Shopping for a Better Night’s Sleep: Understanding the Various Types of Waterbeds


Congratulations on considering a new waterbed.  Once highly popular, the demand for waterbeds waned for a couple of decades yet have recently experienced a resurgence.  There are many health benefits associated to owning a waterbed, such as relieving symptoms of arthritis, but before enjoying better rest, learn about the types of waterbeds and accessories.

Hardside Waterbeds

A hardside has a wooden platform or frame, which supports the water bladder.  Some love the wooden frame for its classic look;  a number of finishes are available to satisfy your individual taste.  The mattresses are unlike the size and shape of traditional bedding mattresses, so it’s likely you won’t be able to use existing sheets and will need to purchase solutions specific to a hardside waterbed.  The good thing is that hardside mattresses are relatively inexpensive.

Softside Waterbeds

Softside waterbed mattresses are covered with foam and then vinyl.  Softside waterbeds looks more like traditional mattress at first glance, are offered in various sizes, and regular linens are interchangeable with these kinds of  beds.  Softside waterbeds are more expensive since additional labor goes into production and composition.  Conversely, these types of waterbeds are easier and less expensive to heat.  In the long term, it may be the better buy depending on how much you want to heat the water.


Both types of waterbeds feature varying degrees of motion.  Full-motion or free-flow waterbeds have water flowing freely throughout the bladder.  A frame is necessary, or the water would move about onto the floor.  A full-motion moves after a sleeper gets into position, creating a wave-like sensation.  It makes you feel as if you’re doing a ‘deadman’s float’ on top of the mattress.

A semi-waveless waterbed features foam or resin inserts that are detrimental to the free-flowing of water.  One still feels the sensation of a waterbed yet the wave motion is lessened, and for some, preferred.

Lastly, a waveless waterbed features the same kind of foam or resin as above but in higher concentration, generating a waveless sensation.  Some desire the health benefits of sleeping on water but dislike the floating sensation.  If you don’t believe you would enjoy the free-flowing mattress, opt for a waveless model.


A waterbed looks like it is incredibly heavy yet it places no more force to the ground than a refrigerator.  There should be no concerns about having one if you live on a second, third, fourth floor, etc.  However, it’s safest to speak to a landlord or those who built your home about the provided support.  Since a waterbed needs to be moved in parts, it does require a number of people for transport to ensure proper maintenance.


Of course, when you think of water, you’re going to have some worries about it leaking on the floor and spreading throughout the home.  The vinyl is very heavy duty and resistant to minor tears.  However, animals with sharp paws should be kept off of the waterbed at all times.  Moreover, be careful of jewelry, belt buckles, long fingernails, or other sharp and jagged objects -even a zipper could get snared on the mattress and create a tear.


The heating of the waterbed could create a safety hazard if the temperature control system is placed near draperies or bed linens.  Realize that selecting a larger mattress will require more heating and lead to higher utility costs.  You can offset the price by adjusting the thermostat to the home.

Parts and Kits

Your waterbed may need to be turned or flipped in addition other required maintenance.  Talk to your dealer about any special nozzles or hoses needed for filling and draining.  Through the years, you may need to upgrade or replace parts such as the bladder, tubes, and heater.  Keep a repair kit handy in case of unexpected leaks.  If you properly address a minor leak early enough, it should require no subsequent fixing.


A waterbed conditioner is required to keep the water sanitary.  The product keeps mold, algae, fungi, and bacteria from breeding.  Hard water from a well is specifically prone to such issues.  Conditioners treat the water so it does not need to be changed.  Conditioner should be added every six to 12 months, but ultimately depends on your chosen mattress.  In most cases, the waterbed should not have to be drained unless you need to move it to another location.

Now, you’re better prepared to move forward and have a more educated discussion with a preferred waterbed dealer.  You’re well on your way to a better night’s sleep!

Nathan Fair has been a bed and mattress salesman for most of his working life. He started working in his uncles mattress factory when he was 14 for pocket money and enjoys sharing his stories and experiences with an online audience.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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