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What Are the Differences Between a Standard King and a California King?

Written by Tuck Staff

It’s likely that when you shopped for mattresses in the past, you came across size options that included a “California king.” You may have felt slightly puzzled, wondering what a California king mattress is and how is it differs from a standard king size mattress? In this guide, we’ll walk you through the subtle differences between these mattress sizes. Read on to learn the pros and cons of owning each along with other considerations for shopping.

Key Differences and Similarities Between Standard King and California King Sizes

Due to their extended length, the California king may be more suitable for exceptionally tall people. Width is less crucial, since both models are sufficiently wide for most sleepers. However, the length and width of the room where you plan to keep the mattress should also play a role in your decision, since one king may fit better than the other. 

Standard Width 76” (6 1/3″) 72” (6’0)
Standard Length 80” (6 2/3″) 84” (7’0)
Ideal Bedroom Size 6,080 sq. in. (42.2 sq. ft.) 6,048 sq. in. (42 sq. ft.)
Average Price $1,000 to $1,700 $1,000 to $1,700
Ideal Sleeping Arrangement Two average height adults who want more room or who share a bed with children, multiple small pets, or a single large pet. Taller adults who prefer more room or who share their bed with children, multiple smaller pets, or one large pet.

Pros and Cons of a Standard King Size

The standard king mattress measures about seventy-six inches (76”) wide by eighty inches (80”) long. Like a Queen-sized mattress (60” by 80”), it’s large enough to accommodate a pair of sleepers. However, the king offers considerably more room.

The pros of owning a king-size mattress include:

  • Great for multiple sleepers: The king-size bed is a great investment for couples who want to stretch out and avoid disturbing each other while sleeping.
  • They’re pet and children friendly: Because there’s so much room, a pair of sleepers can share space with a child, single large pet, or a couple of smaller pets.
  • A luxurious sleep surface: Many people associate king mattresses with hotels or luxurious master bedrooms. In a well-decorated space, it can make your sleep space look enviously extravagant.
  • Great for filling a huge space: If you have a very large bedroom, a king-size bed can keep the space from feeling too empty.
  • Readily available: As with queen-size beds, there’s a healthy level of demand for the king-size mattress; it’s easy to find and buy one.

Although a standard king is a great buy for the right shopper, there are a few drawbacks.

  • They can get expensive: As the largest standard size mattress available, the king is among the most expensive mattress options. If you’re on a budget or don’t really need one, they might not be a worthwhile investment.
  • It might be too big for your bedroom: Measure your room space before deciding on a king-size bed because it can easily swallow up too small a room, even making it hard to walk around comfortably.
  • Hard to move: Weighing between 110 and 140 lbs, these are the heaviest standard-size mattresses. It will take multiple people to move them safely.

Pros and Cons of a California King Size

The California king is the largest available mattress after the standard sizes. It’s wider than a standard king-size mattress, measuring seventy-two (72”) by eighty-four inches (84”), but because of its unique rectangular structure, the California king requires slightly less square footage (6,080 sq. in. vs 6,048 sq. in.) to fit comfortably into a sleep space.

Some positive aspects of owning a California king are:

  • Comfortable for tall sleepers: California kings are longer than king mattresses, and allow most tall sleepers to lie flat without feeling their feet dangling off the edge of the bed.
  • Takes up slightly less space than a king-size bed: It’s possible that a California king’s more rectangular design might make it fit easier into certain spaces than the standard king.
  • Great for those who prefer raised pillows: The California king offers peerless space for anyone who prefers to sleep with multiple pillows propping them. You can sleep on several pillows if it suits you and have enough space to spread out.
  • Ideal for multiple sleepers: Like the king, the California king provides extra space for couples to spread limbs and move around without feeling cramped or disturbing each other at night. It also has the best amount of room for sharing the bed with children or pets.
  • Unrivaled extravagance: This bed size is very unique, and in the right setting, offers a sense of luxury and comfort. If you have room space and the budget, a California king could be a wonderful centerpiece for your master bedroom.

Still, there are some drawbacks to be aware of:

  • Very heavy and hard to move: California king mattresses are as heavy as or heavier than a standard king. It will be a struggle to move your mattress without adequate assistance.
  • Can be very expensive: While California kings are a great purchase for the right bedroom size and budget, you should rethink buying this bed if you’re trying to save money or don’t need one this large.
  • Hard to find bedding: Most bedding companies offer bedding sizes up to a standard king, which means if you get a California king, it will be tough finding bedding and related accessories to fit over your mattress.

Is a Standard King or California King Size Right for You?

You might be struggling to decide between the standard king and a California king bed. You might even wonder if it might be better to buy a Queen instead. Below are a few important questions to ask and answer that will hopefully allow you to decide which purchase is right for you.

Do you sleep alone or with a partner? If you don’t share a bed or need the extra sleep space, it could be a waste of money to buy a king or California king bed. However, if you’re exceptionally tall, a California king could make your comfort at night worth the investment. If you sleep with a partner, the king and California king will each provide a spacious sleep surface for the both of you, letting you rest without disturbing or crowding each other at night.

What is your body type? As already mentioned, a California king is best for exceptionally tall sleepers while the standard king is fine for sleepers who are of average height. Depending on the mattress material, both bed types should offer firmness and support for average size or heavy-bodied sleepers. Sleepers who are below average height and weight might feel overwhelmed by a king or California king.

Do children and/or pets frequently share your bed? Both the king and California king are large enough for a pair of adult sleepers who share their bed with a child or a large pet.

How do you position your body when you sleep? Side sleepers, stomach sleepers, or back sleepers who rest in positions that see their limbs sprawled out will appreciate the room that a king or California king provides—and so will their partner. Taller sleepers who sleep flat and without bending their legs will prefer a California king, no matter which position they tend to sleep in.

How much bedroom space do you have? A small master bedroom is generally better suited for a Queen-size bed than a standard king, but if you have a very large space to fill, you should consider a king. However, if the room is a bit more rectangular than square, a California king might work better. Measure your bedroom space to see which kind of bed is the best fit.

What is your mattress shopping budget? If you do have the money to splurge, the Standard king and California king can make your bedroom feel like a luxury hotel. However, you might struggle to find bedding accessories for your California king mattress. If your budget doesn’t allow for the extra costs for California king bedding accessories, stick to a standard king.


The standard king and California king each have positives and drawbacks. Taller sleepers or those who sleep on raised pillows will probably get more out of a California king than the average sleeper, who will find that a king more than fits their needs.

If you don’t have the extra money to spend or the time to look around for special bedding accessories, a standard king is the better buy. But for those with a very large bedroom and a generous budget, the California king will make for a supremely satisfying centerpiece to their bedroom.

Before you settle on a purchase, be sure to consider factors such as bedroom size, the number of sleepers who’ll share the bed, your body type, and budget. In the end, these aspects will help you decide if a king or California king will be the more satisfying purchase.

Additional Resources

We hope you found this comparison guide useful. For similar resources, please check out the articles linked below.

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