Combined with pillows and top coverings, sheets both practical and pretty refresh a room for an easy makeover. Crisp white sheets never go out of style. Sheets in colors, prints, and patterns are easy to find in all sizes and price ranges. Frequent washing tends to fade colors on budget-price sheets. Here are some additional sheet terms and facts to keep in mind.
Thread count refers to the number of threads woven into 1 square inch of fabric. Why does it matter? The higher the thread count, the softer and smoother the sheets will be.
Thread count also determines whether a sheet is muslin or percale. Sheets with a thread count of 140-180 are muslin. Everything higher is percale. The most common percale sheets have thread counts of 180-200. Higher-quality sheets have a 250-300 thread count and feel silky to the touch. Sheets with a high thread count (300-400) are considered luxury quality.
Look for a minimum thread count of 200 when selecting sheets. When buying cotton-polyester blend sheets, choose a thread count of 220 or more. Expect to pay more for higher thread counts, because it takes more finely spun threads to make them.
For comfort and durability, cotton is still king. Want a natural, breathable fabric? Choose 100 percent cotton. If you are allergic to dyes and chemicals, look for sheets made from organically grown, natural, undyed cotton fibers.
Other Sheet Materials
Editor's Tip: Not sure which fabric is best for you? Buy a pair of pillowcases and see how you like them before committing to a complete set of sheets.
Getting ready to shop for sheets? Start by carefully measuring the mattress. Mattress sizes can vary, and you want to make sure you're getting the right size for your bed. Write down your mattress dimensions, measuring from head to foot, side to side, and top to bottom (mattress thickness). That way you'll know exactly what you need.
These are the standard sheet sizes, listed in inches, for typical mattress options.
Twin Bed: As the smallest mattress, the twin is usually meant for one person.
Twin Extra-Long Bed: Usually found in college dorm rooms, this mattress is longer than the standard twin.
Full-Size Bed: Also known as a double, this mattress can sleep two.
Queen-Size Bed: The queen mattress sleeps two. It is both longer and wider than a full-size mattress.
King-Size Bed: Also known as the Eastern king, this mattress is the largest option.
California King Bed: This luxurious mattress is longer and narrower than the Eastern king.
Many newer beds feature pillow-top or extra-deep mattresses, which often run 14-16 inches deep -- and may be even thicker. Use these mattress depths as a guide when selecting sheets. Bear in mind that you might need to buy the next size up (e.g. a king flat sheet for a queen-size bed) to accommodate a deeper mattress.
Standard: 7-9 inches
Deep: Up to 15 inches
Extra-Deep: 16-22 inches
Traditional January white sales are the ideal time to purchase bargains. Linen outlets are year-round destinations for bargain hunters.
For the most savings on quality sheets, look for sales of marked-down individual sheets instead of sets. Mix and match fitted and flat sheets with pillowcases and shams. For mixing, choose white or a solid pastel for one of the sheets or for the pillowcases.
Another smart strategy: Consider buying identical sets of sheets so that you can trade off sheets if something spills or a sheet gets damaged.
Stock these items to dress every bed in comfort and style.