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Mattress Ratings > Waterbed Reviews

unbiased Waterbed Reviews and Ratings

Based on 362 Actual Consumer Experiences

August 4, 2014

What You Need To Know

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 • possible heating expense.

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 RETAILERS: Waterbeds are sold mostly online (at least in the US). Major retailers include Samsclub.com and Amazon.

Waterbed Ratings Overview: Hardside Vs Softside

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  
Owner satis- faction c+ b Waterbeds have 79% owner satisfaction. (79 out of 100 based on 362 reviews.) They basically tie with memory foam, latex and air mattresses and rate higher than innerspring mattresses. Softside waterbeds tend to have somewhat higher owner satisfaction than hardside mainly due to 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 cats, zippers, or pens / pencils. 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.
Price (queen) a b- Hardside mattresses often are $100-$800, while softside mattresses often cost $800-$1800. Higher priced models have more features, namely wave reduction and lumbar support.
Energy use / cost d c Hardside waterbeds are usually heated (at least in the winter) to prevent an uncomfortably cold sleep surface. Softside waterbeds are sometimes not heated or require less heating. Heating water takes significant energy and will result in somewhat higher electricity costs.
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 a- B+ Waterbeds contour to the body as well as, if not better than, other mattress types. The result is a fairly 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 poorly on this issue, while dual bladder models can perform fairly well. 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. 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- About 14% of hardside waterbed owners report an initial off gassing 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 compared to most other mattress types. Owners report that setting up a waterbed often requires considerable time and effort.
Ease of mainten- ance c- c- 10% of owners complain about the need for maintenance. For example, 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 or turned.
Light- weight 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.
Warran- ties 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 and Wave Reduction

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 more expensive the bed will likely be.

waterbed comparison chart

Waterbed Manufacturers / Brands: Ratings & Comparison

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 F 1973 10-12-yr ltd 4-yr ltd
Strobel Tech. A- 1974 NA NA

About our unbiased Waterbed review and research

Ratings are based on 360+ 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.

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.

– Softside waterbeds tend to have better owner satisfaction than hardside waterbeds. Softside are more like conventional mattresses and often have fewer disadvantages overall than hardside.

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