Sateen vs Percale – Which Fabric For Your Bed Sheets?


Cotton is the king of sheets, so get ready to step into that kingdom. But, the thing is that understanding bedding terms and words is sometimes so hard, especially if you’ve never been apart of the industry. It becomes easy to get lost in the many available choices and end up not purchasing a set of sheets. Different price ranges, thread counts, weave types, sizes, and not a single tip in sight!

Sateen vs Percale

Bed [/bɛd/] noun
A place where everyone is happy and comfortable.

When looking at cotton sheets to purchase, there are two words that you’ll see everywhere. Sateen and percale are the names of the weaves that determine your new set of sheets’ characteristics. However, your budget will only allow you to add one of the two to your collection, leaving you with a difficult choice to make. Fortunately, we’re here to help you out.

Are you ready for the bumpy ride that is sateen vs. percale? In today’s review, we’ll give you an in-depth look at the similarities between these two types of weaves paired with our top picks in each department. Sheet shopping is about to get so easy and effortless!

Jump straight to my recommendations for sateen and percale sheets!

Percale vs. Sateen: The Weaving Basics

Sateen vs Percale Comparison

We promise we won’t bore you with technical terms. We just want you to understand sateen and percale better so that you know what you’re purchasing. These are two common weaves that are used in the production of textiles. They take a huge part in the manufacturing of bedsheets as well, especially for cotton fabric.

While identifying each weave’s distinguishing elements is crucial to understand how they look and feel, let’s first touch on the weaving process a little bit.

The first terms you need to be familiar with are ‘warp’ and ‘weft.’ Warps are the vertical threads on the loom, while wefts are the horizontal threads in a loom. The way they interact and are placed in the weave determines whether the sheet will be sateen or percale.

To make things even clearer, here’s a more in-depth explanation. Percale usually uses the one-thread-over-one-thread-under method. In other words, this forms a denser weave that is durable and crisp. One weft thread goes over one thread, then goes under one warp thread. The final result is a crisp fabric that becomes softer with time.

Sateen, on the other hand, usually uses a three-threads-over-one-thread-under or sometimes four-threads-over-one-thread-under. In this case, one weft thread goes over three/four warp threads before going under one warp thread. This weave makes sateen softer on the surface and with a silk-like finish. It is also much faster, production-wise, since it’s not as delicate and complicated as percale.

Contingent on the technique used, you’ll observe particular elements that are precise to each kind of weave.
Now that we know a bit more about the mechanics behind the sateen and percale weaves let’s take a closer look at each one!

Heard enough? Get my recommendations now!

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What is Sateen?

What Are the Differences Between Sateen and Percale

You can’t decide whether you would like to purchase a cotton sateen sheet if you don’t know its most essential characteristics. First of all, you need to learn more about the appearance, since we all enjoy a visually-pleasing bed in our bedrooms.

Sateen is a fabric that features a gorgeous shiny finish that is similar to the one of satin. Let’s not mix these two terms up. Sateen is a type of weave, while satin is an entirely different fabric. If you are into materials that have a radiant sheen, look rich, luxurious, and shiny, this is it.

When it comes to ‘feel’, sateen is smooth to the touch, soft, and comfortable. If you’re familiar with cotton fabrics in general, you probably know that they are durable. The sheets made of cotton get softer the more you wash them, the same thing applies to sateen.

When you get into a bed set up with sateen sheets, it’s like getting into silky, buttery heaven. This fabric does not slip or slide; you’ll still be very comfortable while sleeping. What makes it special is that it’s not as delicate as silk, but it does strongly remind of that fabric.

Because of the four-threads-over-one-thread-under method, these sheets are a bit heavier and thicker compared to percale. That is one reason why they don’t distribute heat evenly, and they retain more heat than percale. If you are a hot sleeper, we recommend these for winter or autumn when the nights are cooler. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use them in summer or spring as well. It’s more of a personal preference and individual experience. Many amazing sateen sets are perfectly breathable during any time of the year, but more about that later.

