What Size Is a King Size Bed?

For a couple crammed into a double bed, or too confined in a queen, a king-size bed is the stuff of fantasy: acres of space to roll over in; the ability for you (and your partner) to sleep flat on your backs; room for the kids to snuggle up in the morning without pushing you off the side. But how large is a king-size bed, really?


There are two types of king-size mattresses: standard and California. Sheets and bed frames for standard and California king beds are not interchangeable, because they differ in both length and width.


A standard king-size mattress is 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. A California king mattress is longer by 4 inches (84 inches long), but narrower by 4 inches (72 inches wide). King-size mattresses range in depth from about 9 inches for memory-foam or low-end innerspring models, to 17 inches or more for deluxe pillow-top models.


If you live in an apartment or small house, a king-size bed may not fit comfortably in your bedroom. When you measure the bedroom, remember to add several inches around the bed to account for the width of the headboard, footboard, and rails (obtain exact measurements for the bedroom furniture you want from the store while you are shopping). You'll also want to leave at least 2 feet of space on either side of the bed, so you and your partner can climb in and out easily.


King-size mattresses are difficult to carry and maneuver because they are so large and heavy. Before you decide to buy a king-size bed, measure not only the room you'll put it in, but also all the approaches to that room: the doorways, the stairs, the hallways, and the elevator, if applicable. Box springs for king mattresses usually come in two pieces, so they can be maneuvered as easily as twin box springs, but the mattress does not come apart or bend easily to get around tight corners, especially in narrow staircases.

Two Twin Beds

If you would like to try sleeping on a king-size bed before you commit to buying one, push two twin beds together to approximate the width of a king-size bed. (Twin mattresses are about 5 inches shorter than king mattresses, though, so this works better if you are not very tall.) If the small gap between the beds bothers you, buy a twin doubler for about $50; it consists of a pad that covers the gap and straps that hold the mattresses together tightly. This versatile setup works well in a guest room, too, if you want the option of two separate beds for visiting children, or one large bed for visiting couples.