Window Blinds for Dummies
How to Choose the Right Window Treatments
- Will price play a major factor in the decision?
- What is the overall décor/style of the room(s)?
- How important is the energy efficiency of the window treatment?
- Close neighbors? What are your privacy concerns?
- Got light? Glare on your television? Too much sun when sleeping in?
- Breathtaking views? How can I maximize the view and minimize the glare or loss of privacy?
- What if there is a lot of humidity in the room?
- What treatments stand up best in harsh sunlight?
- What type of products work best against abuse in rental units? Kids play areas?
I'll list a few of the main product categories from least expensive to most.
- Mini Blinds (least expensive) – 1-inch blinds cost less than the half-inch Micro Minis or 2-inch Macro Aluminum.
- Roller Shades – Vinyl Roller Shades cost less than Fabric Roller Shades.
- Vertical Blinds – Smooth Vinyl, then Embossed Vinyl, Fabric and Fabric with PVC Backing.
- Faux Wood Blinds – Both Smooth Fauxwood and Embossed Faux Woods are usually same price.
- Wood Blinds – Painted are usually less than the Stained Colors.
- Pleated Shades – No Backing, Privacy Backing & Blackout Backing.
- Bamboo Shades – Light Filtering then Privacy Backed.
- Cellular Shades – Single Cell then Double Cell, Light Filtering to Blackout.
- Horizontal Shadings – Illusions Brand, then Horizontal Window Shadings.
Here are some general product suggestions:
- Contemporary Style Homes - Verticals, Mini Blinds, Wood & Faux Wood Blinds, Illusions Shadings
- Traditional Style Homes - Cellular Shades, Roman Shades, Pleated Shades, Roller Shades, Illusions Shadings
- Older & Historical Homes - Roller Shades, Wood Blinds, Fauxwood Blinds
- Country Style Homes - Roman Shades, Roller Shades, Cell Shades, Pleated Shades
- Vacation Homes & Rentals - Sheerweave Shades, Verticals
If you're trying to keep the cold out try these:
- Cellular Shades - One of the most energy efficient products we carry. Double Cell works best.
- Privacy Lined Bamboo Shades - One of the most popular products on the market today.
- PVC Backed Fabric Vertical Blinds - Also offers excellent slat closure while still offering light and privacy control.
If you're trying to keep the heat and sun out try these:
- Sheerweave Sun Control Shades - If the view is important but the sun is driving you crazy you'll want to check these out. The most popular product for sun control while still offering a view of the outdoors while in the lowered (closed) position.
- Cellular Shades - One of the most energy efficient products we carry. No route holes in the fabric so it has a solid fabric face to block out all of the direct sunlight. Use the Room Darkening Cellular Shades or Blackout to block even more heat and sun.
- Privacy Lined Bamboo Shades - The most popular product offers great sun and heat control when ordered with the Privacy Liner on back.
- PVC Backed Fabric Vertical Blinds - The PVC vanes on back offer great heat and sunlight control and the fabric side (inside) makes them all the more energy efficient.
- Privacy Bamboo Shades - When the privacy liner is used the Bamboo Blinds offer total privacy.
- Wood & Faux Wood Blinds with Cloth Tapes - Excellent privacy when the optional cloth tapes are added to the Wood and Faux Blinds. You also have a lot of control over light and view outside.
- Vertical Blinds - Again, great for privacy and control of light and exterior view.
- Cellular Shades - Total privacy but limited in view/lighting options. If you add the optional bottom up/top down feature you can lower the shade from the top just enough to have a view yet still have the needed privacy.
Here are my suggestions:
- Privacy Bamboo Shades - The privacy liner is a white material that is adhered to the back (outer) side of the Bamboo Shade offering substantial sun and light blockage.
- Wood & Faux Wood Blinds with Cloth Tapes - When the optional Cloth Tapes are used these blinds can keep all of the sun and most of the light out. They don't work as well as the Bamboo blinds but are just fine for most applications.
- PVC Backed Fabric Verticals - The PVC Backed Fabric type Vertical Blinds offer the best closure of all the verticals. This product should do the trick keeping ALL of the sun out and most all of the light. Having control of light and view when needed is a real plus here.
- Blackout Cellular Shades - This is the best product for blocking light. When you lower these shades be ready for total darkness. Works best for a baby's room or master bedroom (especially for those who like to sleep in). You'll have a hard time telling if it's day or night when you wake up. :-)
- Sheerweave Sun Control Shades - The is by far the best choice when trying to maximize the view and minimize the glare and still maintain a fair amount of privacy at night.
- Light Filtering Bamboo Blinds - Some of the more open weaves of Bamboo Blinds allow at least a peak through the reeds. Best to order a few samples and hold them up to your window.
- Sheer Vertical Blinds - When rotated closed this product offers excellent privacy and rotated open the sheer fabric facing offers decent glare reduction and some privacy.
