Some people mistakenly believe California kings are bigger than standard king beds, but the main difference is actually in the width and length. California kings are longer and narrower than standard kings—a king bed is 76 inches by 80 inches, and a Cal king bed is 72 inches by 84. As a result, tall sleepers or couples with narrower master bedrooms often choose California kings.
In our article, we discuss 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.
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. It is the a popular choice for couples, second only to the queen size bed.
- Couples who like to stretch out, plus room for children
- Large bedrooms
- Widely available
- Split king option available for couples with differing sleep preferences
- 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.
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 bed sheets.
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.
The type of foundation you use with the bed is more dependent on the mattress type, not the size. You can use an adjustable base with both kings and Cal kings, as well as box springs, platform beds, or slatted frames. Just make sure you use the right foundation with your mattress type, which should be specified in the mattress warranty.
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.
What is the point of a California king bed?
Though the idea of a Cal king may not make much sense, it’s a great option for tall sleepers or couples with a small, narrow master bedroom. With a California king, each sleeper (or single sleepers) still have plenty of space, but the bed doesn’t take up as much room width-wise.
What is an Alaskan king bed?
An Alaskan king measures 108 inches by 108 inches, or 9 by 9 feet. Alaskan kings are rare, but the largest variation of king beds and perfect for two sleepers who needs lots of room or even parents who co-sleep with their kids. Most mattress retailers don’t carry Alaskan kings, so you may need to special order one if you want one.
Why is it called a California king?
The California king got its name from where it was invented—Los Angeles, California. The creator of the mattress thought most Californians had houses big enough for a bed six feet wide and seven feet long.
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.