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Waterbed Mattress Buying Guide

(Wood Frame Waterbeds)

Wood Frame Waterbed Mattress Types

Full Motion Waterbed MattressFull Motion waterbed mattresses were the original style of waterbed popularized back in the 60's. They are six sided and come in a variety of vinyl's and thicknesses. Many are inexpensive and come with a very limited warranty.

Full motion mattresses offer less support than other styles. The "hammocking effect" you get from a worn out innerspring mattress can also be experienced with a full motion waterbed mattress. Sleeping in a full motion mattress for a number of years can cause problems. May cannot sleep on a flatter mattress because their posture has been effected. If you have two sleepers of different size, the smaller one may feel like they are sleeping on top of a hill.

Our full motion mattresses cost a little more, but they are not made from 15 or 16 mil plastic to last just a few months. Ours are made with 25 mil top quality vinyl so they last for many years.

FiberFillFiberfill mattresses (sometimes called "baffled") are our personal favorite. They come in a wide array of firmness levels and price ranges. They are low tech compared to some newer mattress types but provide great sleep and last for many years. The introduction of lumbar layers (in yellow) has helped millions with backache problems to sleep in greater comfort. Mattresses with more fiber are firmer and move less. Fiberfill mattresses have been around a while so they are a stable product. They have a more consistent feel than other types and are offered by most manufacturers.

Fiberfill mattresses are a little more difficult to drain than full motion mattresses and an electric waterbed pump is recommended. Not draining the mattress fully makes it much harder to move and more prone to damage from the fiber shifting out of position. This is caused by the extra weight in the fiber.

Hydralic Hydraulic Mattresses are a new type mattress which generally has separate water zones. In effect you have square curtains that wall the water off into chambers. Holes in the squares allow water to move from one area to the next in a controlled manner. There is often a fiber layer over the top for additional stability which also prevents feeling the joins between the chambers. These are less popular and usually more expensive than equivalent fiber filled mattresses.

Coils  Coil waterbed mattresses are yet another new style. The coils do not have any spring action no matter what advertisng hype may say. They function mainly as a channeling system to control water movement. The coils are water filled and held in place by some type of support system. These coils are cut from commonly obtainable drainage system coils. Sometimes each coil is encased individually in a barrel shaped vinyl cover with holes.

With some models the coil units have only one or two thin layers of fiber over the coil units and larger sleepers may feel the coils underneath. This varies by manufacturer and model. Coil mattresses are often difficult to drain fully.

Usually there is a mesh plastic cloth placed over the coils to keep the coils from rubbing on the fiber layers above and shredding them. Coil mattresses are less popular and more expensive than equivalent fiber filled mattresses.



Comfort or Firmness Level

We feel that choosing the right feel is a matter of choosing the right firmness level. We have divided our mattresses into three basic types: Waveless, Semi-Waveless and Motion Control. Each mattress at ABC Waterbed Outlet has been given a "Sleep Rating" so you have a better idea of how it will feel.

Waveless. 95% and above.  A firm and lifting waterbed mattress usually so buoyant you can't sink down. Entry and exit is very easy. Motion stops fast. Sleepers motions do not effect each other very much.

Semi-Waveless. 90% to 95%  A plush and stable mattress. Motion typically stops fairly quickly. A larger person may touch bottom. Sleepers motions effect each other a minor amount.

Motion Control. 85% and below.  Soft with inordinate amounts of motion. Has marked motion. It is very easy foremost persons to touch bottom. Sleepers motions effect each other much more.

It never ceases to amaze us when people drive up in a thirty thousand dollar car, and they want to spend only a hundred bucks on a mattress. A waveless mattress may cost more, but most people sleep better with more fiber layers and lumbar support.

Features to Look For

Lumbar  Lumbar Support. These are additional short fiber layers that provide added support where the body is thicker. More layers means more support. Different manufacturers use different brands of fiber and thickness.

Reinforced corners. Most manufacturers use several layers of reinforcing at the four corners. This is because the corners get pulled every time you change linens.

Flotation. Most manufacturers provide some type of flotation to buoy up the fiber layers. Some use closed cell foam layers that are stitched or glued along with the fiber layers, others use small beads that are imbedded in the fiber layers.

Tethering. Most manufacturers use some type of tether system at the four corners of the mattress to help keep the fiber layers centered in the mattress. This is usually a strip of elastic cord or ribbon that is connected to the fiber layers and anchored to the mattress bottom.

Protective Covers

Protective covers provide extra comfort, protection from accidental punctures and hold the heat in saving you valuable money. People with dogs and cats or rambunctious children should seriously consider a protective cover. Most leaks we have encountered were caused by accidents.

How long should it last?

We have heard many people in our store claim their old mattress lasted 15, 20 even 25 years. When we go into detail talking about their old mattress, the customer usually admits that the final years with the mattress was miserable and they are only replacing it now because it has too many leaks to patch. They saved mooney but sacrificed their sleep.

Obviously there is an optimal life for a mattress. The main determiner is usually the vinyl. Good care can greatly extend its life. That means using a conditioner inside and a cleaner protectant outside every time you add conditioner. We tell people a good quality waterbed mattress should last about 8 to 10 years. After that, sleep quality slowly goes down on the mattress. Many people wait until they have chronic leak problems before replacing the mattress. This is too late.

Many mattresses will last longer than 8 - 10 years, but over time the vinyl gets harder as the additives added to the vinyl leach out into the water. Vinyl's natural state is as a hard plastic, not soft and pliable like a new mattress. Dirt and body oils accelerate this hardening process, so mattress pads are vital. Once a mattress has started hardening, it is much less comfortable to sleep on, but since this occurs over time, you usually don't notice it.



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