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

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If you’re looking to furnish your master bedroom, you’ve probably considered the queen and the California king. Both these bed sizes have strengths and weaknesses, but the factors that determine which one you need aren’t entirely in your control.

Most of the time, the biggest factors that decide whether you need a queen or California king are your height and the size of your bedroom. Let’s take a look at the dimensions you’ll need to accommodate each of these sizes and which one could be the best mattress for you.

What is a Queen Size Mattress?

At 60 by 80 inches, queen size mattresses are normally the smallest size needed to fill out a master bedroom. The queen isn’t just great for smaller masters; it’s also great for teenagers’ rooms, guest rooms, and most other average-sized bedrooms. As long as these rooms are not too big, this bed size will fill them out without taking up so much space you can’t walk around.

Room Dimensions for a Queen Mattress

Generally speaking, you need at least 2 feet of space around 3 sides of your bed. Since a queen is exactly 5 feet wide by a little over 6.5 feet long, you need a bedroom of at least 9 by 9 feet to fit this bed size.

However, if you want enough space for a nightstand, dresser, or other furniture, you’ll need a lot more room. Normally, you’d add an extra 2 to 3 feet of space at the foot of the bed to accommodate other bedroom furnishings, meaning the total amount of space you’ll need is actually more like 9 by 12 feet.

Who Should Sleep on a Queen Bed?

Normally, a queen is a good option for couples who don’t have a huge master bedroom or couples who don’t want to spend a ton of money on a bed. Queen beds are also great for taller single adults who want some extra wiggle room. While full size beds offer similar width to single sleepers, they’re 5 inches shorter than a queen, so a full mattress might just leave your feet hanging if you’re on the taller side.

Cost of a Queen Size Mattress

One of the best things about queens is they don’t cost as much as larger bed sizes. The queen mattress, the bed frame, the foundation, the sheets, the pillows—all of it is much cheaper than both the standard king and California king. While you can pay upwards of $2000 or $3000 for a luxury queen, it’s quite possible to get a quality queen mattress for as little as $600. The same can’t be said of king sizes.

What is a California King Size Mattress?

The longest of all the standard mattress sizes, the California king is 84 inches long by 72 inches wide. This makes it perfect for extra-tall people and couples who want to fill out a large master bedroom. In fact, the California king gets its name from the fact that it was designed in Los Angeles to fill out the bedrooms in larger homes.


Room Dimensions for a California King Mattress

California kings are a full 6 feet wide by 7 feet long, so they need a big bedroom to accommodate these dimensions. As with the queen, the bare minimum room size is usually not enough to avoid a cramped look or leave enough space for furniture. A room of 10 by 12 feet or more should be suitable for a California king size bed and as well as some other furniture.

Who Should Sleep on a California King Bed?

Cal king beds can be really good if you’re really tall. For people over 6 feet 4 inches, they might just be the only bed size that won’t let their feet dangle. The Cal king is also great for couples who have a longer, narrower master bedroom.

Cost of a California King Size Mattress

California kings are the most expensive standard bed size. While a California king mattress might cost the same or slightly more than a standard king size mattress from the same manufacturer, it’s California king accessories you need to watch out for. A California king’s bed frame, sheets, pillows, and other accessories can be much more expensive than an Eastern king’s.

Other Mattress Sizes

In addition to the queen and California king, there are four other standard bed sizes:


The smallest of the adult bed sizes, the twin bed comes in at 38 by 75 inches, making it perfect for kids’ rooms, college dorm rooms, and studio apartments.

Twin XL

The twin XL is the same width as a twin, but it’s 80 inches long. That means it’s still great for smaller spaces, but it won’t leave your feet hanging if you’re tall.


Full beds offers some extra width over the twin, coming in at 54 by 75 inches. This makes it perfect for short or average-height combination sleepers who want some extra room to roll around.


The standard or Eastern king comes in at 76 by 80 inches, making it slightly larger than the California king by total surface area. The king size bed is a great option for couples who need all the width they can get.

Mattress Types

Of course, whatever its size, a bed is only as good as the mattress on top of it. Let’s talk about the different mattress types.

Memory Foam

Memory foam was originally designed by NASA in the 1970s to improve crash protection on aircraft. It didn’t take long for the rest of the world to realize what a great bed material it was. If you want custom support and ideal cushioning for your pressure points, memory foam is for you. Just remember a memory foam mattress is not as cool as some other bed materials, and it can take longer to regain its shape after you change positions as well.

Latex Foam

Latex is a natural foam that’s made from the liquid sap of the rubber tree, so if you’re looking for a plant-based bed material, organic latex foam might be perfect for you. Latex beds also bounce back quicker than memory foam and is naturally cooling. However, latex is heavy and hard to move. It also isn’t as flexible as memory foam, so it doesn’t offer the same contoured support.


Innerspring beds are made of a network of coils topped with a plush comfort layer of one or two inches. Usually, the comfort layer of an innerspring is made of either synthetic or natural materials like cotton, wool, or fiberfill. Innersprings are cooling and responsive, but they break down quickly and don’t offer much support to the spine. They also may cause pain in your pressure points.


Hybrid mattresses combine a foam comfort layer of at least two inches with a pocketed coil support layer. These mattresses offer a lot of the benefits of both foam and innerspring beds: they’re cool and responsive like an innerspring, and they’re cushioning and supportive like foam. 

Hybrids can come with any kind of foam, including memory foam and latex. The biggest con with a hybrid mattress is its price. Hybrids are typically a lot more expensive than foam or coil mattresses.


Is there a California queen?

Some manufacturers do make a California queen size bed, and it’s the width of a queen and length of a California king—or 60 by 84 inches. This can be a great size for extra-tall sleepers who don’t have the room or budget for a California king.

Which is the most popular bed size?

Queens are the most popular bed size because they’re the bed that fits the most rooms. They’re also long enough to accommodate all but the tallest sleepers, and they’re a more budget-friendly option for couples who don’t want to shell out for a king.

Can couples sleep on a queen?

Most of the time couples are fine sleeping on a queen size mattress. They offer a full 30 inches of sleeping space to each individual, which is usually enough to make the average sleeper comfortable. 

There are a couple of times a queen might not be big enough for two people. If you’re extra-tall, a queen’s 80 inches might not be long enough for you. And if one or both partners are active sleepers, a queen might not offer enough width for them to roll around. 

Should I get a standard king or California king?

It depends on your sleeping preferences (and sometimes your height). If you want a lot of width to move around, get a standard king. If you’re more interested in length, the Eastern king is no longer than a queen or twin XL, so you’ll do better with a California king.

Do they make a split queen?

Normally, a split king is when you put two twin XL mattresses together in a king bed frame. A queen is too small to accommodate two twin XLs. Two twin mattresses won’t work either; they’ll be too wide and too short. The only solution if you want a split queen is to buy two 30 by 80-inch mattresses specifically made to go in a queen frame.

Bottom Line

The queen and California king are very different beds designed for very different needs. If you need to fill out a large master bedroom, the California king might be the way to go, but if you’re furnishing a smaller room or buying a bed on a more limited budget, the queen could be the right choice. Just make sure, no matter your budget, you’re not skimping on your mattress.

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