Sateen VS Percale – Which Weave?

If you’ve ever bought sheets in your life you’ve most likely been confronted to the choice of fabric preference. The number of options is vast ranging from luxurious silk to cheap polyester without forgetting humble linen in the middle. But it is, undoubtedly, cotton that remains the material of choice for its durability and softness. A pure cotton bed set is simply a must. The remaining question is in what weave? Percale and sateen are the recommended cotton weaves for bedding. So what is the difference between both and which one is best for you?


  • 1 strand over, 1 strand under. 

Percale and sateen both require tight weaves. A decent percale must have at least 180 threads/inch. Its composition is a classic criss-cross structure: one ply under, one ply over, one ply under, one ply over and so on. Percale’s texture is characteristically crisp and light with a matte finish. It should feel like a classic cotton button down shirt: cool, breathable and softer with every wash. Percale wrinkles easily but some argue that percale looks best with a wrinkly down-to-earth look. This weave is a favored option for those who get warm at night because its weave breathes well and its fabric is thinner and lighter.


  • 3 strands under, 1 strand over.

A sateen weave gives a softer fabric than percale with a creamy feel because of its one ply over three structure:  three under, one over, three under, one over and so on (some brands have 4 under instead of 3). This characteristic weave places most of the thread on the surface of the fabric, making sateen a silkier fabric adorned by a slight ivory sheen akin to satin (hence the appellation). It tends also to be a warmer sheet option due to its longer yarn size and denser texture. It is popularly believed that sateen sheets don’t last as long as percale due to their looser weave, which arguably makes the fabric more fragile. However with good raw material like combed extra long staple cotton  woven in an adequate thread count (270-400 threads/inch) this simply doesn’t hold true.

What do you prefer percale or sateen ? Leave us a comment !

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