7 things to look for when buying a mattress topper

We ask the experts what to look for when buying a mattress topper so you can enjoy the perfect night's sleep

bedroom with double bed and side table
(Image credit: The Fine Bedding Company)

If your mattress has been feeling a little lacklustre lately, you've probably been wondering what to look for when buying a mattress topper. The best mattress toppers will elevate your sleep by providing extra comfort and support, and even help regulate the bed's temperature with cooling technology.

But there are different types of mattress toppers, from memory foam to down-type, to ones with anti-allergy properties and all with different levels of thickness. So how do you decide which mattress topper is best for you?

'Taking the time to select the right mattress topper will allow you to enjoy restful sleep and wake feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day,' says Thomas Høegh Reisenhus, Sleep Specialist and Sleep Counsellor, TEMPUR®

We've asked the experts what to look for when buying a mattress topper so that you can make sure you're spending your money wisely. Purchasing a mattress topper should never be a choice you regret, and picking a good one will improve your sleep quality for years to come, which is why it's important to consider the factors in our guide when shopping.

7 things to look for when buying a mattress topper

So if you've been wondering what to look for when buying a mattress topper, you've come to the right place. Even the best mattresses will benefit from a good topper, and why not have all the comfort you can get as you drift off to sleep every night? Here are 7 things you should look for when buying a mattress topper.

1. Material

Quilted white mattress topper on bed

(Image credit: Very.co.uk)

The first thing to consider with what to look for when buying a mattress topper is the material. The main materials to choose from are memory foam, feather/ wool, and synthetic. 

'Memory foam toppers mould around your body shape and relieve the pressure on your joints. These are a great choice if you suffer from joint or muscular pain,' says Martin Gill, Managing Director, And So To Bed. 'A feather and/or wool filling is soft and durable with a cloud-like comfort, and these toppers provide natural warmth and insulation, perfect for when it starts to get cooler.'

'Finally, synthetic-filled mattress toppers are usually either hollow fibre or microfibre, and they are a popular choice for allergy sufferers due to the hypoallergenic properties of these materials. Microfibre toppers have a soft feel, but hollowfibre usually offers more support.'

This should you a basic understanding of the different materials used in mattress toppers, but it's always best to have a feel of them in-person so you can decide which one would be most comfortable for you.

2. Depth

Thick white mattress topper on bed

(Image credit: The Fine Bedding Company)

'Another important factor to consider when selecting a mattress topper is its thickness, as this will determine how much support you are looking to acquire', says Rhiannon Johns, Interior Designer and Head of Brand, Piglet in Bed. 'Standard toppers range from 2 to 4 inches to provide the necessary support.'

Memory foam toppers are usually the thickest, at around 7cm. Experts recommend thicker mattress toppers for people who suffer with joint pain, but this will potentially create more heat in the bed, so bare this in mind if you prefer a cool temperature.

'If you are just looking to boost the comfort/softness of your mattress, then a mattress topper from 5cm and up to 10cm will certainly help you achieve the luxurious feeling you are aiming for,' says Martin. 

3. Size

Size is another crucial consideration when choosing the right mattress topper. This one is a little obvious, but you need to get a mattress topper that fits correctly over your mattress to be able to use it.

You probably know what size bed you sleep in - whether that's a single, double, king, or super-king - but it helps to also know the exact measurements of your mattress, so you can double check this against the dimensions of mattress toppers you're shopping, as different manufacturers may vary their sizes.

4. Body support

White quilted mattress topper on bed

(Image credit: The Fine Bedding Company)

Consider the ergonomics of the mattress topper so that you can get one that supports your body and promotes healthy sleep. Ideally, you want to find the 'Goldilocks' of mattress toppers - not too hard, not too soft, though what feels 'just right' for you will come down to personal preference.

'Your mattress topper should adapt to you, distribute your weight evenly, keep your spine straight, and absorb pressure to aid comfort and relieve pain,' says Thomas, TEMPUR®. 'A mattress topper that is too soft will cause your back or hips to slouch and your spine to fall out of alignment, whist one that is too firm will put too much pressure on your joints, potentially causing discomfort or pain.'

5. Price

Panda mattress topper on wooden bed

(Image credit: Panda, at Very.co.uk)

Your mattress topper budget will inevitably play a big role in determining which one you go for. Mattress toppers can cost as little as £20 for thinner polyester hollowfibre toppers, up to £200 for a good quality memory foam or down-type. 

The price you pay will depend on which filling you opt for, and obviously, it's important to spend whatever you feel comfortable with, but experts do warn that there might be a slight trade-off in quality if you go for a topper at the cheaper end of the scale.

The best overall mattress topper in our guide for example is the Otty Bamboo Mattress Topper with Charcoal, which has an RRP of £199.99 for the double size. The most budget-friendly topper in our guide is the Silentnight Airmax Dual Layer 5 cm Mattress Topper, which is available for only £34 in the double size. Both made it to our list of the best mattress toppers currently on the market, so there's nothing wrong with either.

6. Care

It's important that your mattress topper stays clean, so look for ones that can be popped in the washing machine. You can wash most mattress toppers similar to how you'd wash a duvet, and they probably need cleaning every 3-6 months to stay in healthy condition.

Mattress toppers with down or feather fillings can usually be washed in the washing machine, and are therefore easier to maintain. Memory foam mattress toppers will need to be spot cleaned or vacuumed, so bare this in mind if you prefer your cleaning chores to be as easy and convenient as possible. The care label is especially important if you're prone to allergies, as you'll probably need to wash your topper even more frequently.

7. Temperature

Silentnight mattress topper on neutral grey bed

(Image credit: Silentnight)

Lastly, consider whether you want your mattress topper to have a temperature regulating design. The best cooling mattress toppers will help you sleep better all year round, and you'll thank yourself for investing in one when the next heatwave comes around. 

Breathable materials such a bamboo, charcoal and graphite are added to cooling mattress toppers, as these will effectively dissipate heat and stop you from getting too hot in bed. They may be a little more expensive than regular mattress toppers, but it's definitely something to consider if you require a cooler temperature to sleep well.

What is the ideal mattress topper thickness?

Emma mattress topper on bed

(Image credit: Emma - The Sleep Company)

Mattress toppers tend to range in thickness from 2 to 10 cm. The ideal depth for you will depend on how much support you want from the topper.

'For those who want a little extra comfort but nothing too drastic, mattress toppers with a thickness of 2 inches provide a subtle but noticeable level of comfort,' says Rhiannon, Piglet in Bed. 'Whereas 3 inches is ideal for beginners who aren't sure what they prefer but want the best of both comfort and support and is the firmer choice of the two.'

She adds, 'if you are someone who sleeps on their side, 4 inches is for you, as this will provide the maximum level of support and reduce joint pressure while sleeping on one side for a comfortable night's sleep.'

What makes a good topper?

White mattress topper on grey bed

(Image credit: Martex available at Very.co.uk)

According to Martin Gill of And So To Bed, a good mattress topper will serve two very important purposes.

'The first is comfort. A high-quality mattress topper will add a new level of comfort to your mattress, particularly if your mattress has lost some of its plumpness or your mattress is too firm', says Martin. 'This can help reduce aches and pains, providing you with the extra support you need.'

'The second purpose is to help extend the life of your mattress by acting as another layer of protection.' Good mattress toppers will therefore have the longevity factor, and will be durable enough to last a number of years without decreasing in comfort.

If you refer back to the 7 factors outlined in this guide, we're sure you'll land on a mattress topper that feels as soft as fluffy clouds, and gives you the perfect night's sleep you deserve.

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.