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California King Size Bed – How to Buy and What You Need to Know

Written by Andrew | Last Updated 2020-06-23

About Andrew

Not only a home designer, Andrew is also the founder of BFA. He always have full enthusiasm for the industry and his job, and he enjoys to share some new ideas to others. His professional advice can help you choose furniture better and home style which fits you.
California King Size Bed – How to Buy and What You Need to Know

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Some people confuse California King beds with standard King beds. The general perception is that California King beds are bigger than King beds, but this is not exactly accurate. California King beds are longer than standard King size beds, but King size beds are wider.

In general, California king beds measure 72 inches across and are 84 inches. As for King beds, they are 76 inches wide and 80 inches long. All in all, King size beds are actually a few inches bigger in terms of total surface area.

How can you determine which of the two options is right for you?

If you have decided that it is time for you to treat yourself to one of these large beds, here are buying tips and tricks that can help you determine which of the two options would work best for you.

Comparison Between King and California King Beds

King mattresses are sometimes called Eastern King beds and they are ideal for people who share a bed because of the extra width that it provides you with. This gives each individual enough space to stretch out on the bed and roll around as needed. The pros of a King bed are that it is good for couples and it is easier to purchase bedroom sets and other accessories because the size is standard. King beds can also fit standard rooms better. However, in terms of cons, King beds are large and can be hard to move and can be expensive as well.

What About California King Beds?

California King beds are sometimes called Western King beds and they are great for taller people who require additional legroom on their bed. In terms of benefits, California King beds work well with tall people and are spacious, but in terms of cons, it can be harder to find bed accessories and these beds are expensive as well.

Buying a King vs. California King Bed

As is true for most mattress purchase decisions, when you want to choose between one size or another, it all comes down to your personal choice. However, there are many other factors to consider as well, such as how much space you have, how large or heavy the individuals who will sleep on it are, and what your budget is.

Let’s look at each of these factors in turn.

Room Size

It might sound like a great idea for you to upgrade your bed to a King or California King bed, but doing so would only make sense and be practical if you have enough space in your bedroom for it. Before making a purchase, make sure it fits easily in your bedroom, and that it still leaves you with enough space around the bed to get around your room.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself before choosing or finalizing a bed.

1.Is there enough space to walk around the bed?

2.Can you reach your side table?

3.Do the drawers of your dresser or nightstand still open?

4.Can you easily open your bedroom door? What about your walk-in-closet or bathroom door? These are important considerations for smaller living spaces.

5.Can you reach your windows to open and clean them?

6.Is your room’s layout conducive to easy navigation?

7.Is there anything blocking your HVAC vents or inlets?

If your bedroom is large, a King bed would work fine, but if it is long and narrow, then a California King bed would likely be the better choice.

Who Will Sleep on the Bed?

The next question to ask yourself is who will sleep on or use the bed. Taller individuals tend to prefer California King sizes because they provide you with more length. However, going for this option means that you will also give up on lateral movement and stretching space because you will have a bed that is four inches narrower.

If you share a bed with someone – and this is likely the case if you are thinking of purchasing a King or a California King bed – then between the two, the King bed provides more personal space for each person and you won’t have to hang off the bed. A King bed is the only size that truly provides each person with as much space as a single Twin offers if that person were to sleep on a Twin alone.

If you have either permanent or occasional guests on the bed such as pets or small children, then you should also consider where and how they will fit into things.

To help you decide, consider these questions.

1.If you are tall, are you okay with your feet hanging off the bed? Do you sleep curled or stretched out?

2.Do you tend to spread out or move around a lot as you sleep?

3.Do you expect to share your mattress with pets or with small children? If yes, where do they typically sleep? Next to you or elsewhere? Small children will typically sleep between two adults, but pets can cuddle at the foot of the bed.

Cost and Budget

Next, you must think about the cost of the bed. If you are upgrading your bed from a Queen bed to either a King bed or a California King bed, then you will probably pay 15% or 20% more for the mattress alone. However, King and California King mattresses that are of a similar make and model tend to be priced the same.

This point notwithstanding, do not forget that purchasing a bigger bed and a bigger mattress to go with your new bed also means you will have to invest in a new bed foundation – unless your new bed comes with slats – as well as new bed accessories such as sheets, a mattress protector, and a comforter. All these items are more costly than standard Queen bed accessories.

Other Considerations

These considerations are not meant to deter you from purchasing a larger bed because the investment is worth the comfort! However, you should be prepared, so keep these points in mind before making a purchase.

