Is A Pillow Top Memory Foam Mattress Right For You?

Pillowtop memory foam mattresses are one of the most popular items on the luxury bedding market today. Thicker comfort layers and base foam layers are added bringing these beds to 14”, 15”, and 16” heights.

The comfort layers are made of different density and different firmness foams to provide a dynamic feel, soft to the touch but supportive for a fully restful night of sleep. Understanding how foam beds are put together will help you decide which one is right for you.

There is a common misconception among shoppers looking for a memory foam bed. Many people think that the entire bed is made from memory foam, when in fact it is only the top 2” – 6” that is memory foam and the remainder of the bed is a firmer polyurethane foam base.

The base foam is less dense, usually 1.8 – 2.5 pounds per cubic foot, versus memory foam’s 5lb per cubic foot. But unlike lower density memory foam, the base foam is not less durable. In fact its usable life is usually greater than that of the memory foam it is laminated with. The base foam’s job is to provide deep support for the top layers of memory foam.

A 12” profile king size bed made entirely of 5lb memory foam would weigh 211 pounds. It would be floppy and nearly impossible to move. But if the top 6” were memory foam and the bottom 6” were base foam, then the bed would only weigh 158 pounds. The firmer base foam would provide support, making the bed easier to handle.

Another misconception about memory foam beds is that thicker means more luxurious. The new 12” to 16” pillow top beds are touted to increase in comfort with every added inch. But in fact the amount of comfort memory foam on top of the bed usually stays the same, between 4 and 6 inches.

Thicker memory foam mattresses are built up by adding more base foam to the bottom of the bed. Building a memory foam mattress over 12” is more about achieving a luxurious high profile look, rather than increasing comfort.

The same is true of lower profile mattresses between 8” and 12”. There are many 12” profile foam beds on the market with only 2” or 3” of comfort memory foam on the top that claim they are pillow top beds because their profile is in the pillowtop range. And many of these beds are very fine. In fact 3” of memory foam provides optimal comfort for most people.

So, when shopping for a new memory foam mattress, think about the layers that make up the bed. How much comfort foam is on top?

How thick is the base layer? This way you will be able to more easily compare one bed to another. Yet despite how the layers are put together and what name the mattress carries, the most important thing is how the bed feels. If you fall in love with a particular bed, and it gives proper support, then throw all how-to-buy-a-mattress tips out the window.

Get the best feeling bed you can afford, whether that’s a firm 8” low profile or plush 16” pillow top.