The difference between California King vs. King mattresses is only four inches in width but eight inches in length. The size difference first appeared after a California-based retailer introduced the larger design sometime in the 1960s.
Today, the Cal King sized mattress still remains a standard mattress size and is offered as a size option by most popular mattress brands. It’s important to recognize the difference in Cal King vs. King size mattresses as a difference in size—not quality. This means knowing the difference can help ensure you get the right size mattress for your bed and the right size bed for your home.
The Main Difference
King size mattresses measure 76 inches wide by 80 inches in length, with their thickness varying between different models and brands.
California King size mattresses measure 72 inches wide by 84 inches in length and again—thickness varies depending on model and brand.
California King mattresses are 4 inches narrower and 4 inches longer than traditional king size mattresses. This means you’ll have less room to roll around but more foot room to sink down into the covers. This difference is often preferred by those of greater height but can also be favorable for those seeking more floor space in their bedroom.
A Quick History: How California King Mattresses Came About
California King mattresses are relative newcomers in the world of mattresses, at least as commercial options. They hit the market in the late 1960s as popular luxury items found in Hollywood hotels and celebrity mansions.
This mattress size initially became popular as early as the 1920s and 1930’s as a custom option for celebrities and movie stars in Hollywood—before the standard King-size was a commercial option.
This mattress size was largely seen as a status symbol and—as with most status symbols—quickly grew in demand by regular consumers. Today, anyone can have a California King size mattress and bed without having a ravenous fan base. Pricing is typically the exact same between the two sizes but sometimes the California King size option isn’t available.
The only caveat is that you must also have a California King sized bed to put your California King size mattress on. Check out our article on Bed & Mattress sizes for help with that.
The Benefits Of California King Size Mattresses
Deciding between a King vs Cal King mattress or bed is mostly a matter of preference. In cases of smaller bedrooms, an extra eight inches in length may make an actual difference. Remembers to always carefully measure your room dimensions before shopping for new furniture!
The extra 4 inches in length can seem like a mile if your feet are dangling over standard king-sized mattresses. Another benefit of California King beds is their narrower form. Again, we’re talking only 4 inches, but this might be a much-welcomed increase in space for smaller bedrooms.
King-size beds and mattresses are generally preferred in master bedrooms given their larger size. Personal preferences usually dictate the appropriateness of cal king bed sizes. This may be a consideration for the body type, sleeping style, or simply a matter of needing more space.
The Drawbacks Of California King Mattresses
California King mattresses often get discussed as if they are some golden age design capable of bolstering one’s sleep and status to all-time highs. Truth be told; unless your feet are dangling over the end of regular King-size mattresses you probably won’t notice much difference.
Without a tape measure in hand, most people would likely be unable to tell the difference between the two! California King beds have some drawbacks that anyone considering them should be aware of. As a general guideline, you’ll find not all mattresses are available in California King size nor are all bed frame designs.
Visualizing King vs. Cal King
To better illustrate the difference between king vs. cal king size mattresses and beds, take a quick peek at the illustrative video by Adam, a U.S. Mattress Sales Associate.
If you’re shopping for both furniture and mattresses—make sure that the mattress you want is going to fit into the bed that you want! Sometimes you might find California King size beds or mattresses to be priced slightly higher.
This is such a rarity in today’s market that we couldn’t even find a decent example. Check out our mattress buyer’s guide for more tips on what to watch out for when shopping for a new mattress.
For those seeking the Ultimate bed; California King sized mattresses and bed frames are often able to satiate. If you’re tall enough that your feet don’t rest comfortably when sleeping on a regular king size mattress—California King sized beds might provide additional comfort.
The difference between these two mattress sizes is quite small, so much so that they’re often regarded as a bit redundant. Still, the slight dimension differences can also help better accommodate the space of some bedrooms and is offered by nearly every major manufacturer now. If you’re shopping for a new bed and mattress, just make sure you’ve checked that each offers the California King size before buying either one!