Percale vs Sateen Sheets (Differences) What’s Better?

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percale vs sateen

Percale and sateen are two terms that you’ve most likely encountered while checking out bed linens. But what do these terms mean? What are the main differences between them? More importantly, which one should you pick?

Percale and sateen are two different weaves that commonly use cotton for its fiber. Percale is crisp and light to the touch while still strong. Its breathability makes it a popular choice for people who live in a hot climate. Sateen weave results in a glossy fabric that is very soft and smooth. It also drapes well so it makes for good bed linen during the cold months.

I highly recommend the Pinzon 300TC Percale Sheet Set for the summer months since it is both crisp and breathable. It’s also very durable so you can use it for years to come. On the other hand, if you like your sheets smooth, soft and warm to the touch, the California Design Den 400TC Sateen Bed Sheets is the way to go. What’s more, it’s glossy and wrinkle-resistant.

  • Crisp and Cool
  • Very durable
  • Great for summertime
  • Good for people with sensitive skin and Allergies
  • Wrinkles
  • Wide price range
  • Smooth and Soft
  • Sateen
  • Less durable than percale
  • Great for wintertime
  • Good for people with sensitive skin and allergies
  • Requires gentle care
  • Wide price range
difference between percale sateen

Difference Between Percale and Sateen



Thanks to its one-yarn-over and one-yarn-under weave, Percale is a very strong fabric. This traditional weave is resistant to pulling, snagging and pilling. In fact, with proper care, quality percale sheets last for many years.


Sateen sheets are more durable than satin, a type of fabric that is popular for its softness. However, because more thread surface is exposed in this weave, it isn’t as strong as percale and is susceptible to fraying and snagging.



Percale sheets are light and cool to the touch, so it makes for great summertime bed linen. Plus, it has excellent breathability, making it the ideal choice for people who tend to sweat a lot while they’re sleeping.


You’ll be able to sink into luxurious slumber each night if you have sateen sheets on your bed. Not only are they super smooth, but they’re also decadently soft as well.

Sateen sheets are perfect during the cold winter months too or if you tend to get chilly when you sleep. This is because it drapes heavily on the skin, allowing you to snuggle warmly when it’s cold.

Health & Allergies


If you have sensitive skin, percale sheets that are made from organic cotton are a must-try because they’re naturally hypoallergenic.


Just like percale, sateen bed sheets are good for people with sensitive skin and allergies. The cotton fibers used in sateen go under a mercerization process that makes the fabric water-repellent and ultimately, mildew-resistant.



Percale sheets can be machine washed and dried. Just make sure to avoid using harsh detergents and bleach which can damage the fabric.

This type of bed linen also wrinkles easily so it’s best to remove and fold them right after the drying cycle. You can also iron them if you wish.


Wash your sateen sheets on a gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent. Since sateen is naturally soft, you don’t have to use a fabric conditioner. For drying, use the air-dry setting and put it on a cool dry setting.

Sateen sheets don’t wrinkle easily so you don’t have to iron them.



The price of percale sheets varies greatly depending on the type of cotton fiber used and the thread count of the fabric.

Good percale sheet sets can go from are not too expensive. But if you’re really looking for the best, you’ll want to go for ones that are made from long fiber strands of Egyptian cotton or Pima cotton. These are pricier.

Best Rated Percale Sheets


Sateen sheets are similar in price to percale sheets. You can get decent sateen sheets for quite cheap.

However, sateen bed sheets that have a high thread count and that are made from long-staple Egyptian cotton yarns can go for a lot more.

Best Selling Sateen Sheets in 2023

Best Percale Sheets in 2023

Pinzon 300TC Percale Sheet Set

The Pinzon 300TC Percale Sheet Set is a must-try if you prefer sheets that have a crisp hand feel.

It’s made from cotton and has a thread count of 300 so you can be sure that the sheets you’re getting allows for excellent air circulation and a long lifespan.

This percale set of four doesn’t come in a lot of colors, but it does offer different sizes ranging from twin to California king.

