What Does Thread Count Mean?

A stack of gray 600 thread count sheets from Southshore Fine Linens.

Ready to dive into the cozy world of bed linens and unravel the mystery of thread count? Then Southshore Fine Linens has got you covered! In this guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of thread count, debunk some common misconceptions, and help you find the perfect balance between comfort, durability, and breathability. 

So let's get started so you can pick out the best bed sheets for your home's needs.

Thread count: The basics

Thread count is a term often used when shopping for the perfect bed linens. It's the sum of threads or strands found within each square inch of fabric. This includes horizontal and vertical threads.

The higher the thread count, the more closely woven the fabric becomes, which can contribute to its overall softness. Thinner and finer fabrics are often associated with higher thread counts, as they are able to weave more threads per inch.

Thread counts can vary greatly depending on the type of fabric and the quality of the material. Typically, you'll find thread counts ranging from as low as 100 to as high as 1,000 or more.

For most bed linens, a thread count between 200 and 800 is considered good quality. 

However, it's important to note that thread count alone is not the sole determinant of quality, as factors such as fabric type and weave also play significant roles.

Warp and weft threads: What’s the difference?

When it comes to thread count, there are two types of threads at play. Warp and weft threads refer to the horizontal and vertical strands that form the fabric's grid-like structure.

Warp threads run lengthwise along the fabric while weft runs from side to side and crosses the warps. The combination of both threads creates a more tightly woven fabric with a higher thread count than if the fabrics were made without them.

Weaves are important to consider when shopping for bed linens, as different weaves can contribute to different levels of comfort and durability.

What does higher thread count mean?

A higher thread count refers to a greater number of horizontal and vertical threads woven together within each square inch of fabric. This increased density typically results in a smoother and softer feel to the touch since there is less space between each individual thread.

As the thread count increases, so too does the fabric's weight and durability, which can be advantageous if you're seeking bed linens that will last a long time.

Bedding products with higher thread counts often offer greater durability, withstand frequent washing and wear much better than lower-thread-count products would.

However, while a higher thread count can generate more comfort, it is not always the case. Using a low-quality material for bed sheets can result in coarse or poorly made bedding, no matter how high the thread count is.

Experience better sleep and shop for high-quality bedding and linens at Southshore Fine Linens.

Is a higher thread count better?

You may think that the higher the thread count, the better. However, this is not always true. Thread count makes the biggest difference when it comes to 100% cotton sheets that are single-ply. This is because single-ply fabrics are made with only one strand of thread, so with a higher thread count, it's both strong and reinforced as well as breathable.

Cotton is the best material for sheets, and you can find 100% cotton sheets at Southshore Fine Linens today!

How ply affects thread count

Ply is just as important to consider as thread count is. Single-ply sheets are crafted using one strand of thread, while multi-ply sheets use more than one. For example, if 1,000 thread count sheets are made with two strands of thread, then the fabric is known as two-ply. A fabric woven with three strands of thread is known as a three-ply.

Multi-ply sheets are often misleading and don't always mean you're going to get high-quality bedding.

When producers employ this method, they're not offering improved quality. They might use subpar, thin threads just to boost the thread count, knowing that we've been conditioned to associate higher thread counts with better quality — and they capitalize on that.

The truth is, you end up with a lower-quality product that might not last as long or be as comfortable, despite its hefty price tag. Such misleading strategies lead to dense sheets with poor breathability, exaggerated prices, and potentially stiff fabric that isn't soft to the touch.

How thread count affects different types of bedding materials

So far, we've discussed thread count related to cotton sheets. However, the importance of thread count applies to other bedding materials as well. Here are additional factors at play when deciding on the thread count based on different fabric choices:


Thread count is not a crucial factor for linen, as linen fibers are naturally thicker and more textured than cotton or silk. Linen sheets typically have a lower thread count compared to cotton sheets. Instead of thread count, the quality of the linen is determined by factors such as the origin of the flax fibers, the weaving process, and the finishing techniques used.

When evaluating linen fabric for sheets, it's better to focus on the overall feel, texture, and craftsmanship rather than the thread count. High-quality linen sheets are known for their breathability, durability, and natural ability to wick away moisture, making them an excellent choice for bedding.

Synthetic or polyester materials

Unlike cotton, an organic natural material, polyester fibers are created synthetically in industrial settings. This means they can be made exceptionally thin. This allows polyester and cotton-polyester blends to boast thread counts reaching into the thousands.

Manufacturers are even developing methods to utilize these ultra-fine polyester strands specifically to sell their sheets for more money. However, higher thread counts don't necessarily perform better when it comes to polyester and probably aren't worth an investment.


Thread count doesn't hold much significance for silk, as silk is an extremely fine and delicate material. Instead of thread count, silk quality is typically measured by its weight, expressed in momme (mm). 

A higher momme value indicates a denser, more durable, and higher-quality silk. A momme value between 19 and 25 for silk sheets is considered good quality.


Knits have a different construction compared to woven fabrics like cotton, linen, or silk. Knitted fabrics, such as jersey or flannel, are created by interlocking loops of yarn, which results in a stretchy, soft, and cozy material.

Instead of thread count, the quality of knitted fabrics is determined by factors like the type of yarn used, the knitting process, and the fabric's weight and density.

What thread count is the softest?

Thread count does not solely determine the softness of the fabric, as it also depends on the type of material, the quality of the fibers, and the weave used.

However, for cotton sheets, a thread count ranging from 300 to 500 is often considered to provide a good balance of softness, breathability, and durability.

Higher thread counts (above 500) may not necessarily result in softer sheets, as manufacturers might use thinner, lower-quality threads to increase the thread count artificially. 600 thread count sheets and above are suitable when the manufacturer uses single-ply cotton.

Instead of focusing solely on the thread count, consider factors like the type of cotton (e.g., Egyptian, Pima, or Supima), the weave (e.g., percale, sateen), and the overall feel of the fabric when searching for the softest sheets.

The bottom line: What does thread count mean?

A made bed with gray 600 thread count sheets from Southshore Fine Linens.

While a higher thread count can be an indicator of softer and more luxurious sheets in some cases, it's essential to consider other factors as well.

Remember that the ideal thread count may vary depending on the fabric, and sometimes, the softest and most comfortable sheets might not have the highest thread count.

By taking a holistic approach to evaluating your bedding choices, you can ensure a blissful night's sleep wrapped in the perfect balance of softness, breathability, and durability.

So, don't let thread count be the sole determinant in your quest for the ultimate sleep experience. Explore, compare, and find the best fit for you!

If you’re shopping around for the best bedding for you, look no further! Shop Southshore Fine Linens!