Percale vs Sateen Sheets For a Vacation Rental

Last Updated on June 14, 2022


A question that we get asked often is what types of sheets to buy for a vacation rental. 90% of the time, the debate is about percale sheets vs sateen sheets.

If you have a low-traffic rental, with less than 10 bookings per year, then it really doesn’t matter.

Most sheet sets last for a reasonable amount of time (assuming that you wash the sheets once per rental). That works out to about 10 wash cycles per year and about 50 in 5 years.

Given that even cheaper sateen sheets are good for about 50 wash cycles (sometimes more), any given set should last an “economical” period of time.

On the other hand, if you expect your rental property to be booked regularly, you’re better off buying the type of sheets that hotels use, which is – percale.

A good quality percale sheet set like this one should last at least 100 wash cycles.

a white percale sheet set from Pinzon

If you want an explanation of why percale sheets are the better choice, and which varieties to choose from, keep reading…

 

The percale vs sateen debate

As far as cotton-made bedding goes, you’ll generally see two types of sheets: sateen, and percale. They are both generally from similar cotton types, and both have similar thread counts.

The difference comes from the weave.

 

a graphic comparing percale and sateen weaves

 

Percale has a traditional weave – over, under, over, under, etc – which results in a tighter weave. A sateen weave is not so simple as you can see in the image above.

This results in a looser weave.

 

Sateen

Sateen sheets are usually heavier, warmer, and tend to be softer to the touch. And sateen fabrics, whether cheap or expensive, will tend to have a consistent feel.

Because of the more complicated and looser weave, however, sateen sheets more expensive, are not as durable and will get fuzzy, or pill after numerous wash cycles.

Sateen also shows wear and tear more obviously.

Have you ever seen this on sheets (or cotton clothing)? 

 

a cotton sheet with pilling

 

That is what pilling looks like.

Pilling is the result of individual fibers in the threads coming apart. If your sheets currently have pilling, get yourself a fabric shaver!

 

 

 

Percale

Due to the simplicity of the weave, percale sheets are more affordable, durable, and stay cooler than the sateen variety. 

Percale sheets have a noticeably crisp texture that shows considerably less wear than sateen. Good quality percale will feel as inviting and cozy as sateen.

 

a crisp set of white percale sheets

Given that durability and cost are the main priorities when choosing bedding for a vacation rental, percale is a clear choice. They will last twice as long, at half the cost!

 

What thread count should you choose

300!

300 is a magical number when it comes to sheets. It’s where soft and durable intersect. If you go less than 300 and the sheets might feel like sandpaper.

But if you go higher than 300, quality starts to suffer, especially when you get to the fake thread counts, like anything over 400.

What was that? Fake thread counts?

Yes. Fake!

Sheet manufacturers like to boost their thread counts because they know people love “more”. But when using regular threads, going past 400 isn’t possible.

So how do they do this?

If you look at a “luxury” sheet set, something like a 600 thread count set, for example, you’ll see it described as “2-ply”. They’ll list 2-ply as one of the features of the sheet (or sheet set), but it’s actually not a benefit.

For 2-ply, two thinner strands were are together to form one standard-sized thread. Since each thread now is composed of two pieces, the stated thread count is doubled.

 

a graphic comparing single-ply and multi-ply threads

 

In essence, what is really a 300 thread count sheet, is advertised as 600. If it was that simple, we would let it pass, but it’s not.

Not only does that 600 thread count sheet cost more (because of the artificially inflated thread count), but those thinner strands are also not as durable.

They are actually much weaker! A 600 thread count sheet will have the same feel as a 300 thread count sheet, but last only half as long.

The moral of the story is, to stick to a 300 thread count set. Your wallet will appreciate it.

 

What color should you choose?

White. Unless you want to match a theme already in place, choose a white sheet set.

Up until about 25 years ago, hotels and other types of hospitality properties used darker colored sheets, because they hid stains and worn areas.

After doing large amounts of research, focus groups, surveys, etc., they came to find out that a white bed (not just the sheets, but the entire bed) provided the best customer experience.

White evokes a clean and fresh look, even if the bedding is old and worn.

 

a bed with white sheets and duvet cover

Hotels conduct a ton of research to ensure that their guests have the optimal experience to boost customer retention.

If you want your guests to come back, it really can be as simple as making sure that they feel fresh and reinvigorated when they go back home.

 

Can we do better than percale sheets?

Yes, we can.

If you have multiple bookings per week and expect to have your sheets washed at least twice a week or more, you can (and should) purchase the same sheets that hotels use.

As you’d imagine, hotel sheets get washed multiple times per week – often times daily.

For that reason, hotels utilize bedding that is super durable.

Hospitality-grade sheets are rated at 300 wash cycles. That means they can be washed at least 300 times before tearing or shredding.

 

sheets being folded in a hotel laundry room

 

Where can you find the same sheets that hotels use, and who makes them?

There are a handful of brands that American hotels use. The most common are Standard Textile, Koni, Martex, 1888 Mills, and Ganesh.

These brands are available through distributors, and to commercial properties only – although a few websites online will sell to regular consumers.

The only issue is that they are only available as case packs.

That means you’ll have to buy in bulk quantity. With sheets, you’ll generally have to purchase a dozen of each sheet type – 12 flats, 12 fitteds, and 12 cases.

Fortunately, Standard Textile does have its own store where you can purchase in single quantities.

 

logo for Standard Textile - a hospitality bedding manufacturer

 

 

They have the same sheets, pillows, and towels available in their store that they sell to hotels.

You’ve used Standard Textile products before, you just didn’t realize it. Their products are used at most national hotel chains like Marriott, Sheraton, etc.

 

Conclusion

If you have a vacation rental, beach house, cabin, etc., and you need some sheets, percale is the clear and obvious choice.

Not only are they more affordable than sateen sheets, but they will last much longer. The sheet set shown at the top of this page, in white color, is a great option for the majority of rental properties.

If you expect multiple guests per week, however, you might want to look into industrial-grade hospitality sheets. They might cost more, but they’ll last much longer.

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