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King vs California King: Which Mattress Size Is Best?

If you want to live like a king, it’s important to sleep like one. There’s no better way to get the regal rest you deserve than sprawled out and snoring on a spacious king or California king mattress. But which one is right for you? And what is the difference between king and California king? Here are the factors you need to know before you move a mattress into your royal chambers.

king size bed on a platform

King vs. California King

  • Mattress Size
  • Mattress Surface Area
  • Mattress Type
  • Room Size
  • Price

If you want to buy a king-sized mattress, don’t assume that a king and California king mattress are the same. The difference between king and Cal king mattresses is not major, but it’s enough to have an effect on how you sleep and how the mattress fits in your bedroom. Making the wrong choice can also lead to your feet hanging off the end of the bed or your new mattress not fitting on your bed frame. Buying a big mattress is a big job. Luckily, we’re here to make it easy.

King vs. California King: What You Need to Know

Let’s start with the difference between California king and king mattresses. Then, we’ll move to some essential things to consider when buying a king-size mattress.

Mattress Size

mattress sizes scale showing mattress sizes for king and cal king.

The difference between king and California king mattresses is their size. While both mattresses are fit for a king, their mattress dimensions are made to fit different body types. Take a look at these mattress sizes:

  • King dimensions: 76” X 80”
  • California king dimensions: 72” X 84”

As you can see, the California king bed size has an additional 4 inches of length compared to the king mattress, while king beds have 4 more inches of width.

So, how will this affect you when buying a mattress? Well, if you’re a sleeper of average size, it probably won’t affect you very much. But, if you’re of the big and tall variety (as many kings throughout history have been), the Cal king vs. king dimensions is a big deal.

If you’re very tall, you’ll probably want a California king size. If you like to have slumber parties or family movie nights in bed, you may prefer the extra width offered by a king mattress.

Mattress Surface Area

When it comes to surface area, which mattress is bigger? The answer might surprise you. Most people automatically assume that the California king is larger than a standard king. But when you compare total surface area, it turns out that the king bed is actually larger.

  • King dimensions: 76 X 80 = 6080 sq. in.
  • California king dimensions: 72 X 84 = 6048 sq. in.

This can cause some confusion when looking at mattress sizing charts. All of the other bed sizes are listed from smallest to largest. Although the California king is placed after the king on most charts, it is slightly smaller.

Mattress Type

Upgrading to an XL mattress doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to sleep better. Buying a bigger bed doesn’t mean you’re getting a luxury mattress. You also need to consider how the mattress material will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular king and Cal king mattress types:

  • Foam mattress: Foam mattresses are made of dense foam or foam layers. Cheap foam mattresses under $500 are unlikely to provide adequate support or last very long.
  • Innerspring mattress: Classic innerspring mattresses sleep cool but can lack support. King and Cal king innerspring mattresses may buckle over time due to uneven pressure applied to the center of the mattress.
  • Memory foam mattress: Memory foam is contouring and supportive, but it sleeps hot and tends to break down in under a decade. These mattresses are dense and very heavy. If you plan on moving, you may not want an XL memory foam mattress.
  • Latex mattress: Latex is cooler and more responsive than memory foam but comes with a much higher price tag.
  • Purple mattress: The Purple mattress features an exclusive comfort layer called the Purple Grid™. This breathable and supportive hyper-elastic layer offers a balance of responsiveness, contouring support, and durability. This is a popular mattress for king and Cal king shoppers that want the most bang for their buck.
  • Hybrid mattress: Hybrid mattresses combine pocket coils with additional layers to boost support and comfort. These mattresses are known for being long-lasting and luxurious. One might even say they’re fit for a king. Purple features two hybrid models, the Purple® Hybrid and Purple® Hybrid Premier. These mattresses combine the power of the Purple Grid™ with highly responsive pocketed coils for a great night’s sleep.

When shopping for a king or California king mattress, you also consider a split king mattress.

A split king is a king mattress that’s separated into two equal halves (two twin XL mattresses, in fact). A split king goes on a split bed frame. These bed frames allow each sleeper to adjust their mattress position independently. This is a popular choice for couples who don’t have the same sleeping position and for those who like to read or watch TV in bed while their partner sleeps.

