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California King Bed Size: How Big Is a California King Size Mattress?

So, what exactly is the difference between the king size mattress and its California cousin, anyway? Many people assume that the California king is larger than a traditional king size mattress, but is that really true? This is one of life’s greatest mysteries, and we’re here to solve it for you. Keep reading as we demystify the infamous California king size bed.

Bed sizes.  Cal king bed sizes vs king, queen, full, twin xl and twin.

California King Bed Size

Below are some fun facts about California king size mattress dimensions.

  • The California king bed actually has less surface area than the standard king size mattress – a California king bed measures 6,048 square inches, while its standard king bed measures 6,080 square inches.
  • While a standard king size bed is 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, the California king bed dimensions are 72 inches by 84 inches – so while you get extra length, you lose sleeping width. And while a standard king mattress is almost a perfect square, the California king is more of a long, narrow rectangle. Another fun fact: The standard king mattress is actually the widest standard mattress on the market.
  • The narrower width of the California king might make sleeping with kiddos or pets more challenging.
  • The California king size bed dimensions are ideal for taller sleepers, with the four inches of extra length. It probably won’t come as a shock that the California king bed is a popular mattress size for NBA players.
  • The narrower width of the California king can also be good for sleeping partners who either enjoy snuggling throughout the night or who tend to stay still during a night’s sleep — rather than spreading out and taking up a lot of mattress width.

Somewhere along the way, the California king mattress assumed the mantle of mythology – the ultimate monarch of the royal line of mattresses. Indeed, most people assume the California king is larger than a standard king. But the facts are a little more complicated than that. While California king dimensions do provide some often much-needed extra length, the California king bed’s narrower width makes it slightly smaller than the standard king mattress. Who knew?

Benefits of a California King Size Bed

family on california king size bed

The king-size mattress has always carried with it an air of luxury. There’s something decadent about getting the largest standard size mattress on the market, right? Originally designed for celebrities and millionaires, the king-size mattress was synonymous with status and prestige. While the king-size bed is much more affordable now than during its early history, its key benefits today revolve around the increased comfort it can offer to sleepers.

In particular, the California king size bed may be the best mattress for couples who are tall — or if at least one sleeping partner is tall. Matching the width of the standard king size mattress, the California king offers four extra inches of sleep space, so nobody’s feet have to hang off the edge of the bed!

The California king is a great choice for sleepers who are more than six feet tall — when it comes to length, it’s even longer than the twin XL dimensions (twin Xl beds are a popular choice for tall students in college dorm rooms). And if you really like to stretch out, you can probably do that, too, without worrying about bashing the headboard or your partner. The California king is slightly narrower than the standard king, but as long as you both aren’t starfish sleepers, you should still have plenty of sleep space — even if you add a small child or pet.

California king mattresses are aesthetically pleasing, too, so there are often design reasons for choosing this model over the standard king size. Depending on the size and orientation of your bedroom, the California king may look the most balanced within your space since it isn’t as square as the standard king mattress.

The only downside is that you might have more trouble finding bedding for a California king mattress compared to standard king-size bed dimensions. Since a standard king size mattress is pretty common, it’s easy to find bedding, pillows, sheets, and mattress pads in any style or material you prefer. Your selection may be more limited with a California king mattress. So before buying that California king you have your heart set on, just make sure you’ll be able to find your favorite bedding in that size.

FAQs About California King Size Beds

Why is it called a California king size bed, anyway?
According to the Los Angeles Times, the California king mattress owes its name to a Los Angeles mattress maker who imagined that bigger beds better suited Californians’ huge homes and over-the-top, luxury lifestyles. So, he made a mattress to fit this ideal – a mattress six feet wide by seven feet long — 72 inches by 84 inches — that he called a California king. You may also hear this same mattress size referred to as a Western King, while the standard king size mattress may be known as an Eastern King. And if you hear the term Alaskan king, don’t become confused — an Alaskan king bed is an entirely different size altogether.

