Percale vs. Sateen
Which is right for you?
Which is better?
The answer to those questions is strictly in the eye of the consumer and no one but you can answer them. Nevertheless, there are some basic differences that might help with the decision.
As you can see, Percale is woven in the simplest fashion possible: one thread up/one thread down, whereas Sateen is woven three threads up/one thread down. That’s all there is to it.
Which begs the question, what does the different weave mean in terms of the finished product?
First of all, the weave means Percale sheets will have a matte appearance and a “crisp” feel. Percale, generally speaking, will absorb and release moisture better than Sateen, which means it will be a bit cooler, especially on warm nights. Furthermore, all other things being equal, Percale sheets should be a bit stronger and last a bit longer than Sateen. Finally, until the cotton fibers relax after multiple washings, Percale sheets are going to wrinkle more than Sateen.
The appeal of Sateen is primarily in its luxurious appearance. The 3 up/1 down weaving means more threads are on the top of the sheet, which in turn means that light will reflect off a Sateen sheet differently than a Percale. You can see the effect: there is an elegant shine to a Sateen sheet vs. the “flat” look of Percale. Out of the package, a Sateen sheet is going to feel a bit softer and silkier. In addition, Sateen will be a bit warmer than Percale.
More often than not, it comes down to a simple question:
Do you prefer a sheet with a matte finish and no shine, or do you prefer a sheet with an elegant, lustrous appearance?