How to choose the best bed sheets: Price, fabric, and color

The competition to get under your covers these days is fierce. Over the last few years, many players have entered the online bedding category, hoping to earn a cut of an industry that’s projected to be worth $12.7 billion by 2020. And a select few — brands like Parachute, Boll and Branch, CloudTen, and Brooklinen — are finally beginning to approach household name status.

Shopping for such a tactile product as bedding is tricky to do online, however, which is why it’s important to understand which specifications matter in a quality set of sheets. To help you choose the best bed sheets for your price range, aesthetic, and sleeping style, we’ll take you though the most important attributes to look for as well as the distinguishing features of today’s best online bedding retailers.

Type of bed sheets

While thread count is often the first thing people bring up when shopping for bed sheets, a higher thread count doesn’t necessarily equal better quality bedding. Instead, your focus should be on the materials the sheets are made of.

Most sheet sets come in one of two fabrics — cotton or linen — and each offer qualities that appeal to different kinds of sleepers. The more common (and less expensive) is cotton. When looking at cotton sheets, consider choosing a set made of either sateen or percale, which are favored by luxury bedding companies like Brooklinen and Boll and Branch. Both sateen and percale utilize high-quality, long-staple cotton, which results in more luxurious, softer, and more durable sheets than those made of short-staple cotton.

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Sateen vs. percale sheets

The difference between percale and sateen comes down to how the fabric is woven. Percale sheets are typified by their tight weave, which results in a crisp, matte, and firm fabric, not unlike that of a dress shirt. It makes sense that they need to be ironed like a dress shirt, too; the fabric wrinkles very easily. These sheets are excellent for sleepers who like to stay cool at night and would make an excellent summer set. Brooklinen uses this popular fabric in its Classic bedsheets, and Boll and Branch recently added a percale sheet set to their all-cotton product line.

Sateen is woven to create a slick, smooth surface with a distinctive sheen, almost like that of satin. Warmer and heavier than percale sheets, sateen has the added benefit of being wrinkle-resistant, making it lower maintenance than its cotton counterpart. Most online retailers will have a sateen sheet set in their portfolio. For example, CloudTen uses 100-percent hyper-combed long-staple Egyptian Cotton in its sateen sheets, which they describe as “buttery smooth” and “silky soft.”

Cotton vs linen sheets

If you’re really looking to invest in a high-quality sheet set, linen is the ticket. Made from flax stem weave, linen sheets are more difficult to make than cotton sets and as a result are more expensive. Like percale, linen is durable, breathable and lightweight. It also absorbs moisture, helping sleepers stay dry and comfortable during the night. While it is not wrinkle-free, linen is less formal than sateen or percale and doesn’t need to be pressed to look good on your bed. Parachute has a great linen sheet set on their site, as well as matching quilts, shams, duvet covers and pillowcase, fitted sheet, and flat sheet options.

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Color selection

Color is often what draws us in when we choose new bedding. Most online brands offer linen, percale, and sateen sheets in a variety of colors and shades, so you won’t have to compromise on material when choosing a color that fits with your bedroom’s aesthetic.

While your sheets will most often be covered by a quilt or duvet, the color still matters. Neutral tones like white and beige are popular because they blend well with almost any design. While they might only work with certain color palettes, sheets in blue and gray can promote calm; they’re also dark enough to allay fears about staining or discoloration.

Parachute offers six shades, spanning blues, grays, black, and white for all cotton bedsheets. Their linen bed sheets are available in two additional colors: beige and blush. The signature cotton sheets from Boll and Branch come in eight colors, with a unique sage green option, though their percale sheets only come in white or beige. Brooklinen boasts the most options, with 17 different color and pattern combinations, while CloudTen has the fewest, with five colors for its sateen sheets and only two options for its percale sets.

Price and shipping

Most of us aren’t in the market for a $419 luxury set like Parachute’s Linen Venice Set (though if you are, all the power to you). The good news is you can find comfortable, durable sheets ranging from $100 to $200 with all of these retailers.

Cotton sheets from Brooklinen are the least expensive of the bunch, which they achieve by bypassing costs like wholesaling, designer licensing fees, and storefronts. Both the three-piece Classic percale set and the Luxe sateen set cost $100. The linen bedding is a little pricier, at $249 for a four-piece set.

Parachute’s percale and sateen sets start at $129 and $149, respectively, for a full size bed; linen sets are $169. They also offer simple fitted sheets for $80.

All CloudTen sheets are the same price regardless of size; pick up any percale sheets for $120 or sateen sheets for $180. Their product offerings are fairly limited and only available in bundles and sets.

Bedding from Boll and Branch is slightly more expensive. Full-size cotton sheets (including percale) will cost $220-230 depending on the style, while single fitted sheets will run you $100. All four brands offer free domestic ground shipping in the U.S. across all 50 states.

Whichever brand and fabric type you decide to go with, there’s no wrong choice. The best bedding is the one that suits your lifestyle, price range, and personal preference — so shop happy and sleep easy.

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