Satin vs Sateen: A Detailed Guide

Here is a little quiz for you, but you need to answer quickly (and Googling is cheating!)

Satin and sateen – are they the same?

Satin vs Sateen bedsheets
Sleep [ˈsæt.ɪn] noun, informal
a type of cloth, sometimes made of silk, that is smooth and shiny on one side but not on the other:

Before we answer this question, let’s make one thing clear: the confusion over sateen vs satin is overwhelming and no one is safe from it. Most people believe them to be two different spellings of the same word, or think that one word is right and another is a misspelling (the question of which one is which depends on who you ask).

Was your answer to our question “yes”? Then it looks like you, too, have been under the impression that satin and sateen are the same. Well, you are in for a surprise, because – guess what – that’s not actually true! Satin and sateen are in fact two different fabrics, and “misspelling” a word when looking for sateen bed sheets can lead to you ending up with quite a different product from what you wanted to order!

So, what exactly is the difference between the two? Let’s explore it in more detail.

Table of Contents

Don’t want to read through our whole guide? You can use our table of content to jump to the part most relevant to you!

  1. Satin vs Sateen: Differences
  2. Satin vs Sateen: Durability
  3. Satin vs Sateen: Health Properties
  4. Satin vs Sateen: Cost
  5. Top Rated Satin Bed Sheets
  6. Top Rated Sateen Bed Sheets

Satin vs Sateen: Differences

sateen vs satin bedsheets

First let’s get one thing out of the way: neither satin nor sateen refers to fiber. Both of these terms refer to the weave of the fabric.

We can hear you saying: all right, and what is weave exactly? Don’t worry: the explanation for this term is pretty simple.

Most fabrics are produced by interlacing two sets of threads. The horizontal threads are called weft, the vertical ones are called warp. This is also how the thread count is defined: by the number of threads, both weft and warp, per one square inch. Normally, the more threads per square inch there are, the better is the quality of the sheets.

When making the fabric, threads can be woven into different patterns, but the standard is simple: one over, one under.

Satin vs Sateen weave style
On the left, the shiny and soft top-side of the weave. On the right, the dull bottom-side of the weave.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Both satin and sateen have a special pattern: four threads over, one thread under. This creates a fabric that looks different on two sides: the top is soft and shiny, and the reverse side is dull and, for lack of a better word, unpresentable.

However, the similar weave pattern doesn’t mean these two fabrics are identical. There is one big difference between them: the fibers used for their production.

Originally, the term “satin” was only used to refer to 100% silk fabric. Currently, it is also applied to polyester, nylon, polyester/nylon/silk blends, and some other synthetic materials.

Sateen, on the other hand, is usually made of cotton. But bamboo rayon sateen sheets are also a thing, and quite a popular one. (We have some options for you to check out – just keep reading!)

And now that we’ve established the main difference between satin and sateen, let’s figure out which fabric to choose for your bed sheets.

Know enough? Want to jump straight to our recommended list of sateen and satin bed sheets? Click here!

Satin vs Sateen: Durability

Satin in its classical understanding is a fabric made of 100% high quality silk, which is known for its durability. The nylon and polyester types, however, are a different thing altogether. If you purchase cheap satin sheets, be ready for them to start wearing out fast.

Another tip for you to remember is that true satin is a delicate fabric that needs to be hand-washed or even dry-cleaned. Not the best choice if you hate housework! You wouldn’t want your expensive sheets to tear after a few months just because you neglected proper maintenance, would you?

Now sateen, in general, tends to be quite sturdy. Although there are several factors that influence it, such as the thread count and the quality of cotton used in its production. Unlike satin, it does not require special maintenance: the sheets can be machine washed and tumble dried.
Satin vs Sateen: Look and Feel
Both fabrics are soft, shiny and luxurious looking, but satin more so than sateen. The slippery feeling of satin might not be to everyone’s taste, while sateen just feels soft and smooth.

Satin is very lightweight. In addition to feeling nice, it also means easier storage for satin bed sheets. Satin sheets that are made of synthetic materials will retain heat. So they may be better suited for winter months.

Sateen sheets, on the other hand, are breathable. Being made from natural fibers, they can keep you cool in hotter nights.

Satin vs Sateen: Health Properties

Satin made of 100% silk is hypoallergenic. And so is sateen.

In terms of health properties, these two fabrics are pretty even – but keep in mind that we are not talking about synthetic satin and blends here.

Since both of these materials are soft and smooth, they are less irritating to sensitive skin and less rough on hair. In fact, satin pillowcases are very popular just for their hair protecting qualities.

Convinced? Check out our top 3 recommended list for both Sateen and Satin sheets!

Satin vs Sateen: Cost

Pure silk satin is as expensive as you would expect. The synthetic versions are a lot cheaper, so you can find an option for every budget.

The cost of sateen depends greatly on the quality of fiber and the thread count. There are some pretty expensive satin sheets, and some very affordable ones. See our best picks below!
Sateen vs Satin Sheets: Final Verdict
If you are looking for an easy answer, it doesn’t exist. Just like with every choice between two different things, both fabrics have their own pros and cons.

