Thread count is the most widely referred to term when searching for those “perfect sheets. " Generally, the higher the thread count, the more costly you’ll find the sheets. But is thread count the real measure of luxury bedding?
Thread count is only one factor in the equation of luxury bedding. The qualities of the fabric are what put the luxury in your sheets. There are, however, two main types of fabrics and they are natural and manufactured. Luxury bedding is almost exclusively made from high-quality natural fabrics such as Egyptian cotton.
Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric. A higher count usually indicates a finer thread. It is the finer thread that gives a sheet its softer feel, unless chemical finishers are used. These chemical finishes, which are often used on cheaper sheets, will make the sheets initially appear to be silky smooth, but after a couple washings the finish will wear off. Chemical finishes are also detrimental to those who have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies. In reality thread count is mostly a measure of a sheet’s softness and not necessarily its quality. For example a 340 thread count sheet made with Egyptian cotton can feel as smooth as a 400 thread count sheet made with cheaper cotton. Does this mean that a low grade cotton sheet with 800 TC fabric feels twice as smooth as 400?
Not necessarily. If you have been shopping for luxury bedding you may have seen advertisements for 800 + TC sheets. This number can be misleading. These sheets achieve a super high thread count by adding multiple plies of fabric together. While these sheets are smooth, they are not as proportionally smooth as the high number would lead one to believe. The added plies increase the durability of the sheet which may be necessary if the bedding is made from low quality materials. High quality fabrics will be made with high quality fibers which are strong and tightly weaved. The best fabrics are generally going to have a thread count between 300 and 350.
Natural materials, such as Egyptian or Pima cotton, are preferred over manufactured materials for bedding. This is because cotton will allow the body to breathe while at rest. But if one prefers a silk-like feel then Lyocell is a good alternative. It is a manufactured material that is made from natural biodegradable materials.
So remember, when shopping for high quality sheets keep in mind that thread count is more an indicator of the smoothness of a sheet and not as much an indicator of quality. If a bedding set claims to have a high thread count check to see if it is made of a high quality fabric. One should seriously consider an investment in quality bedding materials such as Egyptian cotton for longevity, comfort, and especially if you have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies.
Kelly White is cofounder of Home Delights. You can find more info about bedding and down comforters at: http://www.sleepdelights.com .