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Hardside Waterbed Buying Guide

Hardside waterbeds experienced rampant popularity during the 1970s and still have a large core following. Users of hardside waterbeds love the sensation of sleeping directly on the bladder of water - a sleeping experience unlike any other. Timeless furniture usually accompanies hardside waterbeds and many people get hooked the first night they try it. Chances are you probably already know much of the material in this guide, but it was made to help give you a firm understanding of the many improvements that have been made to hardside waterbeds over the years.

  1. What is a Hardside Waterbed?

    A hardside waterbed is a bladder of water encompassed within a wooden frame. You sleep directly on the bladder of water, and both the bladder and wooden frames come in many forms for you to choose from- feel free to browse our hardside waterbed collection. Harside waterbeds do not come in standard mattress sizes but in three different unique sizes:

    Super Single- 48" x 84" inside cavity and 51" x 94" outside dimensions
    Queen- 60" x 84" inside cavity and 63" x 94" outside dimensions
    King 72" x 84" inside cavity and 75" x 94" outside dimensions

    1. Bladder- all hardside waterbeds come with deepfill (7-9 inches) bladders, which can come in varying support, motion, and firmness levels.
    2. Frame- a wooden frame contains the bladder and holds the mattress in it's proper shape.
    3. Safety Liner- hardside waterbeds have a safety liner that retains water should a leak in the bladder ever occur.
    4. Decking- the frame rests on on top of a "deck" specially designed to evenly distribute the weight of the mattress. This minimizes the stress on the bladder seams above and the on floor below.
    5. Pedestal- the decking rests on a pedestal, which is usually about 8-14" in height and keeps the hardside waterbed off the floor.
    6. Heater- a heater keeps the waterbed at a comfortable temperature.
  2. What Type of Bladder Should my Hardside Waterbed Have?

    Hardside waterbed bladders should be composed of at the minimum 20 mil of premium vinyl. 20 mil is the industry standard, but some advanced bladders can be up to 24 mil thick. Hardside waterbeds should also have deep fill 9" bladders. All models in our hardside waterbed collection use at least the industry standard mil vinyl and are deep fill.

    Besides these two features the rest really comes down to your preference of how much water movement you'd like to feel. Hardside waterbed bladders have varying degrees of water movement and are categorized as waveless, semi-waveless, or full motion. Full motion, or free flow bladders consist literally of a vinyl bladder filled solely with water. This gives that classic "rock and roll" or "sloshing" water movement sensation some people love. Water can move freely from head to foot, but not side to side in full motion bladders. Semi-waveless is classified as bladder that reduces the motion of water 50-90%. These bladders generally have different layers of resin treated loft fiber designed to catch water as your body displaces it. These fibers keep water from moving easily throughout the bladder. These loft fibers also control the firmness and support of the bladder, providing lumbar support where the body is thicker. Waveless hardside waterbed bladders have a 90%+ reduction in the movement of water.

    A tether system should be present in water motion reduction bladders that contain loft fibers. A strip of elastic cord is connected to the fiber layers and anchored to the bladder bottom to help keep the fiber layers in the center of the bladder. Tethering systems reduce "bunching" and give a consistent feel across all parts of the waterbed. It would also be smart to check that the seams of the bladder be either reinforced corner panel seams or radial lap seams. Butt seams are the weakest and least durable.

  3. What Hardside Furniture/Frame Should I Use?

    We recommend the wood of the frame and furniture to be made from pine or oak for durability reasons. They usually come in light or dark finishes and provide a solid frame for your hardside waterbed for many years.

    A frame, decking, and pedestal are really all you need, but most hardside waterbed users accompany their waterbed with many different styles of furniture. Elaborate headboards allow for storage space and a classic look. Headboard furniture may have mirrors, cabinets, and even lights. This furniture functionality is a major reason why hardside waterbed users stay true to their sleep surface preference. Pedestals may come with drawers for storage room. Padded railings offer more comfortable exit and entry to the waterbed. Mattress pads help protect the bladder from puncture and drying out.

    The long of the short is that hardside waterbed furniture is a preference so have fun choosing!

