Queen vs. King

Having a spacious bed can feel luxurious and regal. It’s even right there in how the larger mattress sizes are named: Queen and King.

Both a Queen and a King bed can deliver a roomy sleeping surface, but choosing between them can be a vexing challenge. The “bigger is better” refrain doesn’t always apply when choosing a mattress, and there are benefits and downsides to both Queen and King beds.

This guide helps make sense of the choice of a Queen versus a King. It starts by quantifying and explaining the difference in dimensions and then walks through the key considerations and how to decide which mattress size is right for you.

 

family in bed

 

Matters of Size: How Do Queen and King Mattresses Compare?

Everyone knows that the most common mattress sizes -- Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, and King -- get progressively bigger, but the exact details frequently get lost in the shuffle. For this reason, many mattress shoppers are left wondering: just how much larger is a King bed than a Queen, really?

The following table lists the standard dimensions for Queen and King mattresses in both Imperial and metric units.

Queen King
Width 60 inches / 5 feet / 152.4 cm 76 inches / 6 feet, 4 inches / 193.04 cm
Length 80 inches / 6 feet, 8 inches / 203.2 cm 80 inches / 6 feet, 8 inches / 203.2 cm
Total Surface Area 4,800 square inches / 3.08 square meters 6,080 square inches / 3.91 square meters

There are a few key takeaways from this table:

  • Because a Queen and King share the same length, the width differential is the most thing important to note. A King mattress is well over a foot wider than a Queen.
  • Overall, a King mattress is a big step up in size. A King is nearly 27% larger than a Queen in terms of surface area.

What Are the Key Considerations for Choosing Between a Queen and King Bed

Deciding between a King and Queen mattress requires taking a number of factors into account. In this section, we review those factors and how they can guide you in evaluating the choice of Queen versus King.

Bedroom Space

The starting point for your decision should be the space that you have available in your bedroom.

Queen vs. King

As demonstrated by the size comparison above, a King mattress has a significantly larger width and overall footprint. Many bedrooms, especially in apartment buildings, are simply not large enough to accommodate a King. Moreover, the shape of a King is nearly square, and this can make the fit more complicated in many bedrooms.

Queen mattresses are roomy to sleep on, but unlike King beds, they are not space hogs. The more narrow rectangular shape makes it easier to configure a Queen mattress in different ways within a bedroom to make it fit and to maintain usable space around it.

How to Decide

Start by being factual: can a King physically fit, in terms of length and width, in your bedroom?

If the answer is no, then your decision is simple: go with a Queen.

If the answer is yes, then be practical. Ask yourself a few questions about the nature of the fit:

  • With a King bed, will your bedroom feel cramped?
  • Will a King bed obstruct your ability to open doors to the bedroom, bathroom, and/or closet?
  • Will you be able to move around the mattress comfortably or does it take up virtually all available space?

Keep in mind that outfitting a bedroom usually involves more than just a mattress. Other furniture can include nightstands, dressers, desks, chairs, and floor lamps. This furniture can add comfort, style, and usability to your bedroom, so it may not be worth having a King mattress if it means that you can't have bedroom furniture to complement it.

You will make the best choice between a Queen and a King if you start with an honest assessment of the space that you have available. From that point, you can determine what sizes are workable and consider the other factors, described below, that influence the optimal choice for your bedroom.

Price

Part of the mattress buying process is setting a budget, and your budgetary preferences and constraints can play a role in choosing between a Queen and a King.

Queen vs. King

Because they require more material to construct, King mattresses come with a higher price tag. Across the mattress industry, the average price of a Queen is several hundred dollars less than a King. Within the same brand and model, a Queen is virtually always less expensive.

How to Decide

If you have a firm budget, you will have to decide how much priority to give to the size of your new mattress.

While King mattresses usually cost more than Queens, not every King costs more. For example, you may find that your budget is enough for you to purchase a Queen of your top choice mattress that has the design and features you want or a King of a second or third choice mattress. In that situation, you have to think hard about whether the size of the mattress or its construction is more important for you.

As a general policy, a Queen is usually a better bet if you’re on a tight budget. If you have the funds to spare, it’s easier to accept the higher cost associated with the upgrade to a King.

Sharing the Bed With Children and Pets

queen size diagram

king size diagram

For two people sharing a bed, both a Queen and a King usually offer sufficient space. One factor that can complicate this, though, is if the bed is shared with other family or pets.

