Why High Thread Count Sheets Are Usually a Waste of Money

sheetsThe Honeybee and I are officially in the final phase of a major master bathroom remodel. We’re extremely excited too, because today marks the seventh week of our three-week project.

Don’t laugh: That’s how long our general contractor told us it was going to take when we signed the contract.

By the way, as part of the bathroom remodel, the Honeybee and I bought a brand new comforter and sheet set for the master bedroom. I know.

If I’ve suddenly confused you, you’ve obviously never done a major remodeling project with the Honeybee; you see, our brand new comforter and sheets are the result of an annoying, yet unavoidable, phenomenon known as “requirements creep.” You may remember several years ago I explained (in gory detail) just how that works after we remodeled our kitchen. But I digress.

Anyway, while we were out shopping for sheets last week, I found myself a bit overwhelmed with all of the choices available to us — especially regarding thread count. The available thread count offerings included 300, 400, 500, 630, 750 and 1000.

The last time we got new sheets, we upgraded the thread count from 300 to 500 — and the difference was noticeable. So this time, we decided to up the ante again and buy 630 count sheets.

We’ve been using the sheets for a few days now but, unfortunately, it’s hard for me to discern any significant increase in comfort between our old 500 thread count sheets and the new 630-count bedding.

Of course, that inspired me to go back and do an after-the-fact analysis on the in-store options we had to choose from while we were shopping — and here are the results:

Sheets2

Now, the conventional wisdom is that higher thread counts make for softer sheets. However, it turns out that’s not necessarily true. ABC News interviewed a textile expert from Consumer Reports who says that the maximum number of threads that can be placed on a loom is roughly 400 — and anything beyond that benchmark suggests that sheet manufacturers had to cram extra-thin pieces of yarn on to the loom in order to reach that higher figure.

Perhaps that explains my survey results. On a price-per-thread basis, the 1000-count sheets are almost twice as expensive as the 500-count linen, but the product rating averages that I took from the store’s website are identical! In fact, on a 5-star scale both the 500- and 1000-thread count sheets received an average of 3.2 stars.

Even more telling, when it comes to personal satisfaction, those pricey 1000 thread count sheets — despite being arguably softer — are almost four times more expensive than their 500-count cousins on a price-per-star basis. That begs this question: Assuming the satisfaction ratings are accurate, is the added comfort offered by 1000 thread count sheets really worth four times more money?

As for the 630-count sheets we purchased, it turns out that they were the same price on a cost-per-thread basis than the 500 thread count bedding, but more than 40% more expensive on a price-per-star basis — which I can understand considering the lack of any noticeable difference in comfort between the two.

Believe it or not, if you’re striving for the softest, smoothest sheets you can buy, most experts agree that thread material quality is more important than the thread count; high-quality Egyptian and Pima cotton are generally regarded as the smoothest varieties available.

So remember, when it comes to bed sheets, don’t lose any sleep over the number of threads in your bed linen. Instead, focus on the material — and stick to counting sheep.

Photo Credit: Didriks

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Good to know. Just recently some friends were telling me how they have bought high high count thread Egyptian cotton sheets and how wonderful they are to sleep in. Sounded very tempting but now I probably will just stick with Egyptian cotton.

  2. 2

    Beckybeq says

    I tried an 800 count sheet set once. I hated them. The higher counts just feel annoyingly soft to me. About 500, from Kohls, with a 30% coupon does it for me.

  3. 3

    says

    Threadcount doesn’t count compared to the specific genus of the cotton. Different regions of the world offer varying degrees of long staple cotton. the longer the staple of the cotton the better the cotton quality is thus making a softer sheet with a lower threadcount. Think of threadcount as a weight..the higher the threadcount the heavier the sheet, the lower the threadcount the cooler the sheet. Then to take it down one more level, what temperature do you keep the house at when you sleep? Do you like the room cold or do you like the room hot? Goodnight, Alan Murphy Jr

  4. 6

    says

    I know what you mean about the 3 week remodel being 7 weeks. We just did a partial remodel on our master bath and the “4 day job” ended up getting spread out over 3 weeks……or wait, I think it’s now really 5 weeks, because he still has a couple of things to finish!” Good info to know on the sheets.

    • 7

      Len Penzo says

      Yeah, I will be writing a tell-all about my adventure either this weekend or next. It was a real learning experience.

  5. 8

    says

    I found this to be true for myself. I foolishly bought 1000 thread count sheets and hated them. I liked the 500 thread count ones much better. Now when I shop for new sheets, I ignore the higher thread count and just buy what I know I like.

  6. 9

    Tawnya says

    I also foolishly bought some high thread count sheets as my coworkers were proclaiming how soft they were….well I ENDED UP HATING THE SHEETS…I started using them as a drop clothe when I painted. I PREFER the lower thread count.

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