- Illusions Window Shadings - This product has opaque and sheer alternating bands that when overlapped the right way offer great views while minimizing most of the glare. Privacy is minimal if the vanes are left in the open position at night. You can close them for total privacy by overlapping the vanes with a simple pull of the control chain.
Here are the best choices for a long happy, not so soggy blind life.
- Vinyl Roller Shades - These are usually the best choice when shopping for the lowest price but you need remember that the roller shades have a rather large gap on both sides. The reason for this is they sometimes tend to track to one side or the other when being raised and need the additional spacing to keep the material from hitting the side brackets.
- PVC Vertical Blinds - PVC Verticals come in Smooth, Ribbed and Embossed styles. The Smooth being the best price and Embossed being the highest. The Smooth PVC is the easiest to maintain with it's solid smooth vanes, the Ribbed PVC and Embossed PVC styles can be a little more of a challenge but more than make up for that with all the beautiful color and pattern choices.
- 2-inch and 2 1/2-inch Faux Wood Blinds - The 2-inch Fauxwood and 2 1/2-inch Fauxwood Blinds are the most popular. They offer great moisture resistance without sacrificing beauty or light control.
- Phifer Sheerweave Shades - The Sheerweave Shades are made from a PVC coated polyester that works great at repelling moisture. If privacy is a concern you may want to try one of the options above since this is a screen type material and at night with the lights on inside you will probably be able to see into the room.
- PVC Vertical Blinds - All of the PVC Vertical Blinds are an excellent choice for blocking intense sun and heat. You can actually feel the temperature drop in the room as soon as they are closed if the sun was beaming in. Most PVC Vanes come with a lifetime guarantee against warping and cracking.
- Vinyl Roller Shades - Out of these five choices this one will have the shortest life span. It works better than most window treatments but after a period of years the material will start to deteriorate if exposed to intense direct sunlight.
- Phifer Sheerweave Shades - For harsh sunlight areas this one can't be beat. There is a reason these products are called "Sun Control Shades". If you have a view that you'd just hate to block out or maybe a commercial storefront that you don't want to look like it's closed then this is the product for you! The Sheerweave Shades come in a wide variety of colors and patterns with different degrees of openness and view. My personal favorite is the Sheerweave 3000 Series, The 3000 Series has a 14% openness factor which allows plenty of view while blocking all of the sunlight.
Back in the early 80's I was installing blinds for a few companies and I had this one job that kept calling me back out for repairs. They ordered PVC Verticals and whenever I got there the whole track system and slats were a mess. No one was ever home so I never got an answer as to what was happening to them. Having to make my third trip out to this job in less than a year I was starting to get frustrated. I was hoping to finally catch someone home and this time I got lucky. I knocked on the door and a polite young surfer dude answered and let me in. He walked back to the living area where the blinds were and sat back on the sofa with his friends. The blinds that kept breaking were on a 12' sliding glass door that faced the ocean in that room. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but it didn't take me long to figure out what the problem was. They had the sliding glass door pulled completely open yet had the vertical blinds drawn closed so the sun didn't glare in. It was a rather windy day at the beach and the vanes were flapping wildly in the breeze, some flapping all the way up to the ceiling. Before I could speak one of the young men, sitting next to his wet surfboard on the sofa said "It's this one dude, I don't know what's wrong with it". I wonder if he owns any rental units of his own now...
Back to the little guys. Kids can at times be fairly rough on your window treatments. Believe me, I know. I have four of them. Some like to color on them, bend them, pull the cords and all kinds of other fun stuff. Anyway, back to the advice you came here for.
Here are the DO'S:
- Vinyl Roller Shades - Get the clutch! The clutch operated shade works much better than the spring roller version. These are real easy to care for. Just use a little mild detergent on a wash cloth and wipe it down.
- Phifer Sun Control Shades - Pretty much the same as the Vinyl Roller Shades. The price is a little higher but the ability to have your view while the shadeis in the down position is well worth it.
- 2-inch and 2 1/2-inch Faux Wood Blinds - These clean a stand up just like the 2-inch Vinyl Blinds but have a better quality look to them.
- ALL PVC Vertical Blinds - Again, Smooth Verticals will be easier to clean than the Embossed PVC Verticals but both wear and clean really well.
Here are the DON'TS:
- Aluminum Mini Blinds - The metal slats, although spring tempered, will still bend when torqued too far. They can be a little tricky to dust too.
- Sheer Verticals - This one doesn't need much of an explanation. Any drapery or sheer type fabric that gets a stain in it means the whole window treatment needs taken down and professionally cleaned.
- Real Wood Verticals - One of the most beautiful products you could put on a window OR door but not the best in areas that may take a beating. The price to replace slats can add up real fast.
Congratulations! If you have read this article, then you are no longer a Window Blind Dummy. Please CONTACT our experienced sales team for more advice as to what may work best in your particular application.