King vs Cal King: How to Choose the Right Size Mattress for your Bedroom

Headshot - Serena Scheide

Written by

Choosing the right bed size matters more than you might think. It’s not just about getting enough room to stretch out; it’s also about making sure your bedroom looks good and feels right. But if you’re trying to decide on a California King vs King size bed, things can get a bit confusing. In this guide, we’ll discuss the differences between a Cal King and a Standard King mattress so you can figure out which one is right for you and your home.

What is a California King vs King mattress?

When comparing bed sizes, you might encounter the term “Eastern King,” which is actually another name for the traditional King size mattress. The Eastern King is not a distinct size but rather the more common name used in some regions to refer to the standard King mattress.

The California King and King mattresses differ primarily in dimensions, making each suited for specific needs and room layouts. A California King is 72 inches wide by 84 inches long, ideal for taller sleepers or longer, narrower rooms. In contrast, a King mattress measures 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, offering more width for couples or families sharing the bed, fitting better in square or wider rooms.

Diagram comparing the dimensions of the king next to the cal king with the average heights of male vs female

Eastern King vs California King: Which is Bigger?

When choosing between a California King and a King size mattress, the critical factor isn’t just about which is “bigger” in a general sense, as their overall surface areas are nearly identical. Instead, the focus should be on understanding the differences in their dimensions and how these variations cater to specific needs.

Essentially, while the total sleeping area of both sizes is quite similar, the way space is allocated differs—more width in the King and more length in the California King. This distinction is what shoppers should consider when selecting a mattress. This brings us to our next point: What to look for when choosing between a regular King mattress and a Cal king mattress.

Choosing Between a King and California King Bed: What You Need to Know

When selecting between a King or California King size bed, several factors play into making the right choice for your needs. The choice between the two should be based on personal sleep preferences, the specific body types of the sleepers, and the dimensions of the bedroom, ensuring that the bed fits well in the space and meets the sleepers’ comfort needs. Understanding these can help you decide which bed will provide the best sleep experience.

Room Dimensions

  • King Mattress: Due to its width, ensure your room is at least 12×12 feet to comfortably accommodate this bed and other furniture.
  • California King Mattress: To fit a Cal King bed and allow for easy movement around the space, a room size of 12×14 feet is recommended.

Sleeper's Height

  • Tall Individuals: A California King bed is preferable for those over 6 feet tall, as the extra length prevents feet from hanging off the edge.
  • Average Height: Individuals of average height might find both options comfortable, with the choice boiling down to personal preference and room size.

Who You Sleep With

  • Couples: Both sizes are suitable for couples, but a standard King offers more width, making it ideal for those who value extra space to move around.
  • Families: If children or pets often join you in bed, the additional width of a King bed might be more accommodating.
Ultimately, choosing between a King and California King size mattress depends on your personal needs, including room layout, whom you share your bed with, and sleeper height. Consider these factors carefully to ensure that your new bed enhances your sleep quality and fits well in your bedroom space.
Example floor plan of an average master bedroom size in the USA next to the dimensions of a cal king and king mattress

Standard vs Non-Standard King Sizes

When we talk about king size mattresses, the most familiar types are the California King and the Standard King, often seen as the largest standard mattress sizes available. Both are popular choices for those seeking spacious sleeping arrangements. These standard sizes cater to a wide range of sleepers and fit comfortably into many bedroom layouts.
However, beyond these well-known options lies a world of non-standard king mattresses, such as the Wyoming King, Texas King, and Alaskan King. These sizes take luxury and space to the next level, offering dimensions that dwarf even the generous proportions of the California and Eastern Kings.
  • Wyoming King: Typically measures 84 inches by 84 inches, offering a perfectly square shape that provides ample space for families or those seeking extra room to stretch out.
  • Texas King: Comes in at around 80 inches by 98 inches, making it longer than a California King, ideal for very tall individuals or those who prefer a lot of legroom.
  • Alaskan King: This is the ultimate mattress size, measuring an impressive 108 inches by 108 inches. It offers an expansive sleeping area that can comfortably accommodate the whole family.

Non-standard king size beds like Wyoming, Texas, and Alaskan Kings offer luxurious space and comfort but come with certain considerations. They’re harder to find, often requiring visits to specialty stores or custom orders. Bedding and accessories for these oversized mattresses might need to be custom-made, increasing the total cost.

Additionally, their grand dimensions demand substantial bedroom space, fitting best in larger rooms. These mattresses also tend to be pricier, affecting both the initial purchase and the ongoing costs for suitable bedding and bed frames. Despite these factors, the unparalleled luxury and comfort they provide can significantly enhance your sleep experience, making them a worthy investment for those with the space and budget.

Key Takeaways

Choosing the right bed—California King vs King—comes down to what fits your life and room best. Think about what’s more important for you: a bit more legroom or extra space to spread out? Match the bed to your room’s shape and your comfort preferences. Both choices offer a great night’s sleep, but the best fit will make your bedroom feel just right. In the end, the key is ensuring your chosen bed makes your space comfortable and inviting for years to come.

A man looks at a board with dimensions for a king and cal king mattress


No, due to the difference in dimensions. California King beds require specifically sized sheets.

Yes, you’ll need a bed frame that specifically fits the California King dimensions.

Yes, its longer length makes it ideal for individuals over 6 feet tall, offering extra legroom that a standard King size doesn’t.

A King bed is wider, providing more space for couples, pets, or children to share the bed comfortably.

The King bed is more popular due to its accommodating width, suitable for most couples and room sizes.