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What is the Difference Between a Pillow Top and Plush Mattress?

June 10, 2024 3 min read

Choosing the right mattress is crucial for a good night's sleep and overall comfort. Among the popular options are pillow top and plush mattresses, each offering unique benefits and characteristics. This article will explore the differences between these two types to help you decide which is best for your needs.


Selecting the right mattress is fundamental to achieving restful sleep and maintaining your well-being. With a myriad of options available, understanding the distinctions between pillow top and plush mattresses is essential to make an informed choice. This guide will delve into their construction, comfort, durability, and suitability for different sleepers.

What is a Pillow Top Mattress?

Construction and Design
A pillow top mattress features an additional layer of padding sewn onto the top surface of the mattress. This layer, often made from materials such as foam, memory foam, latex, cotton, fiberfill, wool, or down feathers, enhances the mattress's comfort by providing extra softness and cushioning. The design creates a noticeable separation between the pillow top layer and the mattress base, giving it a distinctive plush appearance. Learn more by reading our best pillow top mattress guide.

Comfort and Firmness
Pillow tops offer a softer sleeping surface, making them ideal for those who prefer a plush, cloud-like feel. This extra cushioning is particularly beneficial for side sleepers who need relief on pressure points such as shoulders and hips. The luxurious feel of a pillow top can add a touch of opulence to the sleeping experience.

Durability and Maintenance
Pillow top mattresses may wear out faster than other types due to the softer top layer, which can flatten over time. Regular rotation and flipping (if the mattress design allows) can help extend their lifespan. Despite their plush feel, maintaining a pillow top mattress requires careful attention to prevent premature sagging.

What is a Plush Mattress?

Construction and Design
Plush mattresses are designed to be softer and more cushioned than firm mattresses, without the distinct additional layer found in pillow tops. They typically consist of multiple layers of soft materials like memory foam, latex, or soft fibers that provide a gentle and comforting sleeping surface. The construction aims to balance softness with adequate support.

Comfort and Firmness
Plush mattresses offer a soft, enveloping feel but generally maintain more support than pillow tops. They provide a balanced comfort level, making them suitable for back and combination sleepers. The plush surface contours to the body's shape, ensuring proper spinal alignment and reducing pressure points.

Durability and Maintenance
Plush mattresses are generally more durable than pillow top mattresses due to their integrated construction, which often includes denser materials. They provide consistent support over time and are less prone to developing body impressions or sagging. Plush mattresses can be a long-lasting investment with minimal maintenance.

Key Differences Between Pillow Top and Plush Mattresses

Padding and Layers

  • Pillow Tops: Feature an additional padded layer sewn onto the top of the mattress, creating a distinct separation.
  • Plush Mattresses: Incorporate cushioning layers within the overall mattress design, leading to a more integrated and seamless feel.

Comfort and Firmness

  • Pillow Tops: Generally softer and provide a plush, cushioned feel, ideal for side sleepers.
  • Plush Mattresses: Offer a balanced softness with supportive properties, making them suitable for a wider range of sleepers.


  • Pillow Tops: May flatten and wear out faster due to the softer top layer.
  • Plush Mattresses: Tend to be more durable and maintain their support over time.


  • Pillow Tops: Can be more expensive due to the additional materials used in the top layer.
  • Plush Mattresses: While also premium, may offer a more cost-effective option for those seeking softness without the extra layer.

Choosing the Right Mattress for You

Sleeping Position

  • Side Sleepers: May prefer the extra cushioning of a pillow top for pressure relief on shoulders and hips.
  • Back and Combination Sleepers: Might find plush mattresses more supportive, offering the right balance between softness and firmness.

Personal Preferences
Consider your preferred level of firmness and overall comfort needs. Plush mattresses provide a soft yet supportive feel, while pillow tops offer a luxurious, cushioned experience.

If longevity is a priority, a plush mattress might be a better investment. Plush mattresses are designed to maintain their shape and support for an extended period, reducing the likelihood of sagging or impressions.


Both pillow top and plush mattresses offer unique benefits, catering to different comfort preferences and needs. Understanding the key differences and considering your personal requirements will help you choose the mattress that provides you with the best sleep experience. Whether you prefer the luxurious softness of a pillow top or the balanced comfort of a plush mattress, the right choice will enhance your sleep quality and overall well-being.