King vs. California King: What’s the Difference?

August 6, 2020 | Casper Editorial Team

There are many misconceptions around King vs. California King mattress sizes. Many people believe that a California King is the largest mattress option on the market. It carries with it an air of luxury and success. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. We dive into why, plus what else you should be considering when comparing the two in our guide below.

Our innovative king size mattresses are made from multiple layers of cooling foam. Then they’re squeezed down into a tiny box, which magically appears on your doorstep within a few days.

California King vs. King: Mattress Dimensions

A king bed sits to the left of a california king bed. Illustration.
 
A standard California king is 72 inches wide by 84 inches long and a standard King mattress is 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. The standard King resembles more of a square shape while the Cal King looks more like a rectangle. The California King is the longest mattress available to buyers. The King mattress is four inches wider than the Cal King, making it the widest mattress available to buyers.
 
The California King has less surface area than a King. The California King has a surface area of 6,048 square inches while the King mattress has a surface area of 6,080 square inches.
 
Tip: A good way to remember the difference between these two is by their name. The state of California is one of the longest states and the California King is longer than the King.

King vs. California King: Pros and Cons

A chart outlining the details below.
 
Whether you’re deciding between memory foam vs. spring or King vs. California King, it’s always important to weigh the pros and cons of your choices before making a final decision.

California King

The California King, also known as the “Western King,” is about four inches taller and more narrow than a King-sized mattress. It’s considered the tallest mattress on the market, and it also sacrifices a few inches in width.
 
 Pros

  • Great for taller people
  • Better for long and narrow rooms
  • Ideal for single sleepers or couples

Cons

  • Difficult to move
  • Harder to find accessories for

The California King is ideal for taller people and single sleepers or couples. However, any more than this can make the space feel cramped. When it comes to accessories, it can be difficult to find bedding and bed frames for this mattress size because it’s not as available to buyers.

King

A standard King mattress, also known as the “Eastern King,” is the widest mattress on the market. It’s designed to fit two sleepers perfectly, as well as a few additional family members.
 
 Pros

  • Great for couples with children or pets
  • Better for shorter and wider rooms
  • Widely available

Cons

  • Difficult to move
  • Too short for people over 6’ tall

The King mattress is great for couples with children or pets. It’s also ideal for shorter or wider rooms. However, if you’re over 6’ 2”, your feet may hang off the mattress.

Things to Consider When Choosing

Both mattress sizes carry an air of luxury with them. A mattress fit for a King should be perfect for you, right? However, there is much more to consider than status and stature. Take a look at your sleeping environment. Will your room fit a California King bed? Will your partner’s feet hang off the edge? Before buying into prestige, take the below into account.

Room Size

A king and a California king bed in two seprated rooms of the different sizes. Illustration.
 
When considering your sleeping space, the California King is going to be better for rooms that are longer rather than wider. This can include guest rooms and master bedrooms that are about 12 feet by 12 feet, though it is recommended for rooms about 12 feet by 14 feet so you have some extra space to walk around.
 
The King mattress is also great for guest rooms and master bedrooms, however, if the room is too narrow, the mattress won’t fit. The King mattress is perfect for bedrooms that are 12 feet by 10 feet, though 13 feet by 13 feet is recommended for more space.
 
Tip: It’s always best to get the dimensions of your bedroom before choosing a mattress.

Price

The price of King vs. California King mattresses will largely depend on the brand you’re buying from. However, they’re usually around the same price point. It’s also important to factor in the accessories you will need.
 
The California king has risen in popularity, but it’s still not as common as the King. Therefore it’s harder to find the correct bed frames, box springs, mattress protectors, and sheets for the mattress size. This can result in it being more expensive. The King-sized mattress is a lot easier to find and buy, which means you will be able to find a variety of price points to compare and consider.

Your Family

kA king size bed holding a family next to a California king size bed holding a different family. Illustration.
 
The California King can fit two people comfortably. However, any more than this can make the space feel cramped. If your kids like to jump into bed with you, you may want to opt for the King. Kings are a bit wider and offer more space, especially if your dog likes to snooze with you. When it comes to motion isolation, both mattress sizes are great at limiting motion transfer. To ensure your mattress has motion isolation, choose a mattress made with memory foam.

Your Height

Because the California King is slightly longer than the King, the Cal King is better for people who are really tall. If you are over six foot, a California King sized mattress will ensure your feet aren’t hanging off the edge. For those that are about six feet and under, a King sized mattress is a perfect fit.

Do California King Sheets Fit a King-Sized Bed?

A man lies in a California king bed, but the sheets are too small and he is worried. Illustration
 
A standard King-sized bed is four inches shorter and four inches wider than a standard California King bed. Therefore, Cal King sheets will not fit a King bed. You will need to shop for king-size sheets separately.
 
Now that you have weighed the pros and cons of each mattress size and considered your sleeping environment, you should have enough information to make an informed decision. At Casper, we offer King mattresses and California King-size mattresses for the same price, so you don’t have to worry about your budget when comparing the two. Once you know what size mattress you want to buy, make sure to pair it with the correct bedding size.