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California King vs. King: Which Mattress Size is Right for You?

California King vs. King: Which Mattress Size is Right for You?

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Mattress Comparison
Read Time: 2 minutes

For those looking for a big mattress, there are two options: the king and the California king. These standard mattress sizes are popular amongst couples, but many sleepers have a hard time deciding what king size mattress is right for them when the differences between sizes is unclear. While the Cal king may be thought of as “bigger and better” than the king, the only difference between these two beds are their length and width—Cal king are four inches longer but four inches narrower than the standard king.

The king mattress is 76 inches wide, and 80 inches long, while the Cal king is 72 inches wide and 84 inches long. Four inches may not seem like a big difference. However, if you are over 6 feet tall, the Cal king’s extra length is a game changer. And if your partner monopolizes a lot of mattress space every night, the king’s extra width may save you from falling off the bed. Deciding between a king or Cal king mattress comes down to one question: Where do you want to invest those four inches?

If you’re torn between a California king and king size bed, finding it hard to choose a mattress, consider your room size and need for legroom. In our post, we go over all of the main things to consider when deciding between mattress sizes to make your search easier.

The King Mattress

The king mattress (76 inches wide, 80 inches long), is a good choice for sleepers who like to spread out at night, and are under 6 feet tall. Here are some of the pros and cons of this mattress:


  • Easily fits two sleepers, making the king a great mattress size for couples.
  • Fits comfortably in a standard sized master bedroom.
  • Available as a split mattress.


  • Not long enough for tall sleepers.

The California King Mattress

For sleepers who are 6 feet tall or taller, the California king mattress (72 inches wide, 84 inches long) is the better option. That extra legroom makes all the difference! Here are some of the California king’s pros and cons:


  • Extra legroom for tall sleepers.
  • Fits in rooms that are a bit narrow.
  • Plenty of width for single sleepers.


  • Not commonly available in split sizes.

What to Consider When Shopping for Mattresses

You can’t get much bigger than the king or California king—or, as they are also known, the Eastern and Western kings. The clearest difference between these mattresses is the dimensions; basically, the California king is a king size mattress to suit taller sleepers. Below are some things to keep in mind when deciding between these two popular mattresses.

Mattress Size

How much room you and your partner have every night, and how much extra furniture you can fit in your bedroom, is all determined by the size of your mattress. Both the king size bed and the Cal king mattress are big, but they accommodate different sleeping styles and fill out a room differently. Two things to consider when deciding between the two sizes are your height and your bedroom dimensions.

People over 6 feet enjoy the Cal king because of the extra legroom. Being able to stretch your limbs out and keep them flat all night long is an important part of sleeping in a neutral position and getting a good night’s rest.

The average bedroom is usually about 11 feet by 12 feet; both a Cal king and a king will fit in this size of room, but there won’t be space for much else. The average master bedroom runs bigger, 14 feet by 16 feet, and fits the king mattress nicely. However, it’s recommended you have a room at least 19 feet long for the Cal king.


About ten years ago, California kings were not as popular as king mattresses, and buying accessories for them was a headache. Now, the Western king is just as popular as the Eastern king bed, and accessories like bed frames and sheets for the two mattresses are readily available and about the same price.

Sleeping Styles

Whether you are a back or side sleeper, both of these mattresses are plenty big enough for you and your partner to sleep comfortably. However, the king mattress is wider, easily allowing two people to sleep with their limbs straight and weight fully distributed. All without worrying about crowding each other. The California king is perfect for accommodating long legs, but there isn’t as much room to fully stretch out.


What is an Alaskan king bed?

The Alaskan king is the biggest mattress available—108 inches by 108 inches. Plenty of room to sprawl out! This giant mattress also has a giant price tag. Keep in mind bed frames, sheets, and blankets must be specially made for this mattress, so accessories will cost you a lot, too.

Why is it called a California king?

A Los Angeles furniture company started making these big beds for extravagant celebrity homes in the early 1960s. It caught on throughout the rest of the country, except other mattress makers decided to make a bed that was shorter and wider than the California king—by doing this, they could simply put two XL twin box springs together to support the mattress. They called it the king sized mattress, and because it was more practical and easier to make, it was the more popular of the two for a long time.

Will king bed sheets fit a California king mattress?

You won’t be able to stretch king sheets over the California king mattress. The former is shorter and wider than the latter. Be sure you specify you have a California king mattress when shopping for bed frames, sheets, and blankets.

How big is a Super-King mattress?

A super-king mattress is 80 inches by 80 inches, a perfect square. This big bed requires a large room and specialized bed frames, sheets, and blankets. The price tag is steep, but for those who like to sprawl out and have lots of room, it might be worth it.

Is a split king mattress bigger than a king mattress?

The split king and the king have identical dimensions. The king was originally designed to be the same size as two XL twin mattresses to make producing box springs for it easier. Since the split king is just two twin XL mattresses, it is the same size as the king.

Should I Buy a California King or a King Sized Mattress?

The California king and the king mattresses have some of the same pros and many of the same cons. Choosing the best mattress comes down to three things: your height, your sleeping style, and the size of your bedroom.

The Cal king is best for people over 6 feet tall, and the king is best for people who need plenty of room when they sleep. The dimensions of your bedroom may make the decision for you—the Cal king requires a longer room, while a king is able to fit in a standard sized room. After taking these three factors into account, you should know which of these two big beds is best for you and your partner.

Harrison Wall is Sleep Junkie’s business strategist and sleep analyst. He also authors posts on bedding and mattress accessories. Harrison regularly coordinates with new mattress companies and tests their products to determine what really helps you get better rest and have brighter mornings.

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