If you have one or more children who tend to sleep in your bed and/or if you allow pets to sleep with you, your mattress can quickly become cramped.

Queen vs. King

A couple can make space on a Queen to let children, dogs, or cats join them in bed. However, a King has over 25% more surface area, so there is no doubt that it provides much more space to accommodate anyone that you share the bed with.

How to Decide

Clearly, the more real estate on your mattress that is taken up by children and pets, the more you can benefit by choosing a King. But deciding whether that choice is truly necessary is trickier. The two key questions to ask when considering this aspect of the choice between a King and Queen mattress are

  • How often is the bed shared with children or pets?
  • How much effect does that bed-sharing have on your or your partners’ sleep?

If you are frequently sharing the bed and it has a notable effect on your sleep, the upgrade to a King makes sense. If children or pets are sleeping with you only every once in awhile or if they don’t interfere with your ability to get good sleep, it may not be worth upgrading.

Body Shape

The amount of space that you need when sleeping is partly a function of your body shape. Taller people often have problems getting comfortable on smaller beds. People who are heavier (over 230 pounds) may need extra room to sleep comfortably.

Queen vs. King

For taller people, it is important to note that a Queen and King have the same length of 80 inches (6 feet, 8 inches); however, because a King has more width, it offers more space to sleep diagonally or with the legs bent. The extra width provides noticeable additional room for people who have higher body weight.

How to Decide

Start by thinking about how you fit on your current bed. This can provide some meaningful information about how much more space you might need and whether a Queen or King will be the best fit.

If you’re taller than 6’4” and sleep in a position in which your torso and legs are fully extended, both a Queen and a King may be too short. In that case, a California King bed, which is a full 7 feet long, may be the best bet. If a California King isn’t an option, a King mattress will give you more ability to sleep at an angle so that your feet don’t dangle off the edge of the bed.

People with a higher body weight commonly find that a King gives them more room to find the most comfortable sleeping position. Shorter people and those with a more slight frame may find a King to be almost too spacious, leaving lots of unused mattress real estate.

Sleeping Position

How you sleep is another essential consideration when choosing between a Queen and a King bed. People who curl up on their side need less space than people who sprawl out, stretching their limbs in every direction. Combination sleepers change it up, alternating between multiple distinct sleeping positions through the night.

Queen vs. King

A Queen bed is accommodating, but by nature of its larger sleeping surface, a King provides much greater flexibility to settle into virtually any sleeping position.

How to Decide

A few types of sleepers require extra space:

  • Back sleepers who keep their arms and/or legs extended (star-shaped)
  • Stomach sleepers who have their limbs splayed out (star-shaped)
  • Side sleepers who have their legs bent upward and their feet at a significant distance from their torso (shaped like a hook, comma, or question mark)
  • Combination sleepers who regularly toss-and-turn as they change sleeping positions

If you sleep in one of these ways, you’ve probably found situations -- such as in a hotel or a guest bed -- when you didn’t fit and couldn’t assume your preferred sleeping position. In that case, a King bed will offer meaningful extra space so that you can get comfortable without infringing on someone else’s part of the bed.

If you sleep in one of these positions and have a larger body size, it becomes even more beneficial to have the added space of a King.

If you sleep in a more compact sleeping position than the ones listed above, then a Queen may provide plenty of room for you to get properly set up for good sleep.

Personal Space

Every person has their own preference for how much personal space they need when they go to bed. Some people want to be cuddled up while others need a clear buffer around their body.

A person’s need for personal space may relate to whether they sleep hot and/or whether they are a light sleeper who is easily awoken. People who sleep hot usually want more personal space so that air can flow around their body and cool them down. People who are easily roused awake also benefit from more space because it reduces the chances that they’ll be disturbed by the movement of someone else on the bed.

Queen vs. King

On a Queen bed, there is plenty of space for most couples, but people who want lots of personal space may perceive it as close quarters. A King offers the ability to share a bed and keep your distance when you want it.

How to Decide

Your required amount of personal space is by its very nature an individual choice. It is advisable to talk with anyone that you share the bed with about their preferences and make sure that your feelings about personal space are compatible. If a significant personal bubble is crucial, then a King is definitely the better option.

If you sleep hot, a King can give you more breathing room. However, you can also consider buying a mattress that resists heat buildup or a set of cooling sheets.

