Be the King:  The Difference Between a King vs California King

Be the King: The Difference Between a King vs California King

Empty rooms are full of possibilities. But when upgrading a new bed to a different size, it’s a rare talent to be able to visualize the  space, know how it all fits, how you’ll sleep, and how you’ll feel on your new mattress. We’re breaking down the dimensions, room size, and sleep styles for each option.
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When I first decided to upgrade to a  new king mattress, my life was never the same. There was nothing like the feeling of uninterrupted sleep on a bed that seemed to go on forever. But it was the final chapter in a confusing journey that started with a loaded question: “Which king rules the realm?” That had been a harder decision.

Many buyers believe (as I did) that mattresses increase in size from the lowly king to the state-sized California king (sometimes called a Cal king). But a standard king mattress provides more total surface area and more width. A king mattress measures 6'4" wide x 6'8" long (76 x 80 inches). A California king is longer and narrower than a king mattress. It measures 6' wide x 7 feet long (72 x 84 inches).  

Even their bedding sizes differ.

Which one is right for you? And should you consider a split king or a split Cal king? What are “split” mattresses? Should you consider a queen size? What about a full mattress?

In my household, the width of a king was the perfect decision. But it’s not right for everyone. We're looking at how you can choose between the two in order to upgrade your sleep and make the most of your own space. Uninterrupted sleep leads to better memory and improved mood, so choosing a mattress size that helps you snooze soundly can be a cornerstone of better mornings and healthier days. It’s what we like to call “setting the stage for restful sleep.

Once you’ve chosen your new mattress size, be sure to optimize your sleep wellness  with a cooling bundle and relaxation bedding. It’s all part of making your new bed an oasis that nurtures your soul, right along with your body.

We're diving deeper into some of the biggest differentiators:

king vs cal king comparison table from PureCare

King vs. California King Dimensions 

king vs california king mattress size comparison



Feet + Inches

King Mattress

76” x 80”

193 x 203

6’4” x 6’8”

California King  Mattress

72” x 84”

183 x 213

6’0” x 7’0”

What is a King-Size Bed?

A king bed is the widest standard bed size available. Interesting fact:  king mattresses are sometimes called Eastern king mattress to differentiate it from California's West Coast version, which actually came first.

With a whopping 6080 square inches (that's more than 42 square feet), the king mattress comfortably fits two adults in their own sleeping space, who can turn over without waking or disturbing each other. At 76 inches wide, a king mattress is comparable to a standard couch, so it can easily accommodate you, your partner, and your teen on movie night.

What's the Best Room Size for a King-Size Bed Frame?

In feet, a standard king-size is 6.3 feet wide by 6.7 feet long. That makes it best for rooms that are at least 12 by 12 feet, allowing easy access to individual nightstands and a dresser. With a common 18-inch-deep dresser at the foot of the bed, you'll still enjoy more than 2.5 feet between the bed and dresser, enough to make kneeling in front of open drawers comfortable.

Who Should Choose a King-Size Bed? 

A king-size mattress is the widest available standard mattress. That means it's got the most room between sleepers of all available mattresses with easy-to-find sheets and bedding. That makes it perfect for sleepers who overheat easily and who sleep better when they're not touching a partner. It's also ideal for families with children who frequently crawl into their parents' bed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a King Bed

A king bed can be heavenly. It accommodates multiple sleepers, and as the widest standard bed size, the chance that you're awakened in the night by a pointy elbow is as slim as possible. It's also straightforward to find bedding accessories like fitted king sheets and mattress protectors. The downside? King mattresses are big. Their width can make moving them through doorways a challenge.

What is a California King-Size Bed?

A California king bed, also known as a Western king, is a mattress that’s 4 inches narrower than a standard king, but 4 inches longer. As a result, it offers less surface area than a king: just 6048 square inches (still over 42 square feet like the standard king).  A California king bed comfortably fits two adults, and its extra length means taller sleepers are less likely to find their toes dangling off the end of the bed. 

What's the Best Room Size for a California King-Size Bed Frame?

With a narrower, longer profile than the regular king bed, a California king measures 6 feet by 7 feet. We recommend a 13-foot by 11-foot bedroom for the California king mattress. That gives you ample room for a dresser at the foot of the bed and two nightstands, one for each sleeper. The California king fits better in narrow bedrooms.


