5 Tips for Buying Great Sheets

By Chad Taylor on October 1, 2015

Not sure what it all means – ply, thread count, fabric? Here are 5 things to know when you go shopping for new sheets.

  1. Which material? Cotton is probably the favorite. Cotton breathes and that helps keep you cool. Polyester is another fabric for sheets. You’ll find very affordable microfiber sheets which are polyester. Microfiber sheets are more resistant to pilling than other polyesters and have a very soft feel.
  2. What weave? Cotton sheets come in a variety of different weaves which give them an individualized feel. If you want a sheet that’s lustrous and has a sleek feel – a bit like silk – you want closely woven cotton sateen. Flannel sheets are also cotton but have a raised surface that is fluffy, ultra-soft and cozy for a cold winter’s night. Jersey sheets are knit cotton. It’s pretty much the fabric of your t-shirts – a bit stretchy. If you like sleeping on soft, comforting sheets, these are the ones for you. The most common and popular weave is percale. It’s crisp and it’s durable. Those are the sheets that are on most beds. They’re the ones that give you that cool side when you flip your pillow.
  3. Look for the ply. Ply is simple. Is a how many threads are wrapped together to form a single thread. Single-ply fabrics are made with a single thread; double-ply fabrics are made with two threads twisted together to make one thread
  4. What thread count? Thread count is the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch. In general, you want a count between 300 and 400. If you’re looking for a lower priced sheet, you’ll find some with thread counts of 180 or 200 that have a nice finish and feel. The higher the count, the better the sheet is not necessarily true. The higher counts can come from a single-ply fabric or from double-ply fabric. An 800 thread count could be 800 single-ply threads or 400 double-ply threads. You may find counts as high as 1000, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best, most luxurious sheet. Feel the sheet and see if it’s really what you want before you buy. You may find it is too heavy or stiff to be the sheet of your dreams.
  5. Are cottons different? They are! You’re going to find sheets that say Egyptian cotton or Pima cotton. These are certified long-staple cottons made with extra-long fibers for a beautiful finish. The brand name Supima® is also long-stable cotton. Egyptian cotton is breathable and highly absorbent. Pima cotton is known for its durability. However, just plain cotton with a great finish makes a breathable, durable sheet.

Feel the sheet before you buy it – even if that means just opening the package and running your hand over it. Some stores will have fabric swatches to help you decide. Consider fabric. Consider thread count. But, don’t let any one factor rule. You want to consider your budget, too. You’ll find sheets with a great feel in all price ranges.