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 particularly 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 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.

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King vs. California King Comparison | King-Size Mattress Overview | California King Mattress Overview | Which Size is Best for You? | Additional Considerations

King vs. California King Comparison

For a quick summary of the differences between a King and California King bed, check out our comparison chart below.

Criteria King-Size Mattress California King Mattress
Size 76″ x 80″ 72″ x 84″
Best for Couples that want plenty of width Couples that want a slightly longer mattress (i.e. if one or both of them is very tall)
Price $900 – $2,300 $900 – $2,300
Ideal room Master bedrooms Master bedrooms, especially those that are longer, rather than wider
Pros Plenty of width, easy to find accessories for Comfortably fits taller individuals
Cons Difficult to move, can be too short for taller individuals Difficult to move, more difficult to find accessories for

king vs California king mattress size comparison

Standard (or Eastern) King Mattress

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.

king-size mattress graphic with dimensions

Width 76″
Length 80″
Width Per Person 38″

Pros

  • Comfortably sleeps two people
  • Can fill a large space, like a master bedroom
  • Is wider than a California King, making it a great option for those that like to spread out
  • Easy to find accessories for

Cons

  • More expensive than most other mattress sizes (but typically the same price as a California King)
  • Can be too short for tall people
  • Can be too big for some individuals
  • Difficult to move

Additional King Mattress Sizes

The Split King mattress size is the same as the Standard King, but it’s split down the middle, coming in two separate pieces. Split King beds are good options for couples that have different sleep preferences and allow them to customize their sleep experiences. A Split King mattress typically requires an adjustable base so that individuals can adjust their side of the bed to meet their preferences.

Width 38″ (each half)
Length 80″

California (Western) King Mattress

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.

California king-size mattress graphic with dimensions

Width 72″
Length 84″

Pros

  • Great for couples
  • Comfortably fits taller individuals because it’s longer than a traditional King-size bed
  • Can fit in a narrower but longer room

Cons

  • More expensive than most other mattress sizes (but typically the same price as a King)
  • Can be too big for some individuals
  • Difficult to move
  • Can be more difficult to find accessories for

Additional California King Mattress Sizes

The Split California King mattress size is that of a California King bed, but it’s split down the middle, coming in two separate pieces. The Split California King size is typically not as widely available as the more traditional Split King. Like a Split King mattress, a Split California King bed is a great option for couples with different sleep preferences as it allows them to better customize their sleep positions (and oftentimes customize the mattress itself) to better fit their needs.

Width 36″ (each half)
Length 84″

Which Size Is the Best?

Who will like the King?

  • 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.

Do you think a King-size mattress is the best option for you? Check out our favorite King mattress below:

Best King-Size Mattress

Nectar Mattress

Nectar is a very comfortable memory foam mattress that happens to also be an amazing value.

Clarity Score 4.3/5
Read Nectar Mattress Review

Material

Foam

Trial Period

365 nights

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Firmness

Medium-firm: 6.5/10

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Joint Pain
This bed is perfect for anyone suffering from joint pain.
Hip Pain
This bed is perfect for anyone suffering from hip pain.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight side sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.8/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best King-Size Mattress

Nectar Mattress

Nectar is a very comfortable memory foam mattress that happens to also be an amazing value.

Clarity Score 4.3/5
Read Nectar Mattress Review

Material

Foam

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Firmness

Medium-firm: 6.5/10

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Trial Period

365 nights

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Joint Pain
This bed is perfect for anyone suffering from joint pain.
Hip Pain
This bed is perfect for anyone suffering from hip pain.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight side sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.8/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best King-Size Mattress

Nectar Mattress

Nectar is a very comfortable memory foam mattress that happens to also be an amazing value.

Clarity Score 4.3/5
Read Nectar Mattress Review

Material

Foam

Firmness

Medium-firm: 6.5/10

Trial Period

365 nights

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Joint Pain
This bed is perfect for anyone suffering from joint pain.
Hip Pain
This bed is perfect for anyone suffering from hip pain.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight side sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.8/5
Watch Our Video Review

Who will like the California King?

  • 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.

Overall

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!

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.

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