Queen vs. California King: What’s the Difference?

Looking at mattresses for your master bedroom, you might wonder whether a queen mattress or California king suits your needs better—one has a lower cost, but the other has more sleeping space. In this mattress guide, we discuss which is best for you, along with different size options and other buying considerations.

What Is a Queen Size Mattress?

A queen size mattress is one of the more popular mattress options, as it’s well suited to single sleepers and couples. At 60 inches wide and 80 inches long, singles and couples alike will have plenty of space to move around.

Variations on a queen mattress include the California queen, which adds an extra 4 inches of length, and the Olympic queen, which gives 6 inches of extra width. These variations are uncommon and are mostly online only.

A queen size Zoma Mattress is $750.

What Is a California King Size Mattress?

A California king size mattress, sometimes called a western king, is one of the larger standard bed sizes—it’s 72 inches wide by 84 inches long. As the longest standard bed size, it’s perfect for people who are 6 feet or taller.

A Cal king bed is an excellent choice for couples—and if your partner likes the bed softer or firmer than you do, you can opt for a split cal king, which lets you tailor your side of the mattress to your sleeping preferences.

A Cal king size Zoma Mattress is $850.

Which Is Best for You?

Room size is crucial when deciding whether a queen or California king size mattress is right for you. Queen beds can fit comfortably in a master bedroom that’s at least 10 feet by 10 feet, but a Cal king bed feels cramped in any bedroom smaller than 12 feet by 12 feet.

Price is another significant factor—although the two can be close in price, queen mattresses cost less than a California king mattress as manufacturers use fewer materials to produce one.

If you’re considering a mattress to share with your partner, think about your body types. A queen mattress can feel cramped for larger or taller sleepers.

You might also want to think about bedding. Queen size sheets and blankets are slightly easier to find in stores than bedding for a Cal king.

Both beds share the drawback of being bulky and hard to move, which can make changing the sheets regularly difficult.

Other Mattress Sizes

Perhaps neither a queen size nor a Cal king size mattress sound right for you. If so, there are four other sizes that might suit you better—twin, twin xl, full, and king.

Mattress Size NameMattress Dimensions in Inches
Twin38 x 75
Twin XL38 x 80
Full54 x 75
Queen60 x 80
King76 x 80
Cal King72 x 84

Twin Mattress

twin size mattress is a compact option that’s perfect for children and teens, guest rooms, or studio apartments.

If you’re a single sleeper shopping on a budget, a twin bed can still provide you with a restful night.

Twin XL Mattress

Twin XL size mattresses have 5 inches of extra length compared to a twin bed.

The added room lets tall people lie down without their feet hanging off the edge.

Twin XL mattresses are the usual choice for college dormitories. You can also combine two twin XL mattresses to create a split king.

Full Mattress

A full size mattress, also known as a double bed, is great for single sleepers who want a little more room to stretch out.

The bed is 16 inches wider than a twin! If you’re a side sleeper who likes to extend their arms or a combination sleeper who rolls around in the night, a full bed might be right for you.

King Mattress

Also known as the eastern king, a regular king size mattress is 4 inches wider and 4 inches shorter than a California king.

A king size bed is a good choice for couples, particularly the split-king variety that lets you customize each half of the mattress to suit you and your partner’s sleeping preferences.

Other Factors to Consider

When mattress shopping, you shouldn’t just look at a mattress’s dimensions to gauge if you have enough space for it. You should also examine what material and firmness the mattress is made with to judge if it’s the right bed for you. Your best mattress should leave you feeling rejuvenated when you wake up and be durable enough to offer support and comfort for many years.

Material Type

There are four main types of mattresses available on the market.

Memory foam mattresses respond to weight and heat, molding themselves to your body. As memory foam beds provide full-body support and pressure relief, they’re one of the best mattresses for hip pain and other chronic pain conditions.

Latex mattresses have a similar feel to memory foam, but the material is bouncier and slightly firmer. There are two types, natural and synthetic latex, with natural latex as the more durable and eco-friendly choice. Synthetic latex, however, is more affordable and a good option for anyone with a latex allergy.

Innerspring mattresses contain a coil system cushioned with foam and fabric on the top and bottom. Because air flows freely between the springs, an innerspring mattress is one of the best cooling mattresses. However, the thin comfort layers provide minimal pressure relief, making it a poor mattress for chronic pain conditions.

Hybrid mattresses combine the traits of a foam bed with an innerspring. A hybrid has a coil support layer and 2 to 3 inches of foam to provide more pressure relief than an innerspring and more bounce than a memory foam mattress.

Firmness

Mattresses come in various feels: extra-firm, firm, medium-firm, medium, medium-soft, and extra soft. Your perfect firmness depends on more than a preference for a firm or a soft bed—you need to also think about your sleeping position and body weight.

  • Side sleepers need a bed with a soft to medium feel to give their hips and shoulders room to sink.
  • Back sleepers should look for a medium-firm to firm mattress to maintain neutral spine alignment.
  • Stomach sleepers need a firm mattress to keep their torso lifted.
  • A mattress for a petite sleeper should be softer than normal.
  • A mattress for a heavy person should be firmer than usual, to best support their body weight.

If you’re looking for the best mattress for back pain, try a medium-firm mattress. A 2015 review found it’s the best firmness option for maintaining spine alignment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much bigger is a Cal king than a queen?

A Cal king is 12 inches wider than a queen and 4 inches longer. While the area of a typical queen mattress is 4800 square inches, a Cal king’s area is 6048 square inches. Still, a Cal king's surface area is slightly smaller than standard king's by about 32 square inches.

Is there a bigger bed than a California king?

Though rare, there are beds bigger than your standard king or California king. These oversized mattresses include the Texas king, which is 80 inches by 98 inches; the Wyoming king, which is 84 inches squared; the Alberta king, a bed that’s 8 feet by 8 feet; and the Alaskan king, which is a full 9 feet by 9 feet.

You’re unlikely to find beds this large in your typical mattress store and should look online for one if you’re interested.

Why is it called a California king?

California king mattresses were first created in Los Angeles as a big bed option for master bedrooms. These beds were an alternative to the standard king mattress. They also have the nickname of "Western king" while a standard king is called "Eastern king."

Should I get a king quilt for a queen bed?

Because a quilt is a loose piece of bedding, you should be able to lay a larger size quilt on a queen mattress. The same principle applies to blankets and comforters. At worst, the bedding may hang a little long over the side of your mattress.

You can also try shopping for oversized queen bedding. An oversized queen quilt or comforter is longer and wider than normal but still designed for use with queen mattresses.

Did We Help?

Only you can decide if a queen or a Cal king is right for you based on your bedroom’s size and available budget. Both fit in larger rooms and can comfortably accommodate couples.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

Sarah Anderson, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson is a sleep, health, and wellness writer and product reviewer. She has written articles on changing and improving your sleep schedule, choosing the right mattress for chronic pain conditions, and finding the best pillow for you. Sarah Anderson has her Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to working for Zoma, she wrote for a variety of news publications.

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