We’re going to fill you in on a little secret: high thread count does not always mean high quality.
The Truth about Thread Count
When shopping for bed sheets, you’ve probably been told to pay attention to the thread count. But do you know what that actually means? Thread count is a measure of how many threads are woven into one square inch of a piece of fabric. Both the vertical (warp) and horizontal (weft) weave of the fabric are counted up to determine thread count. As a unit of textile measurement, thread count is most typically discussed in regard to sheets, but it can be applied to many types of fabric, such as shirts, shawls, and other clothing.
It seems simple—the higher the thread count, the higher the quality of the sheets, right? Even though that’s a common misconception, that’s not the case. Simple as the thread count meaning may seem, it does not say as much for the quality of your bedding as you might think.
Here is everything that you need to know about thread count and bedding so that you can sleep well knowing you’ve made the best purchase:
What is the best thread count for sheets?
The truth is that unbelievably high thread counts are a marketing trap—600 count sheets are not necessarily better than 300 count sheets. Many traditional bedding companies make use of deceptive tactics to inflate their thread counts at the expense of the quality and lifespan of the product. Keep reading to see why you should be suspicious of any thread count above 400.
What is ply, and how does it affect thread count?
One of the first things you should look at next to a sheet’s thread count is the ply of the threads used. Ply is often a better indicator of the quality of bedding than the thread count itself because it explains exactly how the thread count was achieved.
Ply refers to the number of yarns in each thread in a given piece of fabric. Single-ply thread means that there is only one strand of yarn per thread. Two-ply means that two strands of yarn were twisted together in each thread.
Using multi-ply thread can make it seem like there are more threads per square inch than there really are. A 600 count sheet can be achieved through multiple methods: either by using 600 fine, individual threads per inch, or by twisting multiple threads together to fit more threads into one inch.
Which method sounds better to you?
Rather than pay extra to source ultra-fine threads, many manufacturers inflate their thread counts by using cheaper two-ply or multiple-ply yarns. This means that each thread is, in effect, multiple threads twisted tightly around each other into one more compact strand. Doing this allows some brands to count each thread multiple times, thereby increasing their thread count and the illusion of quality. This means that a 600 thread count sheet could actually be 300 two-ply, or 200 three-ply.
How inflated thread counts affect quality
So what does an inflated thread count mean for your sheets? Is multi-ply thread worse than single-ply thread?
In attempt to produce the highest thread count sheets possible, many companies overstuff their textiles with low quality, multiple-ply threads. The highest quality threads are both thin and strong enough to be woven with alone. Lower quality threads that are too weak to be woven with can be reinforced by twisting them together to create multi-ply.
Multiple-ply is not always an indicator of poor quality thread. In many fabrics, thicker, multi-ply yarn is desirable - like in knit-wear. But as far as cotton bed sheets are concerned, where breathability and lightness are often prized characteristics, single-ply is ideal.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but a 1000 thread count sheet is almost certainly of worse quality than one with a 300 thread count. Cheap, multi-ply threads jam-packed together with the goal of achieving a high thread count result in heavier, scratchier, and less durable bedding. In comparison to a tightly-packed weave from multiple-ply thread, a 300 thread count sheet that uses single-ply, high quality yarn will be light and soft.
So remember when you’re shopping for sheets, always do the mental math, dividing the thread count by the ply, in order to get a feel for how the textile was actually produced.
Thread count for Boll & Branch
At the end of the day, thread count is simply a unit of measure that has a deceptively exaggerated importance. When it comes to making the best sheets, thread count is not as important as the quality of the individual threads. Which is why we at Boll & Branch consider a bed sheet’s thread count to be just one factor in our commitment to creating the highest quality sheets possible.
Rather than emphasize our sheets’ thread count, we let the incomparable quality of our luxury bed sheets speak for themselves. We use single-ply, long staple organic cotton. This is the highest quality available, and we source it with utmost care!
Using only these fine threads, we’ve selected 300 single-ply as a good thread count. 300 thread count, we find, allows us to achieve an ideal balance between weight and breathability. We like our bedsheets to be soft, light, and fluffy—and we find that our customers do as well.
Boll & Branch sheets are woven to last and become even softer with time. They don’t call us the softest sheets in the world for nothing!