Can You Put A Waterbed Mattress on A Regular Frame?

Waterbeds are known to be super comfortable. But how do you put them in your room? This article will explore everything you need to know about bed frames for these wonderful mattresses. 

You can put a softside waterbed on a regular frame but must buy a waterbed frame for hardside mattresses. Softside waterbeds mimic traditional mattresses and can hold their own shape. But hardsides need a hard-sided bed frame to keep their flexible water bladder from bulging outward. 

Do You Need A Special Frame for A Waterbed?

For softside waterbeds, any bed frame will get the job done. They have an in-built foam frame. So yes, you can put a softside waterbed on a regular frame, but you don’t need to. 

You can always leave it on the floor. The decision is completely yours – do whatever you’re more comfortable with.

A king-size waterbed frame will work well with a similarly sized waterbed mattress. You can easily put it on your existing bed frame.

For hardside waterbeds, the bed frame is made of wood. It is best described as a box you put your mattress inside. Its sides come up to the very edge of your mattress, so it can provide support from all sides. 

Everything except the top side – where you sleep – is covered by a wooden frame. 

Why You Can’t Put A Hardside Waterbed Mattress on A Regular Frame

Hardside waterbeds are essentially a water pocket surrounded by a layer of vinyl. This layer is typically quite durable, but it isn’t the most firm. 

So your mattress itself is likely to be quite flimsy. Meaning that it can’t hold a shape. Placing it on top of a typical frame just means the mattress will droop to one side or the other. It could slip off the frame entirely if you move too much. 

Here are 3 reasons why hardside mattresses need a specifically designed frame:

  1. The mattress has no rigidity or shape of its own.
  2. Excess pressure on seams could force them open and cause leakage. 
  3. Vinyl may stretch and shape the mattress. 

Let’s take a look at each in detail. 

1. The Mattress Has No Rigidity Or Shape of Its Own

A hardside waterbed mattress is basically just an oversized water balloon. It practically has no shape. 

Imagine sitting on a very large water balloon. Any pressure applied to the middle would push the liquid under you to the sides and force the balloon to stretch. In real life, this translates to a constantly moving mattress that isn’t super comfortable because it can’t retain its shape. 

A properly sized frame goes a long way in giving the mattress some shape and structure while allowing the waterbed to have wave action and be flowy. 

2. Excess Pressure on Seams could Force Them Open and Cause Leakage

If your mattress starts pushing the fluid towards the sides, it might put extra pressure on the seams and stitches there. 

If they’re forced open, you’ll have to deal with leakages. In the worst case, you may have to deal with a small flood in your room.

You need a bed frame to provide support to these stitches and ensure that it doesn’t fall apart. With a solid structure, your mattress will stay intact for an extended period and survive for a long time. 

3. Vinyl May Stretch and Shape the Mattress

Another reason why your hardside waterbed mattress needs a frame is that its vinyl is stretchable. If there isn’t a bed frame holding it in place, it may stretch out and become deformed. 

This can lead to a number of problems:

First, the vinyl will just become thinner in certain places, which makes it more vulnerable to tears. Second, you’ll feel a lot more wave action than you would have otherwise. It can get a little uncomfortable. 

Third, your vinyl mattress will just become bigger. It will take up more space, need a bigger frame, and require more water. 

Hardside Vs. Softside Waterbed Mattresses

Hardside mattresses have a layer of vinyl between you and the water while there is additional padding in between with a softside. 

Hardside mattresses help people feel more connected to the water, while softside waterbed mattresses have a lot more structure and limited wave action. 

Benefits of A Hardside Waterbed Mattress

  • You’re Close to the Water

When you’re buying a waterbed mattress, you’re doing so to sleep on the water. The hardside mattress helps you do that in the most literal way possible. 

Hardside water mattresses let you sleep super close to the water since there is only 1 layer of vinyl between you and the fluid. While this vinyl is thin and flexible, it is quite durable, so you shouldn’t be worried about accidentally tearing through it and falling into the water. 

  • You Feel Relaxed and Experience Restorative Benefits

Some people claim to experience restorative benefits by sleeping on water. This may be due to a connection to water bodies or the comfort that comes from laying on fluid. 

Either way, you can tap into those benefits with a hardside.

  • Wooden Frames are Durable and Strong 

Wooden frames made for hardside waterbed mattresses are some of the most durable frames. 

They are made with pine or oak veneer boards which are typically around 1¼ to 1½ inches thick. Also, strong L brackets and wood screws are used to secure these boards together, which just makes the frame more secure. 

Read also: Are waterbeds good for your back?

The Downside of A Hardside Waterbed

  • Wooden Waterbed Frames Can be Uncomfortable

You can’t really sit on the edge of a hardside waterbed like you can on other mattresses. 

The wood is quite hard and uncomfortable. You can do it if you want to since the frames are strong – as discussed above – but users sometimes describe this action as uncomfortable. 

You can get padded rails to have cushioned seating if you want to. This would require some customization since most bed frames don’t come with it in-built. 

However, you could always look into better higher-end frame options if you’re determined to get a pre-made frame with cushioned seating. 

Benefits of A Softside Waterbed Mattress

  • Resemble A Conventional Mattress

Softside waterbed mattresses resemble a traditional mattress and don’t stand out as hardsides do. 

They can fit into typical bed frames and are easy to work with. Since they’re quite similar to the mattresses people usually use, it is easy to find beds that match the size, bed sheets, etc. 

  • An Extra Layer of Padding 

You’re further away from the fluid with a softside mattress than you are with a hardside as there is a layer of padding between you and the water. 

Some people prefer this as you get to sleep on a soft waterbed that still has some structure to it. There is less wave-action and fluidity in this kind of mattress. 

Conclusion: Can You Put A Waterbed Mattress on A Regular Frame

You can put a softside waterbed mattress on a typical frame. However, you don’t need to do so since it comes with a built-in foam frame. 

You can not put a hardside waterbed mattress on a conventional bed frame since it will drop off from it. It needs a custom bed frame built to size—we’ve talked about why this is important above. 

There are a couple of differences between a softside, and hardside waterbed – the most notable points of contrast are the differences in how close or far away you are from the water and its impacts.