Thread count, ply, weave — what do any of these things even mean? We know you want your bedroom to be a comfortable and warm space to relax and wind down for the day. But with so many types of bed sheets to choose from (and all the jargon thrown around in the industry), it’s easy to give up and purchase a shabby pair that could work okay.
And we just can’t let that happen.
Having the right sheets can help you catch those much-needed zzz’s — not to mention increase that deep sleep we’re all after — so we’ve compiled all the information you need to make an informed decision on sheet-buying, without having to do all the research yourself. Learn to pick the right sheets for your perfect night of sleep.
Your t-shirts are made out of it, cotton candy is named after it, and it’s the most common material used to make bed sheets. It’s breathable, forgiving when removing stains (adios blood stains), and stays cool. Cotton sheets also soften up with time and washes while maintaining their durability.
When choosing these types of sheets, however, be aware that the type of cotton matters, as some outperform others.
With its smooth finish, incredible durability, and resistance to pilling, Egyptian cotton is the highest quality cotton you can find. It’s typically made with an extra-long staple — the longest cotton fiber available — and can be fairly pricey for the real stuff.
Supima®, the trademarked name for American Pima cotton, is a close second to Egyptian cotton. Made with long-staple as well, this cotton is durable, high quality, and still luxuriously soft without as high of a price tag as Egyptian cotton.
With a lower quality than both Pima and Egyptian, this short-staple cotton is the most common variety you’ll find. Labels that read “100% cotton” are typically Upland, and while still fairly durable, aren’t nearly as soft as other types.
Much like a lumberjack’s staple flannel button-up, the cotton in these bed sheets has been shredded and the individual yarns have been shaved to release fibers for a thicker, fuzzier feel.
The plain or twill weave of flannel sheets also makes them soft and pliant — all the more reason to use them in colder weather.
Imagine your favorite stretchy t-shirt as a sheet and you’ll be picturing jersey sheets perfectly. This type of cotton comes soft and ready to be used. While these sheets are easy to clean, they pill with age and aren’t very lavish, and due to their pliable nature, they tend to easily stretch out with time and are less durable than other cotton sheets.
As an environmentally friendly material, bamboo grows quickly and is commonly used to make other household goods aside from bed sheets. The process of making bamboo sheets entails extracting bamboo cellulose and weaving the fibers into what’s called bamboo rayon.
These jungle plant sheets are softer than polyester or linen and are known to be wrinkle-resistant. Aside from this, bamboo sheets are durable, hypoallergenic, and breathable.
Most pure polyester sheets are rough, while polyester blends tend to be much softer and provide a higher level of comfort. These sheets are easy to wash, wrinkle-resistant, and often quite affordable. If you’re looking for sheets you don’t need to steam or iron, polyester will be your best friend.
However, despite its pros — including the inherent water-resistance — polyester absorbs oil and grease and will leave you with the nightmare of trying to remove stains, particularly with white sheets.
These airy sheets will give your home all the country feels in no time. Hot sleepers and those with allergies greatly benefit from them as linen is a naturally cooling, hypoallergenic material.
While these sheets may seem ideal, their stiffness is sometimes a downfall. This does lighten up with time and washes, but they never quite reach cotton’s dreamy softness.
Tencel™ is a branded material for Lyocell, a product of wood pulp found in certain trees — particularly fast-growing eucalyptus. This environmentally friendly material is wrinkle-resistant and is produced using a closed-loop process, so any waste created while making the material is recycled and reused.
Soft, smooth, and hypoallergenic, Tencel™ is a great choice for eco-conscious consumers. However, keep in mind that it’s not quite as breathable as cotton or linen.
Silk is a natural fiber produced by silkworms and because it needs such delicate care in the production process, it tends to be a pricier option. Aside from the price, silk sheets are naturally hypoallergenic, but care and maintenance tend to be laborious.
Despite the cons, silk sheets are cool, rich, and perfect for adding more romance to a room.