In addition to the higher price points of a California King bed and of its accessories, finding them can be harder. Not every mainstream retailer will have endless options in the California King size.

If you live in a rental or have temporary housing or if you expect to move sometime in the near future, then remember that a larger bed and a larger mattress will be much harder to move.

The bigger your mattress, the strong foundation you will need. You do not want to have a sagging mattress. You should invest in a strong, sturdy platform foundation that provides you with maximum support. If you use slats or box spring, those will work. Some mattresses can even be used on the floor.

In the next section, we have a few FAQs that will hopefully provide useful guidance when it comes to purchasing a California King bed.


What bed frames work best for King and California King beds?

Larger beds and larger mattresses need more support. This means King beds and California King beds should have a solid foundation such as a platform bed frame or a strong, slatted foundation. You can even place your new King or California King bed on the floor.

Do California King accessories fit on a standard King bed?

Yes. Sheets that are measured to fit on a California King bed – whether sheets or comforters – will all fit on a King size mattress but fitted sheets will not. It is best to purchasing matching bed sheets and fitted sheets that are all the same sizes as your new mattress.

Who can sleep on a California King bed?

Well, anyone can sleep on one! However, California King beds are designed for use by taller people because they give you more length to your bed.

Why are there slight differences in sizes?

Your guess is as good as ours. This is just the way things developed. If you have a Queen bed and want to switch to a King bed, then length stays constant but the width increases. If you switch to a California King bed, you will enjoy more room in terms of both length as well as width.

However, if you switch from a King bed to a California King, you will have a longer but narrower bed. This is something that many individuals who make a move from King to California King do not understand or perhaps realize. When you switch between King and California King, you cannot just go for the mattress with the biggest dimensions. You must choose between a bed that is wider (the King bed) or one that is slightly narrower but longer (the California King bed).

Help! I Still Cannot Decide!

If you are still uncertain about what to do, there is nothing better than a field test that can help. The way to do it would be to test out both beds. If you are really into testing items before you buy them, you can ask a friend who has a bed of the size you are interested in if you can sleep in it or try it out. Alternatively, you could book an Airbnb that has a bed of the size you want to see if it works for you.

The more traditional route is to visit a brick and mortar mattress store to see how you like either option. A few minutes’ test may not be as helpful as sleeping on a mattress for a night, but many mattress companies offer 100-day or 365-day trials and you could always go for that option. The only issue here is that it could be a hassle to return a mattress or bed that you do not like, and will you really package and return a bed after using it, assuming you’ve used it for a few months or more?

Bed Designs

You can buy a bed in many different designs. Here are some of the more popular types.

Panel Bed: This is a basic bed option that includes a flat panel headboard. Some beds in this design have a matching panel footboard. This is a simple bed design that comes in many varieties, styles, and materials.

Wingback Bed: A wingback bed is one that has a headboard that comes with two decorative side panels that stick out from either side. The addition of these panels is a simple differentiator, but it gives a dose of luxury and class to an otherwise pedestrian or ordinary bed.

Slat Bed: A slatted headboard design is what gives this bed its name. It usually comes with a headboard and/or a footboard made of slats or rails. Wooden slat beds usually look clean and fresh, whereas metal slat beds look more vintage.

Open-Frame Beds: Open-frame beds are designed with a headboard and footboard with free-flowing lines. Depending on the construction and material used in the bed, these beds can be used in settings ranging from industrial and modern to farmhouse and traditional.

Storage Beds: These beds come with under-bed storage, usually in the form of deep and wide drawers that can be used to store sheets, towels, or other items. Some storage beds incorporate storage space in the headboard. These beds are great for smaller rooms or spaces that have limited storage.

Bookcase Beds: Bookcase beds are designed to add some function with form using built-in shelves and other storage components such as a hutch that can hold items that you don’t have to get out of bed to get.

Four Post and Canopy Beds: Four post and canopy beds are similar. They have decorative posts that come up from the four corners of the bed frame. These posts can vary in height. Shorter posts are for looks, whereas taller ones can be used for curtains for privacy. Because of their height, canopy beds look very grand in rooms that have tall ceilings.


It can be difficult to choose the right bed, but with so many options available, any selection you make is bound to do the job exactly right. There isn’t much difference between King and California King beds in terms of size and price; the biggest purchase factor will probably be which one you think looks better to you. choose one of the many bed designs outlined above for the California King bed that you want to buy, and you will hopefully enjoy years of blissful sleep. You’re welcome!

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