What Is the Difference Between California King and King?

Updated on February 4, 2018
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Melanie was raised in New Buffalo, Michigan. She just finished her honors BS in physical science at Purdue University Northwest. (Hire her!)

What is the difference between a king and California king?

A king size bed (sometimes called an Eastern King) is the widest mattress with dimensions of 76 inches wide by 80 inches long.

A California king sized bed, on the other hand, has dimensions of 72 inches wide by 84, which makes it the longest mattress.

You've probably heard of both a king sized mattress and a California king, but what you may not be aware that there are some differences between the two.

So what's the difference between these mattresses? Is one larger than the other? What are the reasons to choose one over the other?

Let's explore the differences between the king (also known as an eastern king) and the California king (also known as west coast king, Cal king, western king or WC king.) You will learn why some folks prefer one type over the other, the pros and cons of both mattresses, and how to find sheets to fit (and why finding sheets for one of these mattresses can be a pain.)

A king sized mattress equals a king sized desk!
A king sized mattress equals a king sized desk! | Source

Choosing a Mattress for Your Height

If you've guessed that a king and Cali king differ in size, you're absolutely correct! These two mattresses really differ in their dimensions. One is longer but narrower than the other. A regular king sized bed is 76 inches wide and 80 inches long, while the California king is 72 inches wide and 84 inches long.

A standard king may be too short for taller people (you don't want to sleep with your feet dangling off the end!) Since the California king is narrower, but longer than a regular king, this bed is much better for tall folks.

Don't be turned off by the narrower width of the California mattress! A queen sized bed is 60 inches wide and the Cali king is 12 inches wider, so it's still a huge bed! This bed is also great if you're putting it in a room with dimensions that would better suit a more narrow bed than the standard king.

If you're not super tall, you might want to really consider opting for a standard king. This is because of one big issue: bedding.

Dimensions of Common Mattresses

39 in (99.1 cm)
75 in (190.5 cm)
Twin (extra long)
39 in (99.1 cm)
80 in (203.2 cm)
54 in (137.2 cm)
75 in (190.5 cm)
60 in (152.4 cm)
80 in (203.2 cm)
California Queen
60 in (152.4 cm)
84 in (213.4 cm)
76 in (193 cm)
80 in (203.2 cm)
California King
72 in (182.9 cm)
84 in (213.4 cm)
(Mattress sizes for North America)

Quick Poll

Which would you prefer?

See results

Finding Sheets to Fit a California King

Sheets for a king sized mattress are a cinch to find. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to the California king is that it can be hard to find sheets that will properly fit. It's almost impossible to find sheets in a department store in the correct size and sheets for a regular king bed won't fit (they're way too short.)

If you have a Cali king bed, your best bet is to shop around in-store for sheets that you like. Get a feel for the fabric and thread count and then see if the company makes sheets specifically for your mattress size. If the store doesn't carry them, you can usually special order them in-store or even just write down the brand/type of sheets and shop online when you get home! Alternatively, you could have sheets custom made to fit your mattress.

Since finding sheets for a California king can be so problematic, it might serve you better to get a standard king unless the length of the bed really is a big issue.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Melanie Shebel


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      • profile image

        Pandora 7 months ago

        Hey I just need something as an addition so my 2 over 50 lbs dogs do not run me out of our bed. Oh also have another 20lbs small dog. Not counting my husband. But already in a regular king. Any solutions?

      • profile image

        Dameon 8 months ago

        I have found sheets that say they fit both king and cal king.....I'm strongly considering purchasing them because I can never find cal king sheets.

      • profile image

        JimDeming 11 months ago

        I have a Cal king, and have been offered a king for just the cost of shipping. My cal king bed frame is expandable, but can I just go to a lumber yard and buy longer slats?

      • ElizaDoole profile image

        Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

        When it comes to beds the wider the better. I'm going for the king size. Voted up and interesting!

      • Clayton Fernandes profile image

        Clayton 5 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

        AHA a cali-king size is what i'm after then. Thank you melbel, I'll feel less of a fool and know what to ask for now!

      • RealHousewife profile image

        Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

        Hmmmm I'm not sure if I have a King or. Cali King - it's BIG! Lol. My husband is 6'2" and about 250 so...we are not gonna be fitting in the twin:) haha!

        I have one of those fancy beds with all the bells and whistles ... Remote control - movable head and foot boards - an alarm! Lol. It's taken me like two years to get used to memory foam. I finally like it. It's nice to be able to move the headboard any which way while I work in my p.j.'s or watch t.v. I love having a huge bed!

      • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

        Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

        I've always wondered about the different sizes of these beds! I'd heard California Kings were longer, but I didn't realize they were not as wide. And I agree - sheets would be difficult to find. I rarely see them anywhere. Very helpful information here! Voted up, useful and interesting.