King Mattress Vs. California King

Today we are comparing mattress sizes, and we are talking about the two big ones, king and California king. Is there a significant difference between them, which one is bigger and how to decide when they usually have the same price?

We always love to have different options, to compare, to seek for the best one, but sometimes having so many choices will make us hesitate and be indecisive even if our zodiac sign is not libra. Today we are comparing mattress sizes, and we are talking about the two big ones, king and California king. Is there a significant difference between them, which one is bigger and how to decide when they usually have the same price?

As a brief introduction, here is a chart with the main information about both sizes.

Features: King California King
Dimensions in inches 76 x 80 72 x 84
Dimensions in centimeters 193 x 203 183 x 213
Optimal room size 12 x 12 feet 13 x 15 feet
Other names Standard or Eastern King Western/West coast King
Price $$$ $$$


Breaking the Myth

When looking at any mattress size chart, you will quickly notice that they are sorted out by their size, starting with the smallest one and that their names also imply such order. On the end of that list in most cases stands the California king size, which implies that it is the biggest available size. However, when you pay better attention to the numbers, you will notice that king and Cal king are pretty similar in proportions, but if you had an A in math, you would quickly realize that the king size offers more space to sleep on, and that is indeed bigger than California king.

Many people are confused by this since according to the names we would all assume that California king is bigger, but that is just a myth. So, how is that possible?

Well, the standard king is 76 inches wide and 80 inches long, while the Cal king is 72 inches wide and 84 inches long, so the Cal king is longer but narrower. The standard king has a surface of 6080 square feet, and the California king’s surface is 6048 square feet, case solved.

Brief History of Two Kings

Before it became widely known and famous thanks to Rihanna’s song, California King Bed had a history that goes back to the 50s. Back then, the standard sizes and names did not exist, different mattress manufacturers were making beds of various sizes, and even 40 different sizes were available back them.

One of the bigger manufacturers, Sealy, used the term “king size” for a longer mattress that was 54 x 80 inches, and suitable for tall people, for the 60 x 80 inches bed they used the term “double king size.” Its main competitor, Simmons, named the 60 x 80 inches bed the “queen,” and the “king” was 75 x 80 inches, while for California they made beds that were 72 x 84 inches, and local retailers called them “king size.” This bed was the largest on the market, and therefore popular among celebrities who all wanted bigger beds for their lavish mansions. This size of mattresses is also known as Western king, but it earned its name California king because it was very popular and well sold in that state on the West coast.

In 1962. bedding manufacturers agreed on terms and standard sizes, and that is when the standard sizes and names were established. They decided that the Queen size would be 60 x 80 inches, while anything larger was a king. But, on the West coast, people mostly used the 72 x 84 inches size which became a standard there, while the rest of the country was usually using 76 x 80 inches.

In the late 70s, retailers started offering 72 x 84 beds outside the West coast, and in order to differentiate them from the dominant, standard king, they started using the term California king or West coast king, while the 76 x 80 beds remained known as kings or Eastern kings.

There are more different king sizes on the market, we have standard king size, and a few non-standard sizes, the Cal king was one of them, but it was so popular and used that it earned its place among standard sizes. Another non-standard king is called split California king, and it consists of two singles that can be used together or separately.

Why Go Big?

Although the king-sized beds are not as rare or expensive as they were before, there is still a dash of luxury around them, and they still represent an element of status. But, the real advantage of these beds is the extra amount of space that they provide. People with kids or families enjoy spending more time in king beds since there is enough space to organize a movie night for the entire family or to play board games, read bedtime stories or snuggle during those lazy weekend mornings. Many small kids go through that phase in which they have nightmares, monsters under the bed, or they simply love sleeping along with their parents, and there is no better bed than the standard or Cal king for those situations.

People with pets will also experience the benefits of their king-sized bed. Cats are in general small animals, but dogs can be quite big, depending on their breed, so they can take a significant amount of space. So, if you are a dog person or a cat person, there should not be a reason why they should not share your bed. A few studies have shown that sleeping with a pet is highly beneficial for one’s mental health, as it can help with physical or emotional stress relieve, anxiety, and depression.

Another reason is design; if you care about aesthetics, then you know that the shape of a king bed is nearest to the form of a square, which is symmetric and eye pleasing. If you have a large master bedroom, then the right choice for it is a king sized bed, it will bring balance into space, and you will get a huge storage space beneath it. Various bed frames and accessories are available for these sizes so that you can create a pleasant sleep environment.

Pros and Cons of a Standard King


  • Enough room for two people and a kid or a pet
  • Thanks to its more compact shape it will probably fit more rooms than Cal king
  • There will be no problems to find bedding, pillows, canopy or anything else for this bed
  • It is widely available as all brands make beds in this size
  • It can sometimes cost less than Cal king


  • Not so convenient for people who are taller than the average
  • It is the most expensive option among the standard mattress sizes
  • Edge support is not the greatest
  • They are heavy. Most king beds weigh between 110 and 140 pounds, so it takes at least two or three people to move it
  • If you are not buying a bed-in-a-box than it could be a struggle to transfer this mattress into the room through corridors and door frames.

Pros and Cons of a California King


  • It is perfect for people who are tall or above the average height
  • Since its size is so unique, it is a bit extravagant and offers a sense of comfort and luxury
  • Large sleeping surface, perfect for kids and pets
  • There is a lot of space to place multiple pillows, you can display as many pillows as you prefer and it would still remain enough sleep surface
  • Enhanced edge support


  • Fewer varieties of Cal kings are available
  • They are longer, so they require either a narrow room or a huge master bedroom, and moving them around the house can be a challenge
  • They are even heavier and more massive than the standard king
  • The offer of bedding is smaller and more expensive

How to Decide Which One to Buy?

The differences may seem too small or insignificant at first, but for some people, they can be pretty big, so here some things to take into consideration if you are opting between the two kings.

  • Room space. You need to have enough space for your bed, and everything around it, what is the point of squeezing in the king-sized mattress if you are not going to be able to move freely around it or to place other pieces of furniture. In an ideal setup, you would need at least 2 feet of free space on three sides of the bed. If your is more narrow than the shape and profile of a Cal king will represent a better fit.
  • While smaller people do not need to worry will their feet hang off the bed, taller people probably already know that feeling. So if you are over 6 feet tall, California king might be the perfect choice for you if you like to have a bit of space around you.
  • Comfort does not differ a lot among different mattress sizes of the same manufacturer. Usually, standard beds have less edge support because they are so broad, that is why even the all-foam Cal models have better edge support than standard all-foam kings. The situation is a bit better with hybrid king models, their edge support is not the best one we have seen, but it is decent, and it will keep you on the bed at night. Height depends on the construction and manufacturer and does not play a crucial role.
  • Cal king is quite popular, but it is still somewhat rare in comparison to the other standard sizes, that is why it is harder to find mattress foundations, boxes, sheets, bed frames, mattress protectors, and other types of additional equipment. Because they are so hard to find, some of these components are more expensive for Cal beds than for standard kings. The price for the mattress itself is usually the same for both sizes, but we have seen cases in which the standard king is more expensive than the Cal king, and vice versa.
  • Couples needs differ from the requirements of single sleepers, and that may make or break the decision about the mattress size. Since the Cal king is narrower, it is great for those couples who like to sleep close to each other, however, if you prefer to have more individual space on the bed, then go for the standard king because it is wider.


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