Bedding Guide: The Difference Between Percale, Sateen and Linen Sheets

bed sheets

Ever caught yourself in the midst of choosing new bedding in a store but unsure of what to add to your cart? While the general assumption is to look at the thread count for comfort factor, there are other details to gloss over before you can actually find the perfect sheets to catch forty winks in peace.

An example is to first ascertain the material of bedding, along with what specific fiber and how it is made. With cotton as the frontrunner, it’s no surprise that most opt for this durable fabric for their bedding. Below, we explore the differences between popular bedsheets such as percale, cotton sateen and linen.


percale sheets

Image credits to Sheridan

Originally from India, Percale was first introduced in the 17th centuries, with the word origins rooting back to Persia (“pargalah” = rag). Percale bed sheets are typically made of cotton and are known for its plain, tight weave. The way it is woven gives it a smooth and flat surface, thus a finer texture that some equate to more elegant. Also available in cotton/poly blends, the thread count you can expect from percale sheets vary between 180 to 200. Its finish is matte and crisp, and is especially breathable and lightweight which makes it an excellent choice for warmer or more humid climates. For a steal, get percale sheets from Target, or pay a little more for colour variety and finer finishing from The Company Store and Eileen Fisher.

percale sheets

  1. Classic Percale Solid Sheet Set, Target, USD33.59, + Add To Wishlist
  2. Classic Solid Percale Collection, The Company Store, USD119, + Add To Wishlist
  3. Organic Cotton Percale Bedding, Eileen Fisher, USD188, + Add To Wishlist



cotton sateen sheets

Image credits to Gluckstein Home

While percale is matte and tightly woven, sateen sheets boast a silky, shinier finish that give it a luminous, luxurious look. Thicker than percale, it is slightly heavier to touch and is perhaps the most easy to maintain—you don’t have to iron it as it doesn’t crumple or wrinkle easily. It is looser weaved than percale, hence giving you a warmer sleep that would make it a perfect option for those residing in cooler countries. Made from 100% cotton, sateen sheets are treated in lye and acid during manufacturing, and it also typically comes with a high thread count. In case you wonder if its thicker yarn weave is breathable, fret not as it is suitable for any season. Explore options from Joss & Main, Target and Eileen Fisher if you want to up your bedding ante this season.

Cotton Sateen sheets

  1. Brenna Embroidered Stripe Cotton Sheet SetJoss & Main, USD68.49, + Add To Wishlist
  2. Tencel Cotton Sheet Set – FieldcrestTarget, USD34.98, + Add To Wishlist
  3. Lustrous Organic Cotton Sateen BeddingEileen Fisher, USD100, + Add To Wishlist



Linen Sheets 1

Image credits to Parachute

The most easily recognised thanks to its naturally rumpled nature, linen is surprisingly one of the better bedding alternatives to own all season. Linen is made from fibers of the flax plant, and is one of the most absorbent materials out there. It has a cooler and smooth sensation, and increases in softness with a higher frequency of washing. Especially great in warmer climates, linen actually wicks moisture better than cotton (so you don’t feel like it’s 100C out in the middle of the night), thanks to its lightweight feel. If you are a sucker for smooth, crisp sheets, opt for percale or sateen. But if wrinkled, comfy sheets in organic shades of ecru, grey and ivory are fine with you, linen is your best bet.


Linen Sheets

  1. Linen Sheets, Rough Linen, USD140, + Add To Wishlist
  2. Linen Sheet SetParachute Home, USD169, + Add To Wishlist
  3. Belgian Flax Linen Sheet SetWest Elm, USD29-259, + Add To Wishlist


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Featured image: The Company Store

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