tear put on your core mattress.

A good rule of thumb is to match the materials of the topper to those within the core mattress though this is not mandatory. If you need more help why not have a look at our single and double mattress toppers in our shop for details of our range. Why not give our small friendly team a call on 0161 437 4419 or drop us a message below for more help?

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