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

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In the world of King sized beds, the Standard King and the California King are particularlypopular – 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 of the mattress.

So, why would someone want a California King over a Standard King, and when should they stick with the traditional size? To find out, read on for our guide to each size of mattress!

Not sure what size bed to get? Check out our complete Mattress Sizes Guide.

The Basics

Standard (or Eastern) King Mattress:

Standard King
Width Per Person38"

Who is a Standard King mattress size 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 an absolutely fantastic option 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 Mattress:

CA King

Who is a California King mattress size 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 an excellent fit for people who need more width than a Queen offers but are primarily focused on extra length – they may have a narrow but long room or could be an especially tall person or couple.

Other Size Options

Split King:

This mattress is size is similar to a Standard King – but 2” wider – and split down the middle.

Split King
Width39" (each half)

People Might Choose A King Mattress If…

  • They want to stretch out as much as possible. While it comes down to personal preference, many couples opt for a King size bed over a Queen or even a California King – on a King mattress, each person gets 38″ of space on each side and each person gets 36″ with a California King – basically, people are going to get the most space per person in a King over any other bed. Check out our best king-size mattresses.

People Might Choose A California King Mattress If…

  • They are 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 California King is if one took off 4″ of width on a king and added 4″ of length to the bottom of the bed; since the California King is longer than the King, it’s a great option for narrow bedrooms, where people want as much width possible but a little additional length is better for space.
  • A person or their partner is very tall. People get an extra 4″ of length in the California King, making the total length of the bed 84″ – sometimes these additional 4″ can make a significant difference to a taller person – especially if that person doesn’t like to have his/her feet hanging off the end of the bed.

People Might Choose Either Size Mattress If…

  • They are upgrading their Master Bedroom. King and California King-sized beds tend to be the best fit for larger master bedrooms, where there is plenty of space not only for the bed but all the additional pieces of furniture and accessories.
  • They have the budget for it. When shopping for mattresses, King and California King sizes tend to be the same price, and they’re typically the most expensive; shoppers will also need to set aside some money for a new frame and sheets that match whichever size mattress they pick.

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

Other Things To Consider

Below are some tips and things to think about before making a mattress purchase.

  • Measure the bedroom space beforehand. Mattress and bed shopping can get overwhelming quickly – shoppers could feel pressured to make a purchase in order to get an excellent deal, so they’ll want to have all their measurements and know what size they want before heading out to shop. It’ll pay off by being a less stressful experience once one gets the mattress home!
  • Leave room for movement. An article from Th!ngz Contemporary Living says that most designers will recommend 30″ of space around the bed for movement; if someone is going to purchase a King or California king, they will want to make sure the bed doesn’t engulf the entire room.
  • Consider how to get the mattress into the room. Even if it’s compressed and in a box, a King or California King-sized mattress or bed is going to be sizeable and will need more than one person 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 necessary.
  • Read the warranty. Upgrading to a King or California King bed can be a big financial investment – shoppers who are looking for a new mattress should read the warranties carefully. They usually only cover manufacturer defects or issues with the workmanship – this means that, if someone doesn’t like their mattress, they can’t just return it through the warranty. Check to see if there is a separate return policy or trial offer with the 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 a person. 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 people can take your time to measure your room, double-check that budget and comparison shop for deals, they may be able to find the perfect bed for them!

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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.