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If your mattress is old and worn out and no longer comfortable, but you cannot afford a new one, you may have considered making a DIY mattress topper. In this article, we will assess whether it is a good idea and explain how to manage it.
The Pros of a DIY Mattress Topper
- Making a DIY mattress topper is cheaper than a mattress and can buy you some time on your old mattress while you save money to buy a decent new one.
- When partners have different mattress firmness preferences, making a topper for one side of the bed can save you a lot of arguments.
- Because it is thinner and easier to move than a large mattress, it works well when you spend some of your time away from home and need to add comfort to an uncomfortable mattress elsewhere. Think of a dormitory or a motorhome.
- Making your own topper is the only way to ensure that the mattress is genuinely comfortable for your unique body and preferences. The best that a manufacturer can do is to standardize, but the standards don't always work for all of us. So, if you need it firmer or softer because the standard manufactured mattresses are too soft or too firm, or if you need extra support or sinkage in a unique place, you can do it yourself.
- If you want to guarantee that you sleep on healthy, natural, environment-friendly materials, it is a good idea to buy your own materials and put a topper together yourself, as this is the only way you can be 100 percent sure of the materials that are inside it.
The Cons of a DIY Mattress Topper
- While it might be cheaper than buying an expensive top-of-the-range mattress topper, making your own topper is seldom cheaper than the cost-effective options on the market. In fact, if you buy quality memory foam or latex pads that you still have to cover yourself, you have probably already spent more than $50, a price for which you can buy a fairly decent mattress topper. The truth is that Manufacturers can buy or make quality construction materials in bulk, which is why their toppers are almost certainly cheaper than it is for people who by the materials in small amounts.
- They may not last as long as commercial toppers do, not because there is something wrong with your sewing skills, but simply because companies that sell quality materials, like technologically advanced and temperature-controlled memory foam, tend not to sell these to the public.
- If you want to make your own mattress topper from old construction materials that you already have at home to save money, you are likely to come up with something awful simply because there is a reason why you threw out all those old pillows, for example. If they are uncomfortable below your head, they will be doubly so below your back.
Requirements for a Good Mattress Topper
Before you buy your materials and start cutting and sewing, first consider the features that make for a good mattress topper.
- Mattress toppers are between two and four inches thick. Anything thinner is just a pad or protector that protects your mattress from spills and stains. The thicker your topper, the better the support and contouring.
- If your mattress is too soft, a latex topper can add some firmness and prevent you from sinking into the bed.(1)
- If your mattress is too firm, think in terms of a memory foam topper to relieve the contact pressure between your body and the bed.(2)
- Memory foam or shredded latex pads are probably best for side sleepers, as you will see from the best mattress topper for side sleepers here, as they allow your shoulders to sink into the topper. A solid latex pad is best for back and side sleepers who need more firmness.
- If the supplier asks you about ILD, it stands for impression load deflection, which describes how much pressure is needed to indent the material. For latex, an ILD of 20 is soft, 24-26 is medium, 29-31 is medium-firm, and anything above is very firm. For memory foam, 11-13 is soft, 14-16 is medium, and 17+ is firm.
- If you sleep too hot on your current memory foam mattress, consider a latex topper with a cotton or bamboo cover, as these materials sleep the coolest.
- Natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo are also best at keeping your topper free from bacteria and dust mites.
- Keep your materials as hypoallergenic as possible to prevent allergies. Many people respond negatively to down, feathers, and artificial latex.
- Sew on straps that you can tuck under your mattress to prevent your topper from moving around your bed. You can also use non-skid materials like rubber, cork, or foam, but this will render the topper harder to make.
How to Make Your Own Mattress Topper
STEP 1: Measuring Your Materials
- For the pad, remove your current mattress from your bed and measure the bed's width and length. These are the measurements you will give the upholstery or pad supplier if you want them to cut it for you, together with a two, three, or four-inch thickness measurement.
- For the cover, you will use your bed's measurements and add the topper's thickness plus another inch or two for the seam. For example, if your bed is 60"x80" and your topper is 4", you need two pieces of fabric of 65-66 inches, and two pieces of 85-86 inches. A larger cover is under less stretching pressure than a tight one and will thus last longer.
STEP 2: Cutting Your Materials
- Lay the pad on a flat inflexible surface like the table or the floor and smooth it out until it is lying completely flat.
- Pin down the corners to ensure that it's flat, but be careful not to stretch it, which is a special risk for latex.
- Use a permanent marker to draw lines according to your measurements.
- Now use a knife to cut along the lines. It is prudent to use an electric knife with a brand-new blade, especially for a thick latex pad that can be hard to cut. With a sharp blade on an electric knife, you can exert minimum pressure and thereby reduce your chance of slipping or skewing away from the lines.
- Remember that you can cut it again if it is too long, but you will have to start from scratch with a new pad if you cut it too short.
STEP 3: Putting it Together
Remember the following:
- If you opted for two layers, like dense foam at the bottom and soft memory foam on top, it is not strictly necessary to use glue or adhesives between the layers. This will make the topper sleep hotter and will make it less flexible and responsive to your movements. The cover should be able to hold the layers together.
- The seam of the cover should run along the sides of the topper and not on your sleeping surface.
- If you are skilled enough to sew a zip into the cover, it will be easier to wash and to remedy construction mistakes later.
Where Do I Buy the Materials for My Homemade Mattress Topper?
After considering these requirements, you should now know which materials you want to use for your pad and its cover
The fabrics for the covers are easy to find, as any fabric supplier and textile factory shop can sell you roles of a wide variety of fabrics that you can then cut and stitch together yourself as a cover for your new topper.
The padding might be a bit more difficult, but upholstery suppliers will be able to help you, of which there are many in all medium and large American cities.
Lots of specialist natural bedding material suppliers have also recently sprung up to serve the DIYers online.
These include companies like DIY Natural Bedding, FoamOrder’s.com, and White Lotus Home who variously specialize in natural products like latex, pure foam from the sap of the rubber tree, shredded latex, shredded foam, buckwheat, wool, and organic cotton.
These companies and many upholstery suppliers can sell you large quantities that you will then have to cut yourself, Or They Can cut the slabs for you according to the measurements you hand them.
Is a Homemade Mattress Topper Worth the Time and Effort?
That is a question only you can really answer. It almost certainly isn't, unless you enjoy DIY projects more than you enjoy genuine recreational activities in your spare time, as some people do. It is unlikely to save you money, unless you compare the cost with the premium commercially available brands.
Can I Make a Mattress Topper from Old Pillows?
If you stitch them together and into a cover, there is no reason why you cannot do it. But since they are likely to differ slightly by height and firmness, it is unlikely to be a comfortable mattress topper. It may even pull your spine out of alignment and cause back pain, unlike the best mattress topper for back pain here. Since you spend a third of your time in bed, a mattress topper should, at the very least, B-flat and even.
As far as we can see, the best way to make a DIY mattress topper is to buy a latex or memory foam pad, preferably already cut, from an upholstery supplier or specialist natural bedding material supplier online, and to cover it with a cotton cover that you sew yourself.
If this is a DIY project that you have completed successfully, please add a comment below and let us know how you managed it and what pitfalls you avoided along the way.
- Fan-Zhe Low et al. (March 2017). Effects of Mattress Material on Body Pressure Profiles in Different Sleeping Postures. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1556370716300116
- Lorenzo Tonetti et al. (March 30, 2011). Relationship Between Mattress Technological Features and Sleep Quality: An Actigraphic Study of Healthy Participants. Biological Rhythm Research. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09291016.2010.528633