In its most basic form, microfiber is polyester woven extremely fine. Because microfiber doesn’t stain, they make great sheets for kids, if you’re eating in bed, and for those who sleep with their dog. It’s softer than polyester but less breathable than cotton making it good for cold weather.
Satin sheets are made out of synthetic fibers and have an alluring feel. Like silk, adding satin sheets is an excellent way to spice up a room with some romance. When looking for these types of sheets, be aware of whether the satin is woven or knit. Woven makes the satin smoother, while knit adds a bit of roughness to it.
The last thing you want to do is order new sheets and, upon realizing your distaste for them, have to send them back. To avoid any painful sheet purchasing scenarios, keep the following in mind:
Materials play a large role in the feel of your sheets, but how the material is woven can change how sturdy, soft, or thick it is. While you may pay close attention to thread count and material, you should also take into account the type of weave.
Percale sheets (pronounced “per-kail”) are made with cotton. These have a plain weave — one yarn over, one yarn under — that creates a matte, crisp finish. These sheets get softer with each wash and are best for hot sleepers and warm weather. They aren’t wrinkle-resistant, so it’s best to remove them from the dryer immediately following the end of the cycle.
While sateen sheets are similar to satin sheets, they aren’t to be confused with one another. The satin weave structure (one under, three over) creates sateen sheets, but yarn is used rather than filament fibers. Despite the differences in material, sateen sheets are just as elegant and silky smooth as satin. They are less durable than percale sheets but also better for cold sleepers and cooler weather.
The twill weave is characterized by an over two, under two pattern. It leaves behind a distinctly diagonal design and is typically wrinkle-resistant due to the thickness. Twill woven sheets are prone to shrink more than those with a sateen weave but are also often times more affordable.
Dobby weaves are produced on a dobby loom and contain small geometric or stripe patterns throughout. This weave creates more texture than others, as the shapes (be it squares, diamonds, dots, or the like), have a slightly raised feel. The most common design for bed sheets is thick stripes.
Thread count refers to the number of threads (both horizontal and vertical) in one square inch of material. Generally speaking, the greater the number, the smoother, more durable the sheet. At one point thread count played a large part in what type of sheets sleepers bought, but it’s becoming more important to focus on the overall quality instead.
When choosing sheets based on the thread count, keep in mind there are a few materials that can have a smaller number of threads and still be very durable. For example, linen sheets generally have a low thread count, so a good quality linen sheet can have a thread count of 120, but a cotton sheet would need upwards of 500 to be good quality.
Ply refers to the number of fibers used to create one thread. One-ply sheets have one fiber, while two-ply sheets have two fibers wrapped together to create a single thread.
While it may seem that a two-ply bed sheet would be a better choice with the greater number of fibers it contains, this isn’t usually the case. Two-ply sheets are often rougher and less durable, as cheaper materials are typically used. Focus more of your efforts on finding the right material and weave, but do try to stick with one-ply sheets.
Most sheet sets typically include a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and one or two pillowcases. There’s not much need for wondering if you need a flat or fitted sheet for this reason — both are useful and usually come as a package deal. Some other sheet sets, like those Casper offers, also include a duvet cover.
Fitted sheets have an elastic to wrap around the mattress and prevent it from moving too much while you sleep. While these sheets protect your mattress from body oils, spills, and other things, using a mattress protector underneath your fitted sheet is a good idea for extra protection. Flat sheets lay on top of fitted sheets to protect your duvet or comforter from body oils and tearing. Not everyone uses these, but we recommend doing so.
Knowing what types of bed sheets fit your needs can help you sleep better and prevent you from having to buy replacements every few months. When choosing your sheets, keep in mind what type of sleeper you are. Hot sleepers are better off with breathable, cooling sheets like cotton or linen, while cold sleepers should opt for something warmer like flannel. Also, consider how much they will be used and what type of people (or animals) will use them the most.
Check out our collection of Percale and Sateen sheets today. They come in a variety of different sets and fit many different needs.