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What Does Thread Count Mean?

What Does Thread Count Mean?

You probably see the term thread count thrown around a lot when you’re looking at sheets. It’ll usually say on the label what the thread count is, and most likely you equate a higher thread count with higher-quality sheets. But do you actually know what thread count means and what the best thread count for sheets is? Ahead, we’ll break down the meaning, how important it is to consider when shopping, and more in this sheet thread count guide.

What Is Thread Count?

Thread count, is quite literally, a count of the threads in the sheet. More specifically, it’s the number of woven threads in an inch of fabric. If you look closely at the material, you can see that it’s a crisscross pattern, and each of those threads accounts for part of the thread count. So what is a good thread count for sheets? We’re glad you asked. 

You might see thread counts in sheets anywhere from 150 to over 1,000, but when shopping for sheets, you should be perfectly fine in the 200 to 400 range. The price generally rises along with the thread count, and when you’re getting into a thread count over 800 or 1,000, the price will be high, but the sheets won’t necessarily be any nicer than a 600-thread-count set. 

Sheets that are 300-400 will be soft enough to be comfortable, but any lower and the sheets may feel thin and rough. Sheets that are in the 400 will be even softer but might run a higher price tag. However, if you have a little more money, go for 300-400.

How Important Is Thread Count?

While you should take thread count into consideration, it’s not the only factor to look at when selecting sheets. It will, in theory, tell you how soft the sheets might be. A low thread count most likely means a very loosely woven fabric that might be thin, weak, or a little rough. A slightly higher thread count, in theory, means the threads are woven a little tighter, giving the sheets a softer and smoother feel.

But it also matters what the sheets are made from in the first place. If you’re not looking for basic cotton sheets, think about what fabric you do want. Maybe it’s Egyptian cotton, or sheets with a sateen wave. 

Looking at different fabrics will change the importance of thread count, because not all sheets even have a thread count. It also comes down to the brand you’re buying from as well, as different brands will use different materials. If you can feel the sheets before you buy them, go based on how they feel on your skin. That’s the ultimate test.

How To Use Thread Count To Determine Softness

When considering the ideal range of 200-500, you can generally judge the softness based on the number. Sheets that are 200 won’t be as soft as 300, and 300 won’t be as soft as 400. Sheets under a 200 thread count, on the other hand, might be a little rougher to-the-touch . They’ll be cheaper to buy, but they’ll also be slightly lower quality. We think anything in the 200-500 range should feel comfortable to sleep with. These Tuft & Needle sheets, for example, are 215-thread count, but we think they feel smooth and comfy to sleep in.

Reviews are mixed on how sheets over 400 thread count feel, because some manufacturers inflate their numbers so they appear higher by layering the threads. This means the sheets aren’t actually using a more tightly woven fabric but just layered threads on top of eachother. We honestly don’t think you should bother going for sheets with a super high thread count thinking you’ll get softer sheets — they’ll be more expensive but probably feel similar to your 400-thread count sheets. 

Low Thread Count

Sheets with a lower thread count have fewer threads in the fabric. It’s not necessarily poor quality, per se, it’s just made with less materials to keep cost down, but it also won’t feel as buttery on your skin. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for cheaper sheets, a lower thread count will keep the cost down and still get the job done.

High Thread Count

In theory, a higher thread count means a more tightly woven fabric, however, this isn’t necessarily the case. Some manufacturers have multiple layers in their sheets, or multiple plies. Two layers would be two-ply. The way this works is that some sheet makers will use a two-ply thread or three-ply thread in making the material, which will inflate the thread count. 

If you’re using a single-ply thread to get a 400-thread count sheet, the same thread but in a three-ply structure suddenly makes the same sheets 1,200 thread count. Yet the sheets feel very similar. So don’t necessarily think a higher thread count means an ultra-high quality sheet. While sheets around the 600-800 range might be truly soft, once you go above that, you probably won’t be getting a lot softer.

Not All Sheets Have A Thread Count

Yes, it’s true. Not all sheets have a thread count. So what do you do then? Well, you have to look at other factors. For example, Boll and Branch’s jersey set and Brooklinen’s linen set don’t have a thread count because they’re made from fabrics that aren’t woven. If the material isn’t woven, there’s no thread count. In this case, look at what the sheets are made of to get a feel for how they’ll feel and how soft they’ll be. 

Also, it’s worth taking a look to see if the company you purchase from has a warranty or good return policy. This way you can always return them and get your money back if you buy sheets you don’t like. 

FAQs

Does thread count matter?

It does, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Don’t get caught up on a number, but aim for 200-500 and pick a set you like visually and that feels good on your skin.

What is the highest thread count available?

The highest thread count is usually around 2,000.

What is the lowest thread count available?

You’ll typically see 50 as the low end.

How much money should I spend on sheets?

This is totally up to you, but a really good set of sheets can cost you up to $150 or more, depending on bed size and where you purchase from.

Why don’t my sheets have a thread count?

If your sheets don’t have a thread count, it simply means they aren’t made from a woven fabric.

What is the thread count of the best Egyptian cotton sheets?

Egyptian cotton, which is a high-quality material, has similar standards. A good thread count for Egyptian cotton is also in the 200-400 range, but you’re better off closer to 400-500.