What Is Thread Count and Does It Matter?

There is no greater feeling in the world than slipping into bed between soft sheets after a hard days of work. More than a third of our lives are spent in bed, so investing in quality sheets is essential for quality rest. When buying sheets, thread count is typically the most important yardstick for measuring quality. But what if we told you it doesn’t really matter?

Yes, it’s like finding out Santa Claus doesn’t exist. While people generally believe that higher the thread count equates to better fabric quality, it isn’t entirely true. There are a lot more factors that affect the quality of a fabric.  



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To put it simply, thread count is defined as the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This includes the threads woven horizontally (called weft) and woven vertically (called warp). In order to increase the thread count, weavers put extra threads into the weft threads. These extra threads woven into the fabric are called ‘picks’ and are the biggest reason behind the high thread count of many fabrics. Practices like this are why higher thread counts don’t necessarily mean higher quality.

Even when the thread count of a fabric is claimed to be between 500 and 600, it depends on the kind of mill, kind of weave, and if threads have been added to take up the count. According to linen experts, thread count is not always the accurate measure of a fabric’s quality.  


There are three essential factors that go into determining the quality of a fabric, be it a sheet, a towel, or a shirt: The type of cotton, where it is woven, and the thread count.

Egyptian cotton is the best cotton in the world, and makes for the finest fabrics. Even though expensive, Egyptian cotton sheets and towels are some of the softest, strongest, and most durable in the market. Pima cotton is another great option in quality cotton. Grown in America, pima cotton may not be as good as the Egyptian variety but is certainly high quality.

The weave of a sheet is responsible for the way a sheet looks, feels, and how long it lasts. There are various kinds of weaves, although the percale weave is the most popular and known as the best. Percale weave is more balanced than the other types of weaves, and gives cooler and crisper fabrics. Another popular choice is a sateen weave that produces fabrics softer and warmer than the percale weave.


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The thread count of a fabric is one of the last things to consider when shopping for clothing, sheets, or towels. Thread count is tricky; even when the thread count is high, the weave or quality of cotton might be low. Therefore, thread count should be considered only after ensuring that the cotton and the weave are of high quality.

One thing to watch out for are high thread count sheet sets at unbelievable prices. If a high thread count sheet set retails for less than $100, you are probably going to end up with a low grade product. Quality thread count is 200 or above, and such sheet sets retail for no less than $150. If the prices are too good to be true, they probably are.

Ultimately, how a sheet feels against skin and how well it performs is more important than the thread count. Take all the factors into consideration when buying sheets, but as long as you feel comfortable with your purchase, that’s all that matters.