Firm Pillow Top Mattress

I want a firm pillow top mattress!

Unfortunately, the combination of those four words cause way too much confusion in mattress stores. The reason for this is that the mattress customer and salesperson are not talking the same language. Most likely when a customer comes in asking for a “firm pillow top mattress,” they are reacting to a bad experience, either poor alignment or excessive body impressions in their current mattress.

When the average salesperson hears “firm pillow top mattress,” they probably don’t even hear the word “firm.” Instead, they immediately begin showing the customer pillow top mattresses that they claim are firm, but will cause the very same issues that brought the customer in there in the first place.

Let’s review exactly what a pillow top mattress is. A pillow top simply means an extra pillow on top of a mattress. I like to define it as having two seams on top. A pillow top mattress will often have the exact same support as comparable firm and plush model. The primary difference is that the pillow top version will have additional comfort layers that will make it even softer. And more likely to experience greater body impressions.

Think of it this way, there is no greater/harder support than the floor. If you started stacking pillows and blankets on the floor, at some point, it would no longer be hard at all. In fact, it will soon become too soft to sleep on it. This is essentially what happens with pillow tops. If they get too thick, you may have issues with it being too soft and your body will not have correct support, or even worse, you have a far greater potential for uncomfortable body impressions.

A typical scenario starts like this. A couple comes in frustrated because they spent several thousand dollars on a “firm pillow top” that now has two big valleys in the mattress. They aren’t deep enough for a warranty and the couple feels misled and angry for not having a comfortable mattress. What should have happened, is their salesperson should have analyzed their sleeping position and alignment. And then recommended one that actually “felt” firm, but not hard. If they truly could only be comfortable in a super pillow top, then their expectations should have been managed properly – recommending regular rotation and reminding them that body impressions are natural with any innerspring mattress.

If that is not confusing enough, some mattress manufacturers now make a mattress that they call a “firm pillow top.” What they have done is substitute a much firmer coil system underneath the same comfort layers. The challenge with that is that if there are not enough comfort layers – especially for side sleepers, you will be laying on a brick wall and tossing and turning all night long from pressure points. And even if you add more comfort layers to negate the pressure, you are more likely to see body impressions. There is a very fine line between perfect support and poor alignment. And of course this will be different for everyone.

Firm Pillow Top – An oxymoron just for the mattress industry.

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  1. marilyn says:

    Hi 3 years ago I purchased a Natural Response Grandeur Mattress by AH Beard , it cost me 2,349 . Its a pillow top with latex. We love the feel but HATE the heat. The mattress was SO hot we couldnt sleep on it we tried cotton mattress protectors and always sleep on cotton sheets we have our air con going full , we only use a light cotton blanket we even purchased a bio magnetic woolen underlay to see if it helped none of it helped , we couldnt sleep on it. IN the end we turned the mattress upside down ( no pillow top ) put all our woolen and cotton underlays on it and for the last couple of years have slept on the bottom of our $2,349 mattress. We had tried to return but were told that heat is not something they return for. 🙁 . We have decided to purchase a new mattress and do not want to make another mistake so any help would be appreciated . I have never been able to get to the truth is it the latex or the pillow top that makes it so hot . Lots of Mattress store owners have insisted its the pillow top and tried to convince me to buy another latex but if this is true why did our previous mattress which was pillow top but no latex not feel hot? HELP

  2. says:

    Sorry for the slow response. Natural latex would never be the culprit. Without knowing anything more than I know now, it would most likely be within the quilting and/or comfort layers. Every latex mattress I have seen in the last decade has material on top of the latex. The fabric used for ticking has to be durable so you see a lot of manmade materials introduced. These of course would not breathe as well as natural fabrics. The fiber or whatever other foams used between the surface and the latex would only compound the heat issue.

    Keep in mind that the more you “sink” into the mattress may play a role as well. You should be on top of a mattress where there will be good air circulation around the majority of your body. As you try new mattresses, have your salesperson examine your alignment to make sure you are aligned properly, but also that you are on top and only sinking in to the degree necessary for support and comfort. Pick the most breathable fabrics you can – silk, cashmere, bamboo ticking and/or fiber can only help.

    And finally, the amount of and types of linens you use on your bed and what you wear to bed will obviously make a difference. But again, 100% natural latex, is probably the coolest foam on the market. That is not the culprit. It is what is between you and the latex that is causing the heat issue.

  3. Oooh, you’re such an inspiration. I love this blog!

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