King vs. California King: What’s the Difference?

By McKenzie Hyde
Last Updated On June 3rd, 2020

In looking for the best mattress size for the bedroom, many are uncertain as to the appeal of the king and California king sizes —what are they and how are…

King vs. California King: What’s the Difference?

In looking for the best mattress size for the bedroom, many are uncertain as to the appeal of the king and California king sizes —what are they and how are they similar? And, the most important question: What’s the difference between the two?

In our article, we define each size, explain the differences between a king and California king, and include the pros and cons of both sizes to help you determine which mattress size is right for you.

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What is a King Size?

A king size mattress measures 76 inches by 80 inches —the equivalent of two twin beds placed next to each other. A king-size bed (otherwise known as an Eastern king) is designed to accommodate two sleepers but has room for children who like to snuggle with their parents at night.

The standard king size bed is the largest mattress size on the market, covering a total surface space of 6,080 square inches. This bed size is perfect for larger master bedrooms at least 12 feet by 10 feet, though we recommend 13 feet by 13 feet for the best balance of space.


  • Couples who like to stretch out, plus room for children
  • Large bedrooms
  • Widely available
  • Split king option available for couples with differing sleep preferences


  • Expensive
  • Too big for limited spaces
  • Hard to move due to size and weight

What is a California King Size?

A California king mattress (also known as a Western king) measures 72 inches by 84 inches, and is identical to two twin XL mattresses put together. This mattress size is also great for couples, especially for sleepers over 6 feet tall. Since the Cal king mattress is more narrow than a king-size, it may have room to fit 1 to 2 small children in addition to two adults.

California king beds are the second-largest standard size in the mattress industry with 6,048 square inches of total surface area. Cal king mattresses are ideal for master bedrooms measuring 12 feet by 12 feet, though a room size 12 feet by 14 feet would be better to accommodate the bed’s extra length.


  • Tall people at least 6 feet
  • Couples who like to be closer together
  • Split California king option for couples with differing sleep preferences
  • Large bedrooms


  • Hard to move due to bulky size
  • Higher price tag
  • Difficult to find bedding

What to Consider

Whether you choose a king or California king size mattress, look at room dimensions, cost, and sleeper height. Also, take into account if you’re part of a couple that likes to sleep close to each other or prefer more personal space.

Room Dimensions

Allow at least 2 feet of space on three sides of the mattress for more room to walk around and space to add furniture without feeling overcrowded. If you have a narrower room, a California king mattress might be better to save on space compared to a king size.

If you’re limited on space, then a queen mattress might be the better option —the queen size provides room for couples and is also a good choice for single adults. If you’re looking for a bed for one sleeper, queen or full-size mattress are excellent options.


Both king and California king mattresses have the highest cost on the market due to their large size and the number of materials they contain.

Since Cal king mattresses aren’t as widely available as a king-size, you may end up paying more. This also applies to accessories, like bed frames, comforters, and bedsheets.


King vs. California King

Height is another important factor to consider before choosing between a king and a California king mattress. For those 6 feet tall and shorter, a king-size is the perfect fit. For those taller than 6 feet, a California king bed is better, with more space to stretch out.


If you’re part of a couple and trying to decide between a king or California king mattress, consider how you both like to sleep —if one or both of you prefer more personal space, a king-size mattress is a good option. If you both like to sleep close to each other, a Cal king size is a great choice.


Is a California king bigger than a regular king?

The king-size mattress has a greater total surface space than a California king size —6,080 square inches compared to 6,048.

How much bigger is California king than a queen?

A California king size is both wider and longer than a queen size mattress —a California king measures 72 inches by 84 inches, while a queen size measures 60 inches by 80 inches.

The Perfect Size

Both king and California king are the largest standard mattress sizes on the market. Both are excellent choices for a master bedroom in providing adequate sleeping space. While a king-size is wider and shorter, a California king size is longer and narrower. Depending on your personal preferences and available space, both sizes are excellent choices for any master bedroom.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

About the author

McKenzie Hyde is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and a full-time writer focused on sleep health and the mattress industry. She currently writes articles on a variety of topics, ranging from sleep hygiene to the newest trends in the mattress and bedding industry. Just some of the topics she has covered include best sleep practices for students, the consequences of going without sleep, and choosing the right bed if you suffer from back pain. McKenzie Hyde holds a Master of Arts degree from Utah State University where she studied literature and writing. While there, she taught argumentative writing and wrote a variety of articles and analyses for literary and academic journals.

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