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Mattress Ratings > Waterbed Reviews
Based on 319 Actual Consumer Experiences
THE GOOD: Contours to body for reduced pressure points • good longevity possible • fairly inexpensive • largely dust mite resistant • temperature control.
THE BAD: Can be punctured • heavy • set up / assembly and maintenance • noise and initial odor possible • heating cost.
Waterbeds consist of two types: hard-sided and soft-sided. A hard-sided waterbed consists of a water chamber(s) inside a rectangular frame of wood placed on a deck and platform. A soft-sided waterbed looks like a conventional bed. It consists of a water chamber(s) encased inside a rectangular frame of sturdy foam and fabric which is placed on a platform.
|Hard Side||Soft Side||Comment|
|Owner satisfaction||c+||b||Waterbeds have 79% owner satisfaction. ( ) They basically tie with memory foam, latex and air mattresses and rate higher than innerspring mattresses. Softside waterbeds have at least somewhat higher owner satisfaction than the hardside type mainly because of better comfort and durability.|
|Durability||c||b-||Punctures / leaks are the top complaint of hardside waterbed owners. Softside waterbeds generally have better durability because the water chamber(s) is more protected. Most punctures / leaks are caused by a cat, a zipper, or a pen / pencil. Also, about 8% of owners report that the heater used to keep the water warm broke and needed to be replaced.|
|Longevity||b-||b||Longevity is a top positive of the mattresses, say owners. Punctures / leaks can often be easily repaired. With good maintenance, waterbeds can last for over a decade without substantial loss of comfort.|
|Price (queen)||a||b-||Hardside mattresses often are $100-$700, while softside mattresses often cost $800-$1700. Higher priced models have more features, namely wave reduction and lumbar support.|
|Energy use / cost||d||c||Hardside waterbeds are usually heated to prevent an uncomfortably cold sleep surface. Softside waterbeds are sometimes not heated or require less heating. Heating a waterbed can result in somewhat higher electricity costs, report owners.|
|Less (back) pain||c+||b||Owner experience data suggests that soft side waterbeds provide more comfort and support resulting in somewhat better pain relief, including back pain relief. About 18% of owners report pain relief, while 9% complain that their bed causes pain. (See mattresses and pain relief for more analysis.) Also, the "hard side" of hardside waterbeds can be uncomfortable when getting on or off the bed.|
|Contours to body / reduced pressure points||a-||B+||Waterbeds contour to the body as well as, if not better than, other mattress types. The result is an even distribution of one's weight and reduced pressure points.|
|Motion isolation||d||c||A mattress with good motion isolation absorbs movement from spreading across the bed and keeps one's partner from being disturbed. Single bladder waterbeds perform very poorly on this issue, while dual bladder models can perform fairly well. Owner data suggests that most hardside beds are single bladder resulting in a poor score on this issue. In addition, the motion of the bed causes sea sickness-like symptoms for about 3% of owners.|
|Dust mite resistant / fewer allergies||a-||c+||Hardside types can often be cleaned more thoroughly and easily than softsided types, say owners. Waterbeds overall rate well on the issue of dust mites because the mites cannot enter into the water bladder(s).|
|No initial odor / off gassing||c-||b-||A fairly common complaint for hardside waterbeds is that they have an initial odor, usually from the vinyl. Softside beds typically do not have this complaint because the vinyl chamber is encased in the bed.|
|No noise||c||c+||Waterbeds are generally quiet if air is removed from inside; otherwise the water may be heard (swishing, sloshing). In addition, the heater may make some noise.|
|Ease of set up / assembly||d-||d-||A main disadvantage. Owners report that setting up a waterbed often requires considerable time and effort.|
|Ease of maintenance||c-||c-||10% of owners complain about the need for maintenance. For example, a water conditioner needs to be added occasionally and the water level needs to be maintained. On the positive side, the mattress never needs to be flipped or turned.|
|Lightweight||f||f||Waterbeds are the heaviest type of bed and can weigh as much as 1,000 lbs when full. Moving the bed is difficult and time consuming because you must drain the bed to move it and then refill it.|
|Good for sex||c||c+||For the majority of owners, the beds are viewed as no better than average on this issue. See mattresses and sex for more info.|
|Warranties||c||b||Most softside waterbeds have 20-year limited warranties. Hardside types often provide somewhat shorter coverage. (See mattress warranties: what you should know.)|
Owner satisfaction appears to be fairly closely linked to wave reduction. A mattress with a high percent of wave reduction will have only a few seconds of motion, while a free-flow mattress will have several seconds of motion. Keep in mind that the higher the wave reduction, the pricier the bed will be.
As the table below shows, the various leading waterbed brands / manufacturers tend to be similar in many ways. We do not currently provide owner satisfaction data for each of the brands / manufacturers because most owners in our research did not mention or were unaware of their beds' brand / maker.
|Better Business Bureau Rating||In Business Since||Soft Side Warranty||Hard Side Warranty|
|American National||A+||1974||20-yr ltd||10-yr ltd|
|Innomax||A+||1975||20-yr ltd||20-yr ltd|
|Boyd||A-||1977||20-yr ltd||17-yr ltd|
|Comfort Craft||A||1975||20-yr ltd||--|
|Land and Sky||NA||1973||10-12-yr ltd||4-yr ltd|
Our ratings are based on 315+ waterbed owner experiences related to a variety of brands and manufacturers.
90% of the owner experience data was collected from over 180 online message boards. Find out more about our mattress research methodology and sources.
– At the peak of their popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, about 20 percent of the U.S. population owned a waterbed. Our research suggests that today about 2 percent of people own a waterbed.
Nevertheless, advances have been made over the decades, such as wave reduction, that make waterbeds more competitive with conventional mattress types in many ways.
– Softside waterbeds tend to have better owner satisfaction than hardside waterbeds. Softside waterbeds are more like conventional mattresses and often have fewer disadvantages overall than the hardside type.
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