The Best Waterbeds of 2023
Find out why waterbed mattresses are great for pain relief and see our top picks for the best waterbeds.
Dec 7th, 2022 •
Waterbeds hit their peak in the 1970’s and then seemingly faded into oblivion. Though now they feel like a fad of the past, waterbed mattresses are still widely available. We’ll discuss why you might want to start sleeping on a waterbed and show you our top choices for the best waterbeds available this year.
Our Picks for the Best Waterbed Mattresses
Best Free Flow Waterbed: InnoMax Sanctuary Free Flow Full Wave Waterbed
This InnoMax waterbed is hardside and free flowing, meaning you feel all of the water movements—as if your sleeping on a gentle river. Wrapped in 20 mil premium vinyl, the InnoMax is 9 inches deep and can hold up to 230 gallons of water, depending on size.
It has double reinforced corner guards and a pull-cap fill valve with a watertight seal to prevent leaks and mold buildup. The free flowing design gives the waterbed a weightless feel and mid-body support, allowing for a full motion performance. The InnoMax is made to last a long time, and they prove it with a 20-year warranty.
- Price: $60.82-$63.99
- Sizes: Super Single, Queen, and King
- Ratings and Reviews: 4.2 out of 5 stars, 100 Amazon reviews
Best Semi-Waveless Waterbed: Classic Semi-Waveless Waterbed
Classic’s semi-waveless is another hardside waterbed. It is wrapped in 24 mil vinyl and contains reinforced corners. It is also 9 inches deep and has half the motion of a free flowing waterbed with 8-10 seconds of movement. Being semi-waveless, the waterbed isn’t sloshy, but comfortable.
When you buy this waterbed you get a free 4oz bottle of waterbed conditioner and a fill kit, making setup and maintenance easy. A Classic purchase also comes with a 12-year warranty.
- Price: $108.71-$119.91
- Sizes: Super Single, Queen, and California King
- Ratings and Reviews: 4.3 out of 5 stars, 82 Amazon reviews
Best Waveless Waterbed: Boyd Lumbar Supreme Waveless Waterbed
Boyd’s waveless waterbed is to be used with one of those wooden frames for hardsides. The surface has vacuum molded impressions, offering lumbar support that works to reduce back pain.
Related: Best Mattress for Back Pain
Being a waveless waterbed, it includes a 4-layer wave reduction system for those who aren’t a fan of water motion. Evenly distributing your weight, this waterbed allows you to reduce motion by 99%.
With purchase of this Boyd mattress, you get three 4oz bottles of waterbed conditioner and a fill kit. A warranty is also included: 5-year full and 12-year prorated.
- Price: $249.99
- Size: Queen
- Ratings and Reviews: 3.6 out of 5 stars, Amazon 47 reviews
Types of Waterbeds
The outside of a waterbed consists of a vinyl cover, and instead of being filled with memory foam, latex, or innersprings, waterbed mattresses are filled with heated water that you can control the temperature and fill of, essentially allowing you to customize your firmness.
Soft-sided waterbeds look like a traditional mattresses on the outside. The bladder tubes (where the water comes in) are encased in foam, putting a thicker barrier between you and the water inside. A softside waterbed is the equivalent of a soft mattress; however, because it is a waterbed, you don’t lose support.
Larger softside waterbeds have dual bladders, so each person can customize their fill and firmness level. They sit on a boxspring-like foundation with a reinforced metal frame.
Softside mattresses come in a variety of traditional mattress sizes. They are also available in free flow, semi-waveless, and waveless.
Hardside waterbeds are the original style of waterbed. This waterbed type is supported by a hard frame, and you feel the water more with this type because there is no foam barrier.
Without this insulating foam, hardside waterbeds come with water heaters, so you have temperature control, though they do require more energy usage. They typically only come in king and California king sizes, with a few exceptions depending on the brand.
Free flowing waterbeds are exactly what they sound like: there is an unobstructed interior were the water flows freely. These mattresses have the most unique sleeping experience: they give you that illusion of sleeping on an ocean or pool. You feel every shift of the water, especially when your partner moves. It’s like you’re both floating.
A few pieces of foam or bolsters are added to obstruct the flow of the water, but not enough that the floating feeling is completely halted. Semi-waveless waterbeds offer better motion isolation for partner sleep.
With waveless waterbed mattresses the water flow is completely halted using foam and fiber. You feel no wave movements. These are comparable to latex or innerspring mattresses but are more cost efficient.
One of the main reasons waterbed mattresses have withstood the test of time is the health benefits associated with using them.
Because waterbeds contour to your body shape as you sleep, they are great for spinal alignment. Unlike memory foam, water evens itself out, so there are no body impressions as you move throughout the night. The water fill evenly distributes your weight, relieving pressure points in your joints.
