Picking apart a pillow-top mattress

Close-up of mattress with pillow top removed.

November 26, 2011

17 thoughts on “Picking apart a pillow-top mattress

  1. Thanks so much for posting this… very helpful. I too had searched in google about the problems with pillow tops and if people had successfully removed them. I purchased my pillow top (Sealy Eurocomfort) 3 years ago and loved it when I tried it out. Over the past 6 months to a year I started getting pain in the middle of my back, really tight muscles that never seemed to relax. I work in front of a computer all day and at that time was overweight so I attributed these symptoms to those issues. I recently dropped the weight and changed my posture at work and to be honest, my back issues got worse. In the back of my mind I knew it was probably the mattress (never had issues with old stiff mattress) but also didn’t want to spend another $1000 on a new mattress. After reading this article (and a few others: http://www.instructables.com/id/Hacking-a-Pillow-top-Bed/) I decided to jump in and remove the pillow top. Specifically the foam overlay. As soon as I cut around the pillow top layer (3 sides were needed) I had access to the foam insert and was successfully able to cut the white plastic thingies. I simply removed the foam and stitched the top layer back to the sides. I was lucky enough to have a thin pad on top of the pillow top so I didn’t have to put anything on top of the mattress afterwards. I’ve slept on this for 4 nights now and can’t believe the change. My middle back pain is gone. I highly recommend this to anyone who is not happy with their pillow top. Saved me money and a hassle. It only took me 45 minutes to cut out the pillow top and hand stitch everything back. Thanks Caesar!

  2. I have the same problem. After five years our pillow top is sagging and I’m laying here with chronic lower back pain. I was looking for the cheaper way out also. By cutting off the pillow top I could save on buying a new mattress. After all it’s just a normal mattress under the pillow top anyway. I am great full I have found your page and read what you have done. I also like the comment above. I am about to do the same. I am excited about having a firmer mattress and getting a good nights sleep, pain free.

  3. I am very picky with my mattress, just a thin layer of foam too much and it can be unbearably soft for me. I got a pillow top pocket spring mattress and found it slightly too soft resulting in me getting a tinge of backpain. So I just opened up the pillow top and took out the offending layer of memory foam. Now it’s perfect. I recommend to anyone that they should consider D.I.Y on their mattress if they don’t find it comfortable. Also I would suggest mattress toppers that come in many forms (latex, memory foam, normal foam) that can be great to replace old sagging pillow tops.

  4. Thanks for posting this. I’ve noticed that my mattress (which is less than a year old) has been bothering my back. I’ve been sleeping on the floor with a yoga mat and have noticed a dramatic difference.

    I’m going to follow up with the retailer, and if they can’t offer any reasonable solutions, try to remove the pillow top on the mattress.

    For those of you that have tried this, have the effects been long-lasting? Or do you find that it is more an issue of the innersprings which are no longer supportive? And would it be worth it to remove the pillow top to put on a foam topper to make the mattress feel more firm?

    Thanks again for the post, and any suggestions you can provide.

    1. Hey Ashley, since writing the article 3 years ago we’re still using the very same mattress, and it is entirely tolerable and it’s going on 7 years now – the springs naturally last much (much, much) longer than the foam layer. The warranty is supposed to cover the mattress for 10 years, however the fine print states that the foam layer height difference must be greater than 2cm (or an inch), which it wasn’t. But my body could clearly feel it.

      If you take out the foam the mattress will be very firm. But then you have the option of adding any kind of mattress topper (of any firmness or thickness you like), including memory foam or whatever takes your fancy. Then when that wears out, you can simply replace it without having to toss the entire mattress.

      Good luck!

    2. Thanks for giving me the courage to dissect my 2 year old Original Mattress Factory pillow top mattress. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than it already was. I suffer with scoliosis but at only 105 lbs I should ‘t be leaving a dent in my bed. The pain every night was horrible. My question is now that all the foam is out of my bed(I stripped to the springs)where is the best place to buy a new foam topper. Not interested in memory foam. What is going to hold up the longest? Thanks

    1. Hi Michelle! It’s extremely simple and just requires a needle and thread. It also depends on how “neat” you want the final result to look – I personally didn’t really care much at all, since it’ll always be hidden under a bedsheet. So I just used a large needle with a course thread and just put enough stitches (about every inch or so) to close it up so that there weren’t any big gaps. You can actually see the beginnings of that in the photo: up near the top-right of the picture you’ll see the 6 diagonal lines where I started the stitching. Hope that helps!

  5. My Simmons Beautyrest mattress is less than 2 years old and after analyzing the sagging, I realized it was the pillow top and not the mattress, so the work began. (I weigh 120 lbs. so it shouldn’t have been sagging.) I made two 12″ – 14″ openings on each side and one 14″ opening on the bottom, with a sharp scissor. The foam was glued around the sides and in the middle and was very difficult to pry off and yank out (in pieces). The skin on my arms and hand is irritated, from reaching to the middle from each side, and scratching my skin on the stiff glue on the foam, plus my back aches – LOL. I hate to admit that I am approaching 70 y.o. I then stitched it with Coat’s button & craft thread, using a large, heavy needle. That wasn’t easy either, although I must admit that I did a great job stitching it evenly all around and it looks just fine. It was a full day’s work, however, my first night’s sleep was so much better and no back ache this morning! I am not sure whether or not I will need a topper and will decide after a week or two. Good luck and don’t be afraid to try it!

  6. This morning woke up & was totally irritated with this dang pillow top. Tried and tried to make it work! We spent a lot of money on our mattress set! Didn’t wanna go out and buy another after we just got done paying it off! Had enough today so the thought came to me maybe I can take the pillow part off. I researched if it’s been done and found this site! I ended up cutting the whole top of the bed off cause the pad was sewed really good everywhere to the top. Still looks like a regular mattress & It feels better already,can’t wait to sleep on it tonight! Thanks to everyone on here gave me the guts to try it!:))))And now I will use the pad part for extra padding on the ground when we go camping! lol

  7. We bought out mattress 2 months ago from sleep country and it was a floor bed (thinking we would save money) and the sales lady said that we wouldn’t even notice a difference. We got it and it had 2 huge sage marks on both sides! We got the warranty but turns out they only “replace” it if it is more then 2in deep! And its 1.5in deep on both sides. Its so bad for my back that i have just been sleeping in my 2 year old sons twin bed! I am going to do this asap! Thanks for the tutorial!!!!

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