A California king size bed, or "Western king," is narrower and longer than a standard, a.k.a."Eastern," king size bed. Though California king beds have become more common over time, they are still rarer than standard king size beds. This means California king beds and their accessories are usually more expensive than standard king beds.
A standard "Eastern" king bed is 76 inches (193 cm) wide and 80 inches (203 cm) long. Standard California ("Western") king beds actually have the same area, but they are narrower and longer, measuring 72" x 84" (183 cm x 214 cm). They essentially trade four inches (10 cm) in width for an extra four inches in length.
In the following video, a sales trainer explains mattress sizes for the benefit of mattress salespersons in training:
- It is possible to buy a "split king" bed, a king size bed that is literally divided down its center for optimum maneuverability. The split king is often two inches (5 cm) wider than the standard king, meaning the two halves are 30" x 80" (76 cm x 203 cm). There is no split version of the California king.
- IKEA does not offer California king size mattresses, but they do sell king and queen size mattresses. It is worth noting that their king size mattresses are a half-inch to inch (1.27 cm to 2.5 cm) shorter than the standard king size. This can be a frustrating realization for those who are unaware of this unique sizing.
- Waterbeds have fallen out of favor in recent years, but some do still exist. California king size beds are more common than standard king sizes for waterbeds. They are usually the same size as typical California king beds but may sometimes be two inches (5 cm) narrower and shorter.
There should be at least two feet (61 cm) of walkable space around a bed frame in a room. As such, neither king size beds nor California king beds are very practical for the bedrooms found in most apartments and small homes, where queen or full size beds tend to be more appropriate.
Ultimately, California king beds are not too different from standard king size beds, but some may appreciate their slightly different dimensions. For people who are over six feet (183 cm) tall, the extra length of a California king can feel nice. California king beds may also function and look better in rooms that are long and narrow.
For couples who want to stay close while sleeping, a California king is the better option. Those who like their space should buy a standard king bed.
Though more common than they once were, California king beds are not as common as standard kings. This can make purchasing box-springs, bed frames, and even sheets and comforters for a California king bed more difficult and costly. If affordability is more important than the dimensional differences between these two types of beds, stick with a standard king.
California king beds date back to the 1960s in Los Angeles, California, where they were found in luxurious mansions. In more recent years, the California king has become competitive on an international level. In Europe, these beds are often known as Western king beds and compete with the standard Eastern king bed. Though the common naming conventions are slightly different, the dimensions of these beds are the same as those found in the U.S. that are known as standard kings and California kings.