Percale vs. Sateen: Understanding the Difference

Premium-quality sheets are essential for a peaceful night of sleep. That means you don’t want to buy just any sheet set at just any store. Instead, you want to consider several factors that speak to the sheets’ luxury quotient so that you can make the best possible purchase, preferably with a retailer that has a reputation for fine bedding. 

Perhaps the best-known factor is thread count, but another one that’s just as important is the type of weave. Percale and sateen are two of the most popular sheet styles. Both have specific attributes that highlight the differences between percale and sateen. Understanding their different characteristics helps you make an informed choice, one that suits your needs and preferences for comfortable bedding.


cotton percale sheets

What are Percale Sheets?

Cotton percale sheets are the ultimate example of crisp, classic bedding. They are made with a simple, plain weave in which the yarn goes one-under and one-over. But this is a beautiful kind of simplicity. Percale has a tight weave (like the kind found in high-end men’s button-down shirts). But these sheets don’t feel constricting or heavy because the cotton is a thinner thread. Percale sheets made from exceptional cotton offer a cool, comfortable feeling that creates a blissful sleep space, especially when the weather is warmer. You may also see percale bedding made with synthetic materials such as microfiber or polyester, but they won’t have the same durability or fine finish as cotton sheets.


Here are the key qualities of cotton percale sheets:

  • A smooth handfeel
  • Exceptional breathability
  • Easy to care for with machine washing and drying
  • A matte finish
  • Tendency to wrinkle for a lived-in look during use
  • Longevity, as percale softens over time


Percale‚Äôs breathability makes it a popular choice for summer sheets or people who tend to sleep ‚Äúhot‚ÄĚ and need the caress of cool sheets. When it comes to percale vs. plain cotton, the latter often has an uncomfortable stiffness‚ÄĒthe opposite of percale‚Äôs luxury.¬†

If you opt for percale sheets, make sure the bedding is crafted with extra-long, extra-fine cotton for quality and durability. The minimum thread count for percale is 180, but most of this bedding typically offers 200 to 300 thread count.  

What are Sateen Sheets?

Unlike percale’s one-under, one-over weave, sateen sheets feature a weave with four yarns over and one yarn under. This accounts for one of the main differences between percale and sateen. The weave gives a sateen sheet a trademark satin-like finish with a light sheen. The result is a sheet with the subtle, shimmering quality and soft drape of satin combined with the strength and durability of premium cotton.

Sateen is comfortable yet also practical. These sheets are slightly heavier than percale, due to the thicker yarn, but they’re still comfortable no matter the season. It’s an ideal pick for anyone who wants to feel enveloped in billowy sheets that feel like a dream.


The main characteristics of sateen sheets include:

  • Incredible softness
  • A signature luster to the finish
  • Wrinkle resistance
  • A heavy weight that provides warmth


Sateen sheets are usually made from cotton or rayon. Like percale, cotton sateen is the height of quality, especially when long, sturdy cotton fibers are used in the material. Standard sateen thread counts typically range from 300 to 600, though you may find some bedding with higher thread counts. However, the denser weave that comes with high thread counts does make for a heavier sheet, so you may want to avoid that if you sleep hot or live in a warm climate.

Percale vs. Sateen Sheets: What’s the Difference?

Here’s a useful guide that sums up the differences to assist you in choosing percale or sateen bedding:


  • Percale is crisp, classic cotton that tends to wrinkle when in use.
  • Sateen has a softer, drapier feel and is wrinkle resistant.


  • Percale has a matte finish.
  • Sateen gives off a subtle sheen.


  • Lightweight percale stays cool through the night.
  • Sateen‚Äôs heavier fabric generates warmth and isn‚Äôt as breathable as percale.

Typical Thread Count

  • Percale ranges from 180 to 300.
  • Sateen ranges from 300 to 600.

In the end, choosing between the two may come down to a simple matter of personal preference. But if you still can’t decide on cotton percale vs. sateen sheets, we have an inviting alternative. 

The Ingenuity of Euro-Weave

Percale vs. sateen isn’t your only option at Elegant Strand. We engineer our products so that they are the best in the marketplace. We take our time in development and design to create home goods of singular elegance and quality. One of the innovations that resulted from our efforts is Euro-Weave. 

This is a proprietary weave that marries the best attributes of percale and sateen. We‚Äôve made a pill-resistant fabric that has an exceptional and buttery-soft feel. It‚Äôs a strong material, resistant to the tears and snags that plague lesser-quality sheets. This is bedding made to last‚ÄĒand be treasured‚ÄĒover time.¬†

We offer all three weaves in our Elegant Strand bed sheets, and they’re all made with extra long, extra fine 100% combed cotton. This process eliminates shorter fibers and impurities, leaving only cotton fibers of superior quality. You can find Euro-Weave in our Monte Carlo, Florence and Capri collections. These linens offer a superior 350 thread count and come in goes-with-everything white as well as tasteful neutrals.

Luxurious Sheet Set Capri Collection

Find Your Dream Sheets at Elegant Strand

Euro-Weave, percale or sateen‚ÄĒthe choice is yours at Elegant Strand. You‚Äôll find your ideal sheet set and everything you need to put together your dream bed, from the mattress to the pillows.

We make sheet shopping simple and streamlined. Our online ordering process is easy, with exceptional customer service at every stage of the process. Order free fabric swatches before purchasing your sheets if you wish to feel the material and get a true representation of how the color will look in your bedroom. We also offer a 30-night, risk-free trial and a hassle-free return policy. Once you’ve decided whether percale, sateen or Euro-Weave is right for you, find the ideal sheets at Elegant Strand.