14 Pros and Cons of Owning a Waterbed

Waterbeds were the “in” thing to have in the bedroom a generation ago. Today, this sleeping option feels like it is nothing more than a novelty item. The truth about this product is that it remains a viable alternative to the traditional mattress, memory foam, and the other choices that are available in the market right now.

Most waterbeds are made from a poly-vinyl material with a stretchable top layer for added comfort. A bladder in the product helps to stabilize the surface and reduce the risk of a leak occurring.

Before you decide to purchase a waterbed, then are several pros and cons of this option that you will want to carefully consider.

List of the Pros of a Waterbed

1. Waterbeds are exceptionally comfortable.
One of the primary advantages that you’ll experience when owning a waterbed is the comfort you’ll experience. Since the mattress is filled with water, you’ll receive a 100% conforming experience when you lay down on this product. That means there is no resistance placed on your body, so there is less pressure on your joints to worry about while sleeping. Some people report that it helps to relax the muscles around their spine, reducing issues with back, neck, and hip pain over time.

2. It is easy to relax when you’re on a waterbed.
When you lay down on a waterbed, you’ll receive the sensation that you’re floating on gentle waves. This advantage applies even when the bladder of the product is full. It is an extremely relaxing experience for most people. If you struggle to fall asleep at night, having the soothing motion of the water beneath you can encourage a deeper, longer period of rest. The movement can help to relax your muscles in such a way that it feels like you received a massage after a hard day at work.

3. Waterbeds can come with a feature that lets you warm the water.
If your house tends to get cold during the winter months, then the heated feature that is available on some waterbeds will help you to fall asleep faster and stay comfortable throughout the night. You’ll never need to worry about how cold the sheets are when crawling into bed ever again. It is not unusual to see an adjustable heating system equipped to this mattress alternative, making it possible to select the exact temperature you prefer when it is time to go to sleep.

If you wake up with pain in the morning, the improved heat from this advantage allows the waterbed to improve your blood circulation. If you have edema in the legs or other conditions that restrict your circulatory system, this investment can help to start providing some relief.

4. A waterbed is a hypoallergenic option for many families.
Almost every waterbed you will find on the market today is composed of a vinyl material of some type. That means your sleeping surface won’t have any fibers that can trap debris, pollen, or dust in the material. If you have hay fever problems that last all year, having the opportunity to snuggle into a bed like this can be a way to find natural relief.

Even when there are allergen triggers that settle onto a waterbed, you can quickly wipe it clean with a specialty cleaner and a cloth. Some manufacturers even rate their product as being able to use water as a cleanser. That means fewer dust mites, bed bugs, or other problems that can accumulate. It can even provide advantages to people who have an asthma diagnosis or are managing a skin condition like eczema.

5. You can be more discreet when sleeping on a waterbed.
If you are sleeping on a traditional mattress, then the coils that support your weight will creak and squeak with any movement. It is an issue that continues to get worse over time as wear-and-tear issues impact the product. If you’re trying to have a quiet, intimate moment with your partner, then the rest of the apartment complex or your neighbors next door are going to know what is happening.

A waterbed helps to solve this problem because it doesn’t use springs or require a box spring foundation to provide comfort. It’s just vinyl and water, which means it hardly makes any noise. This option is useful for people who are light sleepers or when partners have different sleeping arrangements.

6. The retail cost of a waterbed is comparable to other mattresses.
The cost of a waterbed varies on the size you prefer, just as it would with the traditional options. You can find them in twin, full, queen, and king sizes at most retail outlets or when ordering directly from the manufacturer. The price is comparable to what you’d pay for a premium mattress, with prices ranging close to $2,000 for the largest sizes available. If you are trying to purchase a twin mattress with this option, then the cost can be as little as $50.

The quality of the product is somewhat reflective of the price you will pay for it. You’ll want to purchase as much waterbed as possible to reduce the risk of future issues.

