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Remember when waterbeds were all the rage back in the 80s?
Maybe your best friend had one at their house, so you’d go over every day after school just so you can play with it.
Or perhaps you jumped on the bandwagon and have slept on one for years.
They were interesting, fun and reminds me of my crazy childhood!
One day, as quickly as they rose to fame, they fell out of favor. Did you ever wonder why that seemed to happen overnight?
- 1 Why Aren’t Waterbeds Popular Anymore?
- 2 Do Water Beds Still Exist?
- 3 Essential Waterbed Accessories
- 4 How to Set Up and Fill a Waterbed
- 5 How Much Does a Waterbed Weigh?
- 6 How to Drain a Waterbed
- 7 Final Thoughts
Why Aren’t Waterbeds Popular Anymore?
Many different factors contributed to their downfall, but namely because of a few main reasons (in my opinion).
Low Quality Knock Offs
Only because there were SO many copycats of the original waterbed. These second-rate mattresses were made by people that just wanted to make a quick buck during the mania so they didn’t care about the quality of the product.
That’s why many were leaking easily. It happened so often that even landlords started to ban waterbeds in their apartments, which didn’t help its popularity in the least.
Associated with Hippies & Sex
Hippies are long gone…but sex will forever remain.
Unfortunately, sex is still a taboo subject in most countries and cultures around the world. People are embarrassed to talk about it, especially in public. I mean, I still blush like a little school girl!
To have a big piece of furniture in your house that screams “SEX ADDICT” just wasn’t timeless or classic enough to keep around forever.
But you know what? They might just be coming back!
With new technology and improvements made, the newer versions are well-made and no longer have many of the issues the old-school ones did.
Do Water Beds Still Exist?
Oh boy, that’s the million dollar question.
And the answer is YES!
Waterbeds are still around, there just aren’t as many as spring coils or memory foams.
Where to Buy a Waterbed
There are probably more places than you think that carry these mattresses.
You may not have noticed because:
a) they aren’t popular right now so you haven’t been bombarded with advertisements, or
b) the sales team don’t even promote them.
Mostly, you can find them online or at a specialty bedding store in your local area.
If I had to place a bet, I’d say you can find more options online than in any physical store.
Maybe except in South Florida, because apparently, that’s where the new waterbed craze is starting to make a splash!
Who Sells Waterbeds?
Let me give you the nitty-gritty here.
After a ton of research, I’ve put together a non-exhaustive list of waterbed brands.
This list is already more than I thought there would be. I’ve only seen or heard of 4-5 before, so maybe this IS a sign that the waterbed will come back!
Essential Waterbed Accessories
Wouldn’t life be great if you just buy one thing and that’s all you need?
So, what else do you need besides a waterbed?
Well, to make it functional, you’d need a handful of items.
There are more parts – like a mattress topper or specialty items – you can get to make your bed more comfortable, but they aren’t essential.
A Fill & Drain Kit
Some waterbeds come with this handy kit, which is awesome!
If that doesn’t happen, you can easily buy it separately online or at your local specialty store.
You can probably ask the retailer selling the bed where you can get a kit. I’d be surprised if they weren’t selling this essential piece of the waterbed.
So what does the fill/drain kit do?
It literally helps you fill the mattress with water when you first install it and drains the liquid when you need to.
We’ll go into more detail on how to set up, fill and drain a waterbed later.
There are more creative ways out there to inflate your waterbed, but you may want to stick to the proper way.
Because if you accidentally break it by not using the appropriate tools, you might not be eligible for any warranty claims.
Being able to control the temperature of your bed is the BEST feature of a waterbed.
Without it, it’d be too cold and you may not be able to sleep at all.
Water tends to zap the warmth from everything around it, including your own body heat. Charles Hall, the inventor of the waterbed, figured that one out during his first night of testing his prototype!
The good news is that with a heating pad under the mattress, not only are you able to choose the EXACT temperature you want the bed to be, but you’re also able to keep it warm and toasty evenly across the entire mattress for as long as you’d like.
Of course, you’d need to plug the heating pad into an electrical outlet so you can power it up.
Your utility bill might increase a bit, but how can you put a price on comfort and a good night’s rest!?