Maintenance is important for all of us. As life gets busier, we’re all looking for alternatives that will save us time ironing. Cotton is a fabric that wrinkles, but if you had to choose between percale and sateen in terms of fewer wrinkles, you should go for sateen.

Although a sateen weave sheet is durable, it’s less durable when you compare it to percale. These sheets can still last for generations, especially if you do your research before purchasing. If you choose right, it will be one of the best investments you’ve even made. The most common sign of damage is slight pilling that happens over time. You shouldn’t expect rips or tears, but the pilling can turn into areas of thinner fabric after years.

Some people notice an interesting sound when they’re tossing and turning in their cotton sateen sheets. That happens with individual sets, and it can be strange at first. But, now that you know it, you won’t be surprised. It’s a swooshing effect, but it doesn’t happen with every product.

So to recap, let’s take a look at some keywords you can correlate with sateen sheets to help you out while you’re shopping:

  • Breathability- less breathable compared to percale, perfect for cold sleepers and cold nights
  • Look- this weave has a luxurious sheen that reminds of rich silk
  • Feel- sateen is smooth and has a silk-like feel when you touch it
  • Durability- it’s less durable than percale, but that doesn’t mean it’s low-quality
  • Maintenance- it’s wrinkly, but not as much as percale
  • Drape- this is a thick weave that lies heavier on the body

But you always have to note that not every sateen sheet set will feel or look the same. When you’re trying to find the perfect sateen woven bedding to add to your bedroom, try to bear these terms in mind.

Now that we have discussed what you need to know about when it comes to sateen bedsheets let’s now turn our attention to percale.

See my sateen sheet recommendations

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What is Percale?

Sateen vs Percale Which Sheets Are Better

Percale is the go-to weave for so many people for so many reasons. This is a high-quality cotton weave that can last for decades. Created with a one-thread-over-one-thread-under method, percale distributes heat much more evenly.

Sheets made with this weave will be more lightweight, airy, and breathable. Expect to sleep in a neutral environment, one that is not too hot or too cold, no matter the conditions outside. The great breathability makes them an excellent choice for people who tend to sleep hot and areas with high temperatures year-round.

Appearance matters when buying sheets, so let’s figure out whether you would like the way percale looks. This is a weave that features a matte finish, a bit less luxurious if you compare it to sateen. But a lot of people are fans of this style and appreciate the crisp, sturdy feel. It reminds them of new and high-quality products. Of course, they will become softer and amazing to sleep in.

Because of the durability and quality, many hotels worldwide choose percale cotton sheets for their rooms. One of the things that might bother you is the fact that cotton is not wrinkle-free. This weave wrinkles more than sateen, and if you don’t like creases, you’ll have to iron the sheets. But if you follow the company’s care instructions, you’ll be able to reduce the wrinkles to a minimum.

You can both machine wash and dry them, but avoid the use of harsh chemicals and detergents. One of the best pro tips you have to try with percale is to take the sheets out of the washer and dryer right when the cycle is done. Don’t use high temperatures, and opt for mild tumble dry cycles. Once they’re done, fold them or put them straight on the mattress.

There can be sounds from percale sheets while you sleep. Unlike the swoosh sounds from sateen, these will be crinkles that appear when you turn. These can be irritating for some people but don’t always appear, only with certain products. The crinkling noises can get incredibly hard if you’re sleeping with a partner who constantly tosses in bed.

Whenever you can’t make up your mind, think of this shortlist of characteristics to help you make a decision:

  • Durability- very durable, can last many years
  • Breathability- one of the strongest suits of percale
  • Look- this weave has a matte finish
  • Crips- crisp and sturdy
  • Feel- sateen is smooth and has a silk-like feel when you touch it
  • Maintenance – it’s wrinkly, but other than that, easy to maintain
  • Drape- this is a simple weave that is lightweight

When you’re browsing the bedding aisle and pick up a percale woven sheet set from the shelf, think of these six keywords. This list should give you a good sense of what you’re getting with percale woven sheets.

