Euro Top vs. Pillow Top Mattress: What’s the Difference?

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Euro top and pillow top mattresses were created to provide sleepers with a plush yet supportive bed, but what’s the difference between the two? Both Euro and pillow top mattresses…

Last Updated On May 3rd, 2022
Euro Top vs. Pillow Top Mattress: What’s the Difference?

Euro top and pillow top mattresses were created to provide sleepers with a plush yet supportive bed, but what’s the difference between the two?

Both Euro and pillow top mattresses contain an additional layer of padding to increase comfort, but the application of this layer differs, creating a slight variation in feel and appearance. For example, pillow tops are softer while Euro tops display a sleeker look.

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In this article, we will continue to compare Euro top and pillow top mattresses to distinguish the unique features, benefits, and drawbacks of each.

What Is a Pillow Top Mattress?

Pillow tops have an extra layer of padding sewn directly to the top of the mattress cover. The stitch attaching the extra layer to the mattress cover is placed just before each edge of the bed. Therefore, the edges of the pillow top are not perfectly aligned with the edges of the actual mattress. This type of construction creates a slight gap and v-shaped indentation between the additional layer and surface of the mattress. If you are having trouble picturing it, imagine a giant pillow, resting on the top of your bed, hence the name “pillow top.”

Pillow tops can be found on all types of mattresses, but are most common on beds with naturally firm support cores, like innerspring coils. This is because the extra padding enhances the softness and cushioning of spring beds to provide pressure relief for heavier body parts, such as the hips and shoulders. Designed with contouring in mind, pillow tops are generally crafted from softer materials, like memory foam, latex foam, wool, or fiberfill.

Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of a pillow top mattress.

Benefits of a Pillow Top Mattress

  • Pillow tops can drastically improve the softness and contouring abilities of an innerspring mattress.
  • The extra layer creates a barrier between the coil support core and sleepers, adequately reducing motion transfer.
  • Pillow top mattresses cushion and relieve pressure points without sacrificing the support of an innerspring bed. This maximizes spinal alignment while distributing body weight to prevent and decrease back pain.

Drawbacks of a Pillow Top Mattress

  • Innerspring mattresses are known to be breathable, but a top layer of foam, wool, or fiberfill will decrease airflow, creating a hotter sleeping environment than expected.
  • The pillow top bears the brunt of movement because it rests on top of your mattress. This may cause it to lose shape, sag, or shift too soon.

What Is a Euro Top Mattress?

Euro top mattresses are technically a type of pillow top mattress because they have additional padding to enhance softness. However, they are different from standard pillow tops because the extra layer of padding is stitched beneath the mattress cover rather than sewn to the top of it.

A Euro top’s craftsmanship levels the comfy layer with the edges of the mattress, creating a stacked and uniform appearance. It also eliminates the gap and v-shaped indent found between the extra layer and mattress cover in conventional pillow tops. No gap in material means less room for sinking and more room for padding, resulting in a thicker more supportive bed.

Like pillow tops, Euro tops are also made from a type of foam, wool, or fiberfill and commonly found on innerspring mattresses to enhance cushion and pressure point relief.

Below, we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a Euro top mattress in specific.

Benefits of a Euro Top Mattress

  • Unlike pillow tops, there is no gap or v-shaped indentation to sink further into because Euro tops are stitched beneath the mattress cover. The construction results in a more supportive feel.
  • Euro tops are better supported by the bottom layers of the mattress because they lie directly atop them, making them less likely to shift out of place. They are also protected by the mattress cover, enhancing durability.
  • Euro tops are designed to be even in width with each layer of the mattress, offering better edge support and a cleaner look.

Drawbacks of a Euro Top Mattress

  • Euro tops rest below the mattress cover, on top of the mattress’s other layers. These layers reinforce the additional padding, and this can sometimes prevent a Euro top from contouring as effectively as a pillow top.
  • The contemporary construction enhances durability and aesthetic appearance, resulting in a higher price point than pillow tops.