Waterproof Safety Liner
You’d also need a safety liner to put in between the bed frame and the water mattress.
This is to contain the water if there’s a big leak, which rarely happens to the newer, higher quality waterbeds on the market today.
Just remember to keep sharp objects and claws away!
Speaking of claws…
How to Protect Your Waterbed From a Cat
Sometimes it can be quite unruly with a pet. Especially when you aren’t at home to supervise playtime.
How do you make sure your precious kitty doesn’t accidentally (or purposefully – some cats are quite the devil!) poke a hole in your beloved waterbed with their scissor-hands?
Well, you can do 3 things:
- file down their claws so they’re short and dull,
- keep your cat off your bed or don’t let them into your bedroom at all, or
- extra padding
Some of you might sleep with your feline friend at night or you want them to have full access to your home.
If that’s the case, then the answer is in the padding. (bad joke?)
You heard me.
Layer it on.
Try adding a layer of cushioning or a mattress topper on top of the vinyl surface. This can act as a protective barrier to prevent the needle-sharp jaws and claws from puncturing a hole, as well as a comfort layer for you!
Keep in mind that this only covers the TOP surface. If your bed frame doesn’t surround the sides of your waterbed, you may want to look into adding an extra layer on the sides too.
Lastly, keep a repair kit closeby just in case anything happens.
Like the fill/drain kit, some mattresses also come with water conditioner too!
Typically, it comes in a smaller bottle of about 4-6 oz. You can use the whole thing when you’re filling your bed for the first time. To maintain the health of the inner mattress, follow the instructions on the bottle.
The dosage and frequency depend on the number of gallons your bed needs to fill up fully and if it’s a free flow vs semi-waveless/waveless model.
For example, it could be something as simple as add in 4 oz of conditioner into your waterbed every 6 months or so.
Free flow would require conditioner less often than waveless. Because with the foam or fiber inside the mattress, it’s easy for bacteria to grow on the wet filling.
What is in Waterbed Conditioner?
It’s basically a gentle pesticide. (No, you can’t use chlorine bleach as a substitute!)
The main purpose is to kill any bacteria, microbes, mold spores that may be in the water. This will prevent microorganisms from building up on the inside of the mattress.
No funky odors or yucky green streaks here!
Besides this important function, it also keeps the vinyl plastic soft and flexible, which extends the life of the mattress. Without it, the plastic won’t be able to stretch and accommodate your every move and will dry up and crack.
Don’t try to DIY and make the conditioner at home – you don’t want to be messing around with these harsh chemicals.
What are the Ingredients in Waterbed Conditioner?
Let’s look at this Blue Magic Waterbed Conditioner label.
It’s made of 10% Polyquaternium WSCP – the active ingredient – and 90% inert ingredients.
What does that mean?
Let’s break it down further.
Polyquaternium WSCP is a chemical compound that is similar to what is used to treat swimming pools, but way more potent. You don’t want to be practicing butterfly strokes in this stuff!
Inert ingredients are other materials that are typically included in a pesticide product.
“emulsifiers, solvents, carriers, aerosol propellants, fragrances and dyes.”
Even if you did make your own solution, it probably won’t be strong enough to kill the bacteria or might be contaminated and have no effect at all.
Water conditioners are not expensive and a large-sized bottle will last you a full year. Do yourself a favor and buy it instead!
Waterbed Bed Frame
Most beds can’t just sit on the floor, and a waterbed is no exception!
It needs to have proper support. Also, if you don’t put it on some sort of base, it might just void your warranty.
Depending on if you have a softside or a hardside waterbed, there are certain foundations that you should pair them with.
Bed Frame for Hardside Waterbed
A hardside is the typical waterbed that people think of. If you push down on it, you’ll see some ripples on the surface of the bed.
Hardsides ONLY goes with wooden bed frames.
Because they need maximum support on the bottom and all 4 sides.
The good news is that if you’re a handy person, you can build it yourself instead of buying one.
It’ll save you a bit of money and it can be a fun home project, especially if you’re into woodworking!
This bed frame – I’d encourage you to DIY.
