When shopping for bedding, you may have noticed that some sheets are advertised as luxurious due to a higher thread count. But what exactly is a thread count?
Simply put, it is the number of threads that are woven into one square inch of fabric. The higher the number, the more tightly woven the fabric will be.
In general, sheets with a TC of 100 or less are considered to be of lower quality, while those with a TC of 300 or more are considered to be of higher quality.
However, it is important to keep in mind that a higher thread count does not necessarily mean that the sheets will be softer or more delicate. In fact, this number isn't the be-all and end-all when it comes to bedding, no matter what you've been led to believe. And the material is quite important as well. In fact, some might say that the material dictates the best sheets!
In a word – no. A higher thread count doesn't necessarily translate into a more luxurious set of sheets. Just think about it.
If you were to take 1000 threads and try to fit them into one square inch of fabric, the threads would be so tightly woven together that the sheets would be stif and rigid, no matter the fabric or weave.
So, why does everyone seem to think that a high thread count is what you should be aiming for when buying sheets?
Well, because it's true. To a point.
If you were to take the 300-TC sheets and compare them to the 100-TC sheets, you'd notice the difference immediately. The former sheets would be softer and more comfortable. They would feel much finer to the touch and you'd be able to feel the quality with just your fingertips.
With all that in mind, you might even begin to wonder, what is the actual importance of this number and what does it mean for you, as the end user?
Well, despite all that we've said so far, a thread count is still an important factor to keep in mind when you're looking for new sheets. Thread count is important because it will give you an indication of quality. So, not a testament. An indication.
So, in a way, it is important for the end user. It will determine (to a degree) how soft and luxurious the sheets will be, how durable they will be, how long they will last, and how comfortable they will be.
Now, the big question – will you feel the difference? Well, yes, you would – if you were to compare a cheap duvet cover with a 300-TC one.
On the other hand – a 300-TC Pima cotton sheet vs a 700-TC Egyptian cotton sheet? Little to no chance.
The main reason why you can definitively say higher thread count equals better quality is because of the way the sheets are made. The actual threads matter, too.
Not all threads are created equal and not all sheets are made the same way. In order to achieve a “higher” thread count, some manufacturers will use what's called multi-ply yarn to inflate the numbers.
Multi-ply yarn is made by twisting together two or more strands of lower-quality thread. This results in a fabric that is not as strong or durable as one made with a single-ply thread, despite the advertised 1000 or even 2000 thread count.
With that in mind, should you even bother with super high over 1000 thread count sheets?
The answer is a resounding no.
Anything above 500 is pretty much a waste of money and almost always a multi-ply yarn sheet that's nowhere near as good as a 300-TC cotton sheets. Some exclusions apply, but we'll get to that later.
A general rule of thumb is that if you're itching for softness, go for a “reasonable” thread count in a sateen weave. The sateen weave is going to be softer than a regular (percale) one because of the way the fabric is woven.
The best thread count for softness would be around 300 to 360. This is where you're going to find the perfect balance between quality and comfort.
But, if you stick with the cotton sateen weave, anywhere from 200 to 400 should be more than fine.
Yes and no. Depends on your definition of “high thread count” sheets. Hotel room sheets are usually the golden standard when it comes to a perfect balance of softness, durability and value.
Why? Because they often use 200 to 300 TC sheets which are not too expensive, will last a long time and will feel more than satisfactory. With that in mind, we're sure you can find a hotel room with 2000-TC sheets or some crappy ones where you could count the threads with a naked eye, but that shouldn't happen in any reputable hotel.
Yes. But, not quite. There are levels to this, so let's analyse. As we've said earlier, the more threads there are in a square inch of the fabric, the denser the fabric will be. So, by following simple logic, a denser fabric will trap more heat, making you feel hotter.
By that logic, is a higher tread count hotter? Yes. Are 1000-TC sheets hot? Yes. They're pretty much as hot as sheets could get. But then again, 300-TC sheets are considered high thread count sheets. Are they hot as well? No. They're actually very breathable.
So, once again – it all makes sense to a certain point.
The sheets woven from true Egyptian cotton will count anywhere from 300 to 700 threads per square inch. Anything lower or higher than that is usually not true Egyptian cotton and is just regular long staple cotton grown in Egypt.
True Egyptian cotton, which is unfortunately only about 10% of all cotton labelled as “Egyptian”, is extra-long staple cotton, characterised by its long, silky, super lightweight and super durable fibres and is commonly regarded as the best cotton in the world, alongside Pima.
Fun fact: Pima and Egyptian cotton are pretty much the same, with the only difference being the country of origin – the USA and Egypt.
No. In fact, it's the opposite. Once again, it's just a simple matter of fabric density.
The more densely woven the fabric is, the more resistance to wrinkling there is. In other words, there's less room for the threads to set in an awkward position and cause wrinkling.
So, if you absolutely hate the thought of ironing your sheets, you might want to consider getting a higher thread count! Of course, like with everything, the material also comes into play quite a bit. But even one less ironing task is going to be worth it for some!
While thread count won't necessarily make a sheet luxurious, anything over 300 is definitely considered a luxury.
And, if you'd want to get the most luxurious bedding set available, we'd suggest going with a certified Egyptian or Pima 700 thread count sateen weave cotton set.
In conclusion, 1000 thread count sheets are rather comfortable and will suit some people like a glove. With that being said, you don't have to have 1000 thread count sheets in order to sleep like royalty, as even a lower thread count can keep you comfortable. But what do you think? Do you only search for 1000 thread count sheets? Feel free to tell us in the comments!