What does thread count really mean? How does thread count affect the quality of sheets? It seems simple—the higher the thread count, the higher the quality of the sheets, right?
What Is Thread Count
Thread count on the sheets you are looking at is the number of threads woven together in a square inch. It consists of the vertical threads (the warp) and the horizontal threads (the weft) woven together. Sometimes, to put thread counts on some sheets into the thousands, manufacturers add extra threads, called picks, to the weft.
100% Egyptian cotton sheet is the best quality sheet that uses long, single-ply strands for its thread. Many standard sheets, however, wrap shorter strands together to form a single, long thread. They will label it as having twice the thread count if it uses two strands, or two-ply. To be specific, sheets labeled with 800 thread count actually contain 400 thread count. Makers will inflate the count by a factor of four if it uses four-ply strands. Therefore, a 250 thread count will be labeled as a 1000 thread count, which is quite a jump, making poor quality sheets sound like a superior grade.
What Makes Sheets High Quality
To choose high-quality sheets, you should consider the following factors.
- Thread Count. Choose sheets with at least a thread count of 200-600.
- Ply. Do not choose sheets whose labels that use the word multi-ply, 2-ply or 4-ply, since these sheets are blended lower quality cotton together to get the right length of thread. These sheets are rougher, don’t last as long, and tend to pill. They are ugly when compared with 100% Egyptian cotton made with long fibers.
- Finish. Most cotton sheets are mercerized. A finishing process plumps up each of the fibers, adds to the natural luster of Egyptian cotton, makes it feel softer and makes the colors richer looking. This information will be on the label if your sheet set has been mercerized.
- Egyptian cotton. Choose sheets made with pure Egyptian cotton or 100% Egyptian cotton because this type of cotton is considered by experts to have the highest quality. Egyptian cotton is grown from the species gossypium barbadense, and it is stronger, more durable and softer.
- Weave. Choose Egyptian cotton with a percale weave if you like a crisp feel to your sheets. Choose Egyptian cotton with a sateen weave if you prefer softness.
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