What Is the Difference Between California King and King?

Updated on September 11, 2018
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Melanie was born and raised in New Buffalo, Michigan (a jaunt from Chicago) and has been living in the Midwest ever since!

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A king-sized mattress is not the same size as a California king. So what's the difference between the two? Which one is larger? What are the reasons to choose one over the other?

Below, you'll learn exactly what the difference is between the king (also known as an eastern king) and the California king (aka west coast king, Cal king, western king, or WC king). You will learn why some folks prefer one over the other, the pros and cons of each, and how to find sheets to fit (and why finding sheets for one type can be a pain).

The Difference Between a King and a California King

These two mattresses differ in their dimensions:

  • A regular king-sized mattress is 76" wide and 80" long,
  • while the California king is 72" wide and 84" long.

So the regular king is the widest standard mattress you can buy, and the California king is the longest.

Choosing the Best Mattress for Your Height

Since a standard king is the widest, it's great for wide people or those who want more room to roll, but it may be too short for tall people (if you don't want to sleep with your feet dangling off the end). Since the California king is narrower but longer, this bed is ideal for tall folks.

If you're not super tall, you might want to consider opting for a standard king. This is because of one big issue: bedding. It will be much easier for you to find bedding to fit your standard king.

What is the difference between a king and California king?

King-size is the widest: 76 inches wide by 80 inches long.

California king is the longest: 72 inches wide and 84 long.

Mattress Dimension and Size Chart

Type
Width
Length
Twin
39 in (99.1 cm)
75 in (190.5 cm)
Twin (extra long)
39 in (99.1 cm)
80 in (203.2 cm)
Full/double
54 in (137.2 cm)
75 in (190.5 cm)
Queen
60 in (152.4 cm)
80 in (203.2 cm)
California Queen
60 in (152.4 cm)
84 in (213.4 cm)
King
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)
What does "California" mean when referring to mattresses?
What does "California" mean when referring to mattresses? | Source

How Do King and California King Compare to Queen-Size Mattresses?

A standard queen-size mattress is 60" wide by 80" long. So the standard king is 16" wider but the same length as a queen; the Cali king is 12" wider and 4 inches longer than a queen.

Finding Sheets to Fit a California King

Sheets for a king-sized mattress are easy to find. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to the California king is that it can be hard to find sheets and bedding that will properly fit. Those sheets you bought for a regular king bed won't fit (they're way too short!).

If you have a Cali king bed and can't find any great sheets in the store, your best bet is shop online. This is why most people opt for a standard king.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much bigger is a California king than a king size bed?

The California king is four inches longer than—but also four inches narrower than—a standard king mattress.

What is a split California king bed?

"Split" simply means that the mattress is made up of two parts that fit together. A split king (or dual king) has two pieces that are each about the size of a twin mattress. These mattresses require special bedding.

What about thickness? Are California kings thicker than standard kings?

Both of these mattresses usually range in thickness from 10 to 14" thick. Anything thicker than that and you may need to buy extra-deep fitted sheets.

Would standard king sheets fit a California king size mattress?

Your standard sheets will probably not fit the California king. They'll probably be too short.

Would California king sheets fit a standard king size mattress?

Your California king size sheets will probably be too long and too narrow for the standard king mattress.

Can a California king mattress fit a king bed?

Probably not. The mattress will probably be too long and narrow.

What if I want a California king mattress in my vintage, antique, heirloom bed?

Although some beds may be customizable by a talented carpenter, it will not be a cheap fix.

Quick Poll

Which would you prefer?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Melanie Palen

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Maria 

        2 months ago

        I want a Tempur-pedic bed

      • profile image

        Pandora 

        14 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 

        15 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 

        18 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 

        6 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 

        6 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 

        6 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 

        6 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.

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