Mattress Topper vs. New Mattress: What Should You Choose?

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated on February 8, 2023

Getting a mattress topper is certainly cheaper than a new mattress. However, you can't just throw a mattress topper over a completely ruined mattress and call it a day. So, if you’re caught in the mattress topper vs. new mattress dilemma, here’s how to tell when a mattress topper can't salvage things.

Key Takeaways 

  • If your mattress is completely saggy, a mattress topper won't do. You need a new mattress.
  • If your mattress has firmness and support issues, you may be able to fix them with a mattress topper.

When You Should Pick a Mattress Topper and When a New Mattress

Just to clear things up right away, here are some quick clues on when to pick a mattress topper to solve your problems, and when to throw your mattress out and buy a new one.

When to add a mattress topperWhen to buy a new mattress
Mattress can’t provide necessary supportMattress is too saggy to be usable
Mattress firmness isn’t suitable
(too soft or too firm)
Mattress is dirty, infested, or has molds
Mattress lacks thermoregulationMattress is too soft to support and hold a mattress topper on top of it
Your budget is tightMattress is too old (older than 7 years)
Your mattress is soft by your own choice, but it sinks when sleeping on itYou’re replacing mattress toppers frequently

Mattress Topper vs. New Mattress – Saggy Mattress

Mattresses need to be replaced every six to eight years (1). However, that's only true for high-quality, durable mattresses. Some mattresses will start showing signs that they need to retire sooner. 

Mattress Topper vs. New Mattress

At that point, you need to buy a whole new mattress. That's because not even a memory foam mattress topper will make things comfortable. 

Other signs of an old mattress include experiencing body aches in the morning. If this sounds familiar, I recommend you get a new mattress before long.

Memory Foam Topper vs. Mattress – Firmness Issues

For folks with issues related to back pain, a regular mattress might not provide enough coziness to get a good night’s sleep. Instead, a mattress topper for lower back pain relief (like a memory foam topper) can help. On this note, utilizing a softer mattress topper is only a band-aid solution. So, for people with back issues, the outcome of the memory foam topper vs. mattress debate is clear. 

Back sleeping on a mattress topper
Back sleeping on a mattress topper

Similarly, choosing a mattress for side sleepers might be the best choice for people who revert to that position often. On the other hand,  go for a mattress for stomach sleepers if you have difficulties falling asleep. If you prefer those sleeping positions but have to switch many times until the morning, consider getting a new type of mattress. 

Side sleeper on a firmer mattress
Side sleeper on a firmer mattress

I recommend buying a firmer mattress and placing a softer mattress topper on top. You can even place a memory foam topper to increase plushness for extra coziness.

The reverse is also true. If you just bought a too-soft mattress for your weight, you can pair it well with a mattress topper for a heavy person

Mattress Topper vs. New Mattress – Temperature Problems

If you're a hot sleeper, having the wrong mattress will ruin your sleep. Some manufacturers say that getting a gel mattress topper will help your body dissipate heat, but that won't last too long. 

As for the memory foam topper vs. mattress thing, we don't recommend either of those for hot sleepers. That's because the foam traps your body heat, making things worse. Instead, get a gel memory mattress to serve as a long-term solution. 

I don't recommend putting a gel memory mattress topper on top. That's because the mattress underneath will hamper ventilation, so you'll only get a little relief. You can also look into latex mattresses as they don't trap body heat either.

Mattress Topper vs. New Mattress – Budget

Budget is a major concern when deciding whether to get a new mattress or simply go for a better mattress topper. 

I avoid the cheapest options since they’ll probably lead to new expenditures. In other words, investing in something you'd use every day seems the wiser choice.

That's because mattress toppers need to be replaced more frequently, meaning the costs will keep increasing. Hence, I recommend saving up as long as possible and investing in a high-quality mattress. 

If that's not an option, go for a denser mattress topper. To that end, favor qualities like durability and firmness. Naturally, it’s best to inspect the product by hand to evaluate this aspect. If that’s not feasible in your situation, look for more detailed online reviews.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I place a mattress topper on my new mattress?

Placing a mattress topper, even on a new mattress, can serve more than a single purpose. For one, it acts as a protective layer for your mattress, shielding it from wear and tear. Also, using the right mattress topper can create the perfect sleeping environment for you and your partner.

Should I place a mattress topper on my new mattress

When is it time to get a mattress instead of a mattress topper?

Eight years is usually the limit of how long you should use a mattress. Additionally, if your mattress shows serious damage, a mattress topper will not compensate for it. On the flip side, after getting a new mattress, give it a few days if it feels too rigid at first.

The Final Verdict 

We’ve touched upon the most common instances that introduce the dilemma of whether you should replace your mattress or use a higher-quality mattress topper instead. When making your choice, keep your sleeping habits and well-being in mind. Sometimes, opting for the most budget-friendly option will not work in the long run.

That's all from our side, but we'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!


  1. Adrienne Santos-Longhurst (June 2020). How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress? Retrieved from:

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