Thread Count: What You Need to Know

Post by Tracy Kaler.


Let’s talk sheets, shall we? If the term “thread count” has you baffled, then this post is for you. “Thread count” appears on bed linen packaging, and suggests the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch (in fitted sheets, flat sheets, pillow cases, etc.). Higher thread counts usually mean that a linen will wear well, feel softer or become softer as it ages, and be more expensive than lower thread counts. If you’re looking at 200-thread count vs. 800-thread count, the 800 should be higher quality and cost more than the 200-thread count. But, that’s not always true.

You see, depending on the construction of the sheet, that higher thread count might not mean much. According to HGTV, “Astronomical thread counts don’t necessarily mean the sheet is better—there are even tricks to inflating the thread count (such as using multiple yarns twisted together) that don’t actually improve the hand of the fabric and may even detract from its quality.”

Lake Washington

Photo by Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects

Depending on the construction and finish of the sheets, 200-thread count can feel quite luxurious, so don’t always aim for a higher number when shopping sheets. Certain types of cotton sheets boast longer fibers, offering a stronger construction and softer hand on the fabric.

Want the best quality sheets? Go with 100 percent Egyptian cotton (also probably the priciest), followed by pima cotton, which should be trademarked Supima. If you find sheets marked 100 percent cotton, they’re probably American upland cotton, which won’t be nearly as expensive (or soft) as Egyptian or pima, and will be more likely to pill.

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