American Homeowners Association Membership  
American Homeowners Association



Bedding Blues

A sheet is a sheet, right? No, as the store clerk will tell you, a sheet varies from 117 to 600 threads per woven square inch, and comes in linen, muslin, or various kinds of cotton, all of which have different properties and costs. Just as beds range from twin size to king, choosing bedding materials is not a one-size- fits-all proposition, either, according to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. You've got some choices to make.

Sheet Tips.
Thread count, or number of threads per square inch, determines quality--the higher the number, the tighter the weave. Prices climb proportionately to the thread count. For example, if you want a thread count of 340 to 590 for the softest, most durable sheet on the shelf, expect to pay in the hundreds for a set. If shelling out for sheets is not on your priority list, more affordable percales in the 180-200 range can fit the bill and your bed--typically about $25 for poly-cotton blends or around $60 for all-cotton, per sheet. Fiber content is your second quality indicator. Cotton fiber comes in several varieties, including the more sophisticated and luxurious sea island and egyptian cottons. Pima is the more common alternative. Like egyptian, it has extra-long fibers. Although cotton is the more affordable choice, it's hard to beat linen sheets for quality and durability. You have a variety of weights to choose from. In warm climates, linen sheets keep you cooler. They don't hold dirt or moisture as easily, either, and each washing actually softens their feel.

Blanket Rules.
The same parameters apply to blankets: weave and fiber. As with sheets, the tighter the weave, the better. Prices range from $50 for a good cotton blanket, to $100-150 for wool. Standard wool must be dry-cleaned. For middle of the road prices and greater convenience, washable wool blankets are lightweight, warm, and priced around $60 to $80. At around $35 per blanket, fleece is the cheapest material yet won't pile or shed like other synthetics. It's washable and light, too.

Comforting Choices.
Down comforters offer unsurpassed warmth and insulation with little to weigh you down. Quality of insulation is measured in "fill power," the number of cubic inches per ounce of down. Once again, higher is better. Fill power ranges from 300 to 700. Prices range from $100 up to $600. As with sheets, thread count will determine the quality of the cover fabric. Manufacturers also use different stitching methods. Baffling creates separate sections to distribute the down evenly for maximum loft and warmth, while karo or ring stitching allows you to shift the fill yourself. Box stitching tacks everything down in squares. Synthetic, wool, or cotton comforters are cheaper but are not as warm or lightweight as down.

Pillow Permutations.
Remember, soft for stomach sleepers, medium for back sleepers, and firm for side sleepers. Soft pillows are typically all down. Medium will be half down and half feathers, while firm will be about 90 percent feathers. Down pillows vary greatly in price from $25 to over $200. If you choose polyester, go with hollow-core fibers coated with silicone. Stay away from foam rubber.