California King vs Eastern King

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One frustratingly common misconception that I run into at least once a week is the size difference between a California King and a regular (or Eastern) King mattress. A California King mattress is smaller than a regular King mattress. A California King is 72″ x 84″, while a standard King is 76″ x 80″; in other words, the California King is 4 inches longer, but also 4 inches narrower. That means a King mattress has more overall surface area and more space between the partners than a California King does. Despite this, I often hear people state that they think a California King is the larger size. It’s not. It’s smaller by most metrics.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at some reasons why you might prefer to get one over the other.

Reasons to get a King over a California King

A regular King mattress is the “standard” version of the size, so there are a lot more reasons to get a regular King sized mattress instead of California King:

  • It’s easier to find sheets and other accessories for King mattresses. You’ll have a lot more choices and an easier time getting them. (Though this is not as big of a problem as it used to be with the internet. Amazon has a big selection of Cal King accessories for example.)
  • Mattress stores stock King mattresses a lot more than California Kings. Whereas you can usually get a King mattress immediately, a California King might take a few weeks to arrive. (Note: This won’t necessarily be true in California. Hence the name.)
  • As mentioned before, a King is bigger than a California King, so you have more space. If two people are sleeping in the bed, there will be less partner disturbance in a King.

Reasons to get a California King over a King

With all that said, there are some reasons you might consider getting a California King instead of a regular King:

  • A California King is great for tall people. If you’re taller than about 6’3″ or so, your feet might hang off of a regular King. A California King gives you an extra 4 inches.
  • “King” sized waterbed mattresses were actually California King, so if you want to replace the waterbed mattress and keep the platform, you’ll need a California King mattress.
  • If you have a long, narrow bedroom, a California King might fit into the room a little better.
  • This one’s a bit of a stretch, but sometimes you can get a great clearance deal on California King mattresses. Some people get a California King special ordered, only to realize that they needed a regular King. That California King mattress might sit in the store’s warehouse for months, because California King is such a rare size. I’ve seen somebody get a $3500 California King mattress for under $600 because it was discontinued for so long that the store just wanted to be rid of it.

Conclusion

For most people, a King sized mattress is the correct size to get. Don’t get a California King unless you have a very specific reason to do so (e.g. you’re exceptionally tall, you’re replacing a waterbed, etc). I hope this has cleared up this common misconception.

Thanks for reading.

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Questions & Comments

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MattressNerd Says

May 25, 2017 at 8:27 pm

There are some custom sizes that are bigger, but they're more rare. If you're not too tall, you can always turn the King mattress sideways to gain 4 more inches of width. I've heard of something called a "Texas King," but in all my years of doing this, I've never seen one, and I'm starting to think it's an urban legend.

A Says

May 25, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Can one buy a mattress wider than an Eastern King?

Charles Finnell Says

May 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm

I just bought a bed that was 72"x78"..... What size would this be considered and what linen will be feasible? Please Help

MattressNerd Says

May 14, 2017 at 10:23 am

That size isn't generally sold in the US. As the name states, it's a size sold in Europe. It's 180cm by 200cm. That translates to about 70.5 inches wide and 79 inches long.

Shannon Says

May 13, 2017 at 5:03 pm

So what is this Euro King I got when a neighbor of mine who worked at a hotel ordered for us?? King sheets and cal king sheets don't fit. Plus now I bought a new king mattress and it hangs off the sides ever so slightly.

MattressNerd Says

May 8, 2017 at 10:52 am

Yes, the comforter is generally bigger than the mattress anyway. It will be a little bit long, so if you're a stickler for perfection, it won't be perfect, but it'll be completely functional and won't be too far off.

Samantha Keane Says

May 5, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Can you use a California king comforter on a king size mattress?

Jenna Says

April 12, 2017 at 5:33 am

Yes king is the same size I love mine you also

Troy Says

March 7, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Pls help I have eastern King and can't find sheets

Troy Says

March 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm

Me too can't find sheets

Paulina Kumkowski Says

November 8, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Thanks for the article. I too thought a cali king was biggest possible size. I appreciate the clarification!

MattressNerd Says

October 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Yes, King is the same as Eastern King.

Cheryl Says

October 11, 2016 at 11:03 am

Help! So am I to understand that an Eastern King is just a standard King??? I bought an eastern King and LOVE IT ! But it came with sheets.... now I can't find sheets marked as "Eastern"...Can someone me if I can use std King sheets or where to find eastern sheets???!!! thanks so much!

Larry Ligammari Says

July 11, 2016 at 10:16 pm

I have found myself the proud owner of an eastern king bed..I love the large size..lots of room for my 2 large dogs to sleep because they sometimes decide to claim the bed.. All in all i love this large bed..As bulky as it may seem to some, you just got to love it....

MattressNerd Says

March 19, 2016 at 9:52 am

This is an excellent point, thank you for the comment. And yes, it is easier these days to find Cal King bedding, especially if you live on the West Coast. At the store I used to work in the East, Cal King stuff was often a "special order" which would take longer to get in, but that was a few years ago now, so it's possible they've gotten better with it.

Mark Says

March 18, 2016 at 3:19 pm

MattressNerd gave some really excellent points and dimensions - because he is right: there are some people who think that a Cal King is "bigger" than a regular or Eastern King. I also agree with most of Nerds points - except for one noted below. I will agree with Scott - get the bed you want. I find it quite easy to find Cal King sheeting and/or bedding, here in the new modern millenium; I have always felt like the dimensions of an Eastern King were out of scale to most bedrooms - I am not saying that they are too big (which of course they can be, and then you are forced to a queen) - what I refer to is that even if a bedroom is an introductory large size of say 18' x 18' (or even 15' x 16') - when you put a king bed/mattress in a "normal" large size room, the King appears as just one big "square" - since it is almost square, especially visually. If the room is an odd square size, albeit biggish, and you toss in a big square thing on the floor, it just looks odd to me. The visual rectangle that the Cal King offers, is more appealing in many rooms. For that reason, [Visually] a Cal King is more appealing in many rooms and then the way to go. IF you are in doubt, then take your empty room - or even empty of the bed BUT with other furnishings in place -- using blue tape, tape down a template of a King mattress AND the bed part; Walk about the room, and then "look" at the space AND the space remaining AFTER that "king" bed is on the floor.. Then, re-tape the floor with the dimensions of the Cal King Bed/mattress - many times, the Cal King is visually more appealing - and spatially best. I am an average height of 5'10" and the Cal King is both visually superior and also a more inviting sleep. A Cal King is STILL 12" wider than a Queen [and 4" longer than a Queen], so partners get the extra width, without being 3 people apart. :) All-in-all: MattressNerd gave the very valuable dimensions and cleared up the common misconceptions about the Eastern King vs. California King surface area.

Jennifer Says

January 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for this article. Very informative.

Scott Says

January 8, 2016 at 2:27 am

It should be noted that - and this probably will seem obvious - the California King is far more common in California! If you live out West - especially in California - and you want the longer king, have no fear that it will be tough to find sheet sets. Even big stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond stock Cal Kings over Eastern Kings by a 3 to 1 ratio. I lived in NYC & Philly for years, and have been in LA for the past 18 years and it is noticeable how differently our stores (even big chain stores) are stocked here compared to back East. Plus you can now order just about anything online. So get the bed you need & want most without fear!

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