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Does thread count really matter?



Cotton being spun on reels ready to be woven into bed linen.

When shopping for bed linen, most of us would have heard of the term “thread count” followed by some numbers- 180, 233, 300, 400, 500, and so on. You may suspect it's a marketing ploy to make bed linen sound more luxurious. It is in fact one of the key factors that goes into comparing the different qualities of bed linen and a starting point for industry experts to help you choose the right bedding. But what is thread count? Here we try to explain, to make shopping as simple as possible.

SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS THREAD COUNT?

Technically, thread count refers to the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric, add the vertical ones (technical term- warp) to the horizontal ones (technical term- weft). The maximum true thread count that can be achieved is generally around 500. This would mean there are 250 threads woven horizontally and 250 woven vertically in each square inch when added together. The finer the thread and the longer the fibres, the better the quality. We only use the finest long staple yarns in our bed linen. 

Beautiful luxurious 100% cotton percale white bedding. Smooth, cool, crisp & a matte finish. Incredibly comfy duvet cover, pillowcases & sheet. Made in Portugal using only the finest natural materials.

DOES A HIGHER THREAD COUNT MEAN SOFTER & BETTER QUALITY BED LINEN?

It's generally accepted that the higher the thread count, the better the quality. However, that's assuming the quality of the yarn used, the craftsmanship and the weave are all the same. Realistically, only so many threads can fit into a square inch. Some manufacturers may use some creative counting techniques to achieve a higher thread count, allowing them to offer a lower standard of bed linen disguised as higher quality, thereby inflating the price. A common way of doing this is to manipulate the fabric's ply. Each thread in a piece of fabric is made up of single strands, known as single-ply. When two strands are twisted together, this is known as two-ply; with three strands, it's three-ply etc. Some count each of the strands individually, making it easier to double or triple the thread count. But this has little affect on the actual quality of the bed linen. We only use the finest, single-ply long staple yarns.

Others may use thinner threads to increase the thread count. This can shorten the bed linens' lifespan, as well as meaning the customer paying over the odds for inferior quality. Higher thread count should give a more durable luxurious fabric, however using lower quality or thinner yarns to achieve a higher figure makes the bed linen heavy, stiff, less durable and ultimately uncomfortable. 

Beautiful luxurious 100% cotton sateen white bedding. Soft & silky smooth with a subtle sheen. Incredibly comfy duvet cover and pillowcases. Made in Portugal using only the finest natural materials.

WHAT IS THE IDEAL THREAD COUNT?

It is generally considered that top-rated thread count is between 300 and 500. Anything above 500 isn't necessarily better, so don't be deceived when you see thread counts of 800 or above. On the flip side, you can still find quality bedding with thread counts under 300. But the finer the yarn and the longer the fibres, the better the quality will be. The softer, smoother, and more tightly woven the yarn, the stronger the fabric will be. Additionally, this offers superior breathability, giving you a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Multi-ply threads of a lower grade with shorter staple cotton fibres twisted together show a higher thread count but would normally give a coarser feel and are less durable. A sheet with a lower thread count but with a better quality fibre will feel softer and be more durable than a sheet made up of a lower quality fibre and a higher thread count. So a 400 thread count sheet would be much better than an 800 one using multi ply fibres. 

At Frida Home London, we offer 300 thread count in our Classic Cotton collection and 400 thread count on our Luxe Cotton

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING BED LINEN?

There are many other considerations to be made when choosing the ideal bed linen apart from thread count. In order of priority, these are the quality of cotton, the ply, the weave, style and of course your personal preferences. But that message can often get lost in clever marketing and gimmicks claiming that the thread count is the be all and end all. So don’t be fooled by the myth! 

Now that you know everything there is to know on thread counts, it’s time to select your own bed linen.

For further details on our bed linen, explore our Buying Guide or for more information on how to care for your bedding, see our Care Guide.

Frida Home London | Carefully Considered Bedding