See my percale sheet recommendations

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What Are the Differences Between Sateen and Percale?

Pros and Cons of Sateen and Percale

Knowing the main differences in the battle sateen vs. percale can help you make a decision. We considered some of the most important factors, including durability, comfort, breathability, health benefits, maintenance, and cost. Keep on reading to find out who won in each category:

Material and Durability

Sateen

There is no doubt that both sateen and percale are durable. But, if you need sheets that won’t pill for a very long time, sateen might disappoint you. This is a weave that is fabulous to look at but slightly less durable than percale. Although the cotton fibers are tightly woven, the method used leaves space for pilling after a certain time.

The shiny, satin-like appearance makes it so desirable and lustrous. When you add high-quality and decent durability, you have a winning score. It all depends on the preferences that you have. The smoothness, comfort, and softness are just three more characteristics that can persuade you to start shopping for sateen sheets right away. The more you wash the sheets, the softer they’ll become. However, they will also slightly lose sheen with every washing cycle.

It’s important to mention that sateen cotton sheets from different manufacturers might not look or feel the same. That’s because different companies use different types of cotton. Some opt for the highest-quality, and that is reflected in the price and the durability as well.

This is the part where we would also like to mention the thread count as well. A higher thread count means a more long-lasting product and better quality. That’s why so many people want to know the thread count before buying.

Percale

Although a much crisper feel characterizes percale, it’s still our favorite weave. This fabric is so durable; you’ll end up having it for generations.

Since this is a tight weave, it’s much more resistant to pilling. It’s also not as soft as sateen, but that changes over time. These sheets will be much softer and comfier after you’ve washed them several times in the machine.

Speaking of durability, we’ve already mentioned that these are the sheets that last for a very long time. Opt for the classic white color, and you’ll never be sorry. Sleeping in percale is one of the best things ever. Thanks to the even distribution of heat, you won’t feel hot, but you won’t feel cold either. That makes them perfect for any month of the year.

Thread count makes a difference in the production of percale cotton sheets as well. The higher it is, the higher the quality of the product will be. It also means that it will last for a longer time. You can find them with a thread count of 200, but some manufacturers even go as high up as 2000.
Winner: Percale

Winner: Percale

Comfort and Breathability

Sateen

As mentioned before, sateen is smooth, soft, and silky. That’s what scores high points on the comfort scale. It simply upgrades the whole experience to a new level. It’s not slippery, and it’s amazing to the skin.

Breathability is a crucial factor that impacts comfort, as well. You can’t feel comfortable in a bed if your sheets constantly trap heat. Sateen is not as breathable as percale, but it does a decent job. According to most people, they feel comfortable sleeping in sateen sheets both during winter and summer. Either way, we would recommend these sheets for the colder months of the year.

Percale

Not many materials come close to percale when it comes to comfort and breathability. These are its two great suits and reasons why so many people adore it. Although it is crisp, it’s very comfortable to sleep on, especially after a few months of use. You’ll feel like your bed is a part of a luxury hotel room. Once you’ve washed it several times, you’ll see that it only gets better.

This weave delivers a breathable material that is great for year-round. It will keep you warm during cold nights and cool during hot nights. Just the right balance that you need in your life.

Winner: Sateen and Percale

Health Benefits

Sateen

Sateen is gentle and very nice to the skin. The silky texture is also gentle to the hair and doesn’t cause any frizz. If you’re suffering from allergies or skin conditions and sensitivities, this is a great fabric option. And because it is mildew-resistant, it keeps bacteria from building up that can cause health issues.

Percale

Thanks to the even distribution of air, percale is also great for sensitive skin or allergies. The great breathability is a huge pro for this weave in so many ways.

