King vs California King (2020) – The Differences You Should Know

California and King mattresses are often referred to as Western and Eastern King beds. Each of these bed sizes has its own benefits and also their own specific drawbacks which will be discussed in this guide today.

One of the most common misconceptions I hear about mattresses is regarding the King vs California King sized bed. Most people tend to think that California King mattresses are larger but in reality, it’s not so true. While California King is slightly longer, the standard King-sized mattress does have a larger total surface area.

A California King has a dimension of 72 inches width and 85 inches length with a total surface area of 6,048 square inches.

A Standard King is 76 inches wide and 80 inches long with a total surface area of 6,080 square inches.

There is actually no standard height for a King or California King size mattress. The height variance of the mattresses depends on the model, brand, and manufacturer. The difference between these two is purely on the surface area and dimensions. Thus, it is generally recommended for taller people to pick out California King while the standard King size is suitable for people who want more space.

Below is a summary table of comparison of the King vs California King mattress.


  California King King
Also Known As “Western King” “Eastern King”
Width 72” 76”
Surface Area 6,048 sq. in. 6,080 sq. in.

Good for taller people

More foot room

More sleeping space for couples

Better for those bigger in size

Easier to find bed sets



Bed sets are expensive
Less space to move around

Not suitable for taller people


Now that we’ve cleared things up on the physical differences, now let’s look at how these will affect our sleep quality.

King Size Bed


The size of the standard King is ideal for couples that love to maximize sleeping space. It has adequate space for all kinds of bedroom activities and some more. This large bed can even accommodate extra sleepers such as pets and kids. Restless sleepers that tend to move around at night will find this perfect as you get enough space to flip around without disturbing your partner.

However, this large bed is not suited for all bedroom space. If you don’t have a wide room, it might be a bit difficult to squeeze this bed in. In that case, modern manufacturers offer this bed in a split size.

Each piece is about the size of a twin bed to produce a standard King when placed side by side. So, if and when the time comes where you can no longer fit the whole king in your room anymore, you have the option to split the bed into two twin beds and place them in different rooms.


In terms of comfort, the standard King works wonders for couples or those who absolutely love space. If you were to share a bed with someone taking up all your space, you’re not likely going to feel very comfortable. This is where the king mattress comes in to offer plenty of sleeping space for both parties to sleep without sacrificing their own personal space.

The only downside is that you’re not given much space to move down the bed as you could likely find your feet hanging off the bed. So, taller people may fare better with a longer mattress.


Bedding accessories for a normal king mattress are very easily accessible. You can simply walk into any retail store or search online for sheets, comforter sets, mattress encasement, and other accessories for your king bed at an affordable price.

The Recommended Room Size

For a standard King bed, it is recommended that you have a room size of at least 10 ft x 12 ft or 10 ft by 13 ft to comfortably fit this bed in. This, of course, also depends on how much walking space and furniture you want.

California King Size Bed

There’s a common misconception that California King beds are bigger, but unfortunately, it isn’t. The Cal King is longer than a standard King but loses in terms of width. These mattresses are better suited for rooms that are longer than wide.


The size of the Cal King is longer than a king but shorter in terms of width. This ultimately means less space is provided for you and your partner to move around comfortably, but it still does give you enough room to sleep comfortably. Since you’re only losing 4 inches of width, it’s not really that noticeable especially for couples that love to cuddle in the middle.


The California King mattress provides for a lot of foot space. Those who tend to glide down the bed throughout the night won’t have to worry about having their feet dangling off the bed the next morning. The Cal King is also ideal for people who are very tall to comfortably fit on the bed.

Luckily, the California King bed also comes in split sizes. So you can split the bed into two at any point in time and place them in two separate rooms.


Accessories for the Cal King is much harder to come by as they’re rarer than the standard King. Searching for bed frames, box springs, protectors, sheets, and comforter are difficult and also more expensive than a typical King version.

Recommended Room Sizes

It is recommended to get a room size of 12 ft x 12 ft to 14 ft x 12 ft to comfortably fir your California King bed. However, this also depends on how much walking space and furniture you want.

Should I buy a California King or King Mattress?

There are actually many factors to take into consideration when picking out a mattress size. Below are a few key points that will help you in picking the right one out.

Room Dimension

Ideally, a comfortable room should have at least 2 feet of space on all 3 sides of your mattress. This would provide enough walking space to maneuver around the bed. Additionally, this would also provide enough room for it to look good aesthetically – it’ll look as if the bed actually belongs to the room. It will also not feel overly crowded with other furnishing or space in general.

If you have a narrow room, you may lean towards the slimmer profile of the Cal King. Similarly, if your room is a bit wider, the standard King-sized may be appropriately sized give its width.


While the California King is undeniably growing in popularity, it is still significantly rarer than the standard King. As a result, searching for bedding accessories to go with it may be much more difficult and even more costly. There are just not that many options available for the California King bed as there are for standard King size.

If you’re on a tighter budget, it would be better to opt for the standard King as you’ll have a much easier time shopping for the necessary accessory.

Your Height

If you are over 6 feet tall, the California King may be a great option. The extra length provided will give you a little more foot space, so your feet won’t be dangling off the end of the bed. That said, it is a personal preference, some people feel more comfortable with their feet handing off the bed.

Your Partner

If you sleep with a partner, your preferences as a couple may also come to play when deciding to get the California King or King bed. As the California King is narrower, this is a good choice for couples that love to sleep closer to each other or those who love to cuddle in the center. However, if you and your partner prefer to have your own space during sleep, the wider standard King mattress is likely the best option for you.

Final Verdict

Picking out a mattress size boils down to personal preference. I am the type that loves space and would appreciate a Standard King size more. Accessories for the King are also cheaper and easier to find. It is generally easier to move the King bed around and they’re more flexible in terms of options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of bed frames are best for King and California King sized mattresses?

Larger mattresses require much more support. So, for mattresses like the King and Cal King, they need to be supported on solid foundations like a platform bed frame or a strong slatted foundation. In fact, you may even consider placing it directly yon the floor for maximum support.

Who should sleep on a California King bed?

California king beds are ideal for people with a taller profile as they are designed with more length to your bed.

Who should sleep on the King-sized bed?

Couples will enjoy the added width of King beds which allow each individual to have the same amount of space they could have sleeping on a twin size mattress.

About the Author Jessica Larsen

I am a big advocate that having great sleep is something everyone deserves. With over 10 years of experience in this field, I would love to use this platform as a means to help you achieve a good night's sleep.

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