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Sateen vs Percale Sheets: Which One Is The Right One For You | The Best Choice for your Bed?

Choosing the ideal sheet can be extremely difficult if you do not know what you are looking for. To help make the choice easier for you, we have selected two of the most popular weaves in the market to compare: sateen and percale.

You have probably heard of the terms sateen and percale, continue reading to learn more about these two weaves. You should rest assured that at the end of the article, you will be able to choose a sheet that works best for your budget and preference.

What is Sateen?

What is SateenWhat is Sateen

Sateen sheets are made from sateen weave. In sateen weave, one yarn has a long float over several of the other yarns on one side of the fabric. This creates a sheet with a high degree of smoothness, luster and without any prominence of weave feature.

Sateen weave produces sheets of close thread packing and heavy construction. In pure sateen weaves, the surface of the bedding consists almost entirely of weft floats, as in the repeat of weave each thread of weft passes overall and under one thread of warp.

The interlacing points are arranged so as to allow the floating threads to slip and cover the binding point of one thread by the float of another. This results in the production of a sheet with a maximum degree of smoothness and luster.

Sateen sheet is produced on a jacquard loom, which has the ability to skip threads. Therefore, you might have one under two over or one under three over. This allows manufacturers to produce intricate designs.

The intricate designs may include stripes and patterns that are woven on a specific tone.

What is Percale?

What is PercaleWhat is Percale

Percale sheets are made from percale weave, which consists of one thread under and one thread over. This plait gives the sheet its durability, strength, crisp feel, and matte appearance. Characteristically, percale weave has a thread count of 180+.

Percale describes a weave of fabric, meaning that a percale can be 100% cotton or a 50/50 blend of polyester and cotton or various other fabrics. A percale sheet is distinctly tighter compared to sheets made of a normal type of weave.

Percale beddings have medium weight, are firm and smooth, and wear and wash very well. They are made from combed yarns. Percale sheets are made in white, solid colors, and printed patterns. The finish of a percale sheet is independent of its weave.

To describe a percale, the industry uses thread count as being a measure of threads per square inch. Basically, you add up the number of warp threads in an inch and add up the number of weft threads in an inch. The two added together would provide the thread count.

What is the Thread Count of Sateen?

Sateen beddings are available in multiple thread counts that range from one hundred and twenty to a thousand. However, different companies weave together several stripper threads to come up with a higher thread count.

A gentle repeat stripe design can be interlaced within a sateen weave. Along with the silky luster of a sateen sheet, you can have an extra appeal of a delicate stripe. For example, coco bed linen is knitted from long staple yarn of superior quality, thanks to sateen weave.

What is the Thread Count of Percale?

Percale threads are carded and combed. The combing process does usually remove up to 70% of the bulk of the fiber, which results in a higher priced yarn. A thread count of 180 to 220 is most common and holds up well to wear.

A thread count of 230 to 280 is better, and 300 to 400 is the best quality. A thread count of 320 is the average for costly high-quality percale sheeting. Higher thread count indicates finer threads, resulting in a softer feel and, usually less pilling.

Thread count above 380 is sometimes misleading, as two threads may be twisted in a way that allows manufacturers to double the thread count. Therefore, a percale sheet labeled 400 threads per square-inch may actually have 200 double threads.

The Good and Bad about Sateen

A sateen sheet is smooth. The sateen knit simply means there are a refined glossy texture on one side as well as a matte flat texture on the other side. Sateen is usually highly durable if it is made of high thread count cotton fabric.

Sateen sheets are comfy all year round, particularly in winter. These sheets are also a good choice for people who sleep cold. The sheets tend to shade over the body in order to preserve more body heat. Therefore, it might not be the most ideal option for humid and hot climates.

Sateen sheets (cotton sheets in sateen weaves), which have a slippery, sleek feel and a high luster, are popular today. Regardless of the sleek feel, sateen sheets are less durable than percale because they use looser twists and floats in the weave, and they are very light and thin.

They cannot be bleached; they soon acquire the grayish or yellowish tinge of aging cotton. They wear holes faster. Of course, if they suit your fancy and your budget, you should have them; and if you are on a budget, you can reserve them for special occasions.


  • Wrinkle-less
  • Warm to touch and ideal for cooler weather
  • Fashionable looking sheen
  • Silky smooth feel


  • Less breathable
  • More likely to snag and pill
  • Less durable compared to percale

The Good and Bad about Percale

The reasons why percale fabrics are generally used for bed sheets are that they are very luxurious with a high surface smoothness, which makes them very comfortable to sleep on. They have a crispness that people can relate starched linen too.

The most important feature of percale sheets is the high durability when compared to lower thread count sheets. The higher durability is mainly a result of the surface smoothness. The two major fabrics used with the percale weave are cotton and poly-cotton.

Some manufacturers use pure cotton percale fabrics due to their superior comfort; while others use poly-cotton because they are easier to iron. Pure cotton fabrics have an extremely high comfort rate because the bedding will feel noticeably cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Another essential factor that increases comfort in pure cotton percale sheets is the ability to absorb moisture up to twelve percent of its weight. In other words, it absorbs the perspiration during sleeping; therefore, reducing the clammy feeling we experience under hot conditions.

On the other hand, poly-cotton will absorb less than one percent of its weight in moisture and; therefore, results in the clammy feeling one gets when the skin is exposed to the synthetic fabrics in warm conditions.


  • Easy care
  • Does not pill or snag easily
  • Crisp and cool feel
  • Suitable for all seasons
  • Soft, smooth, and strong


  • May feel stiff when new

Final Verdict

Percale or Sateen: which is ideal for you? As we have seen, percale is a plain, strong weave, with a crisp and cool feel. It is soft and breathable, does not pill easily, but it wrinkles and feels stiff at first.

On the other hand, sateen has a silky feel and drape and a lustrous sheen. It wrinkles less and it is warm to the touch. However, its shine fades with use, can snag and pill and it is less durable. Sateen is crisp and cool or silky smooth.

Still, if you are one of those to whom a silky hand and a soft, light drape appeal, some of the beautiful all-cotton, high threads count sateen sheets are just what you want. Although, you can often find some good buys.

Those who prefer a crisper or cottony smoothness sheet will always love combed all-cotton percale with a thread count between 180 and 250. It is your turn to choose, but we highly recommend percale.