Why Thread Count is not a Reliable Measure of Quality

Posted by Bamboo Village on 24th Sep 2014

It’s time to get some new sheets for your bed; what a treat! However, have you ever been confronted by the ‘thread count’ when choosing your new sheets? One number here and another there, it can easily make your head spin if you really don’t know what it all means. It’s easy to think that all of the numbers are tactical ways of marketers making you think their sheets are better than others, and while this can be the case at times which we will discuss below, it is in fact a way to measure the quality of a good sheet, but it is not always the most reliable.

What is a thread count?

Think of the thread count of sheets like this; it is the amount of threads that are woven together within one square of fabric. Lengthwise and width wise threads are counted; if a fabric piece has 80 threads woven lengthwise and 80 width wise, this would have a thread count of 160. Thread count in theory does determine the quality and smoothness of a sheet. Less than 150 leaves a sheet feeling a little rough. Any sheets over 180 are considered good quality.

Why unreliable? Surely higher means better?

What happens when people understand these numbers, is that they automatically think that higher is better. You may have heard many a film quote where a higher thread count is referenced and made to sound uber luxurious. In truth though, even though thread count is quite a good way of measuring quality, there are still companies who may try to confuse the buyer with a bit of tactical manipulation. If you find a sheet with a count over 400, be a little suspicious; what is likely is that threads aren’t being counted, but fibres instead that are in each thread (which is up to four). Quite sneaky!

Other factors are important

The total quality of the sheet you buy also depends on things such as how it has been made, the finish and yarn size. How it has been made is very important; it can be the case that one made using better fibres and better techniques may actually have a lesser thread count, but will be softer and will have a longer life than one having high thread count that has been made using substandard production systems.

Material is important

Material is also a very important factor when it comes to thread counts, because you can easily be caught out. As an example, our 100% bamboo fibre Luxury Bamboo Sheets are Oekotex-100 Certified. They are approx. 180 thread count which is comparable to a high quality 300+ thread count Egyptian cotton sheet. Different thread count, but equally comfortable.

If sheets are on your buying list, do check out the thread count of sheets but remember it isn’t the most important factor; remember to consider other features too, and consider who it is made by.