The Difference Between a Quilt and Comforter and How to Choose One

quilt vs comforter

Design: Emily Henderson, Photo: Sara Liggoria-Tramp

Scrolling through the bedding section of any home décor site can be dizzying, to say the least. With product offerings running the gamut from comforters to quilts, what's a dweller to choose? Luckily, we have some friends who know a thing or two about bedding.

Ahead, we tapped two experts to help us solve the age-old conundrum: quilt versus comforter. Scroll through our guide, which will make it much easier to decide on the best bed covering for you.

Meet the Expert

  • Katie Elks is the Director of Design and Product Development for Brooklinen.
  • Allison Spampanato is the Senior Vice President of Product Development for Pottery Barn Kids.

Quilt vs. Comforter

Before settling on one over the other, it's important to consider your aesthetic and sleeping preferences. Do you prefer a luxe, lofty appearance? Do you usually run warm at night? As both comforters and quilts have pros and cons, these can all be deciding factors when shopping for bedding.

"Traditionally, quilts are flatter and often have a more condensed filling, whereas comforters are loftier," Spampanato explains. Quilts are lighter-weight and more comparable to blankets, with a thin layer of fill inside. Elks describes a quilt as more of a decorative piece rather than a basic bedding necessity. Quilts can also consist of different fabrics pieced together to create a pattern.

On the other hand, comforters are an essential bedding piece, typically stuffed with down or down alternatives. "As down and down alternatives are efficient at trapping heat, comforters are great for a fluffier, warmer sleep experience," Elks says.

The Pros and Cons of Comforters

If you're looking for a warm, lofty sleep experience, similar to one you'd experience in a luxe hotel, adding a comforter to your bed is key. "Comforters, with their lofty appearance, fit well in contemporary spaces and can be a nice way to add texture to any bed," Spampanato says.

What Is a Comforter?

A comforter is a large pouch of soft fabric to adorn your bed, typically filled with fibers like wool, silk, cotton, or polyester.

But with added fluff comes added warmth—keep this in mind if you run warm at night. "Typically made with warm down or down alternatives, comforters are the best option for someone who runs cold," Elks explains.

down comforter
Brooklinen Down Comforter $499.00 $449.00
Down Alternative Comforter
Parachute Down Alternative Comforter $269.00

Comforters not only add volume to your bed, but they can also add bulk to your linen closet, which makes them more difficult to store. If you don't have a ton of space for storage, the good news is you can switch up your bedding style by stuffing your comforter in various duvet covers.

The best part about pairing them with a duvet is it can extend the life of your comforter. Elks tells us that most comforters cannot be washed at home, and adds that dry cleaning down comforters can shorten their lifespan.

Place your comforter in a duvet cover to preserve it and make cleaning a breeze. If you're okay with hauling your bedding to the dry cleaner often, you can skip the duvet cover and opt for a down alternative.

The Pros and Cons of Quilts

If you live in warmer climates or generally run hot at night, you might benefit from a thinner, lighter-weight quilt. Typically made with breathable materials like cotton, lyocell, or muslin, Spampanato says quilts with thinner batting will keep you cooler at night than a fluffy comforter.

What Is a Quilt?

A quilt is a thin blanket that features three layers: a top layer, batting, and a bottom layer. The quilt's fill can be made from materials like wool, down, or polyester.

Aside from being the cooler of the two—trust us, we don't mean this figuratively—a quilt's thinner, lighter weight makes storage and washing a breeze. Unlike bulky comforters, quilts fit easily inside most washing machines. Elks also points out that their compact design makes it easy to transport and style them anywhere, from the bedroom to the couch.

Brooklinen Linen Quilt $279.00 $251.00
west elm x PBK Honeycomb Toddler Quilt
Pottery Barn Kids West Elm x PBK Honeycomb Quilt $99.00 $74.00

As far as aesthetics go, Spampanato tells us that quilts naturally have a more traditional, hand-crafted appearance, especially if the quilting is actually done by hand. This can be particularly appealing for bohemian or eclectic homes. They come in a variety of colors, patterns, and designs, which makes it easy to find one that matches your current décor.

Elks adds that quilts typically feature anything from subtle designs and stitching to bold colors and shapes, which are all perfect for adding a decorative element to simple spaces or even to strengthen a maximalist design.

Get a cool and comfortable sleep in the warm summer months when you swap thick, heavy bedding for a lightweight quilt.