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Softside Waterbed Buying Guide
Whether you're a decades long veteran, or someone new to waterbeds, it's nice to know the ins-and-outs of a product you're considering purchasing. The softside waterbed is a new twist to the traditional "hardside waterbed," and is converting many Americans at an astonishing rate. This guide was made to give you a no-frills understanding of the composition and benefits of a softside waterbed.
- What is a Softside Waterbed?
A softside waterbed is made to look like a conventional mattress and comes in all standard mattress sizes. You wouldn't know it was a waterbed until you laid on it! Softside waterbeds solved the problem for those who wanted to sleep on water, but wanted less maintenance, risk of puncture, and the bulkiness associated with hardside waterbeds. Softside waterbeds are more popular than hardside waterbeds- feel free to browse our softside waterbed collection.
- Mattress Cover- not to be confused with a hardside waterbed where you lay directly on the "bag" of water, softside waterbeds have a zippered covered containing many layers of upholstery. The upholstery can be made from a variety of materials and may have many different layers including but not limited to: memory foam, latex foam, cotton. No more than 4 inches of material should be used in the cover, as any more will reduce the sensation and benefits of sleeping on water.
- Foam Rails- Beneath the cover is a rectangular foam frame that gives the softside waterbed it's shape, edge support, and compartment to contain the water bladder. Good foam rails are at least 2 lbs in density and should be wider at the bottom and thinner on top to maximize sleeping area while preserving durability.
- Bladder- softside waterbeds come with either shallow-fill (3-4 inches) or mid-fill (5-6 inches) bladders. We know it's not rocket science, but we recommend midfill bladders because you receive more benefits of sleeping on water the more water present in the mattress.
- Safety Liner- All softside waterbeds come with a safety liner that should a leak occur, will stop the water and not allow it to seap out of the mattress until the bladder is repaired.
- Heater- All softside waterbeds should come with a heater as room temperature is not sufficient to provide a comfortable sleeping temperature on a waterbed. Skin temperature is 86 degrees Fahrenheit and is the recommended temperature for a heater's setting.
- Foundation- A softside waterbed needs a sturdy foundation to rest on due to the weight of the water. Wooden foundations with center beams are recommended; boxsprings will not do.
- What Type of Bladder Should Be in My Softside Waterbed?
Now to the nitty-grittys! The quality of the bladder present in a softside waterbed is extremely important because it is what gives you your support and sleep surface sensation.
The waterbed bladder should be made from soft Vinyl (polyvinyl chloride) with a thickness between 20-24 millimeters. The industry standard is 20 mL vinyl bladders. Vinyl's non-porous nature makes it less likely to harbor mold, dust-mites, or other allergens. It is also fairly difficult to puncture, easy to repair, and is very durable. We use premium 24 mL bladders in our softside waterbed collection.
The bladder should be a "fiberfill," which means that inside the bladder should be fiber layers. These fiber layers control the firmness, support, and motion control of the waterbed. The more fiber layers present, the firmer the bladder and the more "waveless" it is (less bouncing and sloshing around). Fiberfill bladders also provide added support for where the body is thicker, offering lumbar support.
A tether system should be present in your softside waterbed bladder. A strip of elastic cord is connected to the fiber layers and anchored to the mattress bottom to help keep the fiber layer in the center of the mattress. Tethering systems reduce "bunching" and give a consistent feel across all parts of the waterbed. The seams of the bladder should be either reinforced corner panel seams or radial lap seams. Butt seams are the weakest and least durable. Softside waterbeds have single or dual bladders present inside the mattress. The benefit of having dual bladders is it allows for your partner to choose his/her own heating preference on their side of the mattress.
- How about the Heater?
Softside waterbeds should come with a heater to provide a therapeutic sleeping experience. 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.
PNow for the specs on the heating apparatus! A specially designed heating pad sits beneath the mattress and is connected to a thermostat, which sits outside the softside waterbed. The thermostat usually has digital or analog (a dial) control. All heaters sold at Select Waterbeds are electronically safeguarded. It is important to note that low watt heaters should be used in softside waterbeds because of how much material is present in the mattress. High watt waterbed heaters are used solely for hard side waterbeds.
What about that electricity bill? Softside waterbeds require much less heating than hardside waterbeds and on average consume about 150-400 watts/day, or 200-600 kWh/year depending on the climate you live in. In layman's terms, this should not affect your electricity bill very much at all.
- What Assembly or Maintenance is Required for my Softside Waterbed?
Softside waterbeds are sold empty so some assembly is required. Modern manufacturers have made assembly a snap and bladders come with standard hose size nozzles. However, make sure instructions are included with your mattress before purchasing (instructions are included with all softside 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. Vinyl care is also recommended to keep it smooth and supple, so as 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, softside waterbeds take about 1-4 hours to drain so plan accordingly! Drain kits and electric pumps are available to help remove the water and are highly recommended.
- How long do Softside Waterbeds last?
A quality softside waterbed should last 10 years (the bladder). Softside waterbeds last longer than hardside waterbeds. Luckily, bladders are the least expensive part of the mattress and can easily be replaced. Once replaced you can continue to use your softside waterbed for many years to come. Good care and maintenance can extend the life of your bladder as well. Vinyl's natural state is a hard plastic, not soft and flexible like a new mattress. Softside waterbeds last longer than hard side waterbeds because the bladder is underneath many layers of material. Dirt and body oils accelerate the vinyl hardening process, and you sleep directly on the bladder with hardside waterbeds.
- Some Things to be Mindful of/Common Myths Exposed
- Softside waterbeds look like a conventional mattress and come in standard mattress sizes. Regular sheets can be used.
- Studies have shown women tend to enjoy sleeping at warmer temperatures than men so a dual bladder is recommended for couples.
- Midfill bladders are recommended for softside waterbeds
- You can only get "sea-sick" on full-motion waterbeds, which softside waterbeds do not come in.
- Softside waterbeds will not "sag" over time.
- You cannot burst a softside waterbed by jumping on it. The bladder is free from internal pressure- in fact you could sit on the softside waterbed with the fill valve open and no water will spill from it.
- 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 softside waterbed collection.
To place an order, or should you have any questions, feel free to call us 24/7 for a no-hassle consultation.