The 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, we also bought a new comforter and sheets for the 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, 600, 700 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 600 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 600-count bedding.
Of course, that inspired me to go back and do an after-the-fact price analysis on sheet costs. Here are the results:
Now, the conventional wisdom is that higher thread counts make for softer sheets. However, it turns out that’s not necessarily true. Experts say the maximum number of threads that can be placed on a loom is roughly 400. Anything beyond that benchmark requires sheet manufacturers to cram extra-thin pieces of yarn onto the loom.
Perhaps that explains my survey results. On a price-per-thread basis, the 1000-count sheets are less expensive than 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 4.9 stars.
Even more telling, when it comes to personal satisfaction, those pricey 1000 thread count sheets — despite being arguably softer — are almost 50% more expensive than their 500-count cousins on a price-per-star basis. That begs this question: Is the added comfort offered by 1000 thread count sheets really worth the large price premium?
As for the 600-count sheets we purchased, they were essentially the same price on a cost-per-thread basis than the 500 thread count bedding. However … it was roughly 30% more expensive on a price-per-star basis. And I can understand that 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.
(This is an updated version of an article originally published on 21 July 2014.)
Photo Credit: Didriks
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.
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.
Alan Murphy Jr 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
Len Penzo says
Goodnight, Alan. And thanks for the great tips!
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says
I wonder if higher thread counts make the sheets less durable in the wash, especially if the threads are extra thin.
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.
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.
Jon @ Money Smart Guides 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.
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.
To make things more confusing, some manufacturers don’t count threads the same way. In order to inflate their thread count and thus charge more, some manufacturers count the fibers that make up each thread, rather than the actual threads. There was a class-action lawsuit about this: http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-inflated-thread-count