Many waterbeds specialize in lumbar support as well. All in all, waterbeds are great mattress options for athletes or those recovering from injury.
The same way waterbeds relieve back pain, they offer pressure point relief for those who suffer from arthritis. The pressure relief works in all sleeping positions, so you can fall asleep in any way that is comfortable.
Waterbeds offer a heating option as well, which can be like putting a heating pad or a hot water bottle on sore muscles and joints. This pressure relief makes waterbeds a great alternative mattress for seniors too.
If you suffer from insomnia, you probably don’t think that a mattress can help. However, if the cause of your sleepless nights is discomfort, a waterbed may be the solution. Not only do people who use waterbeds have a deeper sleep each night, but the water inside makes shifting your weight easier, making you less restless so it’s easier to fall asleep in the first place.
Assembly and Maintenance
Despite their awesome benefits, one of the biggest reasons waterbeds fell off is because of how much work and attention they need. Waterbeds require rather a complicated assembly compared to traditional mattresses.
First off, you have to fill them yourself either using a garden hose or pairing one with a fill kit. The fill determines the firmness, so it can take some time to find your ideal fill level. If you decide to move the mattress to different house or room, you must either develop super strength, or drain it using the suction feature on a water hose or electric waterbed pump.
Next, you have to be sure to apply waterbed conditioner every year. The last thing you want is for your waterbed to grow mold and mildew. That is the kind of thing that waterbed conditioner prevents. It also keeps the vinyl cover from becoming brittle.
And on top of all of that, you have to keep the mattress away from sharp objects and be very careful not to puncture or pop the waterbed—we don’t even want to imagine the clean up that would require. If you do end up with a leak, most waterbeds come with vinyl repair kits, so you can attend to it yourself.
What to Consider When You Buy
If you’re willing to put in the work, waterbed mattresses reap great rewards. Here are some things to keep in mind as you shop for a waterbed.
As we mentioned earlier, filling up and draining a waterbed can be rather tedious and time consuming, so make sure you check how many gallons of water it takes to fill the mattress: it should be a good indicator for how long it takes.
For convenience sake, see if the waterbed you are looking at has a fill kit or anything else that will make setup easier.
In order for a waterbed mattress to even work, you have you be able to fill it. Do you own a hose that will reach into your bedroom? Using an outdoor water source like a hose will be much quicker and less risky to use when filling the bed. Make sure your hose has the reach or consider investing in one that does.
Softside waterbed mattresses usually have more size variety than hardside waterbeds. Check to make sure the mattress dimensions will fit comfortably into your room.
Obviously, there is water sloshing around in these mattresses, and it’s not exactly silent. Some people find this soothing, like water lapping at the shore of a lake. But, if you’re a light sleeper, we’d suggest waveless waterbeds because they have almost no water movement.
If you sleep with a partner, it will certainly affect the type of waterbed you invest in. If motion transfer doesn’t bother you or your partner, feel free to have your pick. But, if you don’t want to be jostled in the middle of the night when your sleep partner tosses or gets up to use the bathroom, consider a semi-waveless or completely waveless waterbed.
Price range varies depending on the type of waterbeds you’re looking at: softside beds range from $800-$1,100, while hardside waterbeds are much more budget-friendly at $50-$300.
Waterbeds can be rather durable with proper care, lasting for an average of 7 years. But they are liable to leak or have heater malfunctions, so it is crucial to purchase a waterbed with a good warranty, preferably one that includes repairs.
Waterbeds are still around and manufactured better than ever in this modern age. Offering superior back pain and arthritis relief, waterbed mattresses are great at easing pressure points, making it easier to fall—and stay—asleep. So the next time you’re shopping for a mattress, remember that waterbeds are not as archaic as they seem.
Best Waterbeds FAQs
Are waterbeds good for your back?
Waterbeds can provide various benefits, including back pain relief. Waterbeds were initially invented in the medical field for patients who required more pressure relief than hospital beds offered. They conform to your body, which translates to even support across your back.
That said, waterbeds aren’t for everyone. While some people find their back pain goes away when sleeping on a waterbed, others experience new pain. Ensuring the waterbed is full enough to provide adequate support is important for back pain relief. Especially if you’ve never slept in a waterbed before, it’s a good idea to purchase one with a trial period to make sure it’s right for you.
Are waterbeds comfortable?
Waterbeds can be very comfortable! Of course, comfort is subjective, and the feel of a waterbed differs from what you’re used to in a mattress. The feeling is akin to floating, and the sensation of light waves when you move is comforting to some.
Nowadays, waterbeds have various features to personalize your experience and enhance your comfort. These include heating features and the option to customize how much you feel the wave effect. There are even “waveless” waterbeds that minimize the feeling of waves almost entirely. Waveless and semi-waveless waterbeds also decrease the impact of motion transfer, which is important to many couples.
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