Who Should Choose a California King-Size Bed?

A California king offers extra space at the foot of the bed, making it ideal for tall sleepers. For those who let Fido snooze at their feet, the Cal king dimensions might just offer the right combination of psychological comfort from having a pet nearby, while keeping your sleep uninterrupted for better health.

Those with narrow rooms can also find a California king fits their space best.

The inches you’ll gain in length can make the difference in creating a true sleep sanctuary. We think every sleeper needs to ask what they want from their own sleep space. We all have unique needs from our sleep environment, and the perfect sleep space is the one that fits both your body and your room.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a California King Bed

A California king bed is the perfect choice for sleepers over 6 feet tall who want to spread out while they snooze (and who doesn't?). The downsides? It can be hard to shop for a California king and its accessories. Choices of bed frames, bedding, mattress protectors, and fitted sheets can be more limited for California king owners. 

Additionally, the extra length means that California king mattresses are harder to maneuver around tight turns and narrow hallways on moving day.  Keep the age, style, and size of your home in mind, not just its bedroom dimensions.

Sleep Cozy...Together: Consider a Split King or Split California King

The best mattress isn't just the right size; it's the right firmness. That means that buyers with partners often compromise on the type of sleep they're getting. Consider a split king or split California king mattress. A split king mattress is comprised of two Twin XL mattresses (38" x 80"). A split California king includes 2 mattresses that are 36" x 84". That's both narrower and longer than the Twin XL size.

Split mattresses are ideal for adjustable bases, so that both sleepers can adjust the head or food of their mattress without disturbing the other. This is also why PureCare’s premium sheets are preferred for adjustable base mattresses; our Precision-Fit construction like fitted corners and a 1” elastic cuff are specifically designed to keep sheets securely and comfortably on adjustable base mattresses no matter what position the mattress is in.

Bed sheets for a split king include two individual twin XL fitted sheets and a single king flat sheet. Partners in a split king can nurture themselves while staying close to their partner (they can adjust their own sheets, too).


How to Choose King vs. California King for Your Space

Consider two major issues when you're choosing between a king and a California king:

  • Your room: Which bed size fits comfortably in your space's layout and fits your lifestyle?
  • Your sleep: Which bed accommodates your sleep needs best?

The Perfect Fit for Your Room and Lifestyle

While owners with around 140 square feet of bedroom space can realistically accommodate either a king or California king-size mattress, owners with rectangle rooms can more easily position a California king bed. Don't need to pile kids into a wider bed profile? A California king may be even more appealing. With better room fit, it can open up your floor plan, making the bedroom feel airier and more relaxing while maintaining plenty of bed space for sleep.

Those with larger rooms can choose based on whether they prioritize width (choose a standard king-sized bed) or length (choose a California king). 

Which Size Mattress Helps You Sleep Better?

Either size can allow for a great night's rest, depending on your sleep style and the number of furry friends and children sharing your bed. Here are key considerations for sleep health:

  • Side sleepers who shift from side to side should consider a  king mattresses: this wide size allows for the largest range of movement without interrupting sleepers and partners.
  • Partners with an adjustable base and/or with different needs for mattress firmness should consider  split king and split California king beds. They let each partner enjoy a different sleep surface in the same bed.
  • "Hot sleepers" should consider a  king mattresses: With more room to roam sideways, they can move farther from their partner's body heat and to a cooler spot more easily.

Alternative King Beds from Around the Country

Don't want to compromise? Investigate these non-standard king sizes:

  • The Wyoming King: At 7 x 7 feet even (84 x 84 inches), this spacious bed is named after the wide open spaces of the Western range. Two adults and 4 children can take in a movie from this extra-wide king bed.
  • The Texas King: Measuring 6'8" x 8'2" (80 x 90 inches), this king has more surface area but less width than its Wyoming counterpart. 
  • The Alberta King: This non-standard large king mattress with a healthy dose of extra width measures 8 x 8 feet (96 x 96 inches). It's also called an Alaskan King Mini.
  • The Alaska King: At 9 x 9 feet (108 x 108 inches), this king of the Last Frontier. It's sometimes called a super king or a grand king. It's the largest mattress option typically available and is for sleepers with extra-large master bedrooms.
  • The Extra-Wide King: 9' x 6'8" (108 x 80 inches)
  • The Super-Wide King: 10 x 6'8" (120. x 80)
  • The Family King: 12' x 6'8" (144 x 80)

