What Is Thread Count?

If you are looking to buy a new set of bedsheets, you will likely be seeing a whole set of mysterious terms thrown about when it comes to companies touting their bedding’s quality and benefits. One of the most common (and most important!) of these term is ‘thread count’. but , you are not alone if you have been wondering what it actually means, and how influential it is to your good night’s sleep.

This article will guide you through exactly what thread count means, and the effect that it may have on your rest and comfort, as well as helping you pick out the best thread count for your preferences and needs.

What is thread count

What does the term ‘thread count’ mean?

Thread count is the most popular statistic for displaying the quality rating of bedding. It is a measurement of the number of threads in a square inch of the fabric in question, i.e., it gives you an understanding of how tightly woven the fabric is.

It is calculated by counting the number of vertical threads (which is known as the warp), and the horizontal threads (which is known as the weft), in a single square inch of the fabric. These two values are then added together, which gives the total thread count number. As an example - if a material has 100 vertical warp threads, and 100 horizontal weft threads, then it has a thread count of 200 (100 + 100 = 200).

This value will give you an indication of a feel of the fabric, and how soft it is to the touch it will be. There is some level of marketing, though, when it comes to the importance of fabric thread counts. It has become a bit of a buzzword for bedding manufacturers, and there are a few things that you should consider in addition to the thread count when you are picking the bedsheets that you want to invest in.

So, with this in mind, when you are shopping around for your next set of bedsheets, we suggest that you go fro quality over quantity. Look for indicators that your sheets are made out of a good quality of material, which has been manufactured using the best methods possible, rather than just focussing on thread count.

What thread count should I be looking for in my bed sheets?

In general, sheets that are good quality and comfortable usually fall within the 200 to 800 thread count range, which is quite a wide bracket. Because the range is so big, there is not really an ‘ideal’ thread count value that offers you a great night’s sleep. In the end, a lot of it boils down to personal preferences and sleeping habits.

Despite this, we do suggest that you only look at sheets that have a thread count of more than 200, as a rule of thumb. This is because sheets under this mark can feel a little scratchy and thin. Furthermore, the type of fabric that your bed sheets are made out of will also affect the ideal thread count range. Here is our list of the most common bedding fabrics, and the thread count that they typically have:

  • Cotton = 200 to 400 thread count
  • Egyptian Cotton = 300 to 400 thread count
  • Percale Weave Cotton = 200 to 400 thread count
  • Sateen Weave Cotton = 300 to 600 thread count
  • Bamboo = 300 to 500 thread count
  • Linen = 80 to 140 thread count. When shopping for linen bedding, you might notice that thread count typically is not listed. This is because it isn’t as important as for a lot of other fabrics - the linen fibers are thicker, meaning that it is not possible to weave into a tight fabric like cotton and satin. If it is listed on linen bedding, we suggest that you avoid sheets that have a thread count of above 120, as this will make your bedding feel scratchy and thick.

Are there any alternatives to thread count?

There are a few fabrics that are not measured using thread count, such as:

  • Silk, which is measured in momme instead. A momme is the weight (in pounds) of a piece of silk that measures 45 inches by 100 yards. If you are in the market for silk sheets, you should aim for ones that have about 17 to 22 mommes.
  • Microfiber, which is measures in grams per square meter (GSM), if you want microfiber sheets look for ones around 90 GDM, which will be soft and comfortably thick, but without being stiflingly dense.
  • Flannel is also measured in GSM, and the toasty, heavy, durable sheets that spring to mind, such as the ones used when it is chillier, tend to be over 170 GSM. If your bedroom is warmer, or it is one of the hotter seasons, a lower GSM will be less durable, but will be more breathable.
  • Jersey is also measured in GSM. It's a knit type of fabric, that is typically made of cotton. Jersey bedding should hit around the 150 GSM mark.

Final thoughts

Thread count is calculated by counting the number of threads that go length ways and width ways in a piece of fabric, and adding these two values together, to get a total value. Thread count is a good ‘rule of thumb’ kind of measure for the quality of your bedding. It can tell you the density of the fabric, and indicate how it might feel when you are going to sleep on it.

Thread count can also help to tell you how expensive your fabric might be - as sheets with higher thread counts just contain more raw materials. However, the value can also be use as a marketing technique, and it is not the be all and end all of your bedding. There are lots of things to consider when investing in a good set of sheets other than thread count - like the quality of the threads themselves, and the type of material, etc.