Over time, all mattresses eventually deteriorate. The constant pressure of sleeping bodies will wear the mattress down, resulting in lumps or inconsistent firmness, and even if you keep up good cleaning and maintenance practices, old mattresses can get very dirty.
At the same time, mattresses can be expensive. It may not be in your budget to purchase an entirely new mattress, but sleeping on your current mattress in its current condition leaves you tossing and turning all night. One alternative option is to invest in a mattress topper, designed to provide a soft, new layer of comfort on top of your existing mattress.
But is a mattress topper enough to breathe new life into an old mattress?
How Mattress Toppers Work
You can think of a mattress topper as like a mattress, but much thinner, and designed to fit securely over your existing mattress. Usually made of memory foam, gel, or a similarly supportive material, these toppers add a few inches of thickness to your current mattress, making up for structural flaws or instances of wear on your mattress. You may even be able to find mattress toppers with specialty features designed to improve your quality of sleep, like infused essential oils. Ultimately, toppers are designed to help you get a better night’s sleep when your mattress isn’t quite doing the trick but you’re not ready to buy a new mattress. They can also be used to enhance the comfort of a new mattress.
Price and Delivery
The biggest advantages of getting a mattress topper are the price and the convenience. Mattress toppers generally cost much less than a comparable mattress; rather than paying several hundred to a thousand dollars for a new mattress, you’ll pay a few hundred dollars, or (often) much less for a new topper. Because they’re much easier to compress and move, delivery is never an issue, and you may even be able to move your mattress topper to different mattresses in your house.
Comfort and Support
So how much comfort can a new mattress topper provide? That depends on several factors. Like mattresses, mattress toppers can be made from a wide range of materials, and by a wide range of manufacturers. Some toppers may provide a barely noticeable difference, while others can make your mattress feel brand new. Because toppers tend to consist of several inches of memory foam, most people find them to add the perfect balance of firmness and support to their existing mattress.
Again, the expected lifespan of a mattress topper will vary based on how it was made. Still, you can expect the average mattress topper to last at least a few years before it will need to be replaced. This can prolong the lifespan of an aging mattress by the same amount.
Existing Mattress Issues
While mattress toppers can be highly beneficial, they aren’t a bandage that can fix any mattress problem. Some mattresses are in such bad condition that even a mattress topper won’t be able to salvage them. For example, issues like the following may require you to buy a new mattress, rather than trying to cover them up:
- Sagging. Over time, a mattress may naturally start to sag in the middle, or wherever you tend to sleep. It may also sag due to structural inefficiencies or major damage. For the most part, a mattress topper will not be able to make up for this sag by itself.
- Tears. If there’s a significant tear or similar damage to your mattress, a mattress topper can seemingly cover it up. However, this tear will still exist, and may cause comfort issues if it’s large enough. It can also lead to hygienic issues if not addressed.
- Stray springs. Innerspring mattresses sometimes have issues with stray springs poking through, ultimately resulting in significant discomfort on certain areas of the mattress. As you might imagine, most mattress toppers will not be able to prevent you from feeling these metal springs.
- Pests. If your mattress has a pest infestation, such as bed bugs, a mattress topper can’t make the problem go away. In most cases, you’ll have to get rid of the mattress altogether.
There are many smaller mattress issues that can be easily resolved with a mattress topper, however. Slight wear, a level of firmness that isn’t working for you, or minor abrasions can all be remedied with an appropriate mattress topper.
What Happens When the Mattress Topper Wears Out?
While high-quality mattress toppers are engineered and manufactured with the intention of lasting as long as possible, you should know that mattress toppers won’t last forever. After several years of consistent use, your mattress topper will likely begin to show signs of wear, or be unable to support you the way it once did.
Once your mattress topper wears out, you’ll be faced with a similar dilemma to the one you faced initially; should you invest in a new mattress topper, and keep rotating in new ones to keep your mattress’s luster, or should you invest in a new mattress? There isn’t a single right answer here, but you should know that your mattress will still be suffering wear and tear, even with a new topper, so eventually the mattress will need fully replaced.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that mattress toppers do have the potential to help you get a few more years out of your current, aged mattress—or to add an extra layer of comfort to a new mattress. They aren’t a permanent or perfect solution for a worn-out mattress, but they will hold their own and are certainly worth the investment, no matter what condition your current mattress is in.
Take a look at our selection of mattress toppers today to learn more about how you can improve your sleep habits. Our Lavender Bliss topper is one of the best available, combining the comforts of memory foam with the relaxing nature of lavender oil.