Are you wondering about the world of blinds and other window covers? This article covers - no pun intended - the different types of blinds and shades and will help you choose the ideal ones for your home.
Window blinds are a popular choice for covering windows because they provide privacy and insulation while also adding style to a room. They come in different sizes and shapes to match the look and feel of any existing décor. Whether you want a minimalistic appearance or an over-the-top bright look, there is a blind out there that will fit your needs.
The only downside of blinds is that they are challenging to clean, and sometimes you do not want to go through all that trouble. If that's the case, then window shades or curtains are your best bet. People often confuse these terms and use them interchangeably. However, there lies a subtle difference in the functions performed by these window treatments.
Whether you like blinds or shades, make sure you know everything about them before purchasing. What you choose can make a difference to your interior and exterior look.
Key Differences Between Blinds and Shades
The main difference is slats. Blinds have sections known as slats that fold up and down or even sideways, deciding the amount and angle of the sunlight entering the room. These can be adjusted with a cord or rod.
Shades on the other hand are made up of one continuous material that is easy to install and remove. Here are some additional comparisons to make things more clear:
|Ease of cleaning||Harder to clean due to dust collection on each slat. Not easy to remove and clean individual slats.||Easier to clean. You can remove and wash it without much hassle.|
|Insulation||Provides better insulation by trapping heat inside in winters and outside during summers.||A little less amount of insulation from the sun.|
|Purchase cost||They have a very mid-range price.||They can be both expensive and inexpensive.|
|Installation cost||Low installation cost.||Depending on the design can range from affordable to very expensive.|
|Child safety||Little dangerous as kids can get caught up in the cords of the blinds.||Safer for kids.|
|Light Control||Good light control when each slat is closed.||Depends on the material. Light material will give a golden glow in the room, while heavy material can black out entirely.|
|Durability||More durable.||Less durable.|
|Movement||Up, Down, and sideways tilting with the help of a rod.||Up and Down only.|
Complete List Of Different Types Of Blinds
Venetian Blinds or Horizontal Blinds
The most popular type of blinds are Venetian blinds. These are horizontal blinds held in place by string or cloth tapes. When you raise Venetian blinds, the bottom slat is forced into the slats above, lifting them in sequence.
They're held in place by ropes or cloth pieces, keeping each slat at the same distance and allowing you to tilt them up to 180 degrees. They are compatible with any type of window, including problematic arched windows. While you can use them for windows or doors of any size, they are ideal for small windows.
Materials: Plastic, metal, and wood.
Ease of cleaning: Little tedious to clean.
Types: Manual or motorized with smart home technologies
Difficulty: This can be confusing at first, as you have to pull the cord left to unlock it before moving the slats.
Vertical Blinds are ideally made for glass doors and long windows. These are best suited for patio or backyard door window treatments. There's a clamp that holds the slats together at the top. They look like horizontal blinds for small windows; the only difference is that you can not move them up or down.
Materials: Most frequently Vinyl, Wood, and Faux Wood
Ease of Cleaning: Very easy to clean
- Very inexpensive and easy to install.
- Best options for Sliding Doors, Large windows, and Small windows
- It does not bend or wilt over time like Horizontal Blinds due to up and down movement
- Easy to maneuver, has no complicated mechanism
- Windows look clean and crisp
If you are looking for another option for your patio doors or substantial panoramic windows, panel blinds are great. Panel blinds are just a tad different from vertical blinds as they hang straight, whereas vertical blinds hang at an angle.
There's a track present from one slat to another that runs the entire width and allows individual movement of the slats. It gives the ultimate freedom to select the exact amount of sunlight or breeze you want in your room. Moreover, it gives you privacy while still having a small peak at the outside world.
This blind moves sideways when you pull a cord that further pulls the track one by one. Panel blinds are made up of wide strips of thin fabric that hang vertically. Unlike vertical blinds, which have many thin slats, panel blinds usually only have four broader parts.
The broad slats prevent it from tilting or rotating while you maneuver the blinds. This is because the individual cord pulls one slat towards the other, and they simply fall onto one another. It makes them a popular choice for sliding backdoors.
