Percale or Sateen: what is the difference?

Difference between cotton percale and cotton sateen

Choosing the perfect sheets can be hard! We’ve decided to create truly good sheets to make the choice easier. A key factor is the fabric they’re made from. Cotton is the original and still the best choice for quality sheets. But you may have come across terms like Percale or Sateen and you’re probably wondering what they mean and why should you even care? Well, percale and sateen refer to the weave of the fabric and since that’s what can come between you and a good nights’ sleep, we’ve put together this quick guide so you know exactly which will be right for you.
Fabric is woven using vertical warp threads and horizontal weft threads. The way the threads intersect each other determines the end fabric and the resulting feel and appearance.


Percale is fabric made with a plain, or basket weave which is one thread over, one thread under, a method in use for hundreds of years. This weave gives the fabric its’ strength and durability, matte appearance and a crisp feel. To be called percale, the fabric must have a thread count of 180 per square inch or higher.
Percale is probably what you slept on as a child, and almost certainly what you will find in most high end hotels. It’s a lightweight, strong weave, making for breathable, cool and crisp sheets – perfect all year round and particularly good for warmer weather and hot sleepers.

The Good

  • Strong yet soft and smooth
  • Breathable, suitable for year round use, particularly good in summer
  • Cool, crisp feel
  • Durable, lasts longer
  • Less likely to pill
  • Easy care
  • Gets softer with laundering and use

The Bad

  • Wrinkles initially, this lessens as fibres soften with use
  • Can initially feel stiff, until broken in

View our Heavyweight Percale Sheet Set in White 
Best selling for a reason, these are the sheets many people tell us remind them of their childhood. Thicker, crisper and sturdier and they only get better with use.Bestselling Cotton Percale


A sateen weave has three or four threads over, one under which exposes more yarn to the surface and gives the fabric its lustrous sheen and silky feel and drape. It typically is woven more tightly resulting in a higher thread count, slightly heavier and warmer fabric. It’s comfortable all year round, and especially in winter or if you are a cold sleeper as it tends to drape over the body and retain more body heat. For that reason it might not be the best choice for hot, humid areas.

The Good

  • Silky smooth feel
  • Often (but not always) has a lustrous sheen
  • Warm to touch, great for cooler climates
  • Wrinkles less

The Bad

  • Slightly less durable
  • More likely to pill and snag
  • Less breathable
  • Shine is often enhanced by using chemicals and fades with use

Which one should you choose?

In the end, the choice comes down to personal preference. Both fabrics will produce comfortable, luxurious sheets, the difference will be whether you prefer cool, crisp sheets or silky smoothness against your skin at night. You may even like to use both, changing them with the seasons to get the best sleep experience.
We obviously have our preference, choosing to first make percale sheets for their durability and crisp, soft feel, however you should be able to get the most out of either percale or sateen as long as they’re made from high quality cotton. We made sure our cotton sheets are made from superior, long-staple cotton which has been hand-picked and combed to retain only the finest, longest fibres, ensuring amazingly comfortable, breathable sheets and the best nights’ sleep ever.  

We currently specialise in percale sheets, but watch this space - we'll be introducing a sateen option soon.

Percale vs Sateen