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Pillow Top, EuroTop, and Plush: Decoding Softness


Close-up photo of a soft, bare pillow top mattress

Most mattress shoppers are familiar with the firm mattress. Beyond that, however, things get confusing. You may have encountered the terms “pillow top,” “EuroTop (or Euro top),” and “plush” as well, but do you know the differences between them? Read on to learn more!

Mattress Firmness Scale

As a handy guide for most of the mattresses City Mattress offers, we include a firmness scale. This scale includes a range from 1 (Firm) to 10 (Soft). Firm mattresses generally fall below a five by this metric, while plush, pillow top and EuroTop mattresses are often above five. Another common term you’ll encounter is “medium firm.” A medium firm mattress is close to, or exactly, five on the firmness scale.

Comfort vs. Support

Mattresses are built in layers. The bottommost layer is usually the support layer. At the top, we find the comfort layer. For instance, an innerspring mattress features coils on the support layer, at the bottom, but will feature a comfort layer of padding at the top. Because of this, you may see terms like “firm support” or “medium comfort.” 

To expand on the above, there are mattresses that offer firm support with medium comfort. What this means is that the support layer is firm, while the comfort layer is medium firm, or about five on the firmness scale. Likewise, the support layer can be firm with a soft comfort feel. 

With the difference between comfort and support in mind, consider a back pain sufferer. Their back needs firm support, but does that mean they need to sleep on a firm surface? Not necessarily! It is possible to have firm support for spinal alignment while still experiencing a soft sleep surface. In fact, a firm comfort layer may provide too much pressure, especially on a side sleeper’s hips and shoulders. 

What is a Plush Mattress?

Stepping up from a firm comfort feel, plush mattresses add extra padding to the top layer. This additional padding allows for improved pressure relief, especially for side sleepers. While the comfort layer is softer than a firm mattress, a plush mattress still provides great spinal alignment. This mix of support and comfort makes plush mattresses a popular choice for many sleepers. 

Many medium or medium-firm mattresses are plush mattresses, though not all. The comfort layer can consist of cotton, wool, memory foam, latex, or any other material that provides a layer of cushion. Because of this, how much pressure relief you experience with a plush mattress depends on the material. Memory foam does a great job of relieving pressure by conforming to your body. This means that hips and shoulders sink into the mattress, which also helps keep your spine in proper alignment. Learn more in our dedicated plush mattress article.

What is a Pillow Top Mattress?

For those who want ultimate softness, pillow top mattresses are where you’ll find it. A pillow top mattress features an extra layer of soft material in the quilting. Rather than being flush with the rest of the mattress, a pillow top has a small gap between it and the underlying comfort layer. This creates a distinct, layered look that you may recognize. 

The pillow top’s quilted layer can be filled with fiber or foam. The foam in this layer is usually of an ultra-soft variety that responds quickly to pressure. Often the quilting will also be extra soft, for an overall luxurious feel. 

What is a EuroTop Mattress?

You might notice that EuroTop and pillow top mattresses are found together. That’s because the primary difference between them is how the extra-soft padding is sewn to the mattress. Unlike the pillow top, a EuroTop mattress features extra padding that sits beneath the quilted top, so the mattress sides are flush. 

Another key difference between a pillow top and a EuroTop mattress is that the EuroTop mattress offers better edge support for sitting. Consequently, a EuroTop mattress has a firmer edge with a cushy center. 

Which Comfort Feel is Right for You?

At City Mattress, we offer a large variety of options because everyone is different. The best way to discover which mattress fits you best is to visit one of our stores. We can help you decide between soft and firm mattresses, pillows, bedding, and more. However, you can speak to our Sleep Experts online as well, through our handy chat feature. Our staff will answer your questions and help you find the ultimate mattress for you!