Shopping for a Water Bed

The key factors in choosing a waterbed have little to do with style or decor. Considerations such as whether or not your lease allows certain types of water beds, how your purchase will affect your homeowners insurance and which technologies you choose for the mattress are all critical decisions you should make before you walk into the store or start visiting websites. Understanding the basic facts about waterbeds will help you make the right choice for your home.

Know Your Restrictions

Before you begin shopping for a waterbed, make sure your lease does not have any restrictions against them. If you own your home, check your insurance policy to see if there are any waterbed exclusions or restrictions. While your insurance policy may allow you to have a water bed, you may be required to notify your insurance company, and your premiums may go up. Check your policy to see if it covers damage to neighbors’ property below you if your waterbed breaks. Your policy may not cover damage to your apartment or damage to other apartments nearby.

Types of Waterbeds

Waterbeds come in two basic styles, hard-sided and soft-sided. The first consumer waterbeds sold in the 1970s consisted of a hard, wooden frame, into which a soft bladder, or mattress, was inserted. Wooden frame waterbeds came in limited sizes, usually a King, Queen and large single. A hard-sided waterbed has common frame dimensions as follows:

King Size – 72″ X 84″

Queen Size – 60″ X 84″

Super-Single – 48″ X 84″

Soft-sided water beds are often bladders or mattresses encased in a frame of a sturdy, soft material, such as a thick foam, and placed on top of a platform, similar to the box spring and mattress configuration of many traditional beds. These mattresses come in more standard sizes.

Waterbed Mattresses

A key factor in selecting a waterbed will be the type of mattress you buy. Early water beds offered only a single-chamber bladder, which shifted water throughout the mattress any time you moved. If two people share your water bed, a single-chamber mattress will result in both people experience a wave-like motion when either person moves.

Today, you can buy mattresses with different technologies to reduce movement, including separate chambers and waveless mattresses that feature a combination of features, such as tubes and padding, to reduce motion. If you buy a baffled waterbed, check to see if the baffles are tethered. Baffles are items such as cells, cylinders or fibers placed inside the mattress to reduce wave motion. If these are not tethered, they may shift when you drain the mattress, ruining it. Make sure to find out if your mattress uses a baffle system and how easy or difficult it will be to drain and refill the bed.

Heating Your Waterbed

Most water beds are heated, using a heating pad. Heating a water bed will raise your electric bill, so consider this cost when you plan your budget. A quick call to your electric company customer service department may help you get an idea of how much this will cost.


A water bed, which can be more than 1,400 pounds when filled, will be difficult to move and may put too much stress on certain floors. Make sure you decide exactly where you want your bed to be in your bedroom before you fill it. If you plan on adding furniture to your bedroom later, or decide you want to move the bed for other reasons, you may have to empty it before you can move it. You should also check with a qualified building expert to see if your floors will take the stress of the added weight of the bed. Some rooms may be able to withstand excess weight in one part of the room better than in another, so consider this if you decide to move your waterbed after several years.

Waterbed Sheets

It is more difficult to find sheets for hard-sided waterbeds than it is for soft-side beds. Hard-sided beds come in unique dimensions and you’ll need to buy sheets specifically made for waterbeds. This may not be a problem if the waterbed store from which you buy your bed sells sheets. You can buy them online, as well. Buying three or more sets for your bed will ensure that you have sheets for years to come. Soft-sided water beds come in more standards sizes, so you should be able to find a wider variety of sheets, at more affordable prices.


Check the warranty of any bed your are considering buying. If the bed breaks, a warranty will most likely only cover repair to or replacement of the mattress. It will not likely cover any other damaged caused by a water leak. If you are buying a used mattress, the warranty may not transfer, even if the bed is still under the original owner’s warranty period (some of which are as long as 30 years).

Additional Resources

Hardsided Waterbed Information

Waterbed Mattresses