What kind of bedroom do you need for a California king bed?
California king mattresses work best in rooms that are narrow since they are narrow themselves. If you’re dealing with a personal space that’s square-shaped, then a standard king size mattress might look more balanced in that room. Also, think about other furniture you want in the room, such as a bedside table, dresser, or chest of drawers. Where and how you position these items will also influence which bed is best for your space.

Try to make sure you have at least two feet of space around all three exposed sides of your bed in order to maximize comfort and mobility throughout your bedroom. This also helps keep your bedroom from looking too crowded and off-balance. You need a bedroom that’s at least 12 feet by 12 feet in order for a king size mattress to feel balanced within the space. When you have a California king, with its slimmer width, some designers recommend a bedroom that’s at least 13 by 15 feet.

Are California king beds more expensive than standard king beds?
Perhaps – it largely depends on the brand. You might be able to find California king mattresses that are less expensive than some standard king mattresses. Very often, they are the same price or cost a little more. One other expense to keep in mind, though, is the cost of bedding. The California king mattress has certainly risen in popularity in recent years, but it is still a relatively rare mattress type. Items like bed frames, sheets, and mattress protectors may be more difficult to find than in standard king size — and once found, they may be more expensive. If your budget is tight, a standard king may be a better choice since bedding for standard mattress sizes is usually less expensive.

How does the comfort of a California king compare to a standard king?
At the end of the day, the comfort level of your bed will determine whether you’re able to get a good night’s sleep. And while mattress sizes play some role in that, so do other important factors. First, let’s look at support. Depending on the brand, model, and mattress material, the two offer roughly the same comfort level. And if you have special sleep needs, those can outweigh the effect of mattress size on your comfort level – for example, if you need the best mattress for allergies, that’s more important than the difference in size. King mattresses are better for a couple who likes to spread out during the night, while the California king bed offers superior comfort for very tall adults.

Can you use a California king mattress with a king-size bed frame?
No, it won’t fit. When you choose your mattress, make sure to choose the right size bed frame. The two king mattress types are quite different in their proportions. The standard king is shaped like a square, while the California king is a long, narrow rectangle. A bed frame that fits one size would definitely not fit the other.

Will the same pillows fit both a standard king and a California king bed?
Yes. Really, at the end of the day, you can use whatever size pillows you want on any of the bed sizes. Just make sure your pillow offers you the right level of support and feels comfortable. The right pillow is the one that gives you the best night’s rest – no matter what size it is.

History of the California King Size Bed

Two people on a california king size mattress

After World War II, with the American economy booming, people began moving away from cities and settling in the quiet suburbs. Furniture manufacturers and marketers watched this migration and saw the increased space of suburban homes as a prime opportunity to increase their business with larger furniture choices. So, they started offering bigger beds and larger sofas to American families. Keep in mind that, at this point, most American couples were sleeping either in two twin beds like roommates or crammed into a full-size bed, also known as a double bed.

At some point, the California king was manufactured and began to populate luxury celebrity homes in California. When the California king began surging in popularity on the West Coast, furniture manufacturers on the East Coast also jumped on the bandwagon and created what they called the Eastern king – which is what we now call the standard king-size bed. The sizes and designs of both mattress sizes were all over the map for some time, and manufacturers in several global markets made their own knockoff versions of both king sizes. Over time, the two original king sizes became the most stable and popular forms of today’s king-size bed.

California King Bed Size

As always, getting the best night’s sleep depends on choosing the right mattress for you. No one mattress is right for everyone. But if you like to stretch out and need extra leg room for either you or your sleeping partner, the California king can be an ideal choice. Whatever size mattress you choose, make sure it offers the right level of firmness and comfort to guarantee a good night’s sleep – all night, every night. With the right mattress, pillows, sheets, and bedding, your bedroom space can truly feel like a dream come true.