Clearing the Confusion between King and California King Mattresses

Clearing the Confusion between King and California King Mattresses

The differences between a king and California king mattress are a common source of confusion and frustration.

You see, it’s not uncommon for someone to realize that a newly delivered king mattress does not fit into their current bed frame, or that newly purchased king-sized bedding is too short or too long for their mattress.

Understanding the differences between these two distinctly different mattress sizes can help clear the confusion and save you some aggravation in the process.

A Brief History of the King and Queen Mattress

Seventy years ago, your mattress options would have been quite limited. You would have only had the options of a twin mattress or a double, which we now refer to as a full-sized bed.

While the concepts of the queen and king mattress were introduced midway through the 1940s, these larger mattress options did not typically impact purchasing decisions until the 1950s, when newly designed suburban homes provided enough floor space for larger beds.

At that time, the queen-sized bed outsold the king three to one.

The Introduction of the California King Mattress

In the 1960s, a Los Angeles furniture company introduced a fifth option, a longer mattress that is wider than a queen, but not as wide as a standard king. This mattress is said to be an oversized bed created specifically for the mansions of athletes and celebrities, to better fill the available floor space and accommodate those of tall stature.

Appropriately dubbed the "California King," the furniture company began mass-producing their design a few years later.  

It did not take long for other mattress manufacturers to follow their lead. The new California king beds were marketed as a better option for those of taller stature to make sleeping more comfortable; to keep their feet from hanging off the edge of the bed.

Sizing Differences are a Common Source of Mattress Confusion

Over the years, the sizing differences between the King and California King has been a perpetual source of misinformation and confusion.

Yet, mattress confusion is understandable. Mattress sizing is not a frequent topic of conversation or even a subject we give much thought.

Many people mistakenly believe that the California king mattress is thicker or more plush than a standard king mattress. This misconception leads some people to assume that standard king deep pocket sheets will fit their California king mattress.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The thickness of a king mattress is not considered in the differentiation between standard and California king; the differences are determined by the width and length.

If you are not entirely sure if your mattress is a standard king or a California king, or wondering which king will best suit your needs, a few simple measurements will give you the answer.

The Dimensions of a King Mattress

The standard, or eastern, king mattress is your widest mattress option. A king mattress is typically ideal for those looking for maximum personal space. It's important to consider the overall room size, as well as measuring turns in corridors and stairways, to ensure a king mattress will fit your space.

Some of the important distinctions of a king mattress include:

  • Measurements are 76 inches wide X 80 Inches long
  • 16 inches wider than a queen-sized mattress
  • The same length as a queen-sized mattress
  • Ideal for those who want the extended width
  • Ideal for couples who want space for pets

The standard (Eastern) king mattress is designed to rest on two XL twin box springs or foundations.

When a split king is preferable, for example for using with an adjustable bed frame, typically two XL twin mattresses and box springs are ordered.

The Dimensions of a California King Mattress

The California king mattress is your longest mattress option. While the California king mattress offers more width than a queen-sized mattress, it does not take up as much space width-wise as a standard king.

Some of the important considerations of a California King include:

  • 72 inches wide x 84 inches long
  • 12 inches wider than a queen-sized mattress
  • Four inches longer than a queen or standard king
  • Ideal for those who want extended length
  • Suitable for those 6'2" or taller

If you’re looking to order a new California king mattress, your foundation or box spring is specific to your mattress size. Like a standard king, the foundation is typically split, so you will likely be ordering a total of three pieces, a mattress, and a two-piece foundation.

Splitting the foundation makes it easier to move the foundation into your room.

Whether you are deciding on the size of a new mattress or purchasing new sheets and bedding for the mattress you have, it's important to know the differences in measurements between a King (eastern) and California king. Frames and bedding designed for one will not fit the other.

For affordable, high-quality sheet sets, bed covers, and accessories, visit Lifestyle Marketplace.

Our Deep Sleep Premier 1800 sheets provide a snug fit for standard and pillow top mattresses from 12-18 inches thick. You will find our Deep Sleep Premier 1800 sheets ultra-soft, wrinkle-free, and ultra-comfortable. Their moisture wicking capabilities help regulate your body temperature so you can sleep comfortably throughout the night!


Back to blog