What’s a “High” Thread Count?



bedding,Bedroom,Egyptian cotton,linens,sheets

We’ve all heard the hype: higher thread counts mean softer, more luxurious sheets – but what exactly qualifies as a “high” thread count?

It’s a subjective question, of course, but if we’re trying to draw an objective conclusion we have to establish some kind of scale; some ability to draw baselines. To start, we’ll remove as many variables as possible so we’re left with thread count (and manufacturer, by necessity) as our only criterion.

Sheet Material

Let’s stick with Egyptian cotton. It’s got a good reputation and is very popular when compared to Pima, American Pima or other types of fabric.

Ply Type

Single-ply sheets are made from individual un-plied threads, which typically result in higher thread counts, and since that’s what we’re after we’ll use this as the standard. Double-ply sheets are heavier and stronger, and can also feel very luxurious, but we want to keep our focus on fine threads.

Weave Type

The big choice here is between percale (standard), flannel and sateen, and we’ll use percale as our baseline, but more importantly is that the cotton is combed. Combed cotton is much softer than conventional carded cotton and can impact the feel as much – if not more – than thread count, anyway.

So, that means we’re comparing sheets of varying thread counts that are all made of 1) combed 2) single-ply 3) Egyptian 4) percale-weave cotton. Whew! So, finally …

Thread Count

As a reminder, thread count refers to the number of threads woven together in one square inch of the fabric; the total calculated by adding the number of horizontal and vertical threads. Theoretically, higher density means a softer feel … but the scientific reality is that sheets with astronomical thread counts (say, anything above 400) won’t fit into our scale. Why?

Well, because it’s almost physically impossible to squeeze more than 400 individual threads into a square inch of single-ply cotton fabric – anything above that number requires double-ply thread and marketing razzle-dazzle.

Conclusion: A thread count of 400 is actually very high for single-ply cotton sheets; anything more than that and it's either a two-ply sheet or a second cousin to a magic carpet.

ATGStores.com hopes this helps you select the right sheets for your sheep-counting siestas.

Maholi''s "Birmingham" collection is crafted using 100% combed Egyptian cotton in a sateen weave.

These printed 220-thread count sheets from North Home Bedding are woven using 100% combed cotton.

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