Percale vs Sateen: How To Pick The Best Sheets For You

percale vs sateen sheets

Design: Desiree Burns Interiors, Photo: Tamara Flanagan

It's said that we spend a third of our lives in bed, so you don't need us telling you to be selective about the items you choose to sleep on. A restful night's sleep depends on the right bedding just as much as, say, a comfortable mattress or pillows, but with so many options on the market, buying sheets can feel confusing. When vetting textiles, it's important to consider everything from the softness and pliability to the texture and sheen, and finally, the temperature and durability of your sheets. We told you things could get confusing. So, to be sure you make the right choice on your next sheet purchase, we brought in reinforcements. Ahead, we tap the director of product education at Serena & Lily, Kate Ball, for the differences between percale and sateen sheets and how to choose the best one for you. 

Meet the Expert

Kate Ball is the director of product education at luxury home brand, Serena & Lily. She's been with the company for over 9 years.

What's the Difference Between Percale and Sateen?

Although percale and sateen have their differences, they're actually both made of cotton. But while they're both made of the same material, each is constructed with a different weave—percale is woven with one thread over, one thread under, while sateen is woven with four over and one under—which means they each possess their own benefits.

Everything You Need to Know About Percale

What is Percale?

Percale is made of long-staple cotton with a close weave that gives the fabric a matte finish, similar to your favorite white button-down.

Ball, tells us, "percale is made of long-staple cotton with a close weave that gives the fabric a matte finish." She compares the fabric to your favorite white button-down, adding it "gives bedding a crisp, clean and tailored look." The single thread weave makes for a lightweight and breathable material. If you run warm in your sleep or are looking to swap your sheets in the summer months, percale is just what you need to keep you cool and comfortable all night. Ball adds, "an added bonus of percale is the more you wash it, the softer it becomes."

Everything You Need to Know About Sateen

What is Sateen?

Sateen is a denser cotton weave that offers a luxurious drape with a subtle sheen that gives bedding a classic and luxurious look, and the best part is it doesn't need ironing.

On the other hand, you have sateen, a denser cotton weave with a silky-smooth finish that's soft to the touch and slightly heavier in weight than percale. Ball says, "the denser cotton weave offers a luxurious drape with a subtle sheen that gives bedding a classic and luxurious look, and the best part is it doesn't need ironing." The three-thread weave provides more warmth, perfect for cooler seasons, or those who run cold at night.

Related Stories