Size Comparison Guide: California King vs King Mattress

Last Updated on June 17, 2024

by Marc Werner, Founder - GhostBed

When it comes to mattresses, size definitely matters. And if you're trying to decide between a California king and a traditional King, it's essential to know the difference between the two. In this blog post, we'll share the differences between the two sizes, answer common questions and help you determine which size is right for you.

Overview: California King vs King Mattresses

Is a California King mattress bigger than a King? It depends on how you look at it. Although a California King is longer than a King, it’s also narrower. A King mattress actually has a larger surface area.

A regular king mattress is 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. It's ideal for couples who need more space to spread out or those who co-sleep with children or pets.

A California king is 72 inches wide by 84 inches long. It's best suited for taller people and those who would like their pets to sleep at the foot of their bed.

King vs. California king mattress dimensions

King vs. California King? Consider These Factors

How do you decide which size is right for you? Consider these 3 key factors below.

Bedroom Size

Both mattress sizes will be appropriate for a bedroom from 10 x 12 feet and up, but the shape of your room matters too.

  • If your space is narrow and long, a California king will fill it better.
  • If the room is wider, a King-sized bed should be your pick.

It's also a good idea to keep at least 2 feet of walking space around your bed so you can quickly and easily move about. If you plan to have a wardrobe or another piece of large furniture nearby, this will also factor into what size bed you get.

Sleeper Height

If you or your partner are six feet tall or more, then it's likely that any bed will feel too short. If this sounds like something familiar to you—don't worry! California King-size mattresses are for you. What is the advantage of a California King mattress? They have an extra four inches in length, making them more comfortable for tall folks.

Sleep Preferences & Habits

Restless sleepers need more wiggle room to stay comfy. If this sounds like you, you'll enjoy the extra width that a traditional king bed provides. As for sleeping positions, if you sleep straight as a board through the night, a California king and its narrower width should suffice. But if you or your partner likes to sprawl out or sleep in the “starfish” or fetal position, go with a standard king for a little more personal space to work with.

California King Mattresses: Pros & Cons

A couple cuddles on their California king size GhostBed mattress

First things first: why is it called a California king, anyway? There are a few stories floating around out there, including speculation that it was created for Hollywood stars and their fabulous homes. Others say it traces back to a Los Angeles mattress maker who simply decided Californians had big enough houses to fit a larger bed.

Pros of a California King

A California king bed is perfect if you're 6'2" or taller. But it still serves as a luxurious choice for the shorter folks among us too! If you like to sleep with furry friends at the foot of your bed, a Cali king is perfect as it gives you plenty of room.

Here are a few additional reasons why you may love a California king bed:

  • A California king takes up less width in your bedroom, so you'll have space for other furniture or to move around freely.
  • Some of our customers also report that they sleep better on a California king because they don't feel as confined.

And remember, California kings aren’t just for tall people and couples! If you’re single and love to stretch out when you sleep, the California king might be the right fit for your needs.

Cons of a California King

The California king has become much more common since its initial debut. And the cost is more accessible than ever before. However, this size of mattress still lags in popularity behind the much more common King-sized bed.

Here's why:

  • With a narrower width than a king, the California king provides less room across for those who sleep as a family.
  • It's also smaller than a king when you look at surface area. A California king has 6,048 square inches of sleeping space, while a king boasts 6,080 square inches.

Can King Sheets Fit a California King?

If you’re wondering whether king sheets will fit on a California king, the answer is no. King-size sheets don’t work well on California king mattresses because they are 4 inches wider and 4 inches shorter than a California king. While you can try to stretch them in a pinch, you’ll likely find your fitted sheet bunching up in areas or even popping off in the middle of the night. And no one wants that!

If you’re having a hard time finding sheets that stay put on your California King bed, we recommend picking up GhostSheets. They’re designed with deep pockets that don’t pop off while you sleep.

GhostBed sheets in white.


Crafted with breathable Supima cotton and eco-friendly TENCEL™, our deep pocket sheets have been named the Best All-Season Cooling Sheets by Forbes.

Will a King Comforter Fit a California King?

While you can put a King comforter on your California King bed, it won’t be a perfect fit. King beds are wider than their California counterparts, so your comforter will hang over the edges of your bed. Moreover, the comforter will be nearly half a foot too short for the bed. (So we don’t recommend it!)

King Mattresses: Pros & Cons

Four friends rest and laugh on their king size GhostBed mattress

King-size mattresses are everywhere these days and are no longer reserved for royalty. What’s not to love about a big, comfy bed that is nice and wide? Although 4 inches wider than a California king, a king mattress is 4 inches shorter. Let’s see how that difference comes into play below.

Pros of a King-Size Bed

A King sized bed is perfect for sleepers 6’2” and under. It easily fits into a master bedroom that’s at least 10 feet x 12 feet.

Additional benefits of a king bed include:

  • It’s perfect for couples where one is known for being a “covers hog.”
  • It’s a great size if you invite your kids or pets into the bed with you.

If you think a King mattress is the right fit for you, we recommend checking out the GhostBed Flex. This best-of-both-worlds hybrid mattress sells out most often in the King size for a reason–customers love it!

GhostBed Flex hybrid mattress.

GhostBed Flex Hybrid Mattress

7 layers of hybrid comfort with a medium-luxury feel.

Cons of a King-Size Bed

King-size beds have a couple of cons, though, including the fact that they may not be long enough for taller people. Additionally, king beds may not fit well in narrow rooms.

Can I Put a King Mattress on a California King Bed Frame?

Nope! Because a king mattress is shorter and wider than a California King, the bed frame will not be compatible.

Comparison Chart: King vs Queen Mattress

To help you quickly compare the difference between a King mattress and a California King, we put together this handy comparison chart below:

California king King
Width 72 inches / 183 cm 76 inches / 193 cm
Length 84 inches / 214 cm 80 inches / 203 cm
Surface Area 6,048 square inches 6,080 square inches
Ideal for Large primary bedrooms Large primary bedrooms
Size Overview The California King is longer than a King, but slightly narrower. The King is 4 inches shorter than the California King but 4 inches wider.

We hope this article & chart have helped you better understand how California king and king mattresses differ and assisted you in making the right decision. If you’d like one-on-one help with weighing your options further, we recommend that you reach out to our Sleep Experts. We’d love to help!

Marc's Tip

If you’re sharing a bed, minimal motion transfer is key. Look for materials like memory foam and individually-wrapped coils to ensure that when you move around or get out of bed, you won’t wake your partner up!

A couple relaxes on their king size GhostBed Natural mattress Compare Mattresses

Marc Werner - Founder, GhostBed

Marc Werner

Founder - GhostBed

Twitter LinkedIn

Marc has spent the last two decades designing & manufacturing mattresses and other sleep products, drawing on a lifetime of experience working with the material sciences. With several patents to his name, he works closely with the GhostBed team to create products with the perfect balance of comfort & support. Learn More

Affirm Financing

Flex Payment

36-Month Flex Pay Option

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Shop Pay

One-Time Payment

Pay Once. Rest Easy.

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses