California King vs Twin XL Beds – Which Is Better?

California King vs Twin XL Beds

California King vs Twin XL beds. It seems like an odd comparison, isn’t it? If you shopped for a mattress before, you would know that the two sizes are on opposite ends of each other. King vs California King would be a more typical choice for comparison. 

To understand how they are related, here are a few fun facts about both sizes:

  • They’re both odd choices. If you’re looking for more standard options, look no further than a King or a Twin.
  • They cater to tall people. We’ll delve into their respective dimensions later. But it’s good to know they both offer extra legroom.
  • They fit narrow or non-conventional room layouts. And because of that, you probably need them.

This quick guide is packed with all the information that can help you choose the right kind of odd for you. Learn the dimensions of both California King and Twin XL. Then, check out their ideal owners. And lastly, know the factors to consider before purchasing any bed, regardless of the size.

California King 

Bed Dimensions

King and Queen share the same length at 80 inches. Featuring 84 inches, California King is longer than the other two members of the big bed department. This is why we say it’s great for odd or narrow room layouts. Cal King can cover 6,048 inches of surface area. If length matters more than the width in your mattress shopping, it’s the one for you.

Also called Western King, Cal King can fit one adult with several pets/kids or a couple with a pet/kid. It earned this moniker due to its popularity on the West Coast, especially among Hollywood homeowners. How interesting is this bed? Singers sing about it and people are curious about its history.

Who Is It For?

Couples or solo adults who need that extra legroom are the ideal candidates here. Pick this, too, if you are dealing with a slim space. It works well in rooms where, width-wise, a King or Queen would leave no gap between the wall and the edge of the bed. You can fit children or pets in, but individual spots will be limited.

Twin XL

On the other hand, the Twin XL mattress measures 38 x 80 inches (width x length). As you can see, it’s as long as the King and Queen versions. But it’s meant for smaller spaces with its narrow width. What’s fun about beds of this size, a bit less common they may be than Twin or Double is that two of them make a Split King.

Since we shared the history of the California King, it’s also fitting to dig a bit into the background of the Twin XL. It was built to accommodate the needs of student-athletes. That’s why this type is used in college dorms. It is, as The Atlantic puts it, “a bone thrown to the comfort of students whose bodies are… adult-size.”

Who Is It For?

As we said, this size caters to college dorm kids. But your younger child may not be too small for it either. In fact, you can use this as a bunk bed mattress for siblings sharing a room. It’s long enough to make space for little ones who will one day grow taller.

Factors to Consider


You just read about the dimensions of the California King and Twin XL beds. Make sure to measure the room area in which you will place the mattress. If you have a foundation, measure that one, too. Either size is longer than their counterpart, so you can’t really use a King or Twin frame to support either of them, respectively.

To fully determine whether you need a long and slim mattress, you should find a two-foot gap between its edge and the wall. This is for ease of use and movement, particularly when you are getting in and out of the bed.

Your Purpose

There are a couple of priorities that come with mattress shopping. These are practicality and aesthetics. The first one includes functionality. You need a bed that can support an adult couple, a college student, or a growing child. Maybe they are tall or are expected to be tall in a few more years. At the same time, that mattress should be affordable or within the budget of whoever’s paying for it.

In addition, you will want a bed that enhances your space. If you are applying interior design, it should align with your preferred theme. This is the other purpose you may want to satisfy. The look and feel of the room can have an impact on your sleep. So don’t take aesthetics for granted.

Aesthetic & Other Practical Uses

While they seem like the oddball in the standard mattress family, Cal King and Twin XL actually come in handy if you’re stuck in cramped quarters. They may look peculiar if placed in a regular-size room. But they fit nicely in a room that has a long and narrow layout. 

And just because we keep using terms like odd or peculiar doesn’t mean these mattress sizes do not come in visually appealing designs. Of course, if you are eyeing a beautifully designed model, the look will be the same across all its sizes.

Read: How Can I Create A Minimalist Bedroom Design?

Your Height

The two sizes in this review are designed for tall individuals. If your height is around 6 inches, you will have that extra room to extend your legs. For growing kids, the Twin XL is a super practical choice. It provides them with more inches of space to grow in.

California King vs Twin XL Beds

Your Co-Sleeper

Couples or siblings can share a Cal King just fine. There’s still plenty of space to move around. But if you want to customize the firmness of each side of the bed, you can put two Twin XL ones together. Just look for a model that comes in the firmness levels you want.

Your Budget & Actual Prices

In terms of pricing for California King vs Twin XL beds, the latter is cheaper, of course. That’s because the cost gradually increases in correlation to the mattress size. But if you aren’t aware yet, Twin XL costs more than Twin. Cal King is pricier than Queen but shares the rate of standard King.

Now, if you’re planning to avail of monthly installments, consider applying to a financing program. This service is offered by brands through a partner, like Affirm and Klarna. If you are shopping on online marketplaces, you can take advantage of promos through membership cards, like the Amazon Store Card.


Both Cal King and Twin XL beds require their own sheets. You may have a harder time finding items in these sizes, though. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to stretch full-size or king-size linens to fit twin XL-size or Cal King-size, respectively. You’ll need to custom-fit the bedding to the bed. This setback may seem small, though, compared to the benefits and advantages you’ll gain.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about bed covers. These are the most common products for protecting our mattresses. Make sure you get the correct dimensions for your fitted covers. You don’t want them popping off while you snooze, as sheets tend to do. Fabric is also a consideration. Pick according to your purpose and preference, but also factor in textiles that can trigger allergies.

Also, have you noticed some brands putting their sheets’ thread count in the product description? Durability and design can depend on this consideration. The higher the number, the stronger the weave. But not too high, according to experts. Cotton fitted sheet with 200 thread count is a good place to start.

Consider the quality of the rest of your accessories, too. You can often buy pillowcases and blankets with fitted sheets. So, maybe buy from a brand you can trust for all your needs. You may include mattress pads and/or toppers in your shopping spree.

Should You Buy California King or Twin XL Mattress?

California King

  • Caters to couples and co-sleepers.
  • Offers extra legroom for tall individuals.
  • Fits long and narrow room layouts.
  • Can be perfect for people who like eccentric design elements.
  • Can be a pricey mistake if the user is unable to return it.
  • Limits the space occupied by each sleeper in a pair.
  • Sleep accessories of this size are hard to source.

Twin XL

  • Good choice for growing children or solo adults.
  • Accommodates tall individuals.
  • Complements rooms with long and narrow layouts.
  • Affordable and functional for college students.
  • Fits most bunk beds.
  • May be outgrown easily by a child.
  • Might be too cramped for adults sharing a bed in a narrow room.
  • Sheets of this size may be rare but can be replaced.


We hope you now understand the unique situation of the California King vs Twin XL beds comparison. These sizes are not exactly rivals. If anything, they complement each other. You can even create your own long and narrow Split Cal King with two Twin XL versions.

So, each size has its own place and purpose. How to make a California King bed or a Twin XL work in a college dorm or a small condo unit is for you to decide. And with the information you gathered from this guide, we’re confident you can make a smart choice.

What do you say? Is California King or Twin XL the right bed for you or your child? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

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