The same thing applies to mildew and moisture. You will be safer when it comes to harmful bacteria and fungi that can compromise your health

Winner: Sateen and Percale

Maintenance

Sateen

You shouldn’t worry about the maintenance department when it comes to cotton. Both weaves are easy to take care of. They won’t be a hassle at all and won’t take too much of your time. Each set of sheets comes with maintenance instructions that are provided by the company.

Like any other item you own, these sheets will last a very long time if you properly take care of them. Sateen, in general, dries with fewer wrinkles and creases compared to percale. All you need to know is that you can machine wash sateen cotton sheets and take them out once the cycle is done. If you leave them there for a long time, you’ll see more wrinkles. Ensure that you transfer them to the dryer and take them out before the cycle is completely done. Fold them gently, and you’re ready to go.

Percale

Just like sateen, percale is also low-maintenance. The significant difference between the two is the fact that percale wrinkles a bit more. It’s the perfect fabric for people who don’t mind seeing creases on their beds but enjoy comfort and high-quality.

Avoid using harsh detergents, and always use warm water for the machine cycles. Take the sheets out of the machine right when the cycle is done, and you can now dry them. Don’t use high heat and take them out before the cycle is done for fewer creases. Each company includes a maintenance manual in the packaging. If you have any doubts or questions, make sure to contact them. You can always iron your cotton sheets if you want a completely smooth surface.

Winner: Sateen

5) Cost

Sateen

Different companies have different price ranges on their sateen sheet sets. Like any other product available on the market, you’ll see very affordable options, middle price points, and very expensive options. With this fabric, the higher the thread count, the more expensive the sheets will be. The thread count is tightly related to the quality, so it’s expected for you to have to pay more for a better product. Another factor that can determine the price is the type of cotton.

Percale

When shopping for percale sheets, you’ll find many alternatives at different prices. Once again, the thread count and type of cotton tend to determine the cost. The higher the thread count, the more you’ll have to pay. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find a good alternative at a reasonable price.

Pima and Egyptian cotton are two luxury alternatives, considered top-notch in the world of cotton. They are used to produce high-quality sheets, which usually come at higher price points.

Winner: Sateen and Percale

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Pros and Cons of Sateen and Percale

Before delivering our top picks in each department, we wanted to round up the biggest pros and cons of each cotton weave. Check them out below:

Sateen Sheets

Pros

  • Pretty, luxurious sheen
  • Soft, smooth to touch
  • Comfortable to sleep on
  • Less wrinkly compared to percale
  • Durable and high-quality
  • Good for allergies and skin conditions
  • Available at different price points
  • Available in many colors and prints
  • Easy to maintain
  • Good for year-round
  • Becomes softer in time

Cons

  • Less durable than percale
  • Can pill
  • Can trap heat
  • Tends to lose sheen over time
  • Wrinkles and creases

Percale Sheets

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Breathable
  • Cool, crisp, and strong
  • Good for any time of the year
  • Very comfortable
  • Becomes softer after every wash
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Doesn’t pill
  • Easy to maintain
  • Lightweight
  • Available at different price points
  • Available in many colors and prints

Cons

  • Wrinkles and creases
  • Not soft right away

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Top Rated and Recommended Sateen Bed Sheets

8.6/10 Read review
86 %
Last Amazon price update was: 30 November 2021 02:19
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With a slight luxurious sheen to them, the California Design Den 800 TC sateen cotton sheets are one of our most trusted sets. Because of the high thread count, these might appear too crisp in the beginning but give them time, and it will be like sleeping on the softest clouds. The fabric is thick, heavy and will get softer after every wash. You might want to know before purchasing that these sheets are much more suitable for cooler nights because of the nature of the material.

The only con we could notice is the slight color mismatch between what’s posted online and what we got after the purchase. It’s not a huge difference, but it might be crucial for people who are after the visual experience.

Let’s not forget that the California Design Den produce their sheets without using any harmful chemicals. Everything is done in factories that are Standard 100 certified by OEKO-TEX. Everyone loves a brand that takes care of its customers and the environment as well.

