King vs. California King

A question that we hear a lot in the bedding industry is,”What is the difference between a King and a California King?” This can be especially confusing when you look at comforters and realize that dimensions for a King and a Cal King are the same. How is this possible? The reason for this is that a King bed and a Cal King bed actually use similar dimensions, but on the opposite sides. A king bed is wider and shorter in length, while a California king is narrower and longer. So, a comforter in the same dimensions will fit both of these beds.

So, if the comforters are the same dimensions, why do you see bedding for sale in both sizes? The reason that you will see comforter sets in both King and California King sizes is due to the bed skirt. Since a bed skirt only has a drop on three sides, it has to be made differently for a King than a California King because the piece at the top of the bed will have a different length. However, within a comforter set, the bed skirt is the only piece that will be different. The comforter and shams will be the same for both the King and the California King.
You may actually hear different names used at times for a King or California King. A King bed will sometimes be referred to as an Eastern King, and a California King may be called a West Coast King. However, most manufactureres stick with King and California King (sometimes Cal King).

If you own a California King bed, you may have noticed that a lot of manufacturers do not offer a comforter for your bed. This is because it is the same size as a King, so the manufacturer has chosen to label the comforter as a regular King, which tends to be more popular. However, some manufacturers today choose to package the same comforter as both a King and a Cal King for marketing purposes because some people are not aware that they are the same size and they believe that they have to buy specific California King bedding in order for it to fit properly. In fact, the only piece that differs is the bed skirt. So, if you are buying just a comforter, you can purchase either a King or a California King and it will be the same. If you want a complete comforter set, you will have to buy one that is size specific.

Posted in Bedding Terminology | 12 Comments

12 Responses to “King vs. California King”

  1. Donald Heller says:

    This is untrue, and very misleading. For the correct difference between Cal and regular King, as well as the correct dimensions for all bed sizes, go to http://www.dormiadirect.com/sleepcenter/dimensions.asp for example.


    Don Heller

  2. Julie says:

    Thank you! No one ever explained this and I have been going nuts looking for a Cal King comforter which, as it turns out, are a rare find in New England!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Don,

    Thank you for contributing the size chart for beds. Just to clarify, however, the sizes referred to in the article are for comforters, not the sizes of the beds themselves.


  4. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Julie,

    I’m glad this article was useful to you and I hope you’ve now been able to find a comforter for your Cal King bed.


  5. Tanya says:

    The king comforter or quilt will only work on a cal king bed if it is not corded or is the same trim all the way around. If it is corded it will only be corded on three sides, therefore it won’t work on a cal king bed. So if you end up buying a king size for your cal king bed be sure it is the same all the way around the ends.

  6. Karen says:

    I always look for specific measurements for my Cal King comforters because the King size never hangs down long enough down at the foot of the bed.

  7. admin says:

    I totally understand. While most manufacturers make the king and cal king comforters the same size, currently our manufacturer Wooded River: http://www.ajmoss.com/wooded-river.php makes their duvets and coverlets different sizes. Also, Victor Mill, while they don’t regularly make Cal King, we can get them to do a special order for you: http://www.ajmoss.com/victor-mill.php

  8. Patti says:

    I agree with those who said this was misleading and untrue. The dimensions, unless they are EXACTLY the same would never work for both. As someone else pointed out, cording and patterns are designed for the KING orientation. Stupid, stupid, stupid. When will the bedding manufactures realize that they are short-changing California (Western) King users!?

  9. Della says:

    I just purchased a Cal King duvet cover because of the pattern and clearance price. I do have a king bed however. I was happy to read that the bedding for the cal king should be the same dimensions as that of a king. I am guessing that you have to rotate the duvet to fit the extra width of a king mattress? And, if this is the case, and I ordered something with a pattern that should lie horizontal, rotating it from cal king to king would put the design cattywhompus, wouldn’t it? The pattern is of butterflies.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hello Della,

      Great question! As the size between the king and the cal king beds is really just shifting the width to the length and is just a few inches, you would put the comforter on the bed the same way whether it be king or cal king. I hope this helps!


  10. Jamie says:

    Disagree with article. Do agree with other reviewers. Yes, the only difference between packaged king and cal king sets is the bed skirt, yes a california king is 4 inches shorter on one side and 4 inches longer on the other, but that makes it more square than rectangle. They are not the same shape and thus the comforter itself should not be considered interchangeable.

    I have a california king and purchased a comforter labeled cal king. This doesn’t fit the bed properly. Yes it covers the bed, but really either way you turn it – one side is too short. I wish I could find a comforter that actually is meant for my bed! Searching is so difficult because of the misleading labels/ packaging.

  11. Barbara says:

    A regular king comforter does not even come close to working on a CA king. A real CA King comforter needs to be about 100 x 102-4. I always check dimensions and have returned more comforters than I care to. The only two places I have ever found true CA kings are Kohls and JCP online. But you always have to check the dimensions. I think the bedding companies are just kidding themselves and the public if they think the two are interchangeable. It is so frustrating. I’m seriously going to change to a king bed the next time we need a new mattress, however that will also mean new frame, sheets and the whole thing, so will be a major expense. I wish some of these manufacturers would actually figure this out!

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