  4. What Should I Know about the Heater?

    The heater is one of the best parts of a hardside waterbed, creating a therapeutic sleeping environment. On a cold night you can make your waterbed nice and warm and on a hot night you can keep it cooler. Outside skin temperature is 84 degrees Fahrenheit, and because room temperature is often much lower than this, a heater must be applied to keep the water a comfortable temperature. We've found between 81-86 degrees Fahrenheit to be the sweet spot for most people.

    A high watt heater should be used in hardside waterbeds because there is very little material to insulate the bladder that you're sleeping directly on. Softside waterbeds use low watt heaters because the bladder is contained within the mattress, allowing less heat to dissipate. The nice thing is that high watt heaters allow you to adjust the temperature of your hardside waterbed much quicker.

    Now for the specs on the heating apparatus! A specially designed heating pad sits beneath the bladder and is connected to a thermostat, which sits outside the hardside waterbed. The thermostat usually has digital or analog (a dial) control. All heaters sold at Select Waterbeds are electronically safeguarded.

    What about that electricity bill? Hardside waterbeds do not require as much heating as some people think and on average consume about 350-800 watts/day, or 400-1000 kWh/year depending on the climate you live in. In layman's terms, you'll notice a little increase on your electricity bill, but a waterbed is a luxury and you can't put a price on a better night's sleep!

  5. What Assembly or Maintenance is Required for my Hardside Waterbed?

    Modern advances have made assembly much easier, finally quelling hardside waterbeds' rep of consumer unfriendliness. Hardside waterbeds are sold empty so some assembly is required. All hardside bladders come with standard hose size nozzles- making the fill process much simpler. However, make sure instructions are included with your mattress before purchasing (instructions are included with all hardside waterbeds sold here at SelectWater).

    Maintenance takes a little more effort than the assembly but is required very infrequently. Conditioner must be added to the water within the bladder every few years to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria. The conditioner also treats the vinyl and the fibers within the bladder, ensuring maximum performance. Outside vinyl care is also recommended to keep it soft and pliable, to prevent cracking and leaks. Improvements have been made to reduce the incidence of leakage, but should it occur a vinyl repair kit is needed. The safety liner will not allow the water to leave the mattress, giving you time to mend the vinyl. Repairing vinyl is very easy and once repaired, the bladder should be fully usable for many years.

    In the event you have to move, hardside waterbeds take about 1-6 hours to drain so plan accordingly! Drain kits and electric pumps are available to help remove the water and are highly recommended.

  6. How long do Hardside Waterbeds last?

    A quality hardside waterbed bladder should last about 10 years if proper care and maintenance is employed. Luckily, bladders are the least expensive part of the hardside waterbed and can be easily replaced. Bladders can usually be repaired very inexpensively and still provide excellent performance for many years. The most important thing to take care of is the vinyl of the bladder. Vinyl's natural state is hard like a plastic, not soft and supple like a new bladder. Using vinyl care products keeps the vinyl smooth and pliable.

  7. Some Things to be Mindful of/Common Myths Exposed
    • Hardside waterbeds do not come in conventional mattress sizes, so larger, deep pocket sheets should be used.
    • Deep fill bladders are recommended for hardside waterbeds.
    • You can only get "sea-sick" on full-motion hardside waterbeds, but it occurs very rarely.
    • Hardside waterbeds will not "sag" over time.
    • You cannot burst a hardside waterbed by jumping on it. The bladder is free from internal pressure- in fact you could sit on the hardside waterbed with the fill valve open and no water will spill from it.
  8. What are the Benefits of a Waterbed?
    • You can control the temperature of the waterbed, creating a sleeping environment unique to your preferences!
    • Fiberfill bladders offer excellent lumbar and spinal support, reducing back aches and pains.
    • Sleeping on water reduces the amount of pressure points across your body especially around the joints, creating a seamless sleeping experience.
    • Heaters provide a therapeutic sleeping experience and allow your muscles to relax.
    • Tossing and turning is reduced, offering more rehabilitative REM sleep.
    • Water support systems are proven to be the best for arthritis and rheumatism
    • Waterbeds are dust-mite proof, hypoallergenic, reduce bedsores,
    • Waterbeds are extremely durable, lasting many years, even decades with proper care.
    • Water does not wear and tear like other mattress materials, offering consistent comfort and support properties for all the years of use.

Please browse our hardside waterbed collection.

To place an order, or should you have any questions, feel free to call us 24/7 for a no-hassle consultation.


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