How to Buy a Waterbed

First, convince your boyfriend that his free flow waterbed of 20 years is not the ideal sleeping arrangement for two full grown adults who are light sleepers. This may take several years.

Second, compromise on buying a new waterbed with waveless technology instead of a conventional mattress.

Third, do research.

Fourth, briefly mourn the loss of Consumer Reports as your guide when you realize their mattress reviews do not include waterbeds.

Fifth, discover that most waterbed mattress review sites look like they were made in the 70s, although you’re pretty sure that the internet did not exist then. Contemplate the felicity of such color combinations as pink, yellow and orange all within the same comforter.

Sixth, learn that waterbed tech has indeed changed a great deal. There are now softside and hardside waterbeds. Realize that you want a hardside waterbed, even though the name for it is completely counter-intuitive. Because hardside waterbeds have no sides, they’re just the water filled bladders so they are in fact rather soft. Whereas softside waterbeds are actually within the frame of a rigid mattress. So they have firm sides.



Seventh, marvel at the variations available. You have your free flow, semi-waveless, waveless, and ultrawaveless.You have your hydraulic, your fiber layers, your foam layers, your coils, your lumbar support, and your tubes all lined up in a row.

A Plethora of Mattress Types

Free Flow



Hydraulic Ultra Waveless

Inner Coils

Eighth, you go to a Waterbed Store. These are hard to find. The first place you go used to be a waterbed store, but now is just a bed store, and while they have hardside waterbeds, they don’t have any you could try. You wander the store in desperation and find a Boyd softside. So you try it. You lie down on one side, your SO on the other, and take turns trying to make the bed slosh. And you discover that it is possible, hallelujah, to have a waterbed and not disrupt your partner when you move. The kindly salesman unzips the softside for you at which point you see a dual for the first time. Choirs of angels sing. But don’t relax just yet,  your quest has just begun.

Not actually this cheesy.

Ninth, you call the one other store in a hundred mile radius that was once listed as a waterbed store and ask if they have any on display. “We sure do,” they tell you, “come on down!” So you drive an hour in the opposite direction and discover they have three waterbeds on display, but all by the same brand (Land and Sky). Well, try them all you say. The 95% waveless, you discover as you try to bounce and make waves, feels an awful lot like a blanket on a concrete slab. But no waves. The 90% feels good, but when you move, it does jostle your partner. Only for a second. Not the violent slosh-slosh  motion of your current bed. But still. You don’t know why, but you still try the 80% waveless. Slosh-slosh. The salesman nearly convinces you to buy the 90%, he’s got a discounted floor model after all and this, he says, is the best brand. In spite of your skepticism, he’s starting to win you over. But then you learn that he has softsides of other brands. Great! you say.

1980s girl not included.

Tenth, you spend the next two hours hopping from bed to bed. Softside to softside and back to the hardsides. And you like the Boyd softsides better than any of the hardsides. Aside from the squeaking noise. Because it does squeak, with all the passion of vinyl against vinyl. Does this, you ask the salesman, come in a hardside? He does his best to steer you back to the Land and Sky, and so you spend some more time lying on beds in indecision. But then you remember, Aha! People are bad at knowing what they want in the moment. But given time, it’s easier to look back and see. So you’ll sleep on it, you say, back at home on your very own slosh-slosh. You buy fancy sheets, since after all, you did just spend hours in their store lying on their beds.

Eleventh, you go home and you fire up Google. And you don’t much like what you’re reading about the Land and Sky customer service. And you relearn that, really, there are no good review sites for any of these beds, although you do read them all. And each manufacturer has both positive and negative reviews, so it’s about to be a toss up. But then, hallelujah, you see a Boyd hardside dual. It does exist! Twelfth, you ponder for several days. Because while the internal components (the water bed bladder itself) are the same as the softside, the softside does have extra padding on top.

Thirteenth, you order the hardside dual from ABC Waterbed Outlet: 90% waveless, four layers of foam. You figure you’ll find a nice cushiony mattress pad, possibly even one more cushiony for your half than your beloved might prefer because, after all, it’s a dual, and you shall be happy on your side of the bed. And he shall be happy on his. And when you move, you will neither of you wake the other with slosh. All that remains is waiting for the bed to arrive.

Congratulations, you have bought a waterbed.