The choice between a pillow top and a mattress pad is a very personal one. Depending on your own comfort preferences, back issues, and financial situation, you might prefer one over the other. Usually, a pillow top comes with a mattress, and therefore can't be added as an afterthought the way a mattress pad can. Conversely, a mattress pad can be added and removed and therefore can be more easily washed and replaced. Based on your needs, either one might be the better choice.
A pillow top is like a quilted, thinner mattress that is sewn to the top of your standard mattress. It adds a lot of added comfort and softness to the bed, but can be detrimental to your back if you require a more firm mattress. You should check with a comfort guide or a doctor to decide what is best for your back and neck, depending on how you sleep, and any preexisting problems. While a pillow top mattress is usually considered a desirable bonus, it might be completely unnecessary based on your own personal sleep requirements.
Types of Pillow Tops
Pillow top mattress are usually either standard pillow tops or Euro pillow tops. The standard pillow top mattress has a gap between the pillow top and the rest of the mattress, really making it seem like two separate mattresses. The Euro doesn't have this gap.
There are many different types of mattress pads. In some cases, a mattress pad is just a lightly quilted sheet-like layer that you put over your mattress to protect it, and you, from microorganisms that can live in the fibers of the mattress and your blankets. It can be removed to be washed and decrease allergens and bacteria. However, there are also mattress pads that are padded or have foam in them to increase the softness of your bed.
Like a pillow top mattress, it depends on your own personal needs as to whether you need a quilted or plush mattress pad.
Types of Mattress Pads
Mattress pads come in many varieties including the Guaranteed-To-Fit Pad or Fitted Pad. They also differ in construction. Some are made of 100% cotton, while others are cotton-polyester. They differ in thread count as well as what the pad is filled with (feathers, fiber, etc). Some are only intended to protect your mattress, while others add comfort and softness to the bed.
Mattress Pads are the less expensive of the two. Depending on the mattress pad, it can cost anywhere between $20 for one with less cushioning, to $200 for one that adds a good deal of cushion to the mattress. Pillow tops cost a good deal more, especially since they often come in conjunction with the mattress itself. Expect to add a few hundred dollars to the cost of the mattress for a standard pillow top.
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