All About Thread Counts: What Do They Mean for Your Sheets?

All About Thread Counts: What Do They Mean for Your Sheets?

If you’ve been shopping for bed sheets lately, you’ve probably come across the phrase thread counts. Thread count refers to the quality of the sheets and exactly how many threads are used in making a square inch of the fabric of your sheets. 

But, what is a good thread count? And, do thread counts matter? 

This article will break down all the details surrounding thread counts and help you choose the right sheets. 

What Are Thread Counts?

As we stated above thread count is a unit of measurement that tells you exactly how many threads were used to weave a square inch of fabric. This number tells you exactly how tightly the fabric was woven when creating your sheets. 

To calculate the thread count manufacturers add together the number and lengthwise and widthwise threads over a small area. A cotton sheet with 200 lengthwise threads and 200 widthwise threads is a 400 thread count sheet. 

Thread count is used as a rough indicator of quality. Sheets with a higher thread count are supposed to be a softer fabric. This is true to a certain extent, but there are a number of other factors that should be taken into consideration when determining the quality of your bedsheets. 

Remember the adage: quality over quantity? With bed sheets, this saying rings true. That’s because the quality of the thread used can be just as important, if not more, than the number of threads used to make sheets. 

What Is the Best Thread Count?

As we explained above thread count is just one measurement for quality. Comfortable sheets can be found with thread counts as low as 200 and much higher. There really isn’t a magic number that guarantees comfortable sheets. 

Of course, there are acceptable ranges that people generally look for when choosing sheets. At a minimum, your sheets should be at least 200 thread count. Anything less than 200 will not give you the best sleeping experience. 

The best thread count also depends on the type of fabric and the weave. A basic weave where the threads go under and over is known as a plain weave. Pain weave sheets range from 180 to 200 thread count. 

On the other hand, a sateen weave is a much tighter pattern. The quality of a sateen woven sheet increases and the thread count can range from 300 to 600. 

Below is a list of fabric types and their average thread counts. 

  • Cotton sheets 200 - 400
  • Bamboo sheets 300 - 500
  • Sateen sheets 300 - 600
  • Egyptian cotton sheets 300 -400
  • Linen sheets 80 -140

Keep in mind that not all fabrics have a thread count. Fabrics such as silk, microfiber, jersey, and flannel do not use thread counts. In these types of sheets, you can look at the quality of the yarn used to make the fabric and make a judgment of the sheet’s quality. 

To find thread count information look on the front or the back of the packet of sheets. It will tell you the type of material that was used to make the sheets, along with the thread count, and how to care for the fabric. 

Thread Count FAQ

Now let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding thread counts. Lots of people want to know what is the highest thread count you can buy? 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question. If you think about it from a technical sense it would make sense that there would be a maximum amount of threads that one could use to weave a sheet.

However, there are no specific regulatory standards around thread counts so many manufacturers use a little bit different system to arrive at their thread count. 

A great quality fabric should have a high thread count and feature long, fine yarns. As a shopper, the price can be a great guide. If sheets with a high thread count seem too good of a price to be real, they probably are not real. 

Another question people like to ask is what is the best thread count. Simply put, the best thread count for sheets is the one that feels comfortable to you. Everyone has a little bit of different taste when it comes to bed sheets. 

Rather than focusing on the thread count, we invite you to learn more about the yarns used to make the sheet. An expertly woven sheet from Italy that is just 200 thread count will feel better than any 1000 thread count sheet that is poorly woven. 

True Egyptian cotton sheets naturally have a higher thread count and will have a silky fine finish because of the long-staple yarns and the expert weaving that goes into making the product. However, a simple woven Egyptian cotton fabric will use shorter yarns and be less dense. 

To spot a good sheet look for a natural luster. The more shine you see and the smoother the fabric appears the higher quality.

Do I Need a High Thread Count?

As we discussed above thread count isn’t everything. Typically speaking a set of 400 thread count sheets will feel better than a set of 200 thread count sheets, assuming both sheets use the same type of yarns to weave the fabric.

Most people look for sheets with a thread count between 200 and 600. Excessively high thread counts don’t often increase the quality of the sheets. The only thing that really changes is the price tag. 

Trying to pack too many threads into a piece of fabric can also block airflow making your sheets hot at night. 

Shoppers should be careful about sheets with excessive thread counts. They could be an indication of poor quality fabric and the manufacturer is trying to use the thread count trick to get you to buy the sheets.

Sometimes manufacturers use two or three-ply threads and count each ply to boost the thread count. 

The Best Thread Counts for Sheets

Thread counts are a general marker of the quality of your sheets but as we discussed above thread count isn’t everything when it comes to quality. Be sure to find out where the yarn came from before purchasing your sheets and look for sheets with a high natural luster and shine. 

Nest Bedding carries fine organic cotton and bamboo sheets that can help you sleep comfortably and keep you cool. Check out our bedding catalog now to see our sheet sets.