Mattress Thickness Guide: Everything You Need To Know
When looking to purchase a mattress, there are a variety of factors that add to the confusion of this already saturated marketplace. If you are wondering what the difference between the variety of mattress thicknesses is and which is right for you, then you have come to the right place. In this article we will go over the different mattress thicknesses, when each thickness should be used and which is right for your unique needs.
Mattress thickness can be split into a few categories to help you easily classify the best use for each thickness.
2-5 inches thick
mattress pad, mattress topper or sofa bed mattresses
Most often used on top of your current mattress to add pressure relief or additional comfort. This thickness can also include sofa bed mattresses. We do not recommend sleeping on a 2-4 inch mattress pad every night without a mattress underneath it.
5-8 inches thick
a slim mattress – used for budget friendly options, kids, bunk beds, trundle beds, RVs, etc…
A 6-8 inch mattress is considered a thinner mattress and is often used as a budget friendly purchase or in specific situations where a thinner mattress is required. For example; bunk beds, trundle beds, murphy beds and many RVs requires a thinner profile mattress in order to fit properly. A thin mattress does not have as much support foam and is not ideal for supporting heavier weight loads on a daily basis but can be a great guest room option or perfect for a kids room. We generally don’t recommend anything thinner than an 8 inch thick mattress for adults to sleep on every night.
8-12 inches thick
average thickness – majority of mattresses will fall into this thickness
The vast majority of mattresses will be between 8-12 inches in thickness. In general, but not always, a mattress that falls closer to the 8 inch thickness will be on the firmer end of the spectrum and a mattress that is closer to the 12 inch thickness will be more plush and have a softer feel. If you are looking for a great all around mattress at a good price this is most likely the thickness you will be purchasing.
12-16 inches thick
luxury and pillow top mattresses
Mattresses on the thicker end of the spectrum that are 12, 14 or 16 niches are generally higher end, luxury mattresses and are more expensive due to the increase in the amount of materials used. Thicker mattresses are usually pillow tops or utilize a heavy duty multi-level innerspring system that provides different layers of support and pressure relief. These mattresses are built to last for a long period of time and if taken care of will last on the longer end of the mattress lifespan (7-10 years).
Over 16 inches thick
Double sided and ultra plush mattresses
Mattresses that measure over 16 inches in thickness are generally either double sided mattresses that can be flipped or ultra plush pillow tops. A double sided mattress will last longer due to the fact that you can flip it and utilize 2 sleeping surfaces that will each wear half as fast. An ultra plush pillow top mattress is going to be great for people who prefer a softer mattress with lots of comfort layers.
Factors determining the thickness of a mattress
There are a variety of factors that come into play when determining how thick a mattress profile ends up being.
Base Layer Thickness
The base layer of your mattress or the (support layer) is what supports your body and provides the structure to your mattress. A base layer is either made of an innerspring system or a high density support foam. The thickness of the base layer can vary but should be at least 50% of the total mattress thickness. For example, if the mattress is 10 inches, the base layer should be at least 5 inches thick.
Comfort layers are what goes on top of your base layer and is what changes the comfort/feel of your mattress the most. Comfort layers vary in firmness and material. There are generally multiple layers of different comfort layers to provide a gradual comfort transition between your body and the support foams. These layers can vary in material from memory foam to latex, traditional polyurethane foams or cotton. In general a firmer mattress will have less comfort layers whereas a pillow top or plush mattress will be thicker and have more comfort layers.
Single vs Double Sided
The majority of mattresses today are single sided, which means only one side of the mattress is made for sleeping on. However, there are still some companies providing double sided mattresses that can be flipped and allow you to sleep on both sides. A double sided mattress is going to be thicker than a single sided mattress due to the fact that 2 sides require layers of comfort foams. The benefit to a double sided mattress is that they can provide multiple comfort levels and they allow you to split your sleeping time between 2 sides meaning the foam will break down slower and the mattress will have a longer lifespan.
Pillow top vs euro top vs tight top
The type of top that your mattress has will determine its firmness as well as its thickness. A pillow top mattress will be the thickest type of mattress with a pillowy layer of foam on top of the main mattress portion. A euro top mattress will be slightly thinner than a pillow top with a smaller top layer. Lastly, a tight top mattress is sewn directly to the side border of the mattress and is generally a firmer feel than the other options.
Thickness does not always determine the quality of a mattress but in general any mattress that is on the extreme ends (very thin or very thick) is going to be made with the idea of either providing a budget friendly, lower quality mattress or a high priced luxury mattress.
Some mattresses are made to be a specific thickness in order to meet the requirements of the buyer and use case of that specific mattress. For example a bunk bed mattress, trundle mattress, murphy bed mattress, etc… all require a thinner mattress profile in order to fit into that specific bed frame.
What to consider when choosing a mattress thickness
Mattress thickness plays a large role in the ultimate comfort level and price you will pay for a mattress. In general, if you want a durable mattress that you can every night it should be at least 8 inches thick. Once you get into the standard range of mattress thicknesses you can roughly assume that the thicker a mattress is, the more plush or softer it will feel and the thinner a mattress, the firmer it will be.
Comfort Level (Firmness)
What level of firmness do you prefer? In general a thicker mattress will feel softer and a thinner mattress will be firmer. The majority of mattresses sold online today claim to meet the comfort needs of the vast majority of sleepers with a firmness level 6-8 on a scale from 1-10. These mattresses will likely fall in the range of 9-12 inches in thickness. A pillow top or ultra plush mattress will use more comfort layers and be thicker than a firm mattress with less comfort layers.
There are certainly exceptions, but in general, the thicker your mattress the more expensive it will be. This is simply due to the fact that thicker mattresses use more materials. If you are looking for a budget friendly mattress they will usually measure on the thinner side (8-10 inches). The main exception is latex mattresses. A latex mattress is hypoallergenic and natural and will be more expensive than the majority of mattresses on the market, even for a thinner option.
Overall Height of Bed Set
Its important to consider the overall height of your bed set in regards to getting in and out of bed. If you need a lower bed you can choose a thinner mattress, a low bed frame, a low profile box spring, bed slats, etc… You can still get a quality thick mattress if you are willing to purchase a lower overall bed set.
What is the most common mattress thickness?
The most common mattress thickness is between 9-12 inches thick. This thickness offers enough support in the base layers and enough comfort layers while still being in the sweet spot for price. In general this thickness of mattress will be perfect for the vast majority of sleepers.
Is a 14 inch mattress too thick?
A 14 inch mattress is on the thicker end of the mattress spectrum but is by no means too thick. A 14 inch mattress will be softer for the most part is is often a pillow top style mattress. If you are looking for a firmer mattress then it likely will not need to be 14 inches thick. Keep in mind some companies use lower quality spring units or lower quality foam that is expanded to look thicker. BUT thicker does not mean quality.
Is an 8 inch mattress too thin?
An 8 inch mattress is generally the thinnest mattress we recommend for full grown adults who will be sleeping on the bed every night. It also depends on the material. An 8 inch thick latex mattress or memory foam mattress is much more common than an 8 inch thick innerspring mattress. An 8 inch thick latex mattress can actually still be very high quality whereas an 8 inch thick innerspring isn’t going to provide much in terms of comfort or support.
Do thicker mattresses last longer?
In general a thicker mattress should last longer. BUT thickness is not necessarily an indicator of quality. Some companies use thicker lower quality materials to present themselves as higher quality when in reality they are not. It is important to research the company and their reviews before trusting the mattress based on its thickness alone.