For Some Sheets, Thread Count Doesn't Even Matter — Here's Where It Does

When shopping for bedding, the best thread count for sheets is supposed to be a main deciding factor — but with all of the different types of weaves, fabrics, and manufacturing processes to consider, it's often hard to discern what all of it really means. If finding the best thread count is your overall goal, it's important to get a full grasp of the term and how it applies to different fibers. For some materials, thread count doesn't matter at all; instead, manufacturers use weight to determine quality.

Essentially, the term “thread count” refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch. Sheets with a higher thread count generally tend to be softer and more durable. However, you may be surprised to learn that a higher count doesn't always equate to better quality. In other words, thread count can be important, but there are several other factors in the equation.

To gain a full understanding of thread count, it's imperative to know that sheets with a higher thread count are made with thinner yarns, meaning that more yarns can fit into each square inch. This not only makes the fabric smoother and more durable, but it also makes it more expensive. Alternatively, if thicker fibers were used to manufacture bed sheets at a high thread count, the fabric would be much rougher than those made with finer materials. For that reason, when it comes to bedding made with more robust fibers, a lower thread count is a more desirable option in terms of comfort.

When determining which thread count is best for you, first consider the material the sheets are made from. The most common fiber used for bed sheets is cotton, with the three main varieties being American Upland, Pima, and Egyptian. There are also other fabrics such as linen, silk, and bamboo, which have become more popular bedding choices over the years, but some of these don't even use thread count. Flannel and linen are typically measured by grams per square meter, while silk is measured in mommes. Once you pinpoint your fabric of choice, next examine the way the sheets are woven. Oxford, percale, and sateen are some of the more popular weaves, and they'll heavily impact the feel of your sheets.

In summary, it’s really a matter of quality over the quantity when shopping for bedding. Now that you have the basics, take a look at the best sheet options (and their respective thread counts) for each main category.


The Most Affordable: American Upland Cotton, 400 Thread Count

American Upland is the most widely-used cotton when it comes to bed sheets. As a general note, if a label says that they are made from only 100-percent cotton, they are typically comprised of American Upland. This type of sheet tends to be a bit rougher than those made of other varieties of cotton due to their short fibers. However, they are typically the most standard and affordable, meaning that they fit almost any budget and are among the easiest to find.

With a 400 thread count, Pizuna cotton sheets are both breathable and durable, making them comfortable and easy to care for. They do a great job of balancing your temperature while sleeping which will help to keep you cool during summer and warm during winters.

  • Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king


The Most Low-Maintenance: Pima, 500 Thread Count

Pima, also known by the trademarked name Supima, is a fine cotton with a very soft weave. These sheets are much less likely to pill when compared to upland cotton due to their longer fibers. Considered a prime fabric for bedding, the average thread count for a set of 100-percent Pima cotton sheets typically hovers between 400 to 600, with premium brands edging a little higher.

Auraa comfort sheets feature a 500 thread count, making them a soft, comfy, and extremely low-maintenance option for bedding. This four piece set comes in a wide variety of colors and features a fitted sheet with pockets deep enough to accommodate both deep and pillow-top mattresses.

  • Available sizes: full, queen, king, California king


The Most Luxurious: Egyptian Cotton, 800 Thread Count

Of the main varieties of cotton used for sheets, Egyptian cotton is often considered the finest and most luxurious. Thanks to its longer, silkier fibers, Egyptian cotton produces sheets that are incredibly soft, yet strong at the same time. Optimal thread counts tend to range somewhere between 400 to 700, with premium brands climbing into the 1000s.

With an 800 thread count, Mayfair Linen Egyptian cotton sheets are not only high in quality, but they're also soft, strong, and resistant to pilling. The fine fabric used to make these sheets is both hypoallergenic and breathable, making them perfect for people who tend to sleep hot.

  • Available sizes: twin, full, queen, king, California king


The Warmest: Flannel, 160 GSM

Flannel sheets are made from cotton fibers with a brushed nap. They are typically heavy and somewhat fuzzy, which makes them a great choice for colder temperatures. When it comes to quality, flannel ditches the thread count method and is instead measured by the weight of the flannel: GSM (grams per square meter) or ounces per square yard. The higher the GSM (or ounces), the warmer the sheets.

Stone & Beam's rustic cotton flannel sheets will keep you cozy while remaining both soft and gentle on your skin. The four-piece set is offered in a variety of neutral colors and can be easily stored away in its accompanying reusable cloth drawstring bag. It weighs in at 160 GSMs, which means it's warm and cozy, but still lightweight enough for year-round use.

  • Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king


Luxurious But Budget-Friendly: Sateen, 500 Thread Count

Sateen sheets are known for their luster and drape, making them one of the more popular choices with it comes to luxurious but affordable bedding finishes. They utilize cotton fibers, but the weave is really what makes the difference here.

