Mattresses come with a variety of top layers attached to them. These top layers, depending on their design, add varying amounts of cushioning to the mattress. While the construction itself may be of a totally firm mattress, the top layer can give one extra padding or the feeling of sinking into the mattress when getting into bed. Euro Tops and Pillow Tops are just two of the types of top layers available on mattresses.
There are four primary types of mattress top layers available. The first type, known as Firm (also called Tight and Basic), generally has no additional cushioning or padding stitched onto the mattress top. There is no feeling of sinking into the material with most firm mattresses.
The second type is the Plush Top. This is the softest and most cushioned of the mattress top layers available. It may be a few inches thicker than the other tops and gives the truest feeling of sinking into the material when one lowers oneself down onto it. It's extremely soft and fluffy.
The third and fourth types are the Euro Top and the Pillow Top. They provide more cushioning than the Firm, and less than the Plush. The primary difference between Euro and Pillow is in the stitching, Euro tops are stitched directly to the mattress top with no additional materials or gap between the top layer and the mattress itself (reference 1).
You can identify the difference between Euro Top and Pillow Top mattresses by looking at the stitching and the area between the topping and the mattress frame itself. A Pillow Top topping is affixed to a layer all its own, which is attached to the mattress proper, with a gap between the two. A Euro Top mattress lacks the gap or additional material between the mattress frame and the cushioned top. A Pillow Top may appear to sit higher and be thicker than a Euro Top and may feel slightly more plush due to the added space between the two parts of the mattress (reference 1).
Euro Top and Pillow Top mattresses come in all of the standard mattress sizes such as Twin, Full, Queen and King. A complete list of mattress sizes and dimensions can be found in the Resources section of this article.
The height and thickness can affect mattress size. Plush and Pillow Top mattresses may be or at least appear to be few additional inches high and thick, while Euro Top mattresses, without the gap between mattress frame and top, are more slim-lined and may be similar in thickness to traditional Firm mattresses.
When deciding between a Euro Top and Pillow Top mattress there are two things to consider, the first being how the size of the mattress is affected by what kind of top it has. While both mattress types offer similar cushioning and feel, the Pillow Top may require larger bedsheets due to the extra thickness because of the space between the mattress frame and the topping. The padding is similar with the Euro Top but it's achieved with less thickness.
Also consider the aesthetics of the mattress. Pillow Top and Euro Top look slightly different due to the presence or lack of a gap and also due to the stitching. You may like one look better than the other. Also, while bedsheets will cover up these differences, the sheets could become bunched up in the gap in the Pillow Top construction.
One effect that is found with Pillow Top mattresses that may not be experienced with Euro Tops is that when a person lies in the middle of the mattress, the edges of the mattress may pull inward. This is due to the looser stitching of the Pillow Top design. This can contribute to the feeling of sinking into the mattress and also may make the bedsheets appear loose around the edges when in use (reference 2).