- Less expensive than other options
- Fabrics are soft and wide.
- Eco-friendly (no plastic used)
- Just like dominos falling, it smoothly glides open and close
- Cleaning panel blinds are very easy
Like Venetian blinds, mini blinds have the exact same alignment as their slats. As per the name, mini blinds have very narrow slats, unlike the traditional Venetian blinds. Typically, the slats are 2.5 cm (1") wide.
The cheaper mini blinds can start to look shabby over time, though. It also becomes hard to evenly fold the blind as the thin slats with thin material can quickly begin to bend or twist after using for a while. Another problem with mini blinds is that they are challenging to clean and require more labor.
If you want to upgrade the quality, go for a thicker material slat. Imitation wood can also make your blind look elegant and give your window natural aesthetics. The only downside is that imitation wood can be expensive.
Micro blinds are another more petite version of horizontal blinds. They are typically used in small windows like that of a bathroom. The slats are even smaller, only 1.2 (½") cm. They block light from the outside effectively. The cons of micro blinds are that it is tough to clean because of the narrow space between the slats and the large number of slats.
Smart Blinds - Smart Home Technology
Thanks to smart home technology having automatic blinds can be like a dream come true. These high-tech modern blinds are becoming more and more popular. You can open and close them by using just a button on your smartphone.
Smart blinds and shades can be found in various shapes, styles, prints, and colors. You can choose anything that looks rustic and frilly shades to monochrome slats with a simple design. Moreover, they are also available in traditional styles. This means you can get the best of both worlds.
How do they work?
Once you buy the smart blinds, you connect to them via an app and Bluetooth on your smartphone. Once connected, you can set commands on the app to open and close the blinds without getting up. You can even pre-set the timings you want them to open to get sunlight in the room and close in the evening.
They also contribute significantly to energy conservation in heating and cooling as they provide excellent thermal insulation. Smart blinds are not only one of the most physically appealing products on the market, but they may also help you save money after you install them.
Imagine waking up in the morning due to peeping sunlight in your room as your blinds slide open. So, select the blinds that best suit your decor and the aesthetic of your home.
Side note: Get a remote controller for your regular blinds if you think smart blinds are out of your price range but still want your blinds to open and close automatically.
You can install their mechanism at a much cheaper cost and enjoy the technology.
Shutters are like fixed slats on your windows, usually made of solid material. Installing shutters on your windows is another option to keep the sun out of your home. The solid shutters are typically made of vinyl or wood, and they come in full-length or plantation style.
Shutters are typically made of wood and fit into the interior of the window frame, with slats connected and operated by a vertical wooden component. To shut or open the slats, simply use the vertical piece to raise or lower all of the slats at once.
This option is generally much more expensive than many others because of the solid wood construction and the need for installation to precisely fit the window frame.
Different Types of Shades
Now, this segment includes a detailed list of different types of shades. Let's get to know them a little better.
If you want a more classical look to your window, then Roman shades can be one of the options for you. Roman shades, which are technically Roman Blinds, use fabric to cover the windows. Apart from fabric, natural fibers like jute or seagrass are also used.
Roman shades are often referred to as blinds because when you raise them, they fold into themselves and form equal sizes of pleats. Moreover, when raised, they look similar to the Horizontal blinds as they create a big stack of fabric on top of the window. The pleats are broad and open up like a shade, appearing as one big fabric.
Just like the city of Rome, these blinds look like a beautiful, timeless piece on the window. Roman shades are offered in both lined and unlined versions to meet various demands. You can add additional inner linings to provide blackout or thermal insulation.
These blinds are highly customizable. These are some of the most popular current designs:
- Solid colors
- Fleur de lei
Think of an accordion, and you'll understand how pleated shades look. Their pleats, when folded, appear like an individual slat sitting one upon the other. Pleated shades are often interchangeably called pleated blinds because of their pseudo slats.
These shades somewhat resemble Venetian blinds in appearance. Instead of separate slats, when open, the combined look of the pleats gives a very soft look to the window. However, unlike blinds, they cannot be changed from side to side.
