If you’re shopping for sheets, you’ve probably come across terms like percale and sateen. Both are practical, classic, and luxurious weaves used to make sheets, but they offer different experiences.
Here, our bedding experts compare the difference between a percale weave, used to make our naturally cooling sheets, and a sateen weave, used to craft our iconic Signature Hemmed Sheets.
What Is Sateen?
Like percale, sateen is a type of weave used to make bedding fabrics. It’s not to be confused with satin, which is a type of fabric that’s soft and lustruous on one side, but dull on the other. Sateen, on the other hand, offers a singular softness on both sides. Sateen is made with a looser weave than percale, created by spinning threads in an airy, four-over-one-under pattern. The result is a buttery soft fabric that feels incredible in all seasons and climates.
That’s why our iconic Signature Hemmed Sheets are crafted with a sateen weave, in the finest 100% organic cotton for a softness beyond compare.
What Is Percale?
Percale is a specific type of weave used to make sheets, pillowcases, duvet sets, and more. This fabric can be woven with many different types of materials, but 100% organic cotton is the softest and highest quality. Regardless of material, all percale fabrics are made by threading horizontal strands, called weft, over vertical strands, called warp, in a tight one-over-one-under pattern.
This pattern creates sheets that feel crisp, cool-to-the-touch, and breathable to sleep in. And they look as incredible as they feel, bringing a smooth, ultra-refined aesthetic to any bed. It’s no surprise that percale bedding is the top choice for high-end hotels, and loved by those who want to get the five-star look and feel at home.
Sateen & Percale Compared
Feel & Softness
Sateen and percale feel different to touch, with their own unique level of softness. Sateen is known for its light weight and exceptional softness, but it doesn’t have the distinct cooling properties that hot sleepers need. Percale offers a cooler sleeping experience, with the smooth, crisp feeling of a tailored buttondown shirt—only softer.
If you want a glossy, drapey look, sateen is the type of bedding for you. It doesn’t have the overpowering luster of silk, but rather a subtle sheen that catches the natural light in your bedroom. Because of its versatile look, sateen is perfect for layering with other colors, textures, and patterns.
Percale fabrics offer the same versatility as sateen, but with a different foundational look. Percale has a matte appearance and, due to its tight weave, a more tailored and refined look. It’s perfect for creating a luxury hotel bed at home, and looks even better with textured, embroidered, or cozy knit layers on top.
Sateen and percale are both durable and made to last—especially if you launder and care for them correctly. That being said, percale has a tighter weave, which means it may hold up better against children and pets than sateen.
Sateen and percale have similar laundry care requirements. Both should be washed in cold water on the gentle cycle, without any bleach or brighteners. Remember to wash your bedding on it’s own, without any other linens or articles of clothing. This will prevent snags from things like buttons and zippers.
To minimize wrinkles, both fabrics should be shaken out between washing and drying, and then tumble dried on low heat. For best results, percale and sateen sheets should be placed on the bed directly after drying to reduce the chance of wrinkles. If a few wrinkles remain, both fabrics can easily be ironed.
If you’re a hot sleeper, percale is going to be a better choice than sateen because of its natural cooling properties. For those who sleep cool and comfortably, sateen is the ultra-soft fabric your bed needs.
Sateen vs. Percale: Which One Should I Choose?
Sateen and percale are both exceptional choices, but the best one for you will depend on your style and sleep preferences. Regardless of your choice, we always recommend bedding made with 100% organic cotton, like our Percale and Signature Bedding Collections. They have an unmatched softness, and are made completely free from toxins—so everyone can sleep better at night.