15 Pros and Cons of Pillow Top Mattresses

Pillow top mattresses are a design that provides a pillowed top for a standard innerspring mattress in most situations. The material in the topping typically includes memory foam today, but it might also use cotton, wool, or synthetic materials. Airbeds sometimes get this treatment as well, although the extra layer of comfort comes from a specific pocket of air in the design.

The goal of using a pillow top mattress is to minimize the pressure points that you feel at night when sleeping. This outcome reduces the amount of discomfort or pain felt during the evening, so it works to foster better sleep.

Most pillow top mattresses can provide support to their owners for a few years, but some of them might only last for a few months. 30% of owners report compression and sagging within the first 36 months of ownership. If this outcome occurs, then it will undermine the support and comfort felt while sleeping.

List of the Pros of Pillow Top Mattresses

1. Most pillow top mattresses today use a high-density memory foam for comfort.
The pillow top mattresses that were manufactured in the 2000s are a far cry from what you see coming off of the assembly line today. These items are made in a drastically different way now, with most manufacturers switching to a high-density memory foam to prevent sagging or dipping. These items have replaced those other materials that compressed too easily, making the problem a thing of the past. You’ll see more tacking in the product today as well so that there isn’t bunching or shifting in the comfort layer.

2. This mattress option is available in all standard sizes.
You can purchase a pillow top mattress in whatever standard size you need for the bedroom. Models are available in twin, full, queen, and king. Some manufacturers may specialize in one or two sizes, so you might not find full availability – especially if you need a full-sized mattress. Other options, such as twin XL or a California king, are not always available.

3. Pillow top mattresses are very affordable.
If you want to purchase a comfortable mattress made with memory gel or foam, then you could pay several hundred dollars to purchase a full, double, or queen. You might see a king go for $1,500 or more for an entry-level product, with premium manufacturers selling them for more than $5,000 at times. You can generally purchase a pillow top mattress for about 50% of that cost while getting a good night of rest for at least the first couple of years without much hassle. If you’re on a budget, then this product can be a stop-gap until you’re ready to invest in something even better.

4. The pillow top mattress makes it easier for most people to sleep.
Most people can achieve deeper, longer rest at night after they invest in a pillow top mattress. Although this advantage begins to disappear over time, the same could be said of virtually any other product in this industry. The aches and pains that they relieve are excellent for side sleepers who typically have pressure points in their shoulder and hip that can wake them up at night.

This advantage also depends on the thickness of the pillow top layer. If you purchase a mattress with a 1-inch pillow top, it will provide very different results when compared to a product with a 4-inch pillow top.

5. You will experience less off-gassing when using a pillow top mattress.
When you sleep on mattresses made of memory foam or similar materials, then a lot of off-gassing can occur. This issue typically happens when you first receive the mattress to expand it. You may need to leave it in a well-ventilated room for up to 72 hours before the smells go away enough for you to sleep on the product. Some of them can even produce harmful chemicals because of errors that happen in the manufacturing process. If you choose a pillow top mattress instead, then you’ll avoid many of those issues while saving some money.

6. Pillow top mattresses don’t have a significant impact on your sleeping temperature.
One of the most common complaints about memory foam mattresses is that they are unable to control your body heat effectively. Instead of having a place where it can dissipate while you sleep, the foam traps it around your body so that you’re sleeping hot throughout the year. That can be an advantage in the winter, but it can also make summer rest almost impossible to achieve. When you switch to a pillow top mattress, then you can eliminate this issue entirely. It will feel like any other mattress because the upper layer helps to take the discomfort away. You’re going to receive the softness of the support without masking the feel of the layers that are underneath you.

7. Some pillow top mattresses offer a two-sided design.
Because compression of the pillow top can lead to discomfort over time, some mattress manufacturers have introduced dual-sided padding as a way to counter this potential disadvantage. Once you reduce the effectiveness of the one side, you would then flip the mattress over to start over on the other one. Many of them are one-sided models and the modern design doesn’t require flipping for most mattresses, but it could be a benefit for some households to look at the two-sided design.

