What Is The Difference Between King and California King Beds 

 June 12, 2021

By  Marc Laurance

King beds are the biggest standard mattress size available. However, there are several popular variations and people usually wonder what the difference is when compared to California king beds.

King and California king beds differ in shape and dimension. A king bed measures 76 inches in width by 80 inches in length, and has a square shape. Meanwhile, a California king measures 72 inches in width by 84 inches in length, and looks more rectangular.

When shopping for a king bed, there are many other things to understand. Read the rest of this article to find out everything there is to know about king and California king beds.

What Is The Difference Between A King Size Bed And A California King?

For individuals and couples who want to sleep on a spacious bed, king beds are a great choice. However, king and California king beds are the most common types. They do have differences between them all of which are helpful to understand if you’re shopping around for a mattress.

What is a California king bed?

California king beds are one of the most popular mattress models today, but its history dates back to the 1960s. Back then, these beds were only used by athletes and celebrities. Then sometime during this era, a furniture company in Los Angeles started designing extra-large beds that were made specifically for celebrity mansions.

They came up with the California king bed, and at 72 inches by 84 inches, it was the biggest mattress in the market at the time. It was given the name California king because of its origins in Los Angeles. A few years later, these beds were mass produced and eventually became the mattress of choice for taller people.

Through the decades, these luxurious and large beds grew more popular worldwide. Mattress manufacturers from all around the world started creating their own versions; in Europe, they designed the Eastern king bed as well as the super king mattress, which was meant to compete with the American California king beds.

King Size Bed vs. California King

The primary difference between a king size bed and a California king is four inches. King size beds are 4 inches wider though California king beds are 4 inches longer. It may seem like a small difference but this is why California king mattresses are recommended for taller people or those with narrower bedrooms, while king beds are ideal for people who like to sprawl in their sleep or for couples who want extra space.

King Beds

King beds are the widest standard available size, making them suitable for couples or families with toddlers who want to sleep on the bed.  There are split option models available too. They are more affordable compared to California kings, and it’s easier to find beddings for this bed compared to California kings.

Bedrooms should be at least 12 by 9 feet in order to accommodate a king bed. The smallest room where one can consider placing a king bed should be no less than 13 by 13 feet.

California King

California king beds are narrower than king beds, so they are suitable for individuals taller than 6 feet. It’s also a good choice for couples who want to sleep closer together. These beds are commonly used in large or master’s bedrooms that re at least 12 by 12 feet, though the recommended room size for a California king would be 12 by 14 feet because of its added length.

However, California kings are difficult to move around due to its bulky size. It’s also less common compared to a standard king bed, resulting in a usually higher price tag not just for the mattress but for beddings and covers too.

Generally speaking, it’s ideal to have 24-30 inches of space between the bed and the wall of any bedroom. If you are after a spacious feel, you can go for 36 inches or even more. Both king and California king beds aren’t recommended for small rooms because it can easily make it feel cramped.

It’s critical to always measure your bedroom before you buy a bed. Other considerations include the dimensions of your house entryway, doorways, and stairways which the bed needs to pass before it gets to the bedroom. Additionally, measure the size of your bedside table or other furniture you plan to put beside the bed, such as a chest of drawers.

If any furniture or your doorway has doors that open inward, this can impact the volume of floor space you will have left. Other considerations include the size of floor-standing air-conditioners or space heaters, which affect the total amount of space left for your bed. These simple logistical considerations should be done early on to avoid hassles down the line.

Are California King Beds Bigger Than King Beds?

No, a California king is longer than a standard king by 4 inches. 

What Are The Dimensions of A California King Bed?

California king beds are 72 inches wide and 84 inches long. It also has a surface area of 6048 square inches.

Size Of King Bed Versus California King

King beds are 76 inches wide and 80 inches long. Meanwhile, a California king is 72 inches wide and 84 inches long. 

Is A California King Better Than A King?

There’s no one-size fits-all solution when it comes to mattresses. It all boils down to how you fit on the mattress, and how comfortable it is for you.  Having said that, it’s easy to understand why people can sometimes have a difficult time deciding between the two mattresses because they’re so similar except for a four-inch difference.

When deciding which mattress is better for you, think about your height, personal space needs, budget, and room size. Since California king beds have an additional 4 inches in length, this can spell the difference for a person over 6 feet because it means you no longer have to sleep with your feet dangling on the edge of the mattress. When it comes to personal space, think about how you sleep with your partner; some couples prefer to sleep close together while others need more space because one tends to toss and turn at night.

For couples who need more space, a king mattress is better because it’s 4 inches wider. Similarly, the width of king beds makes it suitable for small families who co-sleep with babies. King beds are also better for individuals who sleep alone but want to enjoy lots of luxurious space at night and have the freedom of sprawling during their sleep.

Budget-wise, California king beds are around the same price as a standard king though the beddings and a bed frame for the Cal king are more expensive. If you’re on a budget, you are better off with a king bed.

