Comforters, Duvets, Quilts, Bedspreads, & Coverlets: What’s the Difference?

cozy bed in a cabin

When it comes to bedding, there are so many different types and terms that it can get pretty confusing. Most people know what a sheet, pillowcase, and bed skirt are, but what about the top layers? Duvets, quilts, comforters, bedspreads, and coverlets all have similarities, but also distinct aspects and uses that make them different. Understanding these differences can help you narrow your search, or even realize that you’re interested in something else entirely. Keep reading to learn the specifics of each, and then a comparison of what makes them unique!

Each explained

The major similarity that all of these have is that they are usually the top layer of bedding. Some are for decoration, some are for warmth, and some do both! Once you have the base items for your bedding (pillows, sheets, fitted sheets, etc.), it’s time to complete the look with one, or multiple of these items. Let’s define each one individually:


Probably the most common of these bedding options, comforters are thick toppers that are filled with down, synthetic polyester batting, microfiber, or another similar material. These are also sewn or quilted to keep the filling in place and evenly distributed. Because of their popularity, you can probably find comforters in any color, style, or design you’re searching for. These are primarily used for warmth and the amount of filling inside will determine how warm it is.


Often confused with comforters, duvets initially gained popularity in Europe but have since become common bedding toppers in the United States. Another confusing aspect of duvets is that many people are actually referring to the duvet cover when they use the word. The actual duvet is generally a plain white comforter that is filled with down. The duvet cover is essentially an envelope that zips, buttons, or ties on one side and encloses the duvet itself. This makes the warm topper easier to clean, as you only have to wash the cover. While a duvet and its cover were initially used to simplify bedding and use without a sheet, many people still use a sheet between them and the duvet (old habits die hard).


One of the most traditional and long-lived types of bedding, quilts are usually colorfully decorated with patterns and designs. They’re made up of three main layers:

  • Decorative layer - this is the top layer that is usually visible when on a bed, and consists of whatever pattern, design, or patchwork the quilt is being made for.
  • Batting layer - the middle layer, this is basically the insulation piece of the quilt and can be made from down, wool, or other warm materials.
  • Backing layer - the bottom layer of the quilt, the backing is often plain but can also be decorative to create a reversible quilt.

This 3-layer format has been around for thousands of years, with the quilter stitching through all three to create the “quilted” grid look we all know. They combine vibrant and decorative aspects with functional and warm characteristics that we see in comforters and duvets.


Moving into the more decorative side of bedding toppers, bedspreads are single-layer pieces that cover the entire bed and go down to the floor. They have more ornate and elaborate texturing or finishes, from corduroy to pompom, and are typically used to simply cover the bed when not in use. Whether for guest rooms or just during the day, these can be swapped for comforters at night and put back on in the morning for a more professional look.


Similar to bedspreads, coverlets are decorative top layers for your bed that are either quilted or woven. They have a wide range of sizes, from the size of the mattress to the size of a throw blanket. This makes them very versatile and reusable for a number of different places around your home. Coverlets usually come in a bedding set and with coordinating shams to complete the look.

The differences

Now that we have a better picture of what each is, it’s a good time to directly compare and contrast them. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to compare each to a comforter, as that’s the most well-known option.

Duvet vs. comforter

As mentioned in discussing what a duvet is, the actual duvet is essentially just a plain comforter, called an insert. The primary difference is that duvets also come with a duvet cover that protects the insert and can be removed for easier washing.

Can you put a comforter in a duvet cover?

With this information, you might be wondering if you can combine the two. The answer is yes — putting a duvet cover on a separate comforter is an easy way to make cleaning your bedding easier (as long as they’re the same size). Just make sure that what you’ve been calling a comforter isn’t already a duvet in a cover!

Quilt vs. comforter

When it comes to quilts, they aren’t designed for warmth as much as comforters. Quilts are also made with three distinct layers stitched together, while comforters have more of a “fill” of down or fibers. The other visual difference you’ll notice is that quilts are typically much more flamboyant and striking due to their traditional designs and colors. Comforters tend to have more understated designs or solid colors, although we do stock comforters with a range of more complex designs, patterns, and images.

Coverlet vs. comforter

Coverlets are another bedding topper that doesn’t have a fill, and therefore are much thinner and lightweight than comforters. This is because they are purely decorative and aren’t made to be used for warmth. While comforters cover the entire top of the bed with some overhang, coverlets have a range of sizes that can be from the size of the bed down to just covering the foot of the bed.

Bedspread vs. comforter

Similar to coverlets, bedspreads are generally used for decoration and usually aren’t used as a functional blanket. In terms of size, they cover the entire bed (and sometimes pillows) while still draping over the edges. In situations where both a bedspread and comforter are being used, the bedspread will often be put on during the day and then removed and replaced with a comforter at night.

Find bedding for your rustic home

Whether you’re looking for a warm comforter or duvet, a decorative coverlet or bedspread, or something in between, Cabin Place surely has what you’re looking for. Our large collection of rustic bedding options is unmatched in its quality and selection. Check out all of our bedding options, or sort our furnishings by theme today!