The Pros and Cons of a California King Bed

Are you in the market for a new bed but aren’t sure what size is best for you? Learn the pros and cons of a California king bed.

By Nicole Gleichmann

Choosing the right bed can make you feel a bit like Goldilocks and the three bears. One mattress might be too small, another too large, and another just right.

But the last thing you want to do is buy a mattress and later find out that it was too small or too large for your needs. For couples and families, it can be hard to choose between a regular king bed and a California king bed. We’re here to help.

The Difference Between a King and California King Mattress

Happy Sleeping Couple

Bed sizes can be a bit confusing. You might think that going up a size will always lead to an increase in the length or width of the bed, but sometimes it can result in an increase in one and a decrease in the other. While your sleeping space on either a king or California king will be greater than a queen, only one gives you extra length.

The dimensions of a queen, king, and California king mattress are necessary to help you decide which one is best for you.

  • Queen Mattress Dimensions: Measures 60” wide by 80” long
  • King Mattress Dimensions: Measures 76” wide by 80” long
  • California King Mattress Dimensions: Measures 72” wide by 84” long

If you sleep on a queen mattress and switch to a king mattress, the length will remain the same, but the width will increase. And if you switch to a California king, you will experience more room in the length and the width.

However, if you go from a king mattress to a California king, you will be buying a longer, narrower mattress. This is something that many people who opt for a California king size bed do not realize.

This means that there is no way to simply go for the biggest mattress. You must choose between a wider, shorter bed or a narrower, longer mattress.

Pros and Cons of the King Mattress (Eastern King)

A standard king size mattress has unique pros and cons when compared to a California king.

Pros

  • The widest option available
  • More common than a California king (easier to buy accessories like bed frames and sheets)
  • Less expensive than a California king
  • Will fit in more common room sizes than a California king

Cons

  • May be too short for tall people

Who Is the Standard King Bed Best For?

King beds are an ideal choice for couples or families who have found that a queen bed simply isn’t wide enough. This is a common problem for couples who move around in their sleep or who are overweight.

Additionally, the king bed is an excellent option for couples who want to share their bed with other family members. This could include kids or pets who may cuddle up next to you for bedtime. If you are an animal lover, only choose a king bed if you intend to have your pet snuggle up next to you rather than at your feet. If your pet likes to spread out perpendicular to your body, it might be best to have them sleep at the bottom of a California king bed.

Lastly, standard king mattresses are more common than California king mattresses. Common mattresses are cheaper, yield more options when it comes to bed frames and bedding, and are easier to fit in many small bedrooms. For those who may move from one place to another or who enjoy having lots of decorating options, a standard king may be the best option.

Pros and Cons of the California King Mattress (Western King)

A California king size bed offers advantages and disadvantages when compared to a standard king mattress.

Pros

  • The longest option available

Cons

  • Too long for small rooms
  • More expensive than a king mattress
  • Harder to find bedroom accessories

Who Is the California King Bed Best For?

California king beds are best for those who need extra space at the foot of the bed and do not find a queen bed excessively narrow. This is usually the case for people who are tall or couples who want to share their bed with a dog or cat who sleeps at their feet.

California kings are typically not as good as traditional kings for couples with a child who sleeps in bed with them. Because the kid is likely to sleep up top, it is usually best to opt for the extra width that comes with a king bed.

Furthermore, a California king will fit best in a large bedroom. This makes it a good option for those who have lots of space now and are comfortable making sure that they continue to have ample space if they move in the future.

Still Unsure Which Option Is Best for You?

There are times when no amount of research is going to answer a question for you. If you’re still not sure if a California king or king mattress is right for you, the best thing to do is to test it out.

The ideal way to do this is to sleep on both mattress sizes. You can ask friends or family to take a nap on their guest bed or stay at one Airbnb with a king and another with a California king. It’s best if you can bring along any kids or furry family members that will be sharing the bed with you.

Another option is to visit a mattress store and test it out for a few minutes. This is not quite as helpful as actually sleeping on each size of mattress as you may find that how you move, or the lack of a bedtime companion, leads to the wrong choice.


Conclusion

Before you consider things like edge support, firmness, or mattress material, you will need to know what size mattress you want. Both California king beds and regular king beds offer a good option for couples and families, but your personal needs will dictate which one is the best for you. If you value length more than width, opt for a California king. If you need width more than length, go for a standard king.


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