You might find that it’s too stiff when you first try it but rest assured that this will only get better as you use it.

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Best Sateen Sheets in 2023

California Design Den 400TC Sateen Bed Sheet Set

If you like your sheets luxuriously soft, you won’t go wrong with the highly-rated California Design Den 400TC Bed Sheet Set.

Not only does it come in a wide range of sizes, but you also get to pick among various designs and colors that go well with its beautiful sheen.

It’s certified by the OEKO-TEX to be free from harmful substances, allowing you to have peaceful slumber each night.

Plus, this 400-thread count sateen sheet set is made from long-staple pure cotton so it’s smooth and easy on your skin.

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What’s Percale and What Are Its Uses?

Percale is a term that is used to refer to a plain-weave wherein the vertical and horizontal threads are woven over and under each under one at a time.

Fibers such as cotton, polyester and different kinds of blends are used for this kind of weave. It typically uses high-quality long-staple cotton, so it is oftentimes more expensive than regular bed linen.

Percale features a tight weave, a matte finish and a smooth texture on both sides. You won’t be disappointed with the lifespan of this crisp fabric as well. Percale is very durable, and it doesn’t pill so you can use it for a long time.

All of these, including its light weight and breathability, make it a hit among hot sleepers.

Are Percale Sheets Soft?

Percale sheets are more crisp than soft. However, they do get softer with every wash.

What’s the Best Thread Count for Percale Sheets?

In the United States, only percale sheets that have at least 180 threads per direction for every square inch qualify as authentic percale.

The higher the thread count of the sheet, the better the quality. If you’re looking for the perfect balance between price and quality, you’ll want to go for percale bed linen with 200 to 300 thread count.

What’s Sateen and What Are Its Uses?

Sateen is a type of fabric that uses a one-yarn-under and three-yarn-over weave. Since more thread surface is exposed, it results in a fabric that has a smooth texture and shiny appearance.

It’s strong and heavy as well, especially those that have a higher thread count since more threads are packed per square inch.

Most of the time, cotton is used in making sateen weaves. However, rayon is sometimes substituted due to its cheaper price.

Sateen is most often used for bed sheets. With its thicker threads and heavy weight, it can keep you warm when it’s cold.

Are Sateen Sheets Soft?

The main selling point of sateen sheets is its softness which some even compare to satin and silk. And, even better, though it is soft, it doesn’t lack in terms of durability.

What Is the Best Thread Count for Sateen Sheets?

Like I’ve mentioned above, the durability and strength of this type of fabric come from how many threads are used per square inch. As such, you’ll want to find sateen bed sheets with about 300 to 600 thread count.

Pros and Cons of Percale and Sateen Sheets

Percale Sheets


  • Feels crisp and cool
  • Strong and durable
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Becomes softer after every wash
  • Doesn’t fray, fade or pill
  • Has a matte finish on both sides
  • Great for hot sleepers and places with hot climate


  • Wrinkles

Check the Best-Selling Percale Sheets in 2023

Sateen Sheets


  • Looks and feels luxurious
  • Lustrous
  • Silky and smooth
  • Very soft
  • Durable
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Drapes heavily
  • Glossy on one side and matte-textured on the other side
  • Comfortable to sleep in during winter and for cold sleepers


  • Sheen fades after repeated washing
  • Poor breathability if not made of cotton
  • Less durable than percale

Check the Best-Selling Sateen Sheets

percale or sateen sheets

Final Words

So… Percale or Sateen?

Ultimately, it’s all about what you prefer. Percale and sateen each have their own advantages and disadvantages which you need to consider when making a purchase.

Go for percale sheets like the Pinzon 300TC Percale Sheet Set if you like your sheets crisp and breathable. But if you like it buttery soft, sateen sheets like the one in the California Design Den 400TC Sateen Bed Sheet Set might just be what you’re looking for.

Still can’t decide between percale and sateen? Well, why not give a try to both and see which one you like more?

Percale works great during the hot months and sateen can help you sleep warmly during the cold months. That way, you get comfy sleep all year round.

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