I’m delighted to have found this forum–it’s already a great resource! At the moment, I think I’m just looking to buy a topper, rather than replace an entire mattress, but I’ve had some bad luck getting expensive but lousy memory foam toppers, so I was looking for some good ones. After nosing around this site for awhile, I’ve already learned a lot, and who knows, we may just go for an entire new mattress!
Thanks for the great resource and I look forward to learning more!
Buying toppers (or mattresses) can be tough. Toppers in particular are treated like commodities. It can seem like all 3" Memory Foam toppers are the same. However, once you’ve been burned buying a low cost topper, it is easy to think buying a more expensive topper might mean you’re getting a higher quality product. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Good luck in your search, because it can be difficult (even for experts) to filter through all the BS. There is some good information on here, and Phoenix really seems to know his stuff.
I completely agree with BGarfield: Toppers are treated like commodities. Their lower retail prices allow retailers to offer shorter warranties and less compelling “in-home” trials. This drives margin and makes toppers a highly-lucrative business for mass retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco (who generally sell lower density/quality toppers).
When shopping for a topper, the same rules for memory foam mattresses apply: the higher the density, the higher the quality.
In rare cases, consumers correctly use toppers to soften up overly-firm mattresses. When used in this way, toppers can be relatively thin (2" or so). In our experience however, toppers are most commonly used as a “stop-gap” measure to stave off an inevitable mattress replacement. This practice amounts to placing a new “comfort layer” (the topper) over an old “support” layer (the old mattress), which, in many cases, makes a mattress worse. At the end of the day it usually results in the old mattress being thrown away, and the new topper becoming disused.
All the best,
I would “echo” the previous comments … especially about memory foam.
Memory foam comes in hundreds of different formulations and in a wide range of densities some of which are “junk” and some of which are very high quality. You can see some of the things that make one type of memory foam different from the next (even in the same density/quality) in post #9 here and post #8 here.
As Novosbed mentioned, a topper is only suitable for a mattress that still has a firm even surface with no soft spots or dips in it that just needs some extra pressure relief because the comfort layers are too thin or too firm. They are not a good soution for “fixing” a mattress that is too soft or has developed soft spots or impressions because they will just follow the soft spots or impressions below them.
So if the issue with your mattress is that it is too firm and it has an even surface with no soft spots … then there are some topper guidelines in post #2 here and post #8 here that can help you make the most suitable choice based on your actual experience on your mattress.
Improving either primary support (the deeper layers of a mattress) or secondary support (the upper layers of a mattress) is much more difficult because it would normally involve removing or exchanging layers instead of adding to them and adding a firmer topper on top of a mattress that is too soft or has developed soft spots is not generally effective (see post #4 here and post #4 here)