When it comes to the price, they do cost a little bit more than your standard set of cotton sheets, but considering the quality, they are worth every single cent. Even at this price point, they are much more affordable than other companies that offer the same level of quality. Forget about splurging $300 on 800 thread count bed sheets when you can opt for this set. We are definitely considering ordering more.

8.6/10 Read review
86 %
Last Amazon price update was: 4 December 2021 03:49
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Get that luxury hotel experience with a set of these fabulous sheets! Your search is now over, and let us tell you why. 100% Egyptian cotton is excellent when it comes to sheet production.

What’s even better, the sheets feature deep pockets that can fit mattresses with a depth of up to 18 inches. So, you shouldn’t worry about the fit at all. At first touch, they might feel a bit rough. That changes after the first few cycles in the washing machine. Cotton is a fabric known for wrinkles; that’s something you should expect.

Compared to the California Design Den 800 thread count cotton sheets, they feel and look a little thinner. Breathability is one of the biggest worries for customers when it comes to sateen cotton. The Comfy Sheets Egyptian cotton set does not retain heat, which means it will maintain a balanced sleeping temperature in your bed.

When it comes to production, they avoid all harmful chemicals and only use organic dyes. The brand also supports ethical manufacturing.

Get a real bang for your buck with this great purchase! We’re more than happy to recommend the Comfy Sheets 800 Thread Count 100% pure Egyptian cotton sateen sheets to everyone who’s looking for a great option under $100.

8.7/10 Read review
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Set Alert for Product: CHATEAU HOME COLLECTION 100% Egyptian Cotton Sheets Queen Size, 800 Thread Count Charcoal 4 Piece Sheet Set, Solid Sateen Weave 16" Deep Pocket (Fits Upto 18" Mattress) Long Staple Cotton Bedsheet Set - $69.99
Last Amazon price update was: 3 December 2021 18:02
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Just like the California Design Den 100% cotton sheets, these also feature a thick and heavy fabric. Made of high-quality 100% pure Egyptian cotton, with 800 thread count, these CHATEAU HOME COLLECTION bedsheets are exactly what’s advertised. With a stunning sateen sheen finish, the bed sheets will make your bedroom transform into a luxurious getaway.

Our only concern is that the corners of the elasticized sheet sometimes tend to slip off the mattress. That didn’t ruin our good night’s sleep, but it did take us extra time in the morning to put the sheet back on the mattress.

Despite the heavy and thick feel of the fabric, you will not have any problems with breathability. They will keep you cool enough during hot nights and warm enough during cold nights. What more could you ask for? It sounds like the perfect purchase, doesn’t it?

This is a great price for the amazing, luxurious experience that you’ll be getting. 100% pure Egyptian cotton is expensive. Thankfully, this brand managed to deliver a product with affordable prices without sacrificing quality. That’s why they made our Top 3 list of favorite cotton sateen sheets.

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Top Rated and Recommended Percale Bed Sheets

80 %
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Set Alert for Product: Luxury Collection Organic Cotton Percale Sheets 100% Natural Fiber Bedding Set (Queen, Blue) - $52.99
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Price history for Luxury Collection Organic Cotton Percale Sheets 100% Natural Fiber Bedding Set (Queen, Blue)
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  • $52.99 - 30 November 2021
  • $45.04 - 26 November 2021
Since: 26 November 2021
  • Highest Price: $52.99 - 30 November 2021
  • Lowest Price: $45.04 - 26 November 2021
Last Amazon price update was: 6 December 2021 03:27
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Made of 100% organic cotton, the Sleep Mantra sheets feature a percale weave with 300 thread count. If you’ve been looking for a set of bed sheets with a matte finish, affordable price, and great quality, you’re at the right spot.

Percale is known to be more breathable compared to sateen weave. In other words, the material feels more lightweight and much more suitable for summer compared to the heavy Egyptian cotton sheets we mentioned before.

If there’s anything we would change about these Sleep Mantra organic cotton percale sheets is the fact that they only come in seven colors. Since these are one of our top three favorite percale sets, we would love to see an expansion in the color palette and a larger variety of dark shades.