Satin is either made of pure silk and pretty expensive, or synthetic and cheap, with corresponding quality.

Sateen is available in a variety of options as well, and their quality may differ drastically from manufacturer to manufacturer, from set to set.

There is no definite reason to say that one is much better than the other. In truth, it all depends on your particular wants, needs and budget. But we do have some recommendations for you to check out! Find them below.

Top Rated and Recommended Satin Bed Sheets

first pick in our top 3 best satin sheets

1. LilySilk Silk Bedding Sheets

  • Pure silk
  • Handmade
  • OEKO-TEX standard 100

Price & Reviews

If you want to see how pure silk sheets feel against your skin, there is no better choice than this set. Made of 100% natural silk, the LilySilk bedding is hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and resistant to dust mites and mold. Not to mention silky, cool and luxurious.

The OEKO-TEX standard 100 certificate means that no harmful chemicals have been used in production of these sheets, and the color of the dye will not fade away. They are handmade from silk produced by the Bombyx Mori silkworms, known for its supreme quality. The price of this set is a bit steep, but that’s real silk for you. If your budget allows it, it’ll be a good investment.

second pick in our top 3 best satin sheets

2. HONEYMOON HOME FASHIONS Ultra Luxury and Soft Satin Bed Sheet Set

  • 100% polyester microfiber
  • Silky smooth
  • Affordable

Price & Reviews

These polyester microfiber satin sheets are a great representative of the synthetic satin range. Like real silk satin, they feel smooth and soft, and look great for creating a romantic atmosphere on a special occasion. If you’ve never dealt with satin of any kind before, this would be a good place to start, just to get a feel of the texture.

At their price point, the sheets by Honeymoon Home Fashions will fit into any budget, and they won’t be a total waste of money like some cheaper products are. Just one tip: wash them before using, because the rich color tends to bleed.

Third pick in our top 3 best satin sheets

3. Cloud Fino Hotel Quality Silky Soft Luxurious Satin 4 Pc Sheet Set

  • Made from satin silk
  • Comfortable, soft and lustrous
  • Can be machine washed

Price & Reviews

This price of this set is at a middle point between the previous two. Made from real satin silk, the sheets feel soft and smooth and look great. They come in a variety of attractive colors: you will definitely be able to find something to match your taste and/or bedroom design.

A great advantage these sheets have is their easy maintenance: they can be machine washed and tumble dried, which is not always the case with satin. So it’s a good choice for those of us who don’t like putting extra effort into household chores (aka all of us, let’s be real.)

Top Rated and Recommended Sateen Bed Sheets

Mayfair-Linen-100%-Egyptian- Cotton-Sheets (1)

1. Mayfair Linen 100% Egyptian Cotton Sheets

  • Pure Egyptian cotton
  • 800 thread count
  • Luxury and comfort

Price & Reviews

Egyptian cotton is famous for its quality, and these sateen weave sheets by Mayfair Linen guarantee the full royal experience. A thread count of 800 makes for amazingly soft fabric – you’ll feel like you’re sleeping on clouds!

Thanks to being 100% natural and organic, these sheets are hypoallergenic and breathable. Unlike satin they are not shiny or slippery, but have a smooth texture that feels great to the touch. A bit on the expensive side compared to simpler types of sateen weave cotton, but all in all well worth the splurge! Plus, there is a 30 days money back guarantee if you are for some reason not satisfied with your purchase (but we think you will be).

the second recommended cotton sheet set

2. California Design Den 100% Cotton Bed Sheets & Pillowcases Set

  • OEKO-TEX standard 100
  • Ethically certified
  • 600 thread count

Price & Reviews

California Design Den do not simply make amazing bedding: they care about the environment and working conditions of their staff. The OEKO-TEX standard 100, as you already know, means that the fabric has been thoroughly tested for quality and safety. No harmful chemicals have been used anywhere in its production.

The company is also LEED v4 GOLD certified, meaning that their factory in India offers superb conditions for workers. For all those passionate about social causes, this is a good company to support. Oh, and their products are really, really good – this particular set of sateen weave sheets has numerous fantastic reviews.

recommended-sateen-sheets-min (1)

3. Deluxe Soft Hybrid Bamboo and Cotton Blend Sheet Set by Royal Tradition

  • 60% bamboo viscose, 40% cotton
  • Breathable and hypoallergenic
  • Good for winter and summer

Price & Reviews

Bamboo sheets are all the rage, and this bamboo/cotton blend unites the best of both fibers. Made from eco-friendly materials, these sateen weave sheets are good for those with allergies and sensitive skin.

Thanks to the natural moisture wicking properties of bamboo, the sheets are good for hotter nights. Instead of absorbing sweat they allow it to dry in record time, so you will never wake up on an uncomfortably damp bed. This set is a good choice for those who want to make a transition to bamboo sheets, or are just looking for soft and comfortable bedding.

Hopefully, the difference between satin and sateen is now stuck in your head forever and you can use it to win bets with your less educated friends!

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