Choosing a waterbed these days depends on what you are looking for in a bed. Soft sided water beds have some definite advantages over their hard sided cousins. For those folks who do not know the difference between these two popular sleep systems it is important to look at both.
Soft sided waterbeds are very different in one important respect. Unlike a traditional hard sided waterbed, soft sided beds, otherwise referred to as hybrid waterbeds, do not have a hard wooden outer frame. The hard wooden frame has been replaced by a foam box. The foam box is covered in the same type of material used to cover traditional innerspring mattresses.
The combination of dense foam and fabric acts to contain the water filled tubes that are at the heart of the soft sided waterbed. Just as with a hard sided waterbed, hybrids also have a vinyl safety liner. The safety liner is in place to capture any leakage that may occur if one of the water filled tubes springs a leak.
Soft sided waterbeds are roughly the same size as standard innerspring mattresses. This is a significant advantage for several reasons. Traditional hard sided or wood frame waterbeds require sheet sets and other bedding made especially for waterbeds. With a soft sided waterbed, you can use standard sized sheets and other bedding. No more shopping for waterbed sheets which can cost far more than off the shelf bedding.
No matter what, hard sided waterbeds must be heated. In the early days of waterbeds and before heating systems were developed, you had to place a thick foam pad between you and the mattress. Since the water in the bladder would never rise above the ambient room temperature, the foam was necessary item. The introduction of heating systems did away with the need for the foam pads.
With a hybrid waterbed, the use of a heater is completely optional. The construction of a hybrid waterbed does utilize a foam insulating pad incorporated in the zippered mattress top. If you like the idea of jumping into a cozy warm bed, you can purchase a heating system that is specially designed for use with hybrid waterbeds.
Leaks are always a possibility with any type of waterbed. A leak can occur for a variety of reasons. With a hard sided bladder type bed, you can cause a leak just putting on the sheets, for example if a piece of jewelry snags the mattress. If the leak is serious enough, the entire mattress may need to be drained before it can be repaired. If the leak beyond repair, you may find yourself having to replace the mattress entirely.
Leaks in a soft sided waterbed are much easier to deal with than a leak in a bladder type bed. A leak in a single tube or cylinder as they are sometimes referred to, can be repaired without the need to drain the entire bed. The damaged tube can be removed, drained and repaired in far less time.
Though it is unlikely to occur, a tube or cylinder may be damaged beyond repair. If this is the case, then you only need to purchase a replacement tube. A leak in a soft sided bed may cause the upper cover to become damp. If this happens, the cover would need to be thoroughly dried before being placed on the bed. The good news is that the top just zips off. The top of a twin or full size hybrid can be dried in a large capacity dryer.
So if you are looking for the comfort of a waterbed that takes up less space and is easier to maintain, a soft sided waterbed may be the right choice for you.