Percale, sateen, linen, or flannel? Mix them for optimal temperature and wear, say the experts.
If you’re like most people, you probably purchase sheets in a set. But there’s no rule that says your sheets have to match. In fact, you might sleep better if you incorporate a variety of sheeting fabrics on your bed seasonally and as your budget allows (so you can splurge where it counts). We’ve also found there are some benefits to this method for maximizing the longevity of your sheets and calibrating the best sheet combo for partners who like different textures.Shannon Maher, an assistant professor at FIT’s Textile Development and Marketing department and former designer for The Company Store, prefers different combinations of cotton percale and sateen, linen, and flannel, depending on the seasons.
Spring and fall: Sateen or percale
Percale sheets are crisp and soft with a matte finish. “Percale sheets have a cooler, crisper hand due to the basic weave and are great for the warmer weather,” says Maher. (See all our percale picks here. Our L.L.Bean and Casper picks are sold by the piece.)
Sateen sheets are more luxuriously smooth than percale, a little silky against the skin, and have a heavier drape. “Sateen sheets have a warmer hand due to the construction, so they are perfect for sleeping with the windows open when the nights are cooler,” says Maher. (See our sateen picks here. Our Cuddledown pick is sold by the piece.)
Summer: Percale, linen, or a mix of both
Linen sheets breath really well, even better than cotton. They have a rougher texture than cotton, but their breathability makes them exceptional for sleeping in hot, muggy weather. As Maher says, “[Linen] is the perfect summer sheet.” But linen can also make a great sheet fabric year-round, because it regulates temperature really well and can be great for people who sleep hot or cold. A couple of our Sweethome writers sleep on linen all year. If you can’t afford a set, splurge on a single top sheet. (You can read our full review to linen sheets here. Our upgrade pick from Rough Linen is sold by the piece.)
If you use oily/staining face products before bed, tend to sweat a lot, or have oily skin, you might want to use a less expensive white percale pillowcase that you can wash (and bleach) more easily.
Winter: Sateen or percale mixed with flannel
Flannel sheets are very warm, with a soft, fuzzy texture created by napping or brushing the fabric. These can be wonderful for wrapping up in during cold winter nights, but some people, like Maher, find flannel sheets too warm. “I use flannel for the outer bed only,” she says. “This provides a cozy warm bed, especially if used as a duvet/comforter cover.” If you also find flannel too warm to sleep on, try using a percale or sateen bottom sheet and pillowcases with a flannel top sheet or duvet cover as your top layer.
Maher says, “In all seasons, I always layer with a quilt, blanket, or matelasse at the foot of the bed; this visually finishes the bed plus gives you that extra layer if needed,” she says. “I use varying weights depending on the season and how warm or cool the weather is.”