California King vs Queen Bed: Differences & How to Choose

September 7, 2023 | Casper Editorial Team

Choosing the right mattress size is one of the most important decisions when shopping for a new bed. The size you select can impact your comfort, the longevity of the mattress, and even your quality of sleep. When it comes to choosing between two popular options—the California King and standard Queen—there are several key differences to consider.

Many shoppers find themselves debating between a spacious California King and a more affordable Queen mattress. For those interested in a different choice, it’s also worth noting the standard King vs Queen bed dilemma. Though both provide ample room for solo sleepers and couples, there are factors like size, cost, available space, and personal preferences to weigh. Understanding the basics of each mattress size and evaluating your needs will make deciding between California King vs Queen much easier.

What is a California King Mattress?

A California King mattress, also known simply as Cal King, is the largest standard mattress size available. It measures 72” wide x 84” long, which provides an expansive 6,048 square inches of sleeping space. 

With its unique dimensions that are longer than a standard King and narrower than a traditional King size mattress, the California King size bed is ideal for very tall individuals who need extra leg room and length.

Though not as wide as a standard King, the California King bed provides ample space for two sleepers. It can also comfortably fit taller solo sleepers who need more length but don’t require a full 72” width. The California King is a great choice for master bedrooms and other large sleeping spaces. Some of the pros of a California King size mattress include excellent comfort for tall individuals over 6 feet, and the ability to spread out and avoid feeling cramped. Potential cons can include challenges finding California King sheets, mattress protectors, and other compatible accessories. California King bed mattresses may also be pricier and more difficult to move than smaller mattress sizes.

What is a Queen Mattress?

A Queen size mattress measures 60” wide x 80” long, providing a total surface area of 4,800 square inches. 

Queen mattresses are an extremely popular choice among different types of beds for many sleepers, offering a great balance of generous space and affordability compared to larger mattress sizes. With its 60” width, a Queen can comfortably sleep two adults while still allowing personal space to spread out. For solo sleepers, a Queen provides ample room to stretch out without feeling lost in a too-large mattress.

There are many benefits to a Queen mattress for both couples and individuals. The size of a queen bed is reasonable and can fit well in many bedrooms without overwhelming the space. Queen mattresses are widely available and cost less than King and Cal King bed sizes, making them budget-friendly. Potential drawbacks include the width being too narrow for some couples, and the length not always being sufficient for very tall sleepers who need extra leg room. However, the Queen offers a great middle ground for most sleepers needing both substantial space and value.

Key Differences Between California King and Queen

Size Comparison

When directly comparing the dimensions of a California King and Queen, there are a few key differences:

  • Width – A California King is 12” more narrow at 72” wide, vs. 60” for a Queen.
  • Length – A California King is 4” longer at 84” compared to 80” for a Queen.
  • Surface Area – A California King offers 1,248 more square inches of space.

This wider, shorter design of the Queen size bed and longer, narrower measurements of a California King size bed reflect their target users. The California King’s extra length appeals to very tall individuals, while the Queen’s greater width accommodates partners sleeping side-by-side.

Price Considerations

When evaluating the costs associated with California King vs Queen mattresses, the Queen size has an advantage. On average, Queen size mattresses run $200 – $800 less expensive than the same model in a California King size. There are a few reasons for this price difference:

  • Material costs are higher for the larger California King size.
  • California Kings are specially manufactured, so have smaller production numbers.
  • There is lower consumer demand for California Kings, making them niche.

However, prices can also be affected by the brand, materials, and specific mattress model. For example, a California King premium memory foam mattress could be pricier than a very basic Queen mattress. But in comparing the same mattress type from the same brand, the Queen will generally be the more budget-friendly and affordable mattress choice.

Room Size and Space

When deciding between a California King or Queen mattress, it’s essential to consider the room size and available space:

  • Queen mattress: Ideal for bedrooms at least 10’x10’ in size. Provides ample space for movement around the bed. Fits well in most standard master bedrooms, and learning how to arrange a small bedroom with a queen bed can easily be done.
  • California King mattress: Recommended for master bedrooms at least 12’x12’ for easy access to both sides. The long size can make the room feel narrow if space is limited.

Aesthetically a California King bed size can appear dominant in a smaller room, while a Queen size bed lets you better integrate other bedroom furniture pieces. Couples with different sleeping schedules may prefer the less disruptive entrance/exit access of a Queen in a tighter space. It’s smart to measure your room’s dimensions and layout your preferred mattress choice before making a final decision.

Sleeping Partner Considerations

Your sleeping partners—whether a spouse, child, or pet—should factor into whether a California King or Queen bed size better suits your needs:

  • For couples, a Queen presents some advantages in terms of facilitating intimacy, conversation, or cuddling thanks to the wider design. But a California King offers more individual personal space.
  • Families needing to fit kids or pets can benefit from the surface area of a California King. A Queen may start to feel cramped with multiple sleepers.
  • Individuals who frequently sleep alone can still enjoy the extra room of a California King for sprawling out. But a more compact Queen prevents feeling lost as a single sleeper.

Think about how often you sleep with a partner versus solo and what your experiences sharing a bed have been. This can provide insight into which size will result in the highest quality rest.

Questions to Ask When Making Your Choice

Here are some key factors to weigh as you decide the ideal mattress size for your needs:

  • What size mattress have you historically slept best on? Consider your solo sleeping and bed sharing experiences.
  • What are the exact dimensions of your bedroom? Measure carefully and visualize layouts. A Cal King might not be best for a smaller bedroom with limited space already.
  • What is your budget? Remember that Queen sizes tend to be more affordable.
  • Do you need space for children or pets? California Kings can better accommodate.
  • How important is easy access to both sides of the bed? Queens allow this more readily.
  • Are you and/or your partner extra tall? The California King’s length can provide more comfort.

How to choose a mattress involves reflecting on one’s preferences. Taking the time to carefully assess your sleep habits, bedroom space, and lifestyle needs will help guide your decision between a standard King vs California King vs Queen mattress.

Casper’s Commitment to Quality Sleep

At Casper, we understand the significance of choosing a mattress that meets your unique needs and preferences. Our innovative Sleep Technology combines premium foams for cooling, cushioning alignment—allowing you to experience truly restful sleep. We also offer models in both California King and Queen sizes to suit bedrooms and sleepers of all shapes and sizes.

As a pioneer in the “bed-in-a-box” space, Casper’s direct-to-consumer model delivers an exceptional product at an accessible price point. Our customer-centric approach includes a 100-night trial period and 10-year limited warranty so you can be confident your mattress purchase is the right one.

Whether you are seeking the spacious comfort of a California King or the streamlined functionality of a Queen, Casper has a high-quality mattress option designed with your sleep goals in mind. Our commitment to making better sleep accessible means you never have to compromise between size, comfort, and value. Learn more about our full range of mattress offerings and discover the transformative sleep you’ve been dreaming of.