How to Build a Wooden Waterbed Frame
In the simplest of terms, let’s just talk through how to build a sandbox frame.
- With the measurements of your waterbed, go to your local hardware store and buy enough lumber for the deck (plywood) and 4 sides (hardwood boards)
- Measure it out, cut and sand the hardwood down
- Add connectors, bolts, and screws accordingly
- Assembly the frame and enjoy!
If you want more detail, here’s a more thorough, step-by-step guide to follow along with!
If you need to, you can also build a pedestal to sit the wooden bed frame on top of, so it’s higher off the ground. It’d be easier to climb in and out of bed.
Bed Frame for Softside Waterbed
A softside waterbed is encased in a standard mattress covering, so people can’t tell if it’s a traditional mattress or a waterbed just by looking at it.
Besides being able to use standard-sized bedding, another benefit is that you can put it on just about any bed frame, box spring or platform.
It’s still best not to put it directly on the floor!
How to Set Up and Fill a Waterbed
It may be intimidating the first time around, but don’t worry, it’ll get easier the more you do it.
Keep in mind that every waterbed is slightly different, but the way to fill and drain should be relatively the same.
Follow these steps:
Step 1 – Attach an adapter to a faucet.
Using the adapters and hose in your fill & drain kit, attach one end to a faucet outlet. Like your outdoor garden hose, bathroom or kitchen sink.
Remember to unscrew the filter at the end of the faucet.
Step 2 – Firmly push the other adapter into the waterbed inlet valve.
Step 3 – Turn on the water slowly, so you can check for leaks.
Do not leave it unattended! During this time, you can be adjusting the bed
Although it is recommended to fill the bed with cold water, you can use warm water. Warm, never hot!
This way you won’t have to wait as long for the heat pad to warm up to your ideal temperature.
Depending on the size of your mattress, filling the mattress can take anywhere from 1-3 hours.
Step 4 – When the waterbed is full of water, burp the air from the water bladder.
Care not to overfill.
Step 5 – Add in the water conditioner.
Follow your particular waterbed’s instructions, but it’d be around 6oz for the first time, then 4-6 oz every 6 months.
Too complex? Ok, watch this video instead.
It’s narrated by the one and only Charles Hall, the father of the modern-day waterbed, himself!
How Much Does a Waterbed Weigh?
It depends on how many gallons your bed has the capacity for.
A rough average for a California King waterbed would be 250 gallons.
If 1 gallon of water weighs 8.35 lbs, then 250 gallons X 8.35 lbs = 2087.5 pounds!!
Yes, that’s really heavy – I bet this guy can’t lift it by himself. I know I can’t!
So, make sure you have the mattress in the right spot before you start to fill it up.
What if you didn’t put it in the right place before you filled it? It’s way too heavy to move, so what do you do?
The only solution: drain, move it then refill.
How to Drain a Waterbed
It’s just the reverse of filling your waterbed, right?
Yes and no.
I think it’s actually easier to drain than fill. Just follow these steps:
- Unplug your heater and remove all the bedding
- Attach the valves to the waterbed and faucet, connect with the hose and add on the pump
- Turn on the water and let it drain
- Place heavy objects around the valve opening on the mattress to help get the air out
- Near the end, when there’s only a bit of water left, you may need to tilt the mattress or bring it outside so you further empty it
…Or watch this other video from Charles Hall!
It’ll take a few hours to drain. I know, it’s boring to just sit there and watch water flow out of a hose.
If you’re sure you did everything right and have tightened all the valves, then you can probably come back to check on it every 15-20 minutes or so.
So what did we learn today?
Here’s a quick recap:
- Waterbeds weren’t popular because of silly reasons
- Yes, they still exist and people still buy them because they infinitely improved
- There are at least 12 companies that still make waterbed mattresses
- You only need 5 accessories for a waterbed to be functional
- How to set-up, fill and drain a floatation mattress isn’t all that hard
So, there you have it!
You’ve mastered the basics. You’re armed with more than enough knowledge to try out your first or 10th waterbed, so why not go for it?!
Are You in the Market for a Waterbed?
We got you covered.
Here’s an in-depth review of the top 5 waterbed mattresses for you!