How to Choose Between a Euro Top Mattress and Pillow Top Mattress

As mentioned above, Euro top and pillow top mattresses have unique benefits and drawbacks. If you are having trouble choosing between the two, consider your preferences surrounding the following.

  • Softness: Pillow tops are generally softer than Euro tops because the absence of material between the add-on layer and mattress cover allows sleepers to sink further into the bed. This also results in superior contouring and pressure relief—a good choice for anyone with painful pressure points.
  • Motion isolation: Euro tops are thicker and better at absorbing your or your sleep partner’s movements before they transfer across the bed. Euro tops may be the best option for anyone who frequently tosses and turns, and they make great mattresses for couples because they’re better at isolating motion than regular pillow tops.
  • Durability: Euro tops are more durable than sewn-on pillow tops because they are stitched beneath the cover, making them flush with the edges of the mattress and thus, less likely to flatten, sag, or shift.
  • Aesthetic appearance: Euro tops blend in with the mattress and may be more aesthetically pleasing, especially after extensive use.

Other Factors to Consider

As previously mentioned, pillow tops can be crafted from memory foam, latex foam, wool, or fiberfill—all of which possess different feels. The composition of your pillow top will affect the overall motion isolation, contouring, durability, and breathability of your mattress.

Pillow Top Material

In this section, we will discuss how commonly used pillow top materials affect the above features on a bed.

Memory Foam Pillow Top

Memory foam maximizes pressure relief because it only reacts to heat and pressure. This means it will cushion and carry the heaviest parts of your body, such as your hips and shoulders, making it a good choice for sleepers with painful pressure points. Memory foam pillow tops also succeed at isolating motion. When sleepers move at night, the memory foam will absorb their motion before it reaches the coil support core and transfers across the bed.

These qualities make pillow tops made from memory foam best for side sleepers needing relief near their hips and shoulders, anyone with back pain, shoulder pain, or hip pain, or light sleepers with a frequent-moving sleep partner.

However, a common complaint surrounding memory foam is its tendency to retain body heat. Although today’s market offers a variety of more breathable options, traditional memory foam is dense, making it difficult for air to flow freely through the material.

Latex Foam Pillow Top

Latex foam is slightly firmer than memory foam. Latex can be composed of natural latex, synthetic latex, or a blend of the two, but natural latex is the best option. This is because it is harvested from the sap of a rubber tree, eco-friendly, and sustainable. Natural latex’s lack of synthetic materials also makes it more breathable, but let’s talk about its feel.

Latex is a form of rubber and is naturally bouncy and dense. While its bounce-like nature increases responsiveness, it does not isolate motion as well as other foams, especially when combined with springy coils. Its density proves durable, but also creates a firmer feel best for heavy sleepers.

The sustainability, resilience, and sturdiness of natural latex foam is best for eco-conscious consumers or heavy sleepers yearning for a slight increase in softness and pressure relief.

Wool Pillow Top

Pillow tops made from wool are softer than both memory foam and latex foam. Wool is similar to memory foam when it comes to pressure relief. However, it lacks support. The support you receive will come solely from the core of your mattress, and although soft, wool does not contain any properties fit to isolate motion.

Euro Top vs. Pillow Top

However, it is sustainable. It comes from the coat of a sheep or goat and acts as a natural insulator, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is also extraordinarily durable. This durability tends to increase the price of products containing wool.

These types of pillow tops are best for sleepers wanting a significantly softer innerspring mattress.

Fiberfill Pillow Top

Fiberfill is a blend of polyester and other synthetic materials meant to mimic down, or feathers. The use of synthetic materials makes fiberfill less breathable than other products. These types of pillow tops are also the least durable and most likely to flatten or sag.

Like wool, fiberfill does not contain contouring abilities, but its soft feel will still adequately relieve pressure from your hips and shoulders.

Pillow tops made from fiberfill are a good option for anyone seeking a soft, supportive, and affordable mattress.

