Mattress Sizes And Budget

What size mattress should you purchase?

There are four common sizes for mattresses: king, queen, full, and twin. With the exception of luxury mattress sets, all mattresses will be available in these four sizes. Choosing the right size is important for the best sleep experience.

King – 76″ X 80″ – In an ideal world, every couple should be sleeping on a king mattress. The king size is the equivalent of two twins (38″ x 2), with 5″ more length. This provides the maximum sleep space for each adult, and a little more room for maneuvering throughout the night. The extra space is also helpful for any additional critters that may join you in bed – kids, dogs, cats etc.

Queen – 60″ X 80″ – Queen is the most common size. You will find the most linen and bed options for queen size. If you are in a small room, or have limited space for a king size, queen is your next best option. Queen is also the smallest size two adults should share.

Full – 53″ X 75″ – In the not too distant past, two adults would often sleep together on a full size mattress. That equates to less than 27″ of sleep surface for each adult. Outside of the antique furniture store, you will notice that full size furniture is rare. And when you do find some, it is usually designed for juveniles. Unless you are locked into full size, or have very limited space, always choose a queen. The difference in space is marginal (both perception and actual). The price for a full set is often the same as a queen, which is another good reason to step up to the queen size. And of course there will be a whole lot more linen and bed options available in queen size.

Choose you kid's bed carefully. A supportive mattress is critical to their growth.

Choose you child’s bed carefully. A good quality mattress is critical to their growth and health.

Twin – 38″ X 75″ – Twin is the smallest size available outside of crib mattresses. This is quite often the first mattress size for children. For a very young child, I would start with a very modest priced twin set. The reasoning is that it is unlikely they will stay in the twin size into their teen or young adult years. Plus, the price difference between twin, full, and queen sets narrows quickly as the quality increases. It makes little sense to spend $900 on a twin set when the queen may only be $100 or so more.

You can also special order the following sizes:

California King – 72″ X 84″ – If you are 77″ (6′ 5″) or taller, a Cal King set might be a smart move. You lose four inches of width, but gain it back in length. The downside is obvious, less horizontal space for two people. The other challenge, far less options in beds and linens when you change to Cal King – although this has improved greatly since I first bought mine. If you don’t need the length, go for the horizontal space. Most people curl up during the night and do not need the full 84″.

Twin Extra Long – 38″ X 80″ – If you are stuck in a very limited space with a sleeper well over 6′, the TXL size may be the right fit. You will pay a 10-20% premium over twin, and it may be more cost effective and functional to invest in a queen set. But if that is not an option, TXL is the best bet. The same challenges as Cal King plague the TXL size, limited bed and linens options are available.

Buying For Specific Rooms

Master Bedroom – For two adults, if at all possible, purchase a king set. This will give both people the most room to adjust on the mattress. The king will be about 20% higher than the queen set, well worth it for more room.The California King size is getting more popular, but a word of caution, you will significantly limit your bed and linens options when you go with a California King size mattress. If you are 6’5″ or taller, it may be worthwhile. Otherwise, it would be better to have the four extra inches of width in a regular king.

Guest Room/Kids Room – I always recommend buying a queen set. A full and queen set are often priced the same. The difference in size is minimal for space concerns. And of course, you will have many more bed and linens options in the queen size. If you are locked into the full size, purchase the very best full set you can find. There will be limited room to adjust, especially if two adults have to squeeze together on it.

If you plan on using the kid’s bedroom as another guest bed, the queen will work perfectly. Also, if you are buying a quality set, a good queen set will take you well into your child’s adult life, possibly becoming their bed in their first apartment, or a quality guest bed in your home.

For very young children transitioning from crib or toddler bed, it may be best to go with an inexpensive twin, knowing that you will change to a queen when they get older.

A final thought on guest beds – if you are not comfortable on it, nobody else will be. Buy a mattress that if you had to sleep on it, you could. If a spouse is sick, snoring, or you are painting a room for instance, you may end up on that mattress. Buy it with this in mind, you are likely to spend more nights on it than any guest over the life of that mattress.

Mattress Budget – Minimum to budget for a quality set
King – $1,300
Queen/Full – $800
Twin – $600

The prices above assume you are buying for adults, and for every night use. There are certainly less expensive mattresses that may work as transitional beds for small children or infrequent guest use. But choose wisely. There are a lot of really bad mattresses out there. Don’t waste your money on a piece of junk.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

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