Sateen vs. Percale Sheets

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Sateen and percale are two of the most popular sheet options on the market. Understanding what these terms mean can help you decide which is right for you.  

Sateen and percale aren’t materials. Instead, they’re terms that refer to a material’s type of weave. Here’s how each weave impacts the feel, care, and durability of the sheets.

Sateen vs. Percale: Sheets at a Glance

Sateen sheets have a slightly heavier feel than percale and feature a shiny look. Percale sheets tend to be more breathable and long-lasting. Here’s how they compare.

Sateen SheetsPercale Sheets
MaterialCotton, polyester, rayon, lyocellCotton, polyester, rayon, lyocell
BreathabilityPoor breathability Good breathability 
FeelSoft, silky Crisp, smooth
Typical careMachine-wash, air-dryMachine wash and dry

Sateen Sheets: Overview

A sateen sheet is made by weaving one thread under for every three or four threads over. This method results in a silky, wrinkle-resistant fabric.

Breathability

If you sleep hot, sateen sheets likely won’t be the best fit for you. This weave type tends to trap heat which can feel cozy for some, and sweaty for others.

Durability

This type of sheet isn’t the most durable option out there. Sateen sheets can snag on jewelry or in the wash and may lose their slippery smooth texture over time. The shiny look of these sheets can also fade with repeated use and washing.

Maintenance

Sateen sheets are relatively a low-maintenance sheet option. That’s because they are wrinkle-resistant and typically machine-washable. You will want to make sure to dry them on your dryer’s heatless setting, though. Before washing your set, check the care instructions to find out the proper care for the specific product.

Feel

Smooth and silky to the touch, sateen sheets feel soft and thick. They drape easily over your body.

Sateen Sheets: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Machine-washable
  • Shiny look

Cons

  • Traps heat
  • Likely to pill or pull
  • Can lose sheen over time

Shopping Tips for Sateen Sheets

  • Material. Consider whether you’re interested in a set of cotton or bamboo sheets. 
  • Thread count. Look for a thread count between 400 and 600. 
  • Price. Sateen sheets are available at a wide range of price points.

Percale Sheets: Overview

A percale weave involves weaving the cross-wise threads over one then under the next thread. The every-other pattern creates a tight weave that allows for plenty of airflow.

Breathability

Percale sheets tend to be a good, breathable option for hot sleepers. This type of weave allows plenty of airflow to keep you cool and comfortable all night.

Durability

This type of weave tends to produce a durable, long-lasting set of sheets. They’re less likely to develop pulls or pilling and can be washed over and over again without drastically changing their appearance.

Maintenance

Percale sheets are largely safe to machine-wash and dry. Make sure to read the product’s instructions, though, before assuming it’s okay to toss them in. Keep in mind that these sheets do tend to get wrinkled more easily.

Feel

If you’re looking for the cool, crisp feel of freshly washed sheets, you’ll be more likely to get it from a percale set. This weave creates a smooth and lightweight fabric.

Percale Sheets: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Gives a crisp and clean feel
  • Breathable to keep you cool 
  • Will continue to soften with washing

Cons

  • Tends to wrinkle easily
  • Not as soft as sateen

Shopping Tips for Percale Sheets

  • Thread count. Aim for a thread count of 200 to 500. Any more than that and the material has likely been split, and won’t be as high-quality.
  • Sleep trial. If possible, try to find a set of sheets that backs its quality with a satisfaction guarantee.

Who Would Prefer Sateen Sheets?

  • People looking for a warm, cozy feel.
  • People who want their sheets to have a shiny, glossy look.

Who Would Prefer Percale Sheets?

  • People looking for crisp, smooth sheets.
  • People who need breathable and lightweight sheets.

Popular Sateen Sheets

Brooklinen Luxe Sateen Sheets

Thread count: 480

These best-selling sateen sheets are made with long-staple cotton. They’re available in a variety of colors and product bundles.

Casper Sateen Sheets

Thread count: 280

Looking for sheets made with 100 percent organic cotton? This set has you covered. Reviewers say they’re silky smooth, and actually don’t sleep too hot.

Popular Percale Sheets

Casper Percale Sheets

Thread count: 300

Casper’s well known as a mattress maker, but it also creates top-quality bedding. These percale sheets can be machine washed and dried. They also come with a 1-year limited warranty.

Saatva Percale Sheet Set

Thread count: 200

These sheets feature deep pockets for thick mattresses and long-staple cotton. You’ll get 45 days to try them, and if they’re not right for you, Saatva will refund your purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which are better sheets, percale or sateen?

Percale and sateen are both great options when it comes to sheets. Percale tends to be longer-lasting and more breathable while sateen sheets are less likely to wrinkle and drape well over your body.

Do hotels use percale or sateen?

Hotels typically use percale sheets. The durability of this weave is a good fit for an industry where sheets may need to be washed every day. Plus, percale sheets have a crisp, clean feeling that would appeal to hotel guests.

Does percale last longer than sateen?

Percale sheets do tend to last longer than sateen sheets because they’re less likely to pill or pull. Sateen sheets also tend to lose their sheen over time.

Takeaway

Sateen and percale aren’t types of materials but words used to describe the material’s weave. If you’re looking for a silky-soft set of sheets, opt for sateen. However, if you love your bedding to have that fresh and clean feeling, percale is for you.