What’s amazing is that the brand is GOTS Certified. If this is the first time you hear the term, here’s a short explanation so you can understand it better. It means that the company uses naturally grown organic cotton that is not treated with chemicals or harmful toxins. To get a GOTS certification, Sleep Mantra needs to use 95% organic fabric in their product and dye them with eco-friendly dyes. This is why these sheets are great for people who suffer from allergies or skin conditions.

Last but not least, let us mention the great price of this product once again. It’s tough to find bed sheets with such high quality that won’t break the bank. That’s why we’re thankful we found these and don’t hesitate to highly recommend them to everyone.

7.5/10 Read review
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Set Alert for Product: Eddie Bauer Home | Percale Collection Sheet Set-100% Cotton, Crisp & Cool, Lightweight & Moisture-Wicking Bedding, Twin XL, Campout - $35.24
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These percale cotton sheets were made using only long-staple cotton yarns to achieve a durable, high-quality set. They feel crisp to the touch but get so soft and comfortable after a few washes. With amazing breathability, they will provide you with the best night’s sleep you’ve had in a while.

If you’re looking for simple plain white sheets or any other solid color, you won’t find them here. Eddie Bauer Home offers twelve fun, pretty prints that will capture your attention. At least they sure did catch ours.

And, most importantly, the sheets won’t keep you hot. Instead, they will provide a perfect balance during hot and cold nights as well.

The Eddie Bauer Home percale sheets are among the most affordable options of this type on the market. The fact that they have an amazing price does not prevent them from being high-quality.

7.5/10 Read review
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Set Alert for Product: TRIDENT King Sheet Set 300 Thread Count, 100% Cotton, Percale Weave, Peach Finish, Deep Pockets fits Upto 16 inch, 4 Piece Bed Sheet Set, Techno-fit, Trivana Collection(Vanilla Ice) - $49.99
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These super-comfy crisp sheets are what dreams are made of. And, the second we took them out of the washer, they became even better. Rated high up on our percale list, the TRIDENT King set is a great addition to any home.

If eco-friendly production is essential to you, this is the right purchase. The TRIDENT King percale cotton sheets are manufactured in an OEKO-TECH Certified factory.

What we found to be a downside is the fact that the colors in person are a little off from what’s pictured online.
At just a little higher price point from Eddie Bauer Home, the TRIDENT King 300 thread count cotton sheets are still an affordable alternative considering the quality.

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Sateen vs Percale – Which Sheets Are Better?

What type of material of sheets you’ll buy is truly an individual and subjective decision. There is no right or wrong when choosing sateen or percale; it’s more up to preference. If you still haven’t decided, we wanted to do a short roundup of everything you need to know.

Sateen and percale are often derived from cotton. The similarities between the two are plenty. But even the smallest of gaps can make for a whole lot of difference. That’s why below, we’ll mention the biggest differences to make things easier for you.

Although both sateen and percale are made of cotton, they look and feel differently. The first thing you need to know is that percale features a tighter weave, and it can appear a bit crisp and sturdy. Sateen, on the other hand, is luxurious and shiny. Both get softer the more you wash them. That’s why cotton is such a great investment.

Sateen tends to pill, but percale doesn’t. That’s what makes it more durable. It will eventually show signs of wear, but that will be after many years of continuous use. Wrinkles are present with both sateen and percale, but the second weave is more prone to wrinkling and creasing. You can always iron the sheets if you prefer perfectly smooth surfaces.

Anyway, it’s a tight score between the two. Both are durable, comfortable, easy to maintain, and breathable; still, there are slight differences that can make or break the deal for you.

Let’s wrap things up! Sateen vs. percale is a battle that will become a battle with a winner after you’ve tried sleeping on each weave. I hope we didn’t bore you to death with our in-depth review and that you’re now ready to shop at least one of the sets we recommended in the lists. Till next time!

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