7. Waterbeds are helpful for people who have bedsores.
The coolness of the water with this mattress alternative provides an opportunity to offer relief from the pain of bedsores. There are medical versions of this technology that can be useful in the proactive prevention of this problem for people who need to lie in bed for lengthy periods. If this advantage is something that you’re considering, then the cost of the product will be higher than it would be for a standard bed. You might be able to offset the expense by running the need through your doctor to receive a prescription that your insurance policy could cover.

List of the Cons of a Waterbed

1. Some people feel nausea when laying on a waterbed.
The movement of water underneath you can be relaxing for some people, but it can also cause issues with motion sickness. If your equilibrium struggles with any sort of movement when you aren’t standing, including driving, airplane travel, or being on a boat, then you may want to avoid using this product. The motion of the waves can cause you to feel sick, which means you’ll find it challenging to get into a comfortable place where you can fall asleep.

2. A waterbed might offer no support for your body.
Waterbeds can do an excellent job of conforming to your body. What they struggle to provide is enough joint support to provide help with specific conditions. Some people report feeling numbness in their extremities or back pain after trying to sleep on this surface. The discomfort can continue long after the adjustment period to this product ends. You may encounter straining with your shoulders and neck that can lead to chronic conditions over time.

Most people will know if sleeping on a waterbed is right for them after about two weeks. If you’re not sleeping better by then, it is time to transition to a different sleeping surface. You may want to speak with the manufacturer or the retail outlet about the possibility of a product trial before making the investment.

3. There is always a risk that the waterbed could leak.
The vinyl that manufacturers use for the waterbed is reasonably durable. As with any product that contains a bladder, there is always a risk that a puncture could compromise the integrity of the product. The damage that a waterbed can cause when water leaks from it can be tremendous. There are instances when ceilings have collapsed, floors have required replacement, and entire structures have been threatened. You can alleviate some of this disadvantage by using a plastic liner, but this issue is one of the most common problems associated with this mattress alternative.

4. Waterbeds can often produce strange odors.
Some waterbeds can develop a unique, not-so-pleasant odor after you use them over time. The vinyl has a robust scent that often requires a few days of airing out the materials before it dissipates, but that isn’t the issue. Bacteria can grow on the mattress or in the bladder because you’re sleeping on a high moisture environment. This issue creates a musty scent that is difficult to remove from the room without a thorough cleaning of the product.

The odor can get into your sheets and clothes. It may even linger in your hair. If the bacteria or any mold forms inside of the product, your only option is to throw it away.

5. It is challenging to find sheets for a waterbed.
A hard-sided waterbed usually features a vinyl mattress that stays in shape with a wooden frame. This design makes it easier to transport the product to a new home or up to your room, but it also creates an issue with finding sheets. You won’t have access to standardized sizes when shopping for them, so that means you will need to fork out some extra cash for custom products. Even when you can find options at a retailer, your choices are going to be more limited than if you went with a traditional mattress instead.

This disadvantage can make it problematic when trying to find sheets that will match with the rest of your décor.

6. Intimate moments can be problematic on a waterbed.
Some people say that being intimate with their partner on a waterbed is better because the movement of the water facilitates the experience. Everything is subjective in this category, but there tend to be more complaints than compliments. You are going to bounce more often during this time, which can make it challenging to find a rhythm to your movements. It can be enough to throw off your groove, which means this choice isn’t the best option to meet your needs.

7. Your insurance costs might be higher with a waterbed.
Because a waterbed could spring a leak at any time, your insurance costs as a renter or homeowner are typically higher than what they would be if you used a traditional mattress. Many providers use a rider that increases the cost of the policy by several hundred dollars per year in some markets. That cost can be a lot more than what you would expect since the protection involves water damage, so it can put the price of this product out of reach. If you are renting, you often need permission in advance before bringing a waterbed onto the property as well, or you could face an eviction proceeding.


These waterbed pros and cons are a sampling of the common concerns that people have when considering this option. Every situation is unique, which means there are additional issues that may apply to your specific needs. Consider each option carefully, and then make the investment that creates the best results for your bedroom needs.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.