Percale vs. Sateen Sheets –The Difference Between Percale Sheets and Sateen Sheets

Different sheets have their own unique characteristics that set them apart from the rest. Some are light and airy while others are elegant and smooth. Because each has its own difference, it is no surprise that people have soon developed their own preference as to which one better sends them off to sleep. “To each his own” – isn’t that right? If you are one of the many who is still left undecided as to what kind of bed sheet to use, this article just might help you out. Today we will uncover the difference between two kinds of sheets that might as well be labeled as the “cat and dog” of the linen industry because of how much their features differ from each other – Percale and Sateen Sheets.

First of all, you should note that “percale and sateen” refer to a the type of weave used to make a sheet and not the material making the sheet.

Let the battle of the sheets begin!

What’s a Percale Sheet Anyway?

The word Percale has a nice ring to it – don’t you think? Etymologically speaking, the word can be traced as far back as 18th century France. And if you think that’s a pretty long history for a fabric, it was said to be initially imported from India in the 17th century. So if you do the math, this kind of fabric must’ve been around for quite some time – more or less 500 years to be exact.

Sheets weaved using Percale are light and crisp to the touch. Most Percale sheets are made from cotton and weaved in a traditional fashion (one over, one under) in a tight manner. They look clean with a matte finish and usually come in white or natural colors such as beige, flesh, or cream.

Although the cloth is tightly woven, it’s actually very breathable because the yard or thread used is much thinner compared to other fabrics. Just imagine it as sleeping in a ridiculously oversized white cotton shirt that feels airy and crisp – like it’s dried out in the summer sun.

Speaking of summer, Percale sheets are perfect to greet the summer season with. With the air feeling hot and humid, you’ll need something that lets air in and out easily. In this case, Percale sheets can really be a lifesaver – guaranteed to give you a more comfortable night’s rest.

In total, Percale sheets are generally a great choice all-year round and they become softer after each wash. However, a word of caution, Percale is an excellent choice when the material used is of superior quality. Otherwise, it can feel a bit scratchy and rough. The price varies with each manufacturer but always go for quality even if it does require you to shed a little extra. It really makes all the difference.

How About Sateen Sheets?

Before anything else, allow me to correct a common misconception most people have – Satin and Sateen are two different kinds of sheet. Still, they do share similar characteristics. The most basic difference between the two is the material used for weaving. As opposed to Satin than can be weaved by using silk, polyester, or nylon, Sateen is weaving using 100% cotton. Sateen is sometimes weaved using rayon (artificial silk) but it only happens occasionally.

Going back, Sateen is a heavier and more tightly weaved type of sheet. In contrast to Percale, it follows the four over one under pattern with most of the yarn placed on the surface giving it a smoother feel. Sateen is a fabric weave and the threads are so tightly interlaced that when viewed at a considerable distance, the sheet appears to be completely smooth with no trace of the weaving patterns.

In addition to its smooth surface, Sateen sheets look polished and glossed. They also give off an expensive feel. Certainly, this kind of sheet is more romantic in appearance and can be very stimulating to the touch as well. You know how some hair removing commercials make you feel satisfied when a silk fabric slides down their skin – sleeping in a Sateen sheet gives you an experience that comes pretty close to that.

If Percale is great for the summer then Sateen is perfect for the winter nights. Its heaviness and thickness helps warm your body when the cold weather starts creeping into your bedroom. However, winter is not forever and sleeping on Sateen sheets during hot days can make you feel more tired than rested.

Overall, a Sateen sheet is more expensive but it may be well worth paying for it given the elegance it would add to your bedroom especially when the cold season pays you a visit. Best part, no ironing required!

So which one do you think wins today’s battle? is is the Percale or the Sateen Sheets? Personally, I’d pick Percale out as the winner. Utility-wise, it gives more advantage as it can be used throughout the four seasons. It’s a bit plain but I think that one can always find beauty in simplicity. Plus, the the fact that it’s breathable is crucial for a sound sleep. Anyway, I might prefer Percale but you may think otherwise. Better yet, buy them both and use them for different occasions!




2 thoughts on “Percale vs. Sateen Sheets –The Difference Between Percale Sheets and Sateen Sheets”

  1. What an amazing find. I have never heard of percale sheets before reading this. I also think I may have heard of satin but not sateen and I find this article very interesting. Your bed should be very comfortable and sheets play a big part. After your description of percale sheets, they should like the perfect fit. I am very interested in looking for some now. Thanks for the great info!

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Before I joined the home interior industry, I too thought “satin and sateen” was one and the same thing. Percale refers to more of the weaving used in making a sheet than the type of sheet. Simply put, it’s the specific manner in which a sheet is tightly woven to produce a sheet with a smooth and crisp feel. .

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