Percale or sateen sheets?

Percale or sateen sheets?

Percale and sateen both refer to the type of weaving that is commonly used in sheets and bedding.

Percale sheets are made from a tightly woven fabric that uses one-thread-over-one-under type of weaving (see photo). This gives fabric a simple, matte finish that is cool to the touch, and is akin to ones favorite crisp cotton shirt.

How tightly woven the yarns are, as measured the fabric’s thread count, determines if the sheet is classified as “percale” or “muslin”. Muslim sheets use the same type of weaving as percale; however, they are not as tightly woven and therefore are notably inferior to percale sheets, with a tendency to pill. In order to be classified as percale, sheeting fabric needs to needs to have at least a thread count of 180, and of course can go considerably higher than that. A higher thread count will result in a smoother feel to the fabric.

Traditionally hotel sheeting has favored 180 thread percale weave sheets. They are durable, reasonably priced, and were considered to have an acceptable feel to them. More recently however, higher-end hoteliers have increased their thread counts and many have begun to use sateen weave as well. Sheets that are soft to the touch are important in a higher-end hotel sleep experience.

Sateen sheets are softer and silkier to the touch than percale sheets and have a beautiful luster that gives give a very luxurious look and feel to the bed. The difference in the feel between percale and sateen is due to the way they are woven. Sateen sheets are woven in a unique four-threads-over-one-thread. The number of yarns exposed on the surface of the fabric is what gives sateen its characteristic sheen and silky feel.

Sateen is not satin. Satin is also a type of weaving as well and is most often woven from yarns that are not cotton. Satin is very slick to the touch and very shiny and is rarely used for sheeting fabric, as it is both fragile and not very breathable.

Compared to a percale sheet, the number of exposed yearns in a sateen sheet make it more prone to snagging so they are generally woven at higher thread counts to keep the yarns as close together as possible. It is slower to weave a sateen sheet than a percale sheet; sateen sheets are generally higher in price than percale sheets.

Both percale and sateen sheets are fresh against the skin in warm climates. Some consumers prefer the crisp feel of percale sheets while others prefer the silky feel of sateen. It is a matter of personal preference. For hotels, the higher thread count, higher price of sateen sheets is more justifiable for luxury and higher end hotels. And there nothing quite likes the luster of sateen to make the bed look luxurious.

Sheets made of 100% cotton, whether percale or sateen, all wrinkle, although sateen sheets are less prone to wrinkling than percale ones. It is important to wash correctly, and dry on a low temperature. If the sheets are not going to be ironed, it is important to remove them promptly from the dryer, smooth them flat, and fold immediately. During the wash cycle, the cotton fibers lose some of their smoothness. Ironing will smooth down the fibers again, and therefore always gives a beautiful finish. In the case of sateen sheets, it will help maintain its beautiful luster.

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