King vs. California King – What’s The Difference?

We receive free products to review and participate in affiliate programs. See our disclosure page for more information.

In the world of King sized beds, the Standard King and the California King are the most popular. The California King is narrower and slightly longer than a Standard King sized bed – losing 4″ off the sides and adding 4″ to the length.

So, why would you want a CA King over a Standard King? And when should you stick with the traditional size? Read on for our guide to each.

Not sure what size bed you need? Check out our complete Mattress Dimensions Guide

The Basics

Standard (or Eastern) King:

Standard King
Width Per Person38"

Who is this ideal for?

A King bed tends to be one of the best options suited for couples. In fact, it is the equivalent of each person sleeping in their own Twin XL bed (pushed together).

The King bed offers each person 8” more space than a Queen sized bed. This makes it ideal for Master Bedrooms. It may even be too large for some individuals.

Brentwood Home Cedar’s (King size) Mattress. To read our review, click here. 

California (Western) King:

CA King

Who is this ideal for?

This bed is called a California King because of its popularity on the West Coast, according to the Better Sleep Council. It’s narrower than a Standard King by 4″ and longer by 4″.  This bed is typically a good fit for people want more width than a Queen but are really focused on extra length – they may have a narrow but long room or be an especially tall person or couple.

Other Size Options

Split King:

Similar to a Standard King – but 2” wider – and split down the middle.

Split King
Width39" (each half)

You Might Choose

King If…

  • You want to stretch out. While it comes down to personal preference, many couples opt for a King size bed over a Queen or even a California King. In a King, each person gets 38″ of space on each side and each person gets 36″ with a California King. Basically, you’re going to get the most space per person in a King over any other bed.

California King If…

  • You’re looking for a Master Bedroom bed that is longer than it is wider. An easy way to think of the difference between a King and CA King is if you took off 4″ of width on a king and added 4″ of length to the bottom of the bed. Since the CA King is longer than the King, it’s a great option for narrow bedrooms, where you want as much width possible but a little additional length is better for space.
  • You or your partner are pretty tall. You get an extra 4″ of length in the CA King, making the total length of the bed 84″. Sometimes these additional 4″ can make a big difference to a taller person – especially if that person hates to have his/her feet hanging off the end of the bed.

Either If…

  • You’re upgrading your Master Bedroom. King and CA King sized beds tend to be the best fit for larger master bedrooms, where there is plenty of space not only for your bed but all your additional pieces of furniture and accessories.
  • You’ve got the budget for it.  When shopping for mattresses,  King and CA King sizes tend to be the same price, and they’re typically the most expensive. You’ll also need to save money for a new frame and sheets that match whichever size you pick.

Tuck mattress (King size). To check out our review, click here

Things To Consider

Below are some tips and things to think about before you make your next purchase.

  • Measure your space beforehand. Mattress and bed shopping can get overwhelming quickly. You could feel pressured to make a purchase in order to get a good deal, so you’ll want to have all your measurements and know what size you want before heading out to shop. It’ll pay off by being a less stressful experience once you get the bed home!
  • Leave room for movement. An article from Th!ngz Contemporary Living says that most designers will recommend 30″ of space around your bed for movement. If you’re going to a King or CA king, you will want to make sure the bed doesn’t engulf the whole room.
  • Consider how you’ll get your bed into the room. Even if it’s compressed and in a box, a King or CA King sized mattress or bed is going to be sizeable and will need more than one hand to get inside a house or an apartment, up a flight of stairs or down a hallway. Be prepared to enlist a friend or family member to help if needed.
  •  Read the warranty. Upgrading to a King or CA King bed can be a big financial investment. If you’re looking for a new mattress, read the warranties carefully. They usually only cover manufacturer defects or issues with workmanship. This means that if you don’t like your mattress you can’t just return it through the warranty. Check to see if there is a separate return policy or trial offer with your bed that will minimize the risk.


When it comes to choosing between a King versus a California King bed, it’s really going to come down to whether the dimensions of a King best suit you/your partner/room. Or will the slightly narrower but longer dimensions of the California King be a better fit? Fortunately, both beds tend to be the same price and they’ll typically be the most expensive option out of all the beds.

If you can take your time to measure your room, double check that budget and comparison shop for deals, you may be able to find the perfect bed for you!

The following two tabs change content below.
Gravatar for Katie Golde

Katie Golde

Katie manages the day to day operations of the Mattress Clarity news site and reviews sleep products in addition to writing and editing sleep news.She hails from Austin, where she lives with her growing family. She is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and has a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and has a background in health and science content. Her work can be found in print and online publications like Discover Magazine, USA Today and The Huffington Post.