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California King vs. King Bed Size Guide

Malena Piper

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It’s a common misconception that a California king bed is much larger than a king bed. The two mattress sizes are often confused and many people don’t completely understand their main differences.

In this post, we’re breaking down what makes each one unique and the pros and cons they both offer. We’re also sharing what you should consider when choosing one over the other.

What is a King Bed?

A standard king size bed, sometimes referred to as an “Eastern King,” is the widest and overall largest size bed available. It measures 76 inches wide and 80 inches long. The total surface area of a king size mattress is 6,080 square inches, making it the most spacious for sleepers.

Generally, king size beds are best suited for master bedrooms because of their large size. They fill out a big, spacious room well, and they’re great mattresses for couples because of the amount of width they offer. They allow each person plenty of room to stretch out and they can usually accommodate the occasional addition of a small child without feeling too cramped.

While king size beds are an attractive draw for anyone wanting a roomy bed, they can often be too large for many spaces. King size beds typically don’t fit in smaller bedrooms or apartments and they can sometimes even be too big for certain master bedrooms, depending on the size.

At only 80 inches long, a king size bed is the same length as a queen, meaning some people may find their feet hang off the end. Generally, those six feet and taller find that a king size bed is still not long enough despite its overall large size.

Standard king beds can also be inconvenient to move. Their bulky size makes them heavy and difficult to maneuver around. Small doorways and narrow hallways can pose a challenge to anyone trying to move a king size bed.

The cost of a king size bed is another drawback. For shoppers on a budget, a king bed may not be the best option. As the largest standard bed size, you can expect to pay the highest price—that goes for bedding and accessories too.

Pros

  • Lots of room
  • Great for couples
  • Can comfortably fit kids
  • Great for large rooms
  • Largest sleeping surface

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Impractical for apartments and small spaces
  • Heavy and hard to move
  • Too short for taller people

Best For:

  • Couples
  • Families with small kids
  • Large, wide bedrooms

What is a California King Bed?

A California king size bed, sometimes referred to as a “Western King,” is often thought to be larger than a standard king, but that is not true. A California king mattress measures 72 inches wide and 84 inches long. The total sleeping surface of a California king is 6,048 square inches, making it slightly smaller (by 32 square inches) than a king size bed.

The California king’s advantage over a standard king, and the main difference in the two sizes, is in its length. At 84 inches long, it’s four inches longer than a king. While it’s longer, it’s not as wide. A California king measures 72 inches wide, making it four inches narrower than a king.

Since the California king is the longest bed available, it’s a popular choice for tall people, typically those six feet and taller. The extra four inches of length allows for more room to stretch straight out and prevents feet from dangling off the end. The added space at the end of the bed also makes it great for any four-legged friends who like to cuddle up every now and then.

Large bedrooms are the best spaces for California kings, but long, narrow rooms work especially well because of their extra length. A room that is more long than wide will benefit much more from a California king bed than it will a standard king.

The drawbacks of California kings are similar to those of standard kings because they’re still very large in size, albeit slightly smaller. They’re usually too big for smaller rooms or spaces and can even be too big for larger bedrooms that don’t provide enough space lengthwise. Their big, heavy size can make them hard to move and like the king, they can be fairly expensive, from the mattress to the bedding.

Pros

  • Great for longer bedrooms
  • Great for tall people
  • Can comfortably fit pets

Cons

  • Costly
  • Difficult to move
  • Slightly smaller sleeping surface

Best For:

  • Taller people (over 6 feet)
  • Large, narrow bedrooms

Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Mattress Size

To help you choose the best mattress, take into consideration the size of your bedroom and the height and sleeping habits of those who will be sleeping on the mattress.

Bedroom Size

Both the king and California king can fit in a room anywhere in size from 10 feet by 12 feet up to 13 feet by 19 feet. If you have more than enough space for either mattress size, take into consideration the shape of your room. If it’s particularly long and narrow, a California king will fill the space out better. If the room is noticeably wider, then opt for a king size bed.

It’s also suggested that you keep a minimum of two feet of walking space around your bed to provide enough room to move through the bedroom. If you plan to have a dresser or another piece of furniture nearby, you should account for even more space.

Height of Sleepers

If you or your partner are six feet or taller, or you often find that your feet are hanging off the end of the bed, you’ll likely prefer a California king size bed. It’s the longest bed available and its extra four inches in length make it much more accommodating for taller people than a king size bed.

Sleeping Position and Habits

For those who tend to toss and turn at night, you probably prefer to have more wiggle room than legroom, so you’ll enjoy the extra width that comes with a king size bed.

Take note of you and your partner’s sleeping positions as well. If you both tend to lay fairly straight through the night, a California king could work well. On the other hand, if you like to sprawl out or curl up in a ball, you’d likely benefit from the extra personal space that the standard king offers.

FAQs

Is a California king bed bigger than a king?

No, the standard king is the biggest bed available. It measures 76 inches wide and 80 inches long and has a sleeping surface of 6,080 square inches.

A California king measures 72 inches wide and 84 inches long. While it’s longer than a standard king, it loses a few inches in its width and its total sleeping surface is 6,048 square inches.

The king size bed offers 32 more square inches of surface area.

Will king size sheets work on a California king?

King size sheets will not properly fit on a California king size mattress because king sheets are four inches wider and four inches shorter than California king sheets. King size sheets are tailored to the specifications of a king bed, and since a California king bed is longer and more narrow, their sheets will not fit properly around a king mattress.

Can I upgrade to a California king and keep my king size bed frame?

No, a king size bed frame is built to fit a regular king mattress, which is four inches wider and shorter than a California king size bed. When purchasing a new bed that is smaller or larger in size than your current one, you’ll need to replace the bed frame and mattress foundation too. Otherwise, the new mattress won’t fit properly on the frame because of the different dimensions.

I’m a solo sleeper. Is a California king or a king better for me?

If you’re six feet or taller, the California king bed is the ideal choice because it’s four inches longer than the king. It’s slightly more narrow than the king, but since you’re sleeping alone you’ll still have plenty of room widthwise.

If you’re more petite, both will offer ample space to stretch out. In that case, consider your room size and shape. If your room is more long than it is narrow, opt for the California king. If it’s wider than it is longer, go for the standard king.

How much bigger is a California king bed than a queen?

California king mattresses measure 72 inches wide and 84 inches long, and have a sleeping surface of 6,048 square inches.

A standard queen mattress is 60 inches wide and 80 inches long and has a sleeping surface of 4,800 square inches.

This makes a California king 12 inches wider and four inches longer than a queen, with 1,248 more square inches of surface area.

Conclusion

The California king and standard king are the two largest bed sizes available, with the standard king measuring slightly larger. While they both offer plenty of room, for some people, one may work better than the other.

The California king is the longest bed available, but slightly more narrow than the standard king. This bed size works great for taller people and in long, narrow rooms due to its extra length. The regular king, on the other hand, is the widest bed size available but is shorter than the California king. It’s great for couples of average height and fits well in large, wide bedrooms. Its extra width better accommodates anyone who tosses and turns or prefers to sprawl out or curl up.

When choosing between the two, it’s best to keep in mind bedroom size, the height of the sleepers, and their particular sleep habits. These important factors will help determine if a wider, shorter bed or a longer, narrower bed is the better choice.

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