Consider how you’ll achieve a sense of spaciousness and well-being in the bedroom by choosing a mattress size that helps you maintain:

  • Two to 3 feet of walking space between walls and pieces of furniture
  • At least 2.5 feet in front of dressers to open drawers comfortably
  • Two feet on each side of the bed for nightstands that can be easily reached 

Are King and Cal King Mattress Sizes Universal?

The king and California king are not standardized globally. While their names often match, their sizes do not. Here's a comparison with standard European dimensions:


Mattress Size




US King

193 x 203

76 x 80

6'4" x 6'8"

US Cal King

213 x 183

72 x 84

6' x 7'

UK King

152 x 198

60 x 78

5' x 6'6"

European King

160 x 200 

63 x 79

5'3" x 6'7"

European Grand King

180 x 200

71 x 79

5'11" x 6'7"

UK Queen or Super King

183 x 198

72 x 78

6' x 6'6"


King vs California King Mattress Prices

While king beds comprise 19% of mattress sales, California kings account for just 6%. Since king beds are much more common, they are typically less expensive. King mattresses cost, on average, between $1000 and $2000 while California king mattresses range between $1900 and $2600.

Considering King and Cal King Sheets and Accessories

While many comforters and duvets are the same size for both king and California king mattresses, bedding is not interchangeable between these two distinct bed sizes. A fitted sheet for a California king mattress is 73"x 85" x 15" and its flat sheet measures 111" x 114". King bed owners will find their fitted sheets measure 76" x 80" x 15" with flat sheets measure 110" x 114". 

If you already have the incorrect-size fitted Cal king sheets, you can try turning them sideways for a better fit on a king mattress. Keeping them on is another story. The right size, and a precision fit, support your sleep.

When shopping for new bedding for yourself or a loved one, we recommend keeping the three Fs in mind to make your experience as stress-free as possible: Fit, Feel, and Finish

We take our inspiration from Harvard's Dr. Andrew Weil’s work on holistic health. He says that “there are many reasons why people don’t get enough sleep” and inappropriate bedding can be one of them. Making sure your sheets fit right, feel good, and are made with, quality  fabrics is just one way to complete the perfect bed for your perfect night’s sleep.

The Difference Between a King and a Cal King? It Could be a Better  Night's Sleep

When your mattress fits your sleep style and your space, you're more likely to wake refreshed for a happier morning. Now that you have all the stats to differentiate the king from the California king (not to mention split king and split California king mattresses), you should be able to decide between a king and California king for your own well-being.

Once you choose your dream mattress, don’t forget to outfit it for the best night's sleep possible with precision-fit bedding that fits your mattress size, stays in place, and promotes sleep wellness. You can Mix, Match, and Save up to 40% off all season long when you refresh your favorite sleep wellness essentials with us at


How Much Bigger Is a King Bed Compared to a Queen?

A queen bed is 60 x 80 inches (5 feet by 6’8”). It’s just as long as a king, but 16” (1’4”) narrower.

Which Size is Best for Stomach Sleepers?

All standard mattress sizes can work for stomach sleepers. They’ll have enough space to roll over on a king or a California king, and when considering that stomach sleepers roll less than side sleepers, stomach sleepers should focus more on their preferred mattress firmness rather than the differences between a king and a California king. This one is a matter of personal preference.

What is the Difference Between a King vs. California King Comforter?

A California king mattress is narrower and longer, so some comforter dimensions reflect this. However, the size ranges for typical comforters for each mattress are almost identical. At PureCare, a duvet for king or a California king is the same, measuring 110” x 98”.

Can I Put a California King Mattress on a King Bed Frame?

No, even if your king bed frame doesn’t have a footboard, the California king is 4 inches longer than a standard king, and will hang off the bed frame. It’s also 4” narrower, so the sides of your bed will extend beyond the mattress. Both of these mattresses need their own, right-sized frames.