Melanie was raised in Michigan and has been living in the Midwest ever since. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.

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This guide will break down the difference between king and California king mattresses.

Dean Hochman via Flickr Commons

A king-sized mattress is not the same size as a California king. So what's the difference between the two? Which one is larger? What are the reasons to choose one over the other?

Below, you'll learn exactly what the difference is between the king (also known as an eastern king) and the California king (aka west coast king, Cal king, western king, or WC king). You will learn why some folks prefer one over the other, the pros and cons of each, and how to find sheets to fit (and why finding sheets for one type can be a pain).

The Difference Between a King and a California King

These two mattresses differ in their dimensions: A regular king-sized mattress is 76" wide and 80" long, while the California king is 72" wide and 84" long. So the regular king is the widest standard mattress you can buy, and the California king is the longest.

Choosing the Best Mattress for Your Height

Since a standard king is the widest, it's great for wide people or those who want more room to roll, but it may be too short for tall people (if you don't want to sleep with your feet dangling off the end). Since the California king is narrower but longer, this bed is ideal for tall folks.

If you're not super tall, you might want to consider opting for a standard king. This is because of one big issue: bedding. It will be much easier for you to find bedding to fit your standard king.

What is the difference between a king and California king?

King size is the widest: 76 inches wide by 80 inches long.

California king is the longest: 72 inches wide by 84 long.

Mattress Dimension and Size Chart

(Mattress sizes for North America)



39 in (99.1 cm)

75 in (190.5 cm)

Twin (extra long)

39 in (99.1 cm)

80 in (203.2 cm)


54 in (137.2 cm)

75 in (190.5 cm)


60 in (152.4 cm)

80 in (203.2 cm)

California Queen

60 in (152.4 cm)

84 in (213.4 cm)


76 in (193 cm)

80 in (203.2 cm)

California King

72 in (182.9 cm)

84 in (213.4 cm)


What does "California" mean when referring to mattresses?

Sylvie Tittel via Unsplash

How Do King and California King Compare to Queen-Size Mattresses?

A standard queen-size mattress is 60" wide by 80" long. So the standard king is 16" wider but the same length as a queen; the Cali king is 12" wider and 4 inches longer than a queen.

Finding Sheets to Fit a California King

Sheets for a king-sized mattress are easy to find. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to the California king is that it can be hard to find sheets and bedding that will properly fit. Those sheets you bought for a regular king bed won't fit (they're way too short!).

If you have a Cali king bed and can't find any great sheets in the store, your best bet is shop online. This is why most people opt for a standard king.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much bigger is a California king than a king size bed?

The California king is four inches longer than—but also four inches narrower than—a standard king mattress.

What is a split California king bed?

"Split" simply means that the mattress is made up of two parts that fit together. A split king (or dual king) has two pieces that are each about the size of a twin mattress. These mattresses require special bedding.

What about thickness? Are California kings thicker than standard kings?

Both of these mattresses usually range in thickness from 10 to 14" thick. Anything thicker than that and you may need to buy extra-deep fitted sheets.

Would standard king sheets fit a California king size mattress?

Your standard sheets will probably not fit the California king. They'll probably be too short.

Would California king sheets fit a standard king size mattress?

Your California king size sheets will probably be too long and too narrow for the standard king mattress.

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Can a California king mattress fit a king bed?

Probably not. The mattress will probably be too long and narrow.