If you pay close enough attention when shopping for bed sheets, you’ll likely see either “percale” or “sateen” used in the description. But understandably, few people know what these mean. These terms specifically refer to the type of weave that is used when the cotton yarns are woven together into the fabric that will ultimately be used to craft your new bed sheets. A percale weave is the traditional one yarn over, one yarn under weaving style. A sateen weave is made by running the horizontal yarns over three, under one against the cross yarns. The result is a different look, feel, and durability to the finished fabric.
Percale sheets are most commonly described to be crisp and cool. Percale is a better choice for people who tend to get hot at night and want a cool and airy feel to their bedding, and for those who live in warmer climates. Percale is the crisp and classic bedding that you find on hotel beds. Percale tends to initially wrinkle after washing, but over time, with repeated use and laundering, the fibers will soften and the wrinkles lessen.
The feel of sateen is described as soft and buttery. Sateen is the preferred choice of people who want to feel like they’re being wrapped in a warm cocoon while they sleep. Sateen sheets have a slightly shiny, lustrous look to them, and are heavier and less-breathable than their percale counterpart.
Because the sateen weaving method sets four yarns at a time, compared to the one-by-one percale weaving, sateen fabric can be produced four times faster, and therefore four times cheaper. The difference in quality is substantial as well. A percale weave is perfectly balanced, where as a sateen weave has a different number and pattern to the threads in each direction. This means that percale sheets will fare much better through ongoing use and washing. The tight, balanced percale weave shows little wear and will soften over time. While the sateen weave produces a sheet that feels smooth and silky from the start, it will begin to pill quickly and become limp and susceptible to tearing after only a few washes.
Because of the durable quality, crisp and cool feel, and classic look, we chose the percale weave for our premium bed sheets.