A king size bed is usually considered the ultimate in beds, even if you sleep alone. All that room to move around! Most people love it. However, a California King may be an even better choice for those who long for a roomier sleep spot. But what is the difference between a King and a California King?
In very basic terms, the size. A standard King bed measures 76″ by 80″. A California King on the other hand measures 72″ by 84″. It’s slimmer and longer, a lot like some of the models who populate the California coast! A California King is often the best choice for taller people – there’s nothing worse than feet hanging over the edge of the bed – and for bedrooms that are narrower, something that’s often the case in urban apartments, especially in places like New York and LA.
However, there may be more reasons for you to consider swapping your King size bed – or even your Queen – for a California King, as we’ll discuss here.
What are the Dimensions of a King Size Bed?
A standard King bed measures a very roomy 76″ by 80″, which is a big upgrade from the 60″ x 80″ that a Queen size measures in at, and certainly a huge step up from a full-size bed, which measures a standard 54″ by 75″.
That’s why, when you get to upgrade from that twin bed – which is a comparatively tiny 38″ x 75″ – it feels like such a luxurious upgrade!
Is a King and California King the Same?
No, they are not.
King size is the widest (76 inches wide x 80 inches long).
California king is the longest (72 inches wide x 84 long).
What’s the Difference Between an Eastern King and California King?
An Eastern King is just a fancier name for a standard King size bed.
It’s rather fitting, as if you ask some East Coast natives everything in California is just too big! It also might be because lots of East Coast cities – especially New York, Boston and Philadelphia – have some of the smallest average apartment sizes in the country, so a longer bed like the California King may not fit very well.
How Much Bigger is a King Bed than a Queen?
A King bed is the same length as a Queen bed, but it’s a full 16 inches wider. Not everyone needs that much roll room though and given that they are the most affordable larger bed option, both in terms of the cost of the bed itself and the bedding for it, there’s nothing wrong with opting for a Queen bed, even for couples.
How wide is a King Bed vs. Cal King vs. Queen Bed?
They all vary.
King bed is 76 inches wide.
Cal King is 72 inches wide.
Queen is 60 inches wide.
Mattress Dimension and Size Chart
Twin: 39 in (99.1 cm) W x 75 in (190.5 cm) L
Twin (extra long): 39 in (99.1 cm) x 80 in (203.2 cm)
Full/Double: 54 in (137.2 cm) x 80 in (203.2 cm)
Queen: 60 in (152.4 cm) x 80 in (203.2 cm)
California Queen: 60 in (152.4 cm) x 84 in (213.4 cm)
King: 76 in (193 cm) x 80 in (203.2 cm)
Cal King: 72 in (182.9 cm) x 84 in (213.4 cm)
Which is Better a Cal King or King?
There is no ‘right’ answer to this question because your personal sleep needs – and bedroom – are unique!
However, taller people often do better with a longer California King, as for some those extra four inches at the end of their bed can make a huge difference! Sleeping on a bed that’s too short can lead to nagging calf pain that will sap the spring from your step in the mornings, and no one needs that!
The size of your bedroom may be a big factor in your choice two. Shaving four inches off the width of your bed may be the difference between cramming into the available space and fitting it in comfortably – so that you have more room for nightstands, bookshelves etc. or can simply get out of bed without stubbing a toe on the wall!
Finally, your personal aesthetic may come into play here as well. A California King’s longer, sleeker profile may be a look you prefer. It can work exceptionally well in a contemporary, more minimalist decor setting and in rooms that are long but narrow, in which an Eastern King might just look bulky, clunky and ‘stuffed’ in place.
What is a Split King Mattress?
A split king mattress – maybe you have seen the term used in listings for Airbnb’s or hotel rooms – is essentially two twin mattresses fastened together in some way, usually with a special strap and a padded insert for the ‘join’ between the two beds.
Choosing a split king mattress may be about more than making use of the beds you have rather than purchasing a new one. For couples there is often a mismatch between the firmness and support one partner likes or needs versus the other. A split King allows both of you to sleep soundly on the mattress that meets your specific preferences and yet still sleep next to your partner.
If you want to create your own split king mattress you certainly can. The kit you’ll need to fatten the two mattresses of your choice together is easy to fit and usually costs less than $40 or so.
In terms of bedding, you can opt for standard King bedding or to make use of individual twin bedding for each bed ‘half’ instead.
What’s the Difference Between King and California King Sheets?
Give that a California King is longer than a King you’ll need longer bedding, as trying to stretch sheets an extra four inches is only going to result in frustration, a message of crumpled bed sheets and maybe even rips and tears if you are trying to tug a fit sheet too far!
And so, because you can’t use King sheets on your Cal King bed, you can buy specific sheet sets designed for a California King. They are not as easy to find in physical stores as standard King or Queen sets are but shop online and you’ll find lots of them. If you opt for specially tailored for it sheets for your California King, you won’t have to tuck a lot of extra width in either.
Some people do wonder about pricing differences between King size sheets and California King size sheets. On average they are usually about the same, but as mentioned, you may have a slightly harder time finding sheet sets for a California King. Make sure you check out our in-depth buyers’s guide to the best California King sheets post here.
Looking to Upgrade?
So, you think you are ready to upgrade to a California King?
We can highly recommend the Nolah Original 10″ California King mattress. It offers a medium firmness, has low motion transfer and comes with a lifetime warranty.
It is crafted from the patented Nolah Certipur-US® foam that claims to offer four times the pressure point relief over standard memory foam, boasts a special cooling foam layer and comes along with a 120-night free trial so you can ensure it’s the right California King for you.
Need a budget option? Then check out the Ashley Chime 10″ California King mattress. Its crafted from hypoallergenic memory foam material, is wonderfully supportive and costs less than $400, a deal that is very hard to beat!