Why do They Still Make Waterbeds?

I thought this was a fad, so why do they still make waterbeds?

Well, believe it or not, these mattresses are still in use. The numbers may have declined when compared to the 1980s. But some people and institutions still consider waterbeds as the best for sleep.

Nowadays, waterbeds can be found in a few e-commerce stores, and some online stores in America and Europe.

Examples of these stores include Akva and Aquaglowwaterbeds.

Some years ago these mattresses were present in most brick-and-mortar stores.

Now, before I proceed:

What is a waterbed?

Here’s a definition for those who don’t know.

do they still make waterbeds
Giant waterbed image courtesy of mmeehan on Flickr

The waterbed is a rubber or plastic mattress filled with water. The mattress may include a thermostat for regulating temperature.

The idea of this post came up after I visited an aunt whom I discovered still uses a waterbed.

She can’t stand any other mattress and believes sleeping on this one lessens her arthritis pain.

So, to feed my curiosity, I decided to do some research that led to this post. It includes answers to questions that most of us ask concerning waterbeds.

One thing to note, these mattresses aren’t the best for kids/infants.


First on the list is, who invented these mattresses/beds?

Origins of the waterbeds

The first waterbed was made in the 19th century by a Scottish physician named Neil Armott who was a pioneer in health issues.

He was interested in the creation of products that would lessen human suffering.

The next modern invention came in the 70s. It was made by Charlie Hall in the late 60s. Charlie was a grad student at the time.

He created a waterbed model to pass an improvement of human comfort assignment.

Charlie patented the design after he made the first mattress and the rest was history.

Waterbeds became quite popular in the 80’s when owning one made you look sensual and cool.

But that trend went downhill after 20 years, partly because of the introduction of foam mattresses.

I presume the hassle of filling and draining the bed with water contributed to the selection of other alternatives.

But there’re still in use, mostly by the older generations that started using them way back in the 80s.


Why are waterbeds more comfortable?

Well, according to my aunt and her pals:

Your weight is well-distributed on a waterbed than on other mattresses. What this means is the floatation system of this mattress reduces pressure point aches to some extent.

do they still make waterbeds
CC image of a covered waterbed by TheLugash on Flickr

The warmth provided by waterbeds with heaters in a cold environment beats that of standard mattresses.

You can get a waterbed tailor-made for you if you find the right manufacturer.

And also get a combination of two mattresses on one bed, which is great if you have a partner.

So that both of you can experience different levels of comfort that will suit your preferences.

Some waterbeds can provide you with reduced motion transfer especially if they include dividers. You’ll enjoy uninterrupted sleep even when your partner moves on the other side.

The thing is you have to follow the installation instructions to the tee if you want to enjoy the benefits of this mattress.


What type of mattress structures can you find in waterbeds nowadays?

Waterbed structures

There isn’t a very big difference to the type of structures that were there in the 80s. What many manufacturers have done is modify some of the parts.

You can get one (piece) or a two-piece mattress depending on your preference. The two-piece mattress features a dual system that provides you with different comfort levels on each side.

The dual system works well if you share the bed and your partner weighs less than you. And because this system usually features a divider you are likely to experience reduced motion transfer together with different temperatures and stabilizations.


What do stabilization layers refer to here?

Waterbed stabilization layers

Stabilization layers refer to the fibers (made of mostly polyester yarn) that absorb water movement and support the body on these mattresses.

Some of these waterbeds can provide you with lumbar support. This means the beds have extra fibers centered on the area where you lay your lumbar and back.

The mattress may also include floatation layers made of foam that reinforce the stabilization layers.

At present, the market includes waveless (firm) mattresses and free flow mattresses.

 The difference between these two mattresses is:

  • Waveless mattresses feature stabilization layers that absorb water movement in a second or less.
  • Free flow mattresses don’t have stabilization layers so absorption of movements can take up to 25 seconds.

These mattresses can be further classified into the following:

Types of waterbeds

  1. Hardside waterbeds and
  2. Softside waterbeds

Hardside waterbeds also known as the traditional waterbeds are usually made of vinyl. And feature reinforced corners that keep the mattress intact even under pressure.

These hardside mattresses require solid bed frames (not regular frames) that can support the waterbed structures, which can be heavy.

Their prices depend on the extra features such as fiber pads that may be present. Mattresses without these features in most cases tend to be inexpensive.

2.Softside mattresses are the modern ones that look like conventional mattresses.

What this means is, they can be made of foam and other materials on the outside but have insides of waterbeds.

Some of these mattresses may also include removable covers for easy maintenance. They are expensive when compared to their traditional counterparts because of the extra components.


Let us look at questions that most people have on waterbeds.

Can waterbeds get bedbugs?

I believe bedbugs can live anywhere. They may not like the vinyl used to make waterbeds, but they can live on your bedding, and bed frame. To be on the safe side, use a zippered encasement and keep your space clean and clutter-free.

You can also control an infestation at the initial stage before it goes out of hand.

Do waterbeds pop easily?

Well, contrary to what most of us believe these mattresses aren’t like air mattresses. Waterbeds don’t require pressure during the setup period, hence the longer lifespans.

Well-made waterbeds feature heavy vinyl, quality constructions, and reinforcements that discourage such incidents.

But this doesn’t mean that accidents don’t happen. When they do, in most cases the leaks get in the liner away from your bedding and frame.


If you’re thinking of buying one, do some research and read some reviews before you commit.

What are some waterbed accessories?

liner waterbeds
CC liner image courtesy of TheLugash on Flickr

Waterbed liner-as I mentioned earlier the liner protects furniture against damage caused by water leakage in case of an accident.

These liners that come in different depths are made of vinyl and other materials such as cardboard.

And they look like the bed frames without the legs. They are usually placed first on the waterbed frames before the mattresses.

Waterbed conditioner– The conditioner is poured into the water to inhibit the growth of algae and bacteria. And it maintains the inside of the mattress and also makes it last.

The conditioner also aids in the removal of air.

Waterbed rails-Padded rails create edge support and enhance the look of your bed frame.

Waterbed heaters- These are great for warming up those cold nights. Good ones feature controls that help you regulate the temperature.

Covers and sheets- Breathable, hypoallergenic microfiber sheets are ok especially if they have deep corner pockets. And covers that are bug and moisture proof work just fine.

You can also find a drain and fill kit for convenience.


How often is the water changed?

do they still make waterbeds?
CC filling waterbed courtesy of TheLugash on Flickr

The water stays for as long as you desire because the conditioner maintains its freshness.

Well, unless you want to move the bed in which case you’ll have to drain the water first.

Can the waterbed be cleaned?

Yes, it can. Most users prefer nonabrasive vinyl cleaners that don’t dry out the mattresses. My aunt usually cleans her waterbed once a week before placing fresh sheets.


Waterbeds will still be around for some time because there’s still a market for the traditional designs. And even for the new ones that look like standard mattresses.

Will they last? Will they still be functional in this age of technology that keeps introducing new, convenient sleep products?

Well, I shall revisit this topic after a few years to find out if they’ll still be in use.

CC featured image courtesy of Jknorri on Flickr

Author: Brenda

Brenda Nadi is a proud mama, entrepreneur, and sleep blogger. She creates guides, tips, and reviews of sleep products that make comfortable environments for new buyers.

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