8. You can select designs that place the cushion within the upholstery.
A standard pillow top mattress provides a separate compartment for the cushioning you experience, making it feel like you’re resting on supportive elements. This design can be unappealing to some owners because it causes the top of the mattress to stick up. If you fall into that category as a customer, then you might want to think about using a Euro top instead. This design places the cushion directly on top of the mattress but within the rest of the mattress cover. That means you’ll receive a flush appearance with your investment – and there will be fewer places where catching the product could result in damage.

9. It is easier to move than other mattresses.
If you have a memory foam mattress at home, then you have a heavy product that may need a different set of supports with your bed frame. You won’t experience that issue with a pillow top design. Innerspring mattresses are naturally light because of their design, so the extra cushioning on top adds very little weight to the experience. You’ll be able to move the item to your bedroom or to a new home with little difficulty.

List of the Cons of Pillow Top Mattresses

1. A pillow top mattress does not provide you with a firm bed.
When customers start shopping for a pillow top mattress, most of them want a bed that is firmer than what this design can offer. You receive more padding at the top of the unit with this design, which means you’re going to lose a measure of firmness. If you like a solid feeling of support as your foundation for sleep each night, then this design is not going to provide you with any favors.

2. There are sagging and dipping problems over time.
A pillow top mattress doesn’t sag or dip because of a person’s weight. The innerspring design combines with the padding material to create that effect instead. If this outcome occurs, then the unit will make it feel like you’re rolling toward the center of the bed as you try to rest. With 3 out of every 10 owners experiencing this problem within three years of purchase, it is a risk that one must consider before purchase.

With a standard mattress, you would flip and/or rotate it every three months to allow for even wear-and-tear and extend the life of the mattress. Most pillow top mattresses only have the pillow padding on one side, and so can only be rotated, but not flipped. This means that customers are unable to prevent the sagging and dipping of a pillow top mattress to the same extent as a standard mattress.

3. Some people may not experience pressure relief.
The size or weight of an individual can eliminate most, or all, of the pressure relief benefits that a pillow top mattress can provide. If you purchase a thin upper layer of support with your mattress, then you’re essentially sleeping on a traditional innerspring design instead. People who are taller or heavier than average will struggle to find a comfortable spot to sleep. You may want to look for an alternative mattress option in that situation.

The opposite situation can occur with pillow top mattresses as well. Some customers feel like the design makes for a surface that is too soft for sleeping. If you sink into the bed, then some of the temperature-related benefits can disappear for you as well.

4. You will still pay more for a pillow top mattress than other designs.
A pillow top mattress is a step above what the average innerspring design provides for rest. The added elements of comfort mean that you’ll pay more for this option than if you bought a basic, entry-level mattress. If you are on a fixed budget and want to maximize your value, a premium innerspring option may be about the same price as an entry-level pillow top model. You would then need to consider the durability of the product vs. the comfort you want to have at home to determine which option is your preferred choice.

5. Most pillow top mattresses need specific sheets.
The pillow top mattresses that are made today usually need sheets that have deeper fitted pockets. There is more thickness in the design of the product, which means it is bigger than the measurements of a standard item. That means you’ll be paying more for your bedding so that you can accommodate the extra comfort at the top of the mattress. If you try to use standard sheets, then the seams can start to rip when you try to force the item onto your new bed. Bunching of the pillow top surface can occur when you are using sheets that are too small for the design as well.

6. The coils in the mattress could release themselves from their bindings over time.
If you’ve ever slept on an old innerspring mattress, then there is an excellent chance that you have experienced a poking spring in your back when you tried to lay down to rest. You can experience the same result with a pillow top design over time. There is a small risk that one of the springs could break loose from its binding to become a potential hazard while sleeping. Although there are different upholstery options and thickness considerations that work to minimize this risk, you’ll want to take care when crawling into bed to ensure that you can stay comfortable all night long.


The pros and cons of a pillow top mattress depend on your budget, how your sleep, and what you hope to gain from this investment. Many individuals and families love the updated design of this product, but there can still be some durability issues that you’ll want to consider before finalizing your purchase. You will find that most of today’s mattress manufacturers, including names like Serta, Sealy, and Simmons, all offer products in this category that could be perfect for your home.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.