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King vs. Split King: What's the Difference?

by Nick, Digital Specialist | February 10, 2021

The split-king mattress is becoming more popular with our customers- why would someone consider that? What are some of the drawbacks?

One recent trend we’re seeing in the bedding industry is the growing popularity of the split king mattress. What exactly is it, and how is it different from a regular king-size mattress? Why would someone consider getting a split king mattress? Let’s dive right in!

Before we start, let’s go back to basics: king is one of the most common sizes of mattresses that a store can offer (along with twin, full, and queen). King mattresses are the same length as a queen mattress (80” from head to foot) but are the widest mattress out there, at 76 inches wide. King mattresses are great for two bigger people, or for a couple who shares the bed with a child or a pet. Generally, when people switch to a king-size mattress, they don’t go back to a queen- but just make sure you have the space to fit a king!

A split king mattress is actually two mattresses placed next to one another to make a king-size. You can accomplish this by putting two twin extra-long mattresses next to one another- together, they’re the exact same size as a king! There are some great benefits to this arrangement, but also some drawbacks.

(side note: California king is different than all of these. Cal-king mattresses are longer than regular king at 84” long, but are also narrower- just 72 inches. More on that in another article!)

-Different comfort levels: usually when a couple is shopping for a mattress, there is some compromise involved, in order to find the best fit for both people. A split king allows each person to choose their own comfort level while still sleeping next to one another. This is especially useful if the two people are very different sizes or have wildly different comfort requirements.

-Different sleeping positions: more and more of our customers are adding an adjustable base to their mattress orders- this puts them in a sleeping position that takes more pressure off their joints and reduces tossing and turning. However, everyone’s body is a little different, which means one person might require a vastly different sleeping position. A split king mattress with two adjustable bases allows each person to move their mattress independently.

-Motion transfer: if you and your partner go to bed or wake up at different times, a split king is among the best options for reducing motion transfer- that is, how the bed moves when you get in and out of it. No matter how good a mattress is, nothing will be as good at preventing motion transfer than two separate mattresses.

-Easy to move: since it’s two separate pieces, a split king is easier to get through a narrow hallway or stairway. This is true for not just the mattress, but also the base that goes under it- whether you’re using a boxspring or an adjustable base.

-Cost: at the end of the day, you’re essentially buying two mattresses and two foundations- this can be costly. The cost for two twin extra-long mattresses will always be more than a one-piece king mattress, so be prepared to pay a little more if you choose this option.

-Sheets: it’s usually recommended that you use two twin extra-long fitted sheets- one for each mattress, especially if you’re putting adjustable bases under them. You can get away with a single king-size flat sheet and quilt/comforter, though. Some retailers do sell split-king bedding sets but these are harder to find than regular king.

-The gap: when you put these two mattresses next to each other, there will be a seam down the middle, where the two pieces meet. Some people find this awkward to deal with. You can purchase something called a bed bridge which is a piece of foam that fills the gap, but it’s not the same as a one-piece mattress.

We hope this handy guide has helped you make some decisions about whether a split-king bed is right for you. Sleep well!