Not only are they long-lasting, but fabrics with a sateen weave tend to be very silky and comfortable, getting softer with each and every wash. A good-quality sateen sheet should range from 300 to 600 thread-count with an average set falling somewhere between 250 to 300.

Made with long-staple Pima cotton and boasting a 500 thread count, Isabella Cromwell's pure sateen weave sheets get better with every wash. The four-piece set comes in a large variety of colors and features a fitted sheet with deep pockets to fit mattresses from 9 to 18 inches.

  • Available sizes: twin, full, queen, king, California king


For A Crisp, Clean Feel: Percale, 350 Thread Count

If you love the feeling of getting into crisp, freshly-washed sheets, this is the weave for you. Percale is a tightly-woven and highly-durable finish that can often be distinguished by its matte look and crisp characteristics.

Although this type is also made from cotton, percale sheets are lighter in weight and more breathable, which makes them a good choice for warmer weather. Due to the use of thinner yarns, a high-quality thread count for percale bedding would range somewhere between 250 and 300, while an average-quality set should tally around a 180 count.

These Tribeca Living bed sheets are made with Egyptian cotton, tightly woven with in a percale finish which gives a crisp and smooth feel. The 350-thread-count set also offers the benefit of an oversized flat sheet along with a 23-inch deep pocket, so it's easy to tuck neatly under thicker mattresses.

  • Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king


The Most Versatile: Combed Cotton, 500 Thread Count

Combing is a type of manufacturing practice that is often used for sheets. Sets are "combed" to remove debris and short fibers before spinning it into yarns. As a result, this type gives you a bit of everything: softness, durability, and a breathable feel. When combined with a sateen weave (like the sheets featured here), you'll also get a silky, luxurious finish.

With a 500 thread count, California Design Den's combed cotton sheets are made to provide comfort and breathability while remaining durable wash after wash. The set's deep pocket fitted sheet features all-around elastic and is flexible enough to fit both low and high mattress profiles.

  • Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king


The Softest: Silk, 600 Thread Count And 19 Momme

Silk is an all-natural material made by the larvae of silkworms and is often seen as an opulent and luxurious option when it comes to bedding. The production of silk sheets requires a lot of care and time (making it one of the most expensive options available), and the fabric is not always as durable when it comes to laundering. However, it is unmatched in its lush look and feel.

When shopping for silk sheets, it's most important to understand the terminology. Mulberry is the highest quality of silk available because it's produced by worms that feed solely from mulberry leaves, while Charmeuse is a weaving technique that creates a smooth, shiny finish on one side and a dull one on the other.

With silk, "momme" is generally considered much more important than thread count. The term momme refers to the weight of the silk per 100 yards with a range that typically spans between 6 to 30. The higher the momme, the more dense and opaque the silk. When it comes to sheets, 19 momme is considered an optimal number when factoring in strength, quality, and affordability.

Zimasilk's 100-percent Mulberry silk sheets have a momme of 19 and a thread count of 600, which makes them both a soft and comfortable option. While they are extremely delicate on both your hair and skin, it's important to know that they, too, require a lot of care. They must be machine-washed sparingly in a mesh bag to avoid pulling and naturally air dried in the shade, as sun exposure can cause damage to their color.

  • Available sizes: queen, king


The Most Breathable: Linen, 160 GSM

Linen sheets are airy, light, and more breathable than cotton, which makes them a popular choice for warmer climates. When it comes to the thread count of linen bedding, the range is much lower in comparison to cotton due to its thick flax fibers. As a result, numbers hover somewhere between 80 and 150 — but most manufacturers won't even disclose thread count for this material, because it's essentially meaningless. Instead, the quality of the flax fibers and the GSM (grams per square meter) are the most telling. Most people consider European flax and a GSM of around 160 to be a great option.

The 100-percent natural flax used to make Len Linum's linen sheet set is exceptionally cooling, breathable, and absorbent. It's also skin-friendly and has a GSM of 160, which reviewers say is a "nice weight, not too heavy" but still a "very durable fabric."

  • Available sizes: twin, full, king, California king


The Best For Temperature-Regulation: Bamboo, 300 Thread Count

Thanks to their eco-friendly composition, bamboo sheets have grown in popularity in recent years. Due to its lightweight feel and optimal absorbency, the natural fabric creates more breathability and better temperature regulation while sleeping. An average set of bamboo sheets typically has a thread count somewhere between 250 and 350, although the number can sometimes edge much higher.

Pure Bamboo's 300 thread-count sheets are breathable and moisture-wicking for maximum nighttime comfort. Crafted with 100-percent bamboo viscose, these sheets will help to keep you cool during warmer weather, while keeping you just as cozy when the temperature drops. With their natural fibers, they are also a great choice for sensitive skin.

  • Available sizes: twin, full, queen, king

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