What Is Thread Count And Why Does It Matter?

A stack of striped REB sheets

We hear a lot about “thread count” in the advertising for bedding products. This is because consumers often use thread count as a measure of quality. However, thread count is a commonly misunderstood measurement, so today in our blog we are going to investigate the topic and answer some key questions:

  • What is thread count?
  • What does thread count mean?
  • What thread count is the best?

At Royal Egyptian Bedding, we make some of the very finest Egyptian cotton bedding in the world. We source the best cotton there is, and have the expertise to help you understand things like thread count better, so you can make better-informed purchasing decisions.

What Is Thread Count?

Thread count is the measure of how many individual threads of cotton or other material are woven into one square inch of fabric. This makes it a measure of density, so the one thing you can generally be sure of is that fabric with a higher thread count is going to be heavier. Heavier fabric typically means a warmer sleep.

  • Looking for a night of cooler sleep, even at a higher thread count? Check out our bamboo cotton sheets.

Thread count is actually a fairly limited measurement, and there is a lot that it simply does not tell you about the fabric. Some manufacturers even exploit consumer overreliance on thread count by producing lower-quality products that still have a high thread count and selling these products at luxury prices.

When you research bedding, in addition to asking “What is thread count?” you have to look at other information that will tell you how to interpret the thread count.

Other Key Factors

To better interpret a sheet set’s thread count number, and spot products with artificially inflated thread counts, here are some other key factors to look at:

  • Single-Ply Weave Is Best: Just like tissues, bed sheets have a “ply,” or a number of layers. Single-ply is best because a single-ply weave must use higher-quality, long staple cotton fiber thread in order to hold a high thread count. With 2-ply or higher, threads of lower quality are twisted together, doubling the thread count. 3-ply fabric triples the thread count. There is no actual increase in quality from doing this, and in fact multi-ply thread has pronounced ridges that make the fabric feel rougher. So make sure you look for single-ply fabric. At REB, we only use single-ply construction in our bedding.
  • Finding Thread Thickness Sweet Spot: When you ask, “What is thread count?” you also have to ask, “How thick is the thread?” Manufacturers can also artificially inflate thread count by using thinner thread. This not only does not increase the comfortableness of the material, but actually reduces the quality of the final product, because the thin threads are less durable and more susceptible to pilling. A high-quality piece of fabric needs a thicker thread—not too thick, since this can make fabric rough, but thick enough to provide good durability. At REB, our thread hits that sweet spot of being just the right thickness.

What Does Thread Count Mean?

The other big question to ask alongside “What is thread count?” is “What does thread count mean?” When it comes to high-quality fabric that has a single-ply construction and an appropriate thread thickness, the thread count becomes more informative. A higher thread count in good fabric means that the fabric will generally be:

  • Heavier: As mentioned already, a heavier fabric sleeps warmer, and is less breathable.
  • Softer: A higher thread count provides more cushioning, increasing softness.
  • Stronger: When you pull on the fabric, the strain is spread out over more threads.
  • More Supple: A higher thread count means more weight, which improves suppleness.

What Thread Count Is Best?

Finally, we can tackle the question of what thread count is best. It is important to understand that a higher thread count is usually better, but not inherently so. There are times when a lower thread count is definitely the way to go. What is thread count but another one of life’s opportunities to say “It depends”?

  • Choose a Low Thread Count For: Clean, light, crisp sheets that breathe well.
  • Choose a Medium Thread Count For: All-year comfort, good softness.
  • Choose a High Thread Count For: Cold rooms, maximum durability, ultimate softness.

At REB, our Egyptian cotton sheets, as well as our other bedding like duvet covers and pillowcases, are available in a wide range of thread counts from 300 all the way up to 1500.

Hopefully, we have answered the questions of “What is thread count?” and “Why does it matter?” to your satisfaction. If you would like more information, please contact us and we will be glad to assist you.

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