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WHAT IS THREAD COUNT?

February 11th 2021
What Is Thread Count?

When it comes to researching high-quality sheets, you’ve probably heard the term "thread count" being thrown around a lot.

Consumers have been programmed to believe that a high thread count sheet automatically equals higher quality.

In most cases, sheets with a higher thread count are more expensive than regular cotton sheets, but are they actually better? We’re going to take a look at whether or not thread count is really important when purchasing sheets.

What does thread count mean?

Before we dive into the details, you probably should understand what thread count means. Essentially, it is the number of threads or strands that have been woven into a square inch of fabric.

When it comes to a higher thread count, the general assumption is that the fabric ends up being smoother, softer, and more durable - that is why there has been an association that high thread count sheets are better quality.

But is high thread count really better?

Yes, but it depends on the material. You can’t compare high thread count cotton with high thread count polyester - the materials are so different. (We’ll get into this later). But when comparing a low thread count fabric from a high thread count, the difference would be noticeable and would definitely feel softer and more durable.

The difference lies in the higher range of thread counts - for example, a 500-thread count fabric being compared to a 1000-thread count, durability would be close, and the softness would be indistinguishable.

Simply put, higher thread counts may be better, but you don't have to get bedsheets with the highest thread counts for you to experience good quality.

It’s also important to note that higher thread count means thicker sheets, so if you sleep warm this may not be best for you. 

What are good quality sheets made of?

As mentioned earlier, thread count isn't the only way to determine the quality of sheet sets. More than the thread count, you also have to look at the quality of construction.

Regardless of materials, sheets are woven in different ways and patterns, with popular options being either percale or sateen.

Percale

Known for their matte appearance, percale woven sheets use a one-over-one-under weaving technique that allows them to be crisp and smooth to the touch.

Percale bed sheets are usually more breathable and suited for those who sleep in warmer temperatures.

The only downside to percale is that it needs some time to break in and really become smooth, and it also wrinkles easily compared to other sheets.

Sateen

Sateen can often be confused with satin fabrics as both weaving styles have similar properties. The main difference being that satin is made of filament fibres while sateen is made of short-staple spun yarns.

Sateen's weaving style uses one yarn under, three or four yarns over weave, which contribute to its shiny appearance, making it heavier than percale sheets.

With the added weight and shine, sateen sheets are often seen as luxurious and more comfortable.

Let's talk about materials

Like we briefly mentioned earlier, materials are also a way to determine the quality of your fitted sheets or pillowcases, not just thread count. Not all materials are created equally, and 300TC bamboo sheets can be equal to 1000TC cotton sheets.

Egyptian cotton

When it comes to cotton, Egyptian cotton has a reputation for being the finest among the lot, with Pima cotton and Supima coming in below. 

Egyptian cotton has a high fibre content, making the fabric soft and built to last for a long time. The only downside is the high price tag.

Purchasing a set of sheets made of Egyptian cotton can be quite expensive, but the quality would make up for it in the long run.

If you're looking for cheaper options, you may also come across cotton and polyester blends, but these materials do not have the same qualities as 100% cotton.

Linen

One of the more common materials is linen, which usually isn’t known for softness or smoothness. But after a couple of wears, they tend to soften up.

Linens are rougher to the touch due to the lower thread counts and the thicker ply yarns used to weave linen together.

Linen is beneficial due to being hypoallergenic, durable and long lasting and a great environmentally friendly option.

Polyester

Polyester is a popular choice for bedding since it costs much less compared to other materials.

The material is synthetic and is designed to be extremely thin compared to other woven threads.

Due to its thinness, manufacturers usually market polyester sheets as high thread count, which is essentially true. Still, polyesters don’t have the same high thread count effect as in cotton and other natural materials.

Polyester is also commonly used in microfiber materials, which are very lightweight and highly effective at wicking away sweat and moisture away from the body.

Bamboo

Although not as common, bamboo sheets have been rising in popularity recently due to many of its properties that aren't seen in other sheet materials.

Bamboo sheets do not have the highest thread count (usually in the range of 400), but bamboo sheets are one of the softest fabrics used in bedding, while remaining sturdy and designed to last the test of time.

Bamboo bed sheets feel incredibly soft and silky on the skin,  plus the material keeps you cool due to its lightweight material and moisture-wicking properties. Another advantage of using bamboo sheets is that the fabric is hypoallergenic and naturally anti-bacterial.

If you haven't heard of bamboo being used for bed sheets, duvet covers or pillowcases, check out Ecosa's line of 100% Organic Bamboo Sheets.

So, should you go for the highest thread count?

That all comes down to your preference. Try out various fabrics and find out for yourself which ones feel the best to touch. We’re a little biased, but we are obsessed with bamboo sheets. 

High thread count sheets usually feel soft and smooth, but it's not always the case. Don't forget to also look at the material and the way the sheets were weaved.

Looking into various factors that make up good quality sheets would allow you to get your most comfortable sleep.