Bed Sheets

You need to know a lot more than just the size of your bed and your favorite color to get the best value for your money when buying sheets.

Complete Guide to Bed Sheets

If you think sateen is just a misspelling of satin, read on to help you choose sheets that will allow you to enjoy blissful sleep.

Bed Length and Width

The vast majority of beds fall into the standard sizes of twin, full, queen, king, and California or western king, but there are many other sizes. Most college dormitory rooms have twin XL beds, while some college apartments contain full XL beds. Even rarer bed sizes include twin XXL, tull XXL, Olympic queen, and super king.

Mattress Depth

Mattress depth, also called pocket size, is a measure of the thickness of the mattress. To avoid having sheets slip off of the corners of the mattress, the pocket size should be within three to five inches of your mattress depth. This also helps prevent excess material from bunching up in the middle of the bed. Some pillow top mattresses can have pockets of over two feet. Sets may be labeled "deep pocket" or "extra deep pocket" rather than with a number.

Thread count

Thread count is a measure of the number of threads in one square inch of fabric. The higher the number, the softer, more durable, and more expensive they are. Counts over 200 are desirable; some luxury bedding thread counts rise as high as 1,000.

Material and Fiber

Sheets come in a myriad of materials and fibers including several types of cotton, cotton-polyester blends, and even silk and satin.

Cotton sheets are a great choice and offer several advantages; 100% cotton wick moisture away from the skin and are less likely to stain, because cotton releases dirt easily when wet.

One area to look at when choosing cotton is the staple. Staple refers to the length that a particular piece of cotton can be pulled into a single thread. The longer the staple, the more durable and luxurious the cotton.

Another area to look at is the type of cotton. The two most common types are Egyptian and Supima, or Pima. The finer and softer Egyptian cotton is grown in the Nile River valley, while the more supple and durable Supima is grown in the United States.

Organic cotton, which is grown without pesticides, is a great choice for people who suffer from allergies but is not as soft as Egyptian and Pima cotton.

Cotton-polyester blends are less expensive, more wrinkle-resistant, and more durable than cotton, but they do not breathe or absorb moisture as well.

Silk and satin require more care but look and feel more luxurious and stay cooler in warm weather.

Weave Type

Weave type refers to the number of vertical threads compared to the number of horizontal threads. Weave affects the feel and look of a sheet, as well as its durability and cost. Plain weaves, woven from an equal number of vertical and horizontal threads, are less expensive. Percale is a better quality plain weave with a thread count of 180 or higher; it is known for its durability and crisp feel.

Sateen weaves have four vertical threads for every horizontal thread, making for a very soft fabric. However, since more threads are exposed at the surface, sateen has a tendency to pill and tear and will not last as long as a plain weave.

Twill, another common weave, is usually cheaper. A great choice for those who do not like wrinkles, twill also holds up well when washed.

A happy medium between sateen and twill, pinpoint weaves are made with two vertical threads and one horizontal. With fewer threads on the surface, pinpoint is usually not as soft as sateen, but it does soften after a few washings and is slightly more durable.

More intricate weaves, such as jacquards and damasks, have textures ranging from coarse to satiny. These weaves can be as durable as plain weaves, but they require special looms and are more expensive.

Fabrication Techniques

Jersey, flannel, and compact sheets are a great choice for keeping toasty warm in cooler weather. Knitted jersey sheets are soft, warm, and durable. Flannel sheets are slightly less soft, but they are thicker and just as durable. Compact sheet fibers are fused tightly together, making the sheets more wrinkle resistant and durable.


Most sheets are treated with chemicals such as chlorine, formaldehyde, and silicon, to prevent shrinkage and wrinkling. Some are also treated with alkali to produce a sheen.

A few manufacturers offer pure-finish sheets, indicating either that no chemicals were used or that all traces of chemicals used during manufacturing have been removed. Organic cotton is also finish-free. Made of cotton grown without the use of pesticides, these are ideal for people with allergies or chemical sensitivities.


Patterns and colors are normally applied to sheets after weaving, making them feel stiff until after they have been washed several times. More expensive yarn-dyed colored or patterned fabrics are woven from colored yarns, making them feel very soft and smooth.

When picking a bed sheet choose colors that will fit well with your existing bedding items such as comforters, and also make sure it fits in with your present or intended bedroom decor.

How to Buy

You can purchases bed sheets separately or they can also come as a part of a comforter set or bed in a bag. If you need to purchase other bedding items as well such as a comforter, going for a set is much easier and will also tend to work out cheaper.

The sheets on your bed can make the difference between sleeping comfortably and tossing and turning, and there is a lot to consider when buying them, so take your time and use these tips to help you choose wisely.