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How to Buy Linens

Thread count is the gauge for determining the smoothness and durability of a sheet. But this number, which is determined by the number of threads per square inch of fabric, isn’t necessarily the deciding factor. While a higher thread count is important, it’s the type of cotton that is most meaningful.


What’s the Best Quality Cotton?

Pure, 100% Egyptian cotton is the best quality of cotton. Its long fibres create thin sheets that are durable yet luxurious. Second is pima cotton, also commonly referred to by its trademarked name, Supima. Pima cotton is also very soft and less likely to pill than the third-best quality cotton, upland cotton. If a label reads “100 % cotton” you should assume that it is American upland cotton. Its short fibres can protrude from the weave, creating a coarse, weak fabric. A quality queen sheet set of pima cotton will run for less than $200. If you want top-of-the-line Egyptian cotton in percale or sateen, you’ll need to invest around $500.


What’s Better: Percale or Sateen?

Essentially, percale and sateen are equal in quality. It’s simply a matter of preference. Percale’s plain matte weave creates a cool feeling, which is often preferred by people who get overheated while they sleep. Sateen, on the other hand, is a bit heavier but still has a soft, glossy and smooth finish that looks like satin, which is how it gets its name. If you’re unsure about which sheet is right for you, touch different fabric swatches on display to get a sense of what each feels like.