Softside Waterbed Mattresses
Waterbed technology has come long way since the 1970s. In the early days, only hardside waterbeds existed. In the hardside setup, a hard wooden box is constructed to contain the waterbed mattress which lays on a foundation. Hardside mattresses still exist today, but there is a second option known as softside. It's important to note that the terms “softside” and “hardside” really don't say as much about the mattress as they do the foundation they rest on.
The Difference Between Hardside and Softside Waterbed Mattresses
The softside waterbed mattress system utilizes a wooden foundation in the same way the hardside does. The difference lies in the fact that there's no wooden box to hold the mattress in place. Instead, rails made of dense foam form a border around the mattress which is then encased in a fabric “bag” that looks and feels like a traditional mattress. It's so close in fact, that you don't need special linens. What fits a conventional queen mattress will also fit a queen softside waterbed mattress.
Softside systems have become popular for two very distinct reasons: ease of use and aesthetics. In terms of ease of use, climbing in and out of a softside waterbed mattress is no different than a conventional inner spring one. With a hardside bed, the wooden rails make it difficult to get out of the bed; they can dig into your leg if you bump one the wrong way, and climbing in sometimes makes you feel like you're jumping into a box. The softside system eliminates all those problems so you get in and out with ease.
Improved Aesthetics with Softside Beds
In terms of aesthetics, wood is no longer the main feature of a modern room. In fact, having your bedroom dominated by an overbearing piece of wood furniture is so 1970's people are running away from it. The softside bed looks just like a conventional bed. It is minimalist and simple, unless you specifically want a large headboard and underneath cabinetry.
On the other hand, softside mattresses have a reputation of not lasting as long as their hardside big brothers. This is due to the fact that dense foam, even at an industry-high 2 lbs density, doesn't have the structural integrity of wood. It gives a little bit more. So as water is displaced by weight, it pushes against the sides of the mattress which in turn, push against the foam rails. Over time, the softside mattress will wear out faster than a hardside waterbed mattress.
Softside waterbed mattresses can be purchased as single or dual units. Dual units are usually constructed with tethers to keep them in place. Otherwise there would be little to prevent them from shifting around on the platform or bunching in the middle. While you're shopping for softside, consider your casing, a pillow top, and even some skirting to round out the package.