If being awoken by movement of a partner on the bed is a concern, a King provides a greater buffer to keep your sleep free of disruption. Another option is to consider one of our best mattresses for couples, each of which has excellent properties of motion isolation.

Bed Frame and Bedding

Once you buy a mattress, you have to make sure that you have everything else necessary to make it sleep-ready. This usually includes a bed frame (with or without a box spring) and bedding, including sheets and blankets.

Queen vs. King

Because Queen and King mattresses are both extremely common, bed frames and bedding that fit shouldn’t pose a problem. The vast majority of products will be available in these sizes, but the King sizes usually are more expensive.

Given the difference in size, standard Queen sheets and blankets won’t really fit on a King. King-sized sheets and blankets will cover a Queen but may noticeably hang over the edge.

How to Decide

In terms of buying a bed frame, sheets, and comforters, the added cost of buying ones that fit a King are the most important aspect to keep in mind. If you’re up against a tight budget, you’ll want to make sure that you factor in these costs as part of your total expenditures.

If you already have a Queen or King bed and are thinking about switching, take note of the fact that making a change will require buying new bedding and a new bed frame.

Setup and Moving

If your mattress doesn’t come with installation, then setting up your bed can require some effort. You’ll need to open up the mattress and place it into the desired position.

If you move or decide to put the mattress in a different room, you’ll have to lift and carry the mattress again. You will need to maneuver it out of the bedroom and through your home.

Depending on the construction of the mattress, it may be quite heavy. Whether the mattress is rigid or flexible will depend on internal construction. Some mattresses have handles to assist with moving.

Queen vs. King

Both Queen and King mattresses usually require at least two people to unbox, move, and setup. Some Queens can be set up by just one person. A King is harder to move because of its larger size and added weight. Not only can this make it harder to physically lift and carry, but it can make it challenging to fit through some doorways, hallways, or staircases.

How to Decide

When trying to decide how to consider the issue of setting up and moving your mattress, there are few elements to evaluate.

  • Do you have people to help? If you have family, friends, or roommates who are quick to lend a hand, it may be less of an issue to get a larger mattress set up or moved. If you don’t have a good network to draw on, a Queen may be a better choice.
  • How likely are you to move? If you expect that you’ll be moving one or more times, the added difficulty of moving a King may be a reason to err toward a Queen.
  • What is your home like? If your home provides lots of space to carry your mattress, then the size may not be much of an issue. But if you have tight corners or passageways, the King may pose a challenge. In addition, if you have fragile items, such as vases or artwork, a King may be harder to move without the risk of accidentally knocking something over.
  • What is your personal ability to lift and carry? If you’re a professional bodybuilder or a CrossFit champ, carrying a heavy mattress may seem like something you’d do for fun on a weekend. But if you have physical limitations, having a heavy and unwieldy bed can be a problem.

If you’re concerned about moving a Queen or a King mattress, you may want to place a priority of buying a mattress with handles as this can dramatically simplify the process of lifting and carrying it.

If you’re buying a bed-in-a-box, remember that it’s going to be much easier to bring the mattress into your home and bedroom than to get it out. When the mattress arrives, it will be compressed and in a box, but you can’t recompress the mattress after it’s been set up. Before you unbox and set up the mattress, make sure you have an “exit strategy,” or in other words, a path that will allow you to safely remove the mattress later.

Interior Decorating

A bed forms part of your bedroom’s style and decor. The way that a mattress fits into the space visually can significantly affect the room’s overall vibe and look.

Queen vs. King

A King has a shape that is much closer to square, and this shape can fit certain rooms better than the more rectangular shape of a Queen.

In very large bedrooms, a Queen may seem small, making a room feel emptier and cold. In a smaller bedroom, a King can be a tight fit that makes a room feel cramped.

How to Decide

Before you select a Queen or King mattress, visualize how it will fit within your bedroom. Some people even use online software or paper drawings done to scale so that they can view exactly how the bed will be aligned. This can help you envision how the shape will work in your room and how it will look with other bedroom furniture.

In addition, consider the look and feel that you’re hoping to cultivate. If you want your room to feel open and airy, a Queen is a better fit; if you want cozy, a King might be the right choice.

Need to improve your sleep? Read our in-depth, unbiased mattress reviews to find the perfect bed.

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