We spend approximately one third of our day nestled in our beds, rejuvenating ourselves so that we can wake up energized, alert and ready to take on a new day. The time we spend cuddled up in our bedding is very important to our well-being, so doesn’t it make sense that we should be as comfortable as possible? Your sheets are a big part of that experience, but not all sheets are made the same.
Last year, I created a bedding size chart for you. (It can be frustrating when your linens come up short when you’re making the bed.) Now I’m taking it a step further and covering in detail what you need to know when buying bed sheets. In looking for the perfect sheets for my master bedroom, I’ve done quite a bit of research on the subject. (What can I say – once I obsess on something, I dive in with both feet.) To help you choose the right sheets for your taste and needs, here are some tips on how to shop for sheets.
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WHAT TO KNOW WHEN BUYING BED SHEETS
I was always so wrapped up in thread count when buying bed sheets. Though it’s an important aspect, it’s not the only thing to consider when choosing bedding. Thread count can be affected by fiber quality; so, I’ll begin with that.
What determines a quality fiber? The length of the fibers. The longer the fiber, the higher the quality. A 200 thread count sheet with higher quality fiber could feel softer than a 400 thread count sheet with a lower quality fiber.
- Egyptian, Pima, Supima and Sea Island cotton are all high quality cottons with long staple fibers. All cotton shares the same basic qualities; however, the longer fiber of these cottons makes them particularly soft, supple and glossy. Short fiber cotton will break down over time, causing it to pill and loose its softness. Egyptian cotton is considered the highest quality cotton.
- Combed Cotton refers to cotton that has been combed to remove the shorter fibers, making it more luxurious.
- Cotton is soft, cool, breathable, and pulls the moisture away from your body. It’s comfortable in any climate.
- 100% cotton tends to wrinkle. To avoid this, purchase a cotton-polyester blend. You may sacrifice some of the softness, but a cotton-polyester blend will be wrinkle resistant, slightly more durable and less expensive.
- 100% cotton is less likely to stain than a cotton-polyester blend because it releases dirt easily when wet.
- It’s very luxurious and more expensive than cotton.
- Linen is about 30% stronger than cotton. With proper care, linen sheets can last several years.
- The fibers are thicker than cotton, so a lower thread count is preferred.
- Because it’s quite breathable, it keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
- It absorbs up to 20% moisture, so it always feel fresh and cool.
- It’s naturally antimicrobial and mildew-resistant.
Takeaway: For stronger sheets and less pilling, look for long fiber cottons such as Egyptian, Pima, Supima or Sea Island cotton. As for choosing a cotton or cotton-polyester blend, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you want something more luxurious, go with linen.
I want to clear up some misconceptions about thread count. A higher count doesn’t always mean better sheets. Here’s a little info on thread count:
- Thread count is the total number of threads woven vertically (the warp) and horizontally (the weft) in a square inch of fabric. (Example: 200 vertical threads and 200 horizontal threads produce a thread count of 400.)
- It’s not about the thread count, it’s about the fiber quality and the type of fiber used. A lower thread count made from a high-quality fiber such as Egyptian cotton will feel softer than a higher thread count sheet made of inferior-quality fibers. High-quality linen can have a thread count as low as 50.
- Flannel sheets don’t use thread count as an indicator of quality. Instead, softness and quality are determined by weight. That weight is measured in grams or ounces. For flannel sheets that are warm and will last a long time, look for a rating of 170 GSM or higher, or a minimum of 5 ounces.
Takeaway: Simply choose a sheet that meets your needs and budget with a quality fiber. With the exception of flannel sheets (which go by weight), as long as the sheets have a thread count between 200 and 600, you’re good.
The weave of a sheet will affect its feel, durability and price. Here’s some information on the most common weaves.
- A Plain Weave is the most common and least expensive weave; it is not usually noted on product packaging.
- Percale weaves produce a strong, durable fabric with a crisp, cool hand (feeling to the touch), and a matte finish. The fabric is more lightweight and breathable, making it ideal for warmer weather and those that sleep warm.
- A Sateen Weave produces a fabric with a lustrous sheen and a soft, silky hand. The fabric is slightly thicker and heavier making it great for colder weather.
- Jacquard and Damask are intricate weaves that create a pattern that alternates between a silky feel and something slightly more textured. These weaves are usually more expensive.
Takeaway: There isn’t one weave that’s better than all the rest. It’s a matter of personal taste. Choose the one that feels the best to you.
SHOP THE IDEAS
When it comes to buying bed sheets, it comes down to your lifestyle, budget, and personal taste. Now that you know what goes into different kinds of sheets, you can make a more educated decision on what will work best for you.
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