King vs. Split King: What's the Difference?
You would be right if you guessed that the king-size bed is the largest size mattress available. Because of its size, it’s a great pick for anyone who shares their bed with a partner, kids, and pets since it affords ample space for the whole gang.
Although there are variations on the king—including California, Alaskan, Wyoming, and Texas king sizes—the two most common are the standard king and the split king.
Is a king or split king mattress the right mattress size for you? Our split king vs. king guide will help you determine just that.
What is a split king?
A split king is the same size as a king, but instead of one single mattress, it’s actually two separate mattresses together on one frame.
Split king dimensions
A split king mattress measures 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, the same dimensions as a king-size bed. The difference: A split king consists of two side-by-side twin XL mattresses, each measuring 38 inches wide by 80 inches in length.
Why would you want your king-size bed to be split down the middle? There are a few good reasons. Here are the top three benefits of a split king mattress:
- Do you like it firm but your S.O. prefers a softer sleep surface? If you and your significant other have divergent opinions on what mattress comfort level feels best, then a split king mattress could be the answer. Getting a split king means you can choose two different firmnesses, so you each end up with what you want. If you pair the mattress with a split king adjustable base, this will allow each of you to raise your head and feet separately.
- You won’t feel your partner moving while you sleep. A split king mattress eliminates motion transfer because you’re technically on two separate sleep surfaces. This is a particularly good feature if you or your partner is a combination sleeper—someone who switches positions throughout the night. Being on two separate mattresses means you won’t disturb each other if you move around while you snooze.
- It’s easier to move than a standard king mattress. A king-size bed is tough to navigate through tight spaces. Since it's so big, you may not be able to get it up a narrow staircase or around corners. That’s when you can consider a split king, which gets you the same size sleep surface but in the form of two twin XL mattresses, which are much easier to move.
A split king mattress isn’t without its drawbacks. Before buying one, keep this in mind:
- The split in the middle of the mattress can be inconvenient for couples who like to cuddle. You and your partner will be separated by the division in the middle of the mattress.
- Split kings require special sheets, consisting of a single top bed sheet that covers both mattresses, and two fitted sheets that individually cover each mattress. While you can find split king sheet sets, they aren’t as common as standard king sheets.
- It can be more expensive than a standard king. Depending on where you buy your mattress, you may end up spending a few hundred dollars more for a split king mattress vs. a regular king.
King mattress size
The standard king mattress measures 76 inches wide by 80 inches long.
To help you decide between a king vs. split king, we’ve rounded up the top four benefits of choosing a standard king-size mattress:
- A king-size bed provides more room for couples—without the division down the middle that comes with a split king. “Most people would agree that the biggest advantage in getting a king-size bed is more generous room for you and your partner,” says Mary Brennan, interior designer and founder of House of Fine Design in New Jersey. “Not only is it just more comfortable, but in particular, if one person is more of a restless sleeper or a light sleeper, the added sleep space helps keep disturbing the other to a minimum.”
- Due to its large size, a king mattress allows plenty of space for children and pets.
- Its larger size can help fill empty space in a large-size bedroom.
- A king offers extra space for other activities besides sleep and sex, such as working or watching TV from bed.
While there are a lot of positives to getting a king-size mattress, there are some drawbacks too. Here are the four biggest reasons to not get a king bed:
- It’s too much work for a solo sleeper. The king isn’t practical for solo sleepers because it’s a lot of bed for one person to have to make up alone. “A king-size is a bit more effort when it comes to making and dressing the bed since it is so much larger,” says Brennan.
- A king-size bed takes up a lot of space. It won’t fit in studio apartments or small bedrooms. The ideal bedroom size for a king-size bed is 14 feet by 19 feet, although it will technically fit inside a room as small as 10 feet by 12 feet.
- Since they’re so large, they can be tough to navigate. You may find yourself unable to fit it up the stairs or get it through your front doorway. (This is when you’d want to consider a split king instead.)
- Because a king-size bed is the largest bed size, it’s a higher price than other mattress sizes—and you’ll have to spend more on things like a headboard and bedding.
Difference between split king and king
A split king mattress isn’t bigger than a king—in fact, they have the same dimensions. They do have a few key differences, however. We’ve put together this handy comparison chart to help make your choice between the two easier.
76″ x 80″ (two twin XLs side-by-side)
76″ x 80″ (one mattress)
Min. recommended room size
10′ x 12′
10′ x 12′
Who it’s best for
Couples with different sleep preferences
Couples who want a generous amount of space
-Ability to choose two different firmnesses
-Provides the most room for couples (without division in center)
-Split in middle can be inconvenient for couples who like to cuddle
-Too much work for solo sleepers and won’t fit in small bedrooms
Foundations for a split king
How do they work?
Split king foundations are split down the middle for ease of delivery. This is to ensure the foundation can be moved around tight doorways, staircases, and narrow corners. The two sections of the foundation are pushed together to make one unit.
A split foundation is standard on all king-size variations, whether a standard king, California king, or split king. A single-unit king foundation would simply be too large and difficult to maneuver.
One difference in foundations between kings and split kings is adjustability. If you pair a split king mattress with an adjustable base, you can raise and lower your head and feet separately on each side of the bed since the mattress is comprised of two separate surfaces. With a standard king, you can only raise and lower your head and feet together.
One issue with separate mattresses is that they can occasionally shift on the foundation. To keep that from happening, the easiest thing you can do is place a non-slip mattress pad between your mattress and the foundation to keep the two twin XLs from sliding around.
Is a split king the same as a king?
A split king and a king mattress have the same dimensions: 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. However, a split king mattress is split down the middle, while a standard king provides a single sleep surface.
What's the point of a split king?
A split king mattress is a king-size mattress that's been split down the middle. A split king allows couples to customize their sleep surface so each partner can choose their preferred mattress firmness.
What's the advantage of a split king mattress?
A split king mattress has quite a few benefits. For starters, it allows bed partners to choose two different firmnesses so each of you ends up with the one you want.
With a split king, you also won't feel your partner moving while you sleep since you'll be on two separate mattresses. Finally, a split king mattress is easier to move than a standard king.
Can you cuddle on a split king?
It can be difficult to cuddle on a split king mattress because you and your partner will be separated by the division in the middle of the bed. But cuddling isn't impossible.
So long as you're not using an adjustable base to raise your head and feet separately, consider getting a king-size mattress topper to cover the division between mattresses or encasing your mattress in king-size sheets so you feel like you're on one sleep surface.
Find the best king and split king mattresses from Saatva
Saatva offers a wide range of high-quality king-size and split king mattresses so you can easily find your perfect match.
All of our mattresses are handcrafted with premium materials to help you experience your most comfortable sleep. Plus, our mattresses come with a 365-night home trial and lifetime warranty.
Take our mattress quiz to find out which Saatva mattress is right for you.