King vs. California King Size Bed Comparison

Will the King vs. Cal King debate end anytime soon?

When it comes to a King-sized bed, or a California King-sized bed, do you know the difference? If so, you are definitely in the minority. Depending on where you live, you might not have even heard of the latter.  If you had, you probably think that it is bigger than the standard king.

What is the real story, though? In this post, we will make a comprehensive comparison between the two so that you understand what each term means and so that you know which is better for you.

First of all, let’s put one common misconception to rest for once and for all – the Cal King is the longer of the two, but that does not necessarily mean it is bigger all the way around.

California King is 72 inches wide and 84 inches in length

Standard King is 76 inches wide and 80 inches long

So, yes, the Cal King (also known as Eastern King) is 4 inches longer, but also 4 inches narrower than the Standard King (also called a Western King). It offers a total sleeping surface of 6048 square inches. By contrast, the Standard King offers a total sleeping surface of 6080 square inches, so the Standard King is actually the bigger mattress.

Surprising, isn’t it? Most people would look at the longer length of the Cal King and assume that it is the larger of the two. Let me walk you through some of the major differences between the two now.

California King vs. King: Primary Differences

The Dimensions

It is pretty simple; the Cal King is four inches longer and so ideal for someone who is on the taller side. The Standard King is four inches wider and so better suited if you are sharing your bed with someone else.

Other than that, the mattresses are pretty much the same. You just need to decide what is more important to you – more room to stretch your feet out on, or more room to spread out on. If you are over six foot tall, for example, that extra length could be worth the reduction in width.

It is worth noting that you get more surface area with the Standard King and, by implication, more space. So, if you are of average height, and need to share the bed with spouse, family or pets, it could be a better option for you.


Neither option comes in cheaply, but the extra length on the Cal King does make it a more specialist type of mattress, and so it is the more expensive of the two.

You also need to consider that you will need non-standard bedding so this could end up making the extra length even more expensive.

If you are operating on a tighter budget, the Standard size is more affordable – it costs less, and bedding is easier to find. Also, the resale value, not that this is that important at this stage is likely to be higher because they are more popular.

Which is the Right Option for You?

To determine this, there are a few things that you will need to take into consideration.

Available Room Space

Most modern homes are built with a master bedroom that will fit a double bed quite comfortably. However, anything too much longer than that could be problematic.

Where are you going to place your bed? Go and measure out the area that the headboard would take up and make sure that it would fit widthwise. Do the same for the length.

Do consider the other furniture that you want to put in the room and also how easily you will be able to move around in the room.

Give yourself at least a foot or two of space all around the bed so that you have easy access when it comes to making the bed and moving around the room. If you have to climb over your bed to reach the dresser on the other side, or cannot open the dresser drawers because there is no space, choose something else.

How Big Do You Need the Bed to Be?

If you are tall, going for the Cali King would be a great choice (source Quora); there is no question of that. You don’t want to have your feet hanging off the edge of your bed when you are trying to sleep at night. And, while you could curl up in the bed, this is not the best idea when it comes to the alignment of your spine.

If you are of average height, the length won’t matter so much. For you, it might be more comfortable than to have the extra width to stretch out in.

If you are a little overweight, the extra space widthwise might be more important to you.

Should the bed be for one of your kids, think carefully about committing to this size in the first place. A mature teenager might appreciate the extra space, but a seven-year-old would be lost in it.

How Many in the Bed?

If you are single, the width might be less of an issue for you. If you are looking for a partner, or have one already, however, comfort would be the first concern. That’s where the four inches of width and extra surface area with the longer model can be a bit of a problem.

If you and your partner love to snuggle, this is not too much of an issue. If you both like to spread out when you sleep, get the wider bed.

If you have a partner, and you are both of average height, why pay the extra for the length that you are not going to use. Of course, if you have a doggie that likes sleeping on the end of the bed with you, you might need to seriously consider making this sacrifice.

Bed Accessories

When buying a new bed, we look at its durability, whether or not it will fit into our rooms, etc. We give little thought to the accessories like bed sheets, pillows and covers that we will use to dress the bed. In this department, any deviation from the normal is going to mean extra cost for you.

normal king-sized duvet is going to be just to short, so you will need to look for one that is more suited to your new purchase. The same applies to sheets, blankets, etc. If you decide to deviate from the normal, you need to be prepared to pay extra or considering making your own linen.

Choose a Cal King If

Need extra space around the feet. For people who are taller and who like to stretch out lengthwise. This can also be a good option if space is a little more limited because the surface area is slightly smaller. You might battle to get bed linen and replacement mattresses here.

Choose a King If

Are on a more restricted budget. You will find it easy and less expensive to get bed linen for this option. You will also be able to find replacement mattresses more easily. It is also usually a better option for couples as it offers the maximum amount of sleeping space.

Do Cal King Sheets Fit King Size Bed?

Given the difference between the King and California Kind, the sheets do not work on both types of beds, provided you buy specific ones.  In this case, Cal King size is 72 inches wide compared to western king’s 76 inches. The bed sheets will therefore not be used interchangeably.

When shopping out for bed sheets and other bedroom accessories, make sure that you’re specific on the exact size you’re looking for else, you risk messing up with your choices.


The option that you choose will depend on your personal needs, the space available to you and your budget. The standard option will always trump the other when it comes to budgetary factors, but money is not always the most important consideration.

Choose the option that is most comfortable for you – ask yourself, do I want the extra length or the extra width? Happy shopping!

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