Last but not least, think about your room consideration. A bedroom should be a minimum of 12 by 12 feet for both beds but you’ll want to have an average of 30 inches of space between the bed and the wall for maximum comfort especially if you are going to place a night table or other furniture beside it.

How Much Is A California King Size Bed?

The average price of a California king size bed is around $600. The lowest price we found on Amazon is the Linenspa 5 Inch Gel Memory Foam at $179.99, while the most expensive was Tuft & Needle Original Cal King at $765.

Here are the best-value California king beds we recommend:

-   Avenco Premium California King Memory Foam Mattress
-   Best Price 12 Inch Memory Foam Mattress
-   Lucid 8 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a bigger bed than a California king?

The Alaskan king bed is a square-shaped mattress that is 24 inches longer than the California king. The Texas king is another larger bed that is 8 inches wider and 14 inches longer than a California king.

Will a California king fit on a king frame?

No. You will need to shop for a bed frame made specifically for the California king because the king frame is 4 inches shorter and 4 inches wider.

Will a king bed fit a California king frame?

If your California king bed frame is adjustable, then you can use a king or even a queen size bed. Otherwise, a California king frame will need a mattress of its exact same size because the frame is longer and not as wide as a king.

If you use a king bed on an non-adjustable Cal king frame, the mattress ends will sag and eventually get damaged.

Do two twin beds equal a California king?

No. A standard twin bed measures 38 inches in width and 75 inches in length, which leaves you 5 inches shorter than a California king. Two regular twin beds will make a standard king-sized bed, so if you want to make a California king bed, you will need to use two XL-size twins.

Alaskan king bed vs. California king

Before you decide on the two super-sized mattresses, here’s how they fare against one another:

Alaskan king: Renowned for its unique square shape and extra-large size, the Alaskan king bed is a true luxury to sleep on and can even fit a whole family comfortably with a pet. However, they aren’t common to find and their rarity makes it even more special to own if you can find one. 

The Alaskan king is 9 feet wide and 9 feet long, which means you’ll need a serious amount of space in your bedroom to use it. It also comes with a significantly larger price tag, and this applies to the Alaskan king-sized bed frame, cover set, box spring. Keep in mind that it isn’t widely available too, and neither are the covers so it can be expensive and challenging to buy.

California king: California king beds are a luxurious oversized mattress but they’re still considered a standard bed, so these mattresses and their covers are sold almost everywhere mattresses are sold. It’s easy to find different Cal king beds and they are much more economical. While they’re still large beds, they take up significantly less space than an Alaskan king and can fit two people comfortably while giving them extra room to move around.

Eastern King Bed vs. California King

An Eastern king bed is 80 inches long and 76 inches wide, which is the same dimensions as a standard king bed. On the other hand, a California king bed is 84 inches long and 72 inches wide, making it longer and narrower.

The Eastern king bed is recommended for those with spacious and wide bedrooms. It’s also ideal for couples, mothers who are co-sleeping, parents who want to sleep with their child or even a pet while enjoying adequate space between them.

While a California king is also good for couples or small families, it will have significantly less moving space on each side. Its narrower nature means it’s recommended for taller people who have slightly longer bedrooms.

Texas King Bed vs. California King

The Texas king bed, also known as a grand king or super king, is a large mattress that is 80 inches wide and 98 inches long. Its surface area is at 7,840 square inches, and because of its massive size it is recommended for people who are taller than 6.5 feet. The Texas king bed requires an especially large suite or bedroom, and offers lots of space for a family to sleep comfortably at night.

However, the sheer size of a Texas king bed also comes with some drawbacks. For one, it’s hard to install because it can’t be moved in and out of rooms easily if the doorways aren’t built to accommodate them. Beddings and sheets of this size are hard to find too, and in many cases they can be more expensive.

On the other hand, a California king is just right for people who are slightly above 6 feet in height; it provides adequate allowance to sleep comfortably and you won’t have to worry about your feet dangling off the bed. It’s slimmer than a Texas king bed so it can fit well in bedrooms that are less wide.

European King Bed vs. California King

A European king bed is another term for a standard king bed. Its dimensions are 76 inches in width, and 80 inches in length. European king beds are suitable for couples who want more wiggle room on the sides, though it’s also well-loved by people who sleep alone because they enjoy sprawling in their sleep.

Additionally, the width of a European king bed is the same as that of two extra-long twin beds put together. California king bed measures 72 by 84 inches. With a much more generous length, this mattress is best for taller people particularly those who are over 6 feet in height.

Both the European king bed and the California king are suitable for couples. However, the Cal king is recommended for those who want added legroom while sleeping close together and the European king is best for those who want more space between them and their partners.

Marc Laurance

Hi, I'm Marc. I'm the staff writer for Bedzine. I have a passion for interior design, especially bedroom aesthetic - and I hope to inspire you with new bedroom ideas each week.

Marc Laurance
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