Room Size

checklist for fitting mattress into size of room

Large mattresses can turn a good night’s sleep into a great one, but if you don’t consider the size of your bedroom, you could be in for a rude awakening.

When shopping for a mattress and dreaming about hopping into a giant comfortable bed, it’s easy to get a little trigger happy. How big is a California king bed, really?

Consider this: King and Cal king mattresses are least 6 feet long and over 6 feet wide. These beds are made only for master bedrooms, so if you share an apartment or sleep in a standard size room, a king mattress may not leave enough space for furniture. You might not even have enough space to get in and out of bed on either side.

Be sure to take measurements of your space before making a purchase. If you decide to opt for a king bed, make sure your room measures at least 12’ X 12’.

Price

King mattresses and California king mattresses often cost the same amount, but sometimes the California king costs more. Pricing depends on the materials used and the level of demand for a particular product may affect manufacturing costs.

Keep in mind that these mattresses cost considerably more than a full-size mattress (a standard double bed) and a queen mattress. If you’re shopping for a luxury mattress, the price differences can be significant. King and California king mattresses are 27 inches larger than a full mattress and 16 inches larger than a queen. This requires a lot of additional materials and packaging.

If you need more width for sleeping, a king size bed is the way to go. But if more space isn’t a necessity, you may be able to save a lot of money and still get a spacious mattress by going for a queen size.

Bedding: King vs. California King

white bedding on mattress

Once you’ve chosen your king or California king mattress, you’ll need to deck it out with some extra-comfy bedding. But most bedding isn’t made to accommodate mattresses of this size. Here’s what you need to know to find the right sheets, comforters, pillows, and more for your new horizontal throne.

What bedding do you need for a king and California king bed?

Shopping for large bedding is a bit difficult because some bedding can be used for both king and California king mattresses while some bedding is not interchangeable. And not all bedding made for king and California king mattresses have the same dimensions, so make sure to double-check before you make a purchase.

For extra convenience (and extra comfort), choose bedding with a bit of stretch to it. Not only does this give you more flexibility for a better fit, but it also allows your body to feel all the benefits of the comfort layer on your mattress.

Purple® Sheets are made from stretchy, breathable, and ultra-comfortable bamboo. They’re incredibly soft and made in just the right dimensions for king and California king mattresses. Of course, they feel the best when paired with a Purple mattress.

Would California king sheets fit a standard king size mattress?

California king flat sheets can fit a king size mattress. But the fitted sheet will not, so if you’re buying a bedding set, make sure it corresponds exactly with your mattress size.

Can you use a king comforter on a California king bed?

If you’re not extra tall, a king comforter will do fine on a California king bed. But for the best coverage, you should opt for a California king comforter. It’s about 6 inches longer than a king comforter.

Will the same pillows fit both king and California king mattresses?

Yes, you can use the same pillows on king and California king beds.

Can a California king pillow case fit standard king pillows?

Yes, the pillow cases for both mattress sizes are interchangeable.

Sleep Like a King

man excited after a great nights sleep

The difference between a king and California king mattress might seem small. After all, there are just 4 inches that separate the two mattress types. But when it comes to dropping your hard-earned cash on a large luxury mattress, doing your research will make the difference between sleeping like a prince or a pauper.

The king bed is wider than the California king, making it ideal for sleepers who like to sprawl out and change sleeping positions. The California king is longer and made for the pro ballers among us.

Remember to measure your bedroom before picking out your bed, and consider other mattress factors too, such as mattress type and your sleeping position. And of course, if you don’t really need an XL mattress, you might want to save some cash by choosing a queen instead.

Purple has all of the mattresses and accessories to make your king-sized mattress dreams come true. King and California king mattresses are available for the original Purple® Mattress and the luxurious Purple® Hybrid and Purple® Hybrid Premium. Purple even offers a split king for those with split bed frames. Purple’s split king is most comfortable when paired with the Purple® PowerBase, our most-advanced electronic bed frame.

Whether you choose a king or a California king mattress, you’re sure to get a great night’s sleep if you follow the tips in this guide. And if you choose a Purple mattress, you can expect to sleep like royalty for the rest of your reign.