Robin is a former third grade teacher, has a Masters in Education, and has three children of her own.
What's the Difference Between a California vs. Standard King Mattress?
The California King, sometimes called a Western King, is longer and narrower than the Eastern King, which is usually referred to as a King or Standard King.
The Standard King is 4 inches wider, while the California or Western King is 4 inches longer.
Both sizes come with two box springs and one mattress.
Mattress Size: King vs. California King vs. Queen
|California King||Standard King||Queen|
Why Buy a California King Bed?
- You're very tall. The California King is the longest bed available and is the best option for very tall people. My husband, who is 6'7", would have to sleep diagonally on a Standard King but can sleep straight on our California King.
- You have a long and narrow room. Some bedrooms may not comfortably fit a Standard King—but could fit a California King.
Why Buy a Standard King Bed?
- More space to spread out. Unless you're very tall, most people opt for the Standard King, since extra width is preferable to extra height.
- Bedding is easier to find. Standard Kings are more popular and so you have more options for bedding. Also, while fitted sheets are made in California King size, flat sheets and blankets are not—meaning they may be a bit too short.
Should I Buy King or Cal King Sheets?
When you buy sheets for your King mattress, make sure you buy the correct size. Your flat sheet can fit both the California and the Standard King, but the fitted sheet needs to fit your specific mattress size.
Unless you're very tall, most people go with the Standard King bed. Bedding is easier to find and the extra width is preferential over the extra length.
Questions & Answers
Question: I think I have a California king bed frame. Can I put a regular king mattress on it?
Answer: If you have a metal, adjustable bed frame, you should be able to use a Cal king or Eastern king mattress (and in some cases, a queen will even work).
However, if you do not have an adjustable frame, a Cal king bed frame needs a Cal king mattress. Cal king bed frames are longer and not as wide, so using a king mattress will cause sagging on the ends, which will end up damaging the mattress.
Question: I just bought a Cal king bed, and it needs two twin box springs. Does it need XL box springs or will regular twin box springs fit?
Answer: Unfortunately, twin box springs will not work on Eastern king or California king mattresses. A regular twin is 38X74 inches long and the long twin is 38X80 inches long. A Cal king bed is 72X84 inches. Two long twins together would be 76X80 (too wide and too short.) You need to buy a box spring for the specific mattress. A king box spring will likely come in two pieces, but it shouldn't be confused with twin box springs.
Question: Can you use a king box spring with a California king mattress?
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Answer: No. The mattresses are different sizes, so the box spring will not work.
Question: What is a full-size mattress?
Answer: A full-size mattress is the same length as a twin but wider. It is smaller than a queen but larger than a twin. It measures at 54 inches wide and 75 inches long.
Scot on July 17, 2016:
Debra on January 02, 2016:
I have two, crib to college, full size, sleigh beds purchased in California. They had mattresses and box springs that fit in 2005. The beds have been in storage for 6 years and now they have been shipped to Virginia and put together. The new mattress DO NOT FIT! Is there a difference in full size beds. I need 51-1/2 " all the charts show 54'. Can anyone tell me where I cn get a 51 to 51-1/2 inch box spring and possibly mattress.
Dee on November 16, 2014:
I can't find (non-Cali) King sheets anywhere! I've looked at Costco and Target and they both have all sizes except King. They don't even have price tags for King size (meaning, they're not out of stock). What the heck!!
Puba on May 24, 2013:
I have a waterbed frame and I am putting a traditional Simmons pillow top mattress inside . The frame has 2 x 8 wood side rails the mattress was delivered today and it is a snug fit in the waterbed frame do you think this will cause a problem in the future
Jean on February 19, 2013:
Thanks for clarifying why people buy california king beds and their difference. My husband and i own a calif. king now and want to purchase a new bed. I wanted to buy a reg. king and he wanted a cal. king again. But thanks to you I now explained to him the difference, and what's best for us
snce we are both under 6 feet tall. I got we king.
L on July 19, 2012:
So, if the mattresses are exactly 4 inches different each way, cant you just rotate the mattress on the frame to change it from a king to a california king?
kmaskreations on February 08, 2012:
Thanks for sharing. Very helpful and just what I needed to know.
Paula on January 18, 2012:
I have been searching the internet for a cotton California King blanket. The king blankets just aren't long enough if you have a thick mattress. Does anyone know of a manufacturer who actually makes California king blankets (not comforters or duvet covers, just blankets)? Thanks!
Jeremy on January 08, 2012:
Shela, yes a king and cal king blanket will work the same 99% of manufactures wont make different ones so its all the same to them...
Nicole Nope sorry, 72"*84" vs 76"*80" even turnes side ways you cant cet the inch #'s to match.... but pretty close. enjoy
Shela on December 13, 2011:
Cannot find a cotton blanket for a California King mattress that is not overly priced. Will a King size one fit okay??
Nicole on October 18, 2011:
So relly u can make a king into a cal king just by turning the matteress
Keith Woodard on October 16, 2011:
Great. This is my first time to visit your site. You've done an informative article. I agreed that organic baby crib mattress is really safety. Maybe next time I will purchase an organicmattress soon. Thanks for the information.
Sleepys Mattress Co
ly on October 12, 2011:
can you use a standard king mattress on a california king bed
ines on September 15, 2011:
thanks!! very helpful!!
Dan on August 27, 2011:
If you really want the ultimate you can look into the Grand King by sleep number. It measures 80X98 inches!!! It used to be hard to find bedding for it even through sleep number but it seems that bedding is becoming more available. The salesman in the sleep number store told me that macys will soon be offering bedding for this HUGE bed.
PiaC from Oakland, CA on August 26, 2011:
I had no idea that a regular King was wider than a Cal King! Thanks for sorting out my confusion.
jOnO on July 26, 2010:
Hmm...I have a california king, I thought that it was wider, but am finding out that it is actually longer, I have just been sleeping on it wrong. Oh well.. I like it
RamonB on July 25, 2010:
Thanks for the info, I didn't realise the subtle difference in the sizes of the 2 mattresses. I'm in the UK and we sleep on what we call a 'super-king' sized bed which I thing is the same as an Eastern King.
Unless you are very tall, The wider bed is always the better option IMHO......
Best Mattresses Size ? on January 24, 2010:
I always wondered what the difference was between those. Thank you great article. Love it!
Denise Larkin from United Kingdom on May 12, 2009:
This is a great hub. Thanks for sharing.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on May 11, 2009:
Thanks, James. I'm surprised you're not in an extra long twin. I know there are a few in the family. ;) Paul and I slept in a Queen for years. It was quite snug. xo R
jamestedmondson from San Francisco on May 11, 2009:
Glad to see you hubbing again Rob.I will never get confused about king size beds again!
Right now, I sleep on a full, and let me tell you, for someone 6'6", it's far too small.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on May 11, 2009:
I think you're right, George. It's a lot easier to find California King bedding on the West Coast. I actually prefer the Cal King because of the length, but I've heard from friends on the East Coast that they've never heard of a Cal King. Interesting. Thanks for the comment!
gredmondson from San Francisco, California on May 11, 2009:
Robin, this is so good. It has been my experience that the California King (or Western King) is much more available in (surprise!) California. Years ago, Eastern King sheets were not even carried in the stores I shopped in. Both sizes of sheets are widely available now, and since many people shop online (accessible to the whole country) both sizes are marketed.