It should not go without saying—the construction and material of a pillow top alone does not make a mattress right for you. While a pillow top can certainly complement a mattress, the firmness level, support core, and material of your entire bed is better fit to meet the needs of your unique sleeping position and body type. Therefore, these components will have a more significant impact on the quality of your sleep than pillow top type.

FAQs

Can pillow top mattresses be flipped?

Pillow tops are only sewn to the surface of the bed, so flipping your mattress will require you to sleep directly on top of a rigid coil support core, resulting in discomfort. Instead of flipping your mattress and sleeping on the coils of your bed, rotate your mattress 180 degrees once every three months to even out wear and tear.

To “rotate” a mattress, you simply turn the mattress so the foot of your bed becomes the head of your bed and vice versa. Consistently rotating your mattress will curb sagging by preventing profound body imprints from you and your partner’s sleeping position.

What type of sleepers should use pillow top mattresses?

Pillow top mattresses are best for side sleepers because they offer extra cushion. Since side sleepers place a majority of their body weight on the hips and shoulders, they usually enjoy the extra comfort of a pillow top more than back and stomach sleepers. Instead of pillow tops, back and stomach sleepers usually like to sleep on firmer mattresses. We typically recommend latex and hybrid mattresses for these sleepers.

Are memory foam or pillow top mattresses better?

Memory foam mattresses are composed of more durable materials, lasting about 4 years longer than pillow top mattresses. Given their improved durability, memory foam mattresses are also much more expensive than pillow tops.

While memory foam mattresses outlast pillow top beds, it is difficult to determine either as better because each has a unique feel designed to meet the needs of different sleepers. The mattress you select will come down to your particular circumstances and preference.

For instance, most pillow top mattresses have an innerspring support core, much firmer and more responsive than memory foam, making them the bed best for heavy sleepers seeking a soft yet supportive mattress. On the contrary, memory foam conforms to sleepers’ bodies to a greater extent than pillow tops to optimize relief and provide a bed fit for sleepers with painful pressure points.

How thick are pillow top mattresses?

Mattress brand and type can affect the height of your bed. Most mattresses range from 8 to 14 inches thick, but a pillow top can add 2 to 4 more inches.

If you are interested in measuring the thickness of your mattress, simply place the beginning of a tape measure at the lowest seam of your mattress and extend it to the highest point, or where you lie. The number of inches represents how thick your mattress is.

If you have a pillow top mattress, completing this measurement is important to do before buying bedding because the added thickness may call for larger sheets.

How long do pillow top mattresses last?

Pillow top mattresses have a significantly shorter lifespan than every other type of mattresses, lasting an average of 3 to 5 years. Although Euro tops fare better than pillow tops, both are essentially non-removable mattress toppers. The construction, material, and density of pillow tops are not designed to sustain years of use, alone.

However, because you cannot remove pillow tops, you are forced to endure a flattened surface and sagging edges once the pillow top wears out; or, the alternative is to invest in an entirely new bed. Although a pillow top tends to deteriorate much faster than other mattress types, shopping for one with warranty coverage inclusive of sagging may prove beneficial to the above scenario. It will also more than likely prevent you from buying a low-quality pillow top lasting even shorter than expected.

Conclusion

If you are shopping for a bed and find every mattress feels too soft or too firm, consider a Euro top or pillow top mattress. These types of beds add an extra layer of plush cushioning to firmer feeling mattresses to increase soft comfort without diminishing support.

However, Euro top and pillow top mattresses vary in construction, and therefore, feel. To make the best choice, consider what’s most important to you in a bed—additional softness and pressure relief or cushioned support and longevity? For instance, although both tops will enhance the cushioning of your bed, pillow tops are sewn to the top of the mattress cover, leaving more space for sleepers to sink into, resulting in generous pressure relief. Euro tops, on the other hand, are attached beneath the mattress cover and better reinforced by the layers below it, providing softened support and durability.

Once you have determined what you prefer in a mattress, one of the two pillow top beds will surely equip you with your preferred balance of soft and supportive.


About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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