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unbiased Waterbed Mattress Reviews and Ratings

Based on 602 Actual Consumer Experiences

February 4, 2017

What You Need To Know

THE GOOD: Contours to body for reduced pressure points • good longevity possible • often inexpensive • largely dust mite resistant • temperature control.

THE BAD: Can leak / be punctured • heavy • set up and maintenance not easy • noise and initial odor potential • possible heating expense.

THE BEDS: Waterbeds come mainly in two types: hard-sided and soft-sided. A hard-sided waterbed (more common of the two) consists of a water chamber inside a wood frame placed on a deck and platform. A soft-sided waterbed looks like a conventional bed. It consists of a water chamber encased inside a frame of sturdy foam and fabric placed on a platform.

THE COMPETITION: Waterbeds tend to compete mostly with airbeds. See how waterbeds compare to airbeds and other bed types in the mattress type comparison.

THE RESEARCH: This page rates only waterbed mattresses – meaning not the frame or any other aspect of the beds including liner, heater, pad, fill/drain and hose. Consumer data was gathered using an unbiased, accurate methodology.

Waterbed Ratings Overview

The table below shows how waterbeds as a group compare to the average mattress.

Owner satisfaction C Waterbeds overall have 74% owner satisfaction. Details.
Durability c Punctures / leaks are the top complaint of hardside waterbed owners. Most punctures / leaks are caused by cats, zippers, pens, pencils.
Longevity b- Punctures / leaks can often be easily repaired. With good maintenance, waterbeds can last for over a decade.
Affordable B+ Hardside waterbed mattresses often are $50-$400, while softside ones often cost $800-$1800. Higher priced models have more features, namely wave reduction and lumbar support.
Support C- In general and compared to other mattress types, support is not a strength of waterbeds.
Less (back) pain C About 15% of owners report (back) 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 may be uncomfortable when getting on or off the bed.
Conforming ability a- Waterbeds contour to the body as well as, if not better than, other mattress types. The result is a mostly even distribution of one's weight and reduced pressure points.
Motion isolation D+ A mattress with good motion isolation absorbs movement from spreading across the bed and keeps one's partner from being disturbed. Single bladder, free flow waterbeds perform poorly, while dual bladder, waveless models can perform fairly well. Motion of the bed causes sea sickness-like symptoms for about 3% of owners.
Dust mite resistant a- Waterbeds tend to have resistance to large dust mite populations because the mites cannot enter into the water chamber. This can reduce allergies for some people.
No initial odor / off gassing D About 17% of waterbed owners report a significant and bothersome initial odor, usually from the vinyl.
No noise 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.
Temperature neutral C+ The mattresses are more likely to sleep cold (without the use of a heater) than they are to sleep hot.
Good for sex 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.
Short break in period B- Hardside waterbeds tend to have a somewhat faster break-in period than softside.
Easy to set up d- A main disadvantage compared to most other mattress types. Setting up / assembling a waterbed requires considerable time and effort.
Easy to maintain D+ A water conditioner should be added occasionally, and the water level needs to be maintained. On the positive side, the mattress never needs to be flipped / turned.
Easy to lift, handle, move f Waterbeds are the heaviest type of bed and can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds when full. Moving the bed is difficult and time consuming because you must drain the bed to move it.
Energy use / cost d+ Waterbeds are usually heated (at least in the winter) to prevent an uncomfortably cold sleep surface. Heating water takes significant energy and will result in somewhat higher electricity costs.

Top-Rated Waterbed Mattresses

The table below compares waterbed mattresses that have at least 84% owner satisfaction based on a sample of 40+ consumer experiences. The mattresses below are all suited for traditional hard-sided (wooden) waterbed frames.

Classic CA King Blue Magic Fiber 1000 Blue Magic Fiber 3500 Innomax Sanctuary
Owner Satisfaction (sample)      
97% (45) 94% (51) 89% (85) 84% (223)
$110 $125- $135 $158- $185 $52-$70
amazon walmart .com walmart .com amazon
CA king super single, queen, king super single, queen, king super single, twin, full, queen, king
Waveless or Free Flow      
70% waveless (estimate) 70% waveless 85% waveless free flow
Lumbar Support      
no yes yes no
Includes Safety Liner      
no yes yes no
Vinyl Thickness (mil)*      
24 18 18 20
12 yrs total (3 yrs full coverage and 9 yrs prorated) 12 yrs total (3 yrs full coverage and 9 yrs prorated) 12 yrs total (3 yrs full coverage and 9 yrs prorated) 20 yrs total (2 yrs full coverage and 18 yrs prorated)

* Thicker vinyl often means reduced puncture potential.

Owner Satisfaction and Wave Reduction

Waterbed owner satisfaction is somewhat linked to wave reduction. A mattress with wave reduction will have only a few seconds of motion, while a free-flow mattress will have up to a full minute of motion.

waterbed comparison chart

About our unbiased Waterbed review and research

Ratings are based on 600+ waterbed owner experiences related to a variety of brands and manufacturers. Find out more about our mattress research methodology and sources.

Waterbed Popularity

– 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.

At Amazon: A Top-Rated Waterbed Mattress

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