What thread count should my sheets have?
Well, how long is a piece of string? If you want a one sentence answer, we would be inclined to say that a prerequisite for good quality sheets is to have a thread count of 300 or more. But that’s only part of the equation. Other factors that will affect the quality and comfort of your bedding are which type of cotton is used as well as weaving technique.
Thread count basics
Thread count is the measurement used to specify how many threads – vertically and horizontally – are woven into one square inch of fabric. With finer threads, such as those produced from extra-long staple cotton, more threads can be woven into each square inch, meaning you tend to end up with softer and more supple material. As a general rule, a higher thread count denotes a higher quality of fabric. Finally, as a point of reference, basic cotton has a thread count of roughly 150. So back to the question – what thread count should your sheets have?
There is cotton, and then there is ELS cotton.
A requirement for creating the perfect high-quality sheets is using ‘extra-long staple’ (ELS), cotton. ELS cotton plants allow for stronger, finer yarns that, once woven, will feel soft and supple. This is because the long fibres mean fewer ties and exposed ends. They may be miniscule, but exposed ends can contribute to making cotton feel coarse and rough to touch. Dread!
Let’s get technical
So far, we have established that high-quality bed sheets should have a minimum thread count of 300 ELS cotton threads. The third piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating high-quality cotton is the weaving technique. Depending on if you want crisp & cool sheets, or if soft and cosy is more to your taste, you will need to know if the sheets are ‘percale’ or ‘sateen’ woven. Percale is a one up/one down weave which typically means fewer threads will fit into each square inch of sheet, and the result is a matte finish with a crisp, cool feel. Our experience and research (thousands upon thousands of hours of getting geeky with weavers around the globe) tells us that to create the perfect light, airy, and crisp coolness, a percale woven sheet should have a thread count of 400.
The sateen weave is four up/one down. This means that more of the horizontal threads are exposed, leaving the sheets soft, silky, and supple to the touch. The sateen technique allows for higher thread counts than percale, and here the sweet spot for the ultimate in comfy, cosy bedding is at a thread count of 600.
So, there you have it. The answer to what thread count your sheets should have is ultimately a question of personal preference. Just remember the holy trinity of bed sheet quality: ELS cotton, thread count greater than 300, and weaving technique. If you tend to get hot at night, choose a percale weave, if you like a cosy, heavier composition, go sateen. Or switch it up depending on season!
Do you want to know more about our Soft & Smooth (sateen weave, 600 thread count) or Crisp & Cool (percale weave, 400 threadcount) collections? Check them out here.