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What is Thread Count?

September 20, 2016

Seriously, what is thread count?


We’re going to fill you in on a little secret: you’ve been buying your bed sheets all wrong. You may be one of the majority who believes that the higher the thread count, the higher the quality of the bed sheet. This is a common misconception!  In fact, thread count simply refers to the number of vertical and horizontal threads that are found per square inch. Thread count is just one of many components to consider when shopping for bed sheets; it is not the only determinant of quality. Big name brands know that most people are not aware of what thread count actually is, so they leverage it as a marketing tool and embellish their products to reach a higher thread count. Let's take a closer look.


The Truth about Thread Count

We tend to think the bigger the number the better the sheet—as in a 600 thread count sheet is ‘better’ than a 300 thread count bed sheet—but that is not necessarily true. If thread count is just a measure of how many threads are in one square inch, a 600 thread count bed sheet could be achieved in many different ways, like twisting multiple threads together or selecting a finer thread. Keep in mind, all of these factors affect the breathability, durability and feel of the bed sheet. In the end, manufacturers choose their thread count based on their desired result.


The Confusion Surrounding Thread Count 

When a bed sheet is labeled as 600 thread count, most people would assume that they could count a total of 600 threads per square inch. However, to achieve that 600 thread count bed sheet, manufacturers inflate their threads using two-ply yarn or multiple-ply yarn (think of two individual threads that are twisted around each other: that is two-ply yarn). Big brands will take their two-ply yarn and count it twice, which means that 600 thread count sheet could actually be 300 two-ply, or 200 three-ply. In fact, the highest thread count achievable with single-ply yarn is around 400, which means you can usually assume anything above 400 is using multiple-ply yarn.



Single-Ply Cotton Yarn or Thread



Two-ply or 2-ply Cotton Yarn or Thread

Something to note: a higher thread count doesn’t necessarily mean a higher quality product. A 300 thread count can feel far superior to a 600 thread count, because the 300 thread count is using single-ply, high quality yarn as opposed to packing a weave with multiple-ply, low quality yarn. Using multiple-ply yarn to inflate thread count could result in a heavier, scratchier and less durable bed sheet.


Thread Count for Boll & Branch

At the end of the day, thread count is simply a unit of measure that has an exaggerated importance, which is why we at Boll & Branch look as just one component in the creation of the highest quality sheets possible. We let the quality of our luxury bed sheets speak for themselves, because Boll & Branch sheets are woven to last and soften with time. Since thread count is just one piece we considered when creating our sheets, we also looked at feel, weight of fabric, the type of weave and the quality of the cotton. Our bed sheets use single-ply, long staple organic cotton; the highest quality available! And as for thread count, we’ve chosen 300 single-ply to achieve an ideal balance between weight and breathability. They don’t call us the softest sheets in the industry for nothing!