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Should you buy a mattress topper or a new mattress?

Tips for deciding when it is time to buy a new mattress and when you can simply buy a topper. 


If you are not satisfied with the current comfort of your existing mattress you may be wondering if you need to purchase an entirely new mattress or if you can simply purchase a mattress topper to make your mattress more comfortable. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to decide which option is best for you. 

First Check Your Support System:

Sometimes the sagging or breaking down of a mattress is actually due to what is happening beneath your mattress.

While everything may look fine on top, it is important to check your support system for any issues.

To check your bed frame’s support system, follow these steps:

  1. Take off your mattress. Analyze your bed slats or box spring for any cracks, broken sections, etc… By simply putting your hand on the top of the box spring and pushing down in different spots you will quickly be able to tell if a crack is present.

  2. If your box spring or bed slats are in working condition, you can take them off and analyze your bed frame. Your bed frame should be on level ground and all feet should be touching the floor (including the center feet). A queen or king size bed frame MUST have a center support bar with feet touching the ground.

  3. If your frame does not have a center support bar it will cause your mattress to sag. The majority of bed frames are made with a center support but we have seen many that are manufactured without it as well. 

New Mattress vs Mattress Topper

When you should buy a new mattress instead of a topper ...

1: When your mattress is no longer structurally sound and supportive

The first thing to decide is if your mattress is still structurally sound and supportive. A mattress topper will not work and will only exaggerate the problem if your mattress is old and breaking down. Take the sheets off your mattress and see if you can see any lumps, holes or sagging. Visible signs of sagging or lumps will be a clear indicator that you need to purchase a new mattress. If you don’t see any signs of breaking down with your naked eye the next test is to simply see how if feels when you are laying on the mattress. Do your hips or shoulders feel like they are sinking? Do you wake up with back or shoulder pain? This is a clear sign that your mattress is no longer providing the support and pressure relief that it is intended to. To reiterate, any breaking down of your mattress requires a new mattress and cannot be fixed by a topper. You should always check your support system and make sure that if you have a queen or king size mattress that the bed frame has a center support bar that is solidly touching the ground and that your bed slats or box sprung are solid and not broken, to rule out the sagging being due to your bed frame.

2: When your mattress is older than 8 years

A mattress will generally last 5-10 years depending on the quality of materials and usage. If your mattress is towards the end of this window you will want to consider buying a new mattress as the money you spend on a topper would be better spend towards a new mattress that will need to be purchased in the near future anyways. If you are looking to make your mattress last a little longer you can check out our post how to make your mattress last longer.

See our top mattress picks

Our favorite mattresses in each category. Over 500K mattresses torn down and analyzed to date.

When you can buy a topper instead of a mattress...

1: To change the feel of your mattress (too hard or too soft)

If your mattress is too firm or too soft then you probably do not need to purchase an entirely new mattress. Puffy mattress and Plushbeds both make mattress toppers that are meant to make your mattress softer or firmer depending on the level of firmness you choose. These are great toppers for people who have a mattress that is still structurally supportive but who simply prefer a different level of comfort. 

Memory Foam Mattress Toppers: Memory foam mattress toppers provide a significant level of firmness or softness, comfort and pressure relief while still supporting your body. Memory foam is an elastic-like foam that conforms to the curves of your body. Memory foam was initially invented by NASA and has quickly become one of the most popular sleep materials in the industry. 

Best Memory Foam Topper for Changing the Feel of Your Mattress
The Puffy “Softening OR Firming” Mattress Topper
From $179

The Puffy mattress topper comes in 2 different options (firm or soft). The soft option is made specifically for softening up a firm mattress and is great for customers looking to get a little more comfort out of a mattress that may be too firm for their liking. This topper also comes standard with a built in elastic cover to help hold it in place on your mattress. 

Latex Mattress Toppers: Latex foam is more springy and responsive than memory foam. If you want a softer or firmer feel without the sinking effect, a latex topper might be for you. Latex is an all natural product that is poured and molded out of the rubber tree. Latex is also great if you have allergies or want a completely chemical free sleep environment. Latex comes in a variety of firmnesses and if you are looking to soften your sleeping surface, one of the softer options will be a great option for you. 

Best Latex Topper for Changing the Feel of Your Mattress
100% Natural Latex “Soft or Firm” Topper by Plushbeds
From $230

The latex mattress topper by Plushbeds is a great for anyone looking for a natural sleep surface or who prefers the feel of latex over memory foam. This topper comes with a variety of firmnesses from soft to extra-firm. We recommend choosing 3″ thickness and either a soft or med-soft in order to soften your firm mattress. Plushbeds is known throughout the industry for their quality natural sleep products and is a trusted source. 


2. When you need more pressure relief or support

Sometimes our sleep needs or preferences change and you may find yourself in the need of more pressure relief or comfort from your mattress. Maybe you changed from sleeping on your back so sleeping on your side or vice versa. A mattress topper is a great way to add pressure relief capabilities to an existing mattress. 

Things to consider:

Price difference between a new mattress and a mattress topper:

A new mattress generally costs between $500-$1500 for a queen size mattress while a mattress topper will run anywhere from $100-$400 depending on quality and material choice. If you are putting a mattress topper on an older mattress it may be more financially beneficial to simply buy a new mattress altogether. However, if you are simply trying to adjust the feel of a newer mattress then spending a few hundred dollars on a topper makes more sense. 

Mattress dirty? Add a mattress protector:

mattress protector is a thin but waterproof covering made to protect your mattress from spills and dirt and dust mites. Many mattress protectors contain a thin fabric or padding layer that helps make your bed softer. Adding one to your mattress or on top of a mattress pad can help add softness.

Best Padded Mattress Protector
Luxury Cooling Mattress Protector by Brooklyn Bedding
From $99

This mattress pad is made with conductive material to draw heat out and away from your body, creating a cooler sleep environment. It also is made with a luxurious, silky smooth fabric that adds comfort to your mattress and elevates your overall sleep experience while protecting the life of your bed. Not only is it waterproof but its hypoallergenic design protects also against bacteria, bed bugs and dust mites. The protector covers your mattress like a fitted sheet for easy on and off removal. Its also designed to be washable for easier care, simply toss it in the wash with warm water, no bleach, then tumble dry on low.

Rotate/flip your mattress:

If you have an older mattress, flipping or rotating it may reveal a flatter, less broken down side to the mattress that still has plenty of life left in its materials. If your mattress feels lumpy, try turning it over horizontally and rotating it around so that you’re sleeping on the opposite side as before. You can repeat this every six months to continually get the best shape and cushiony feel from your mattress. 

Need to buy a new mattress? What should you do with your old mattress?

When you purchase a mattress online you are left to find a way to get rid of your old one. Luckily “A Bedder World” has mattress disposal services throughout the country. We work with mattress recycling centers to make sure your old mattress gets disposed of in the most eco-friendly manner possible. To date we have recycled over 500K mattresses. Book a pick up here. Or try recycling it yourself!