King VS. California King – What’s The Difference?

Many people get the wrong idea when comparing a regular king size mattress with a California king. It’s a common misconception that the California king is a bigger mattress. While a California king is longer, it’s also narrower, making the total surface area actually smaller than that of a king size bed. So why would anyone go for California king beds? Well, there’s more to choosing a mattress than the surface area alone. 

The main difference between the two sizes is the shape. The king size mattress is more of a square, while the Cal king is more of a rectangle. Both beds are very large so the overall shape can heavily influence how they will fit in your master bedroom. 

If your bedroom is square-ish, then you will probably prefer a standard king mattress. If your bedroom is long and narrow, then a Cali king might be a better option. Before you make your mind up, let’s have a look at both mattress sizes in more detail.

King Size Mattress

A standard king size bed (also known as Eastern king) is the second most popular mattress choice, with the queen size holding first place. Since these two sizes are the favorite for many customers, finding compatible accessories like sheets, bed frames, and comforters is easy.

A king size mattress can easily fit a small family because the surface area is fairly large. However, that means the minimum room size for king size beds should be at least 12 by 12 feet, to avoid cramming furniture into the room. 


The standard king beds measure at 76 inches in width and 80 inches in length. The extra width makes it almost a square, which provides plenty of personal space for more than one (or even two) family members. 



Most mattress brands also offer king size beds in a “split firmness” option.  A split king is actually two twin XL mattresses (which equal the size of one king) side by side, meaning both sides of the mattress can come in different firmness levels. A split king option is especially great for sharing.

Room Recommendation 

The recommended room size for a king size mattress is at least 12 feet by 12 feet. A room this big will allow you to not only fit the mattress nicely but also have other bedroom furniture without feeling crowded.


The price of a standard king size mattress can vary from $500 and go up to $8000 or more. It heavily depends on the materials used to make the mattress as well as the brand that manufactured it.  

Pros & Cons 

Pros of a king size mattress:

  • Widest standard mattress size available
  • Best option for sharing
  • Cheaper and widely available bedsheets and other sleeping accessories
  • Good choice for heavy sleepers and restless sleepers

Cons of a king size mattress:

  • Difficult to transport and set up
  • Not suitable for smaller rooms

California King Mattress

California king size mattresses are not as widely available as standard king mattresses. We believe it’s because most people prefer a wider bed over a longer one. However, it all comes down to the size and shape of the room that the mattress will be placed in. If your master bedroom is long and narrow, a Cal king bed will be an ideal option for you. 


The California king size mattress is 72 inches wide and 84 inches long. It’s 2 inches narrower compared to the standard king size, and 4 inches longer. Although it may seem like Cal king beds offer a bigger overall surface area, they are actually smaller by 32 square inches. Although smaller than the standard king, the Cal king is still a very big mattress.

Some Cal king mattresses also come in a “split firmness” option, just like some of the standard king size mattresses. This makes the California king size mattress a great bed for sharing

Room Recommendation 

The recommended room size to fit a California king mattress nicely is 14 feet by 12 feet. In a room this size you’ll be able to have other bedroom furniture and decorations as well without feeling cramped.


The prices of Cal king mattresses can range from $800 to $9000 or more. The price largely depends on the branding, warranty, sleep trial length, and the materials in the mattress. 

Pros & Cons 

Pros of a California king size mattress:

  • An ideal choice for tall people because of extra length
  • A good option for large but narrow bedrooms
  • A large surface area that’s great for sharing

Cons of a California king size mattress:

  • The most expensive option out of the standard industry sizes
  • Harder to find bedding accessories for
  • Difficult to transport and set up

So is a King or California King better?

As mentioned before, neither one of the sizes is better than the other. It comes down to the mattress’s compatibility with your style and space needs. A long and narrow bedroom requires a narrower bed, which makes the Cal king mattress ideal. A more square bedroom would work better with the standard king size bed, as it would fill the space better. 

Don’t forget to consider your personal preferences too. After all, you will be the one sleeping on the mattress.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

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