King vs California King: What’s the Difference?

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
February 7, 2022
|
7
min read

 

The main difference between a King and California King mattress is in the width and length. King mattresses are wider, whereas California King beds are longer. The King size mattress has a larger surface area than the Cal King mattress. This is important to understand when trying to decide what mattress size to buy.

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California King vs King: Mattress Dimensions

There is one question you should ask yourself when trying to decide between a California king or a king sized mattress: Do you want a longer mattress or a wider mattress?

The California king mattress measures 72 inches by 84 inches, which makes it a little longer than the king.


The king mattress measures 76 inches by 80 inches, which makes it slightly wider than the California king. If you do a little math, you’ll learn that even though the California king is longer, it has less surface area than the king. The Cal King with 6048 inches of surface area, where as the King has 6080 inches of surface area

King vs California King: Pros and Cons

Now that you know the measurements of both the King and the California King mattress, let’s dive into the pros and cons.

King

The king mattress, the widest mattress on the market. With slightly more surface area than the Cal king (6080 square inches compared to 6048 square inches), you and your significant other will have room and then some.

Pros

  • Four inches wider than the Cal king
  • More room to spread out
  • Kings cost less than the California king
  • Bedding costs less

Cons

  • Not enough length for people over 6’4” tall
  • May not fit narrower bedrooms
  • Costs more than queen
  • Four inches shorter than a Cal king

Ideal For: The king mattress is ideal for people who like to spread out or move around while they sleep. King mattresses are great for side sleeping couples. If you have little children or pets who like to join you and your significant other in bed at night, a king has more space for them, too.

California King

The California king mattress was made for tall people in mind. With four extra inches in length over the king, the Cal king gives taller people the room to sleep comfortably.

Pros

  • Four inches longer than the king
  • More length for people over 6’4”
  • May fit a narrower room better than a king
  • May fit through doors easier

Cons

  • Four inches smaller in width compared to a king
  • Generally costs more than a king
  • Bedding costs more
  • May not fit in smaller bedrooms

Ideal For: The California king mattress is ideal for taller people and couples. If you need a little extra leg room, the added four inches will make a big difference. Also, if you have a narrower bedroom, a California king will fit better than a king.

What to Consider When Choosing King or Cal King

There are a few more factors to consider before choosing between a king or a California king mattress. Some of these considerations include room size, price range, and number of people and pets sleeping in bed.

Room Size

Regular king mattresses are a little wider, your room should be at least 12 feet by 12 feet or bigger to comfortably fit. Anything smaller would make your room feel a bit cramped and a queen mattress may be a better option for you.

California king mattresses fit well in a room that is 13 feet by 15 feet or bigger. With the extra length on the Cal king, it helps to have a longer room to move freely around in. You can always change the orientation of your bed to fit your room better, just make sure there’s enough space to open and close any doors within your bedroom, as well as to walk around.

Make sure you know the dimensions of your room before getting a mattress.

Height

We touched on this previously, but your and your significant other’s height is important to note when deciding between a king and a California king. If either or both of you are over 6’4”, a California king would benefit you better. The extra four inches will give you the space for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Family Needs

Many couples want a king or California king for the extra space these mattresses offer. And if you have small children or pets who consistently join you at night, that extra space matters even more. With the extra width of the king, your little ones can join you in bed without sacrificing too much room. If you have a pet that likes to sleep at the foot of your bed, a California king might be better for you.

Cost

California king mattresses usually cost more than regular king mattresses. From the mattress, bed frame, bedding, more specifically the sheets and mattress protector, you’ll spend more money getting a Cal king. When considering between the two, look at the overall cost. That extra four inches in length may sound nice, but a king may work too, especially if it better fits your budget.

Do California King Sheets Fit a King Sized Mattress?

The short answer is no, especially the fitted sheets. Since the dimensions of both the king and Cal king are different, you’ll have a difficult time getting a regular king fitted sheet onto a Cal king and vice versa.

Fortunately, Purple offers bed sheets that fit both a California king and regular king mattress! Purple sheets provide the comfort and durability for all your sleeping needs. And they stretch to fit your king or Cal king mattress without a problem.

What Is the Advantage of California King vs Regular King?

We’ve guided you through all the things you should consider when choosing between a California king and a regular king mattress. The advantages between the two are ultimately up to your preferences.

If price is a factor, we recommend the king. If you need more leg room, go for the Cal king. If you need space to spread out, the king has you covered. With both options available, you can pick the perfect one for you and enjoy better sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions About King vs. Cal King Mattresses

Is a Cal king wider than a king?

Cal king mattresses are narrower than King mattresses. Cal king mattresses measure 72 inches in width by 84 inches in length, while king mattresses measure 76 inches in width by 80 inches in length. This makes the Cal king a great mattress option for tall people.

Is a California king bigger than a regular king?

Although the California king is longer than a regular king, it has slightly less surface area than a regular king mattress. The California king has a surface area of 6048 square inches, whereas the regular king has a surface area of 6080 square inches.

Can you put a Cal king mattress on a king bed frame?

You cannot put a Cal king mattress on a king bed frame. The dimensions are slightly different between the two types of king mattresses, which means you need to use a bed frame specific to the mattress you buy. Using the wrong bed frame could damage your mattress.

 

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