Materials for such pleated shades are usually fabric or paper, and the pleated cloth used to make these shades is extremely thin. The easiest way to hold them on your window is to glue them at the top or use a conventional blind mount.
The lack of slats prevents any light from entering the room through open spaces. They are best to use when you require privacy for the window in the bathroom.
As the name suggests, the shades roll instead of rotating up and down. Roller shades are the best option if you are not a big fan of Venetian blinds because of the complex mechanism of the latter. They don't have partition-like slats but a smooth whole fabric shade that glides up and down your window.
A rod is fixed at the top of the window, and it's attached to the shade's cloth. Using a string, you can pull the shades up and down with a small beaded loop at the end to hook your fingers.
The shades have a clever locking mechanism to keep them from rolling while it is parted mid-way. You can pull down the cord and then release it to undo the lock. This is similar to pulling back a toy car before releasing it to sprint forwards. Another modification is a double roller shade which has two-piece of fabric in one bracket.
They are relatively easy to install and a cheaper option. Roller shades come in several synthetic or natural fabrics options to make your shades water-proof, energy-efficient, or heat insulation. Valances, fascia, or cornices help hide the top portion of the shade while can give the shade a more elegant look.
Tie-Up Shades or Curtains
If you are looking for rich Victorian aesthetics, these are the shades for you. Two curtains made from one piece are tied up from the middle, parting away from each other. This causes a scalloping effect at the bottom, making it look soft and flowy. It goes with many types of decor styles.
You can use this on your full-size windows and glass doors. The curtains are held up together by a rod or metal attachment. Just slide the upper part of your Curtain into the rod and then secure the rod in its holder. You can use valances or cornices to hide the rod on the top while getting a very soft royal look for your room.
The ribbon or the tie falls beyond the length of the curtain blinds. You can choose between tying them with your hands or buying the ones with inner stitching so that when you pull the tie, it automatically scallops and forms a perfect bundle every time.
They can be of various types of tie-up shades or curtains. Depending on the fabric, like silk or synthetic, you can get a semi sunblock with a hint of sunlight glowing in your room. If you choose a thicker material like velvet with an inner lining, you can enjoy total sunblock and thermal insulation. They can also be monochromatic or have prints that you can customize.
Instead of one piece of fabric, cellular shades are made with two. These appear like pleated shades when they are rolled up at the top. But when opened, they look like two pieces of fabric joined together at equal intervals. This results in the formation of several hollow spaces width-wise, known as the cells, hence the name.
The center opening provides better thermal insulation by trapping the cold breeze from outside in its empty passages. They can keep your home cool In the summer and warm in the winter. These can be used on various types and sizes of windows. With some additional changes, you can use cellular shades for sound insulation.
The honeycomb shades are another name given to these shades.
Solar shades are like roller shades as they also roll up a rod at the top when you pull the string. But, unlike roller shades, they are specifically chosen to provide high thermal insulation. Solar shades also protect from the sun's glare by absorbing the rays.
The translucent material gives you a sense of mystery as one cannot see clearly through, but still make out the shape of things, which can be a possible disadvantage of solar shades. It's best to hang them up on a window with high sunlight inflow. But with a good view like a mountain residence with scenic beauty outside or on a private room window.
Although these shades are available in various colors, if you want to avoid the issue above, pick the shade in black color.
These may also not be the best option if you are on a tight budget. Solar shades can get twice as expensive as regular roller blinds due to their additional features and the quality of the material.
Skylight shades are made to cover the skylight windows that provide ventilation or sky views as you lay on your bed. These are designed to protect you from the light that shines from skylights and are also used for conservatories' high glass roof windows. The shades are available in various styles, including roller, pleated, and cellular.
Skylight shades are very popular as their insulation capacity is pretty good. These shades come with a detachable rod or handle to open and close them as they are high up there.
If you are a little open on your budget, you can always try its automatic version. Nothing looks more high-tech than automated shades working with a button click.
Outdoor Shades or Blinds
Outdoor windows can be huge as an entire wall on one side. So, the shades or blinds covering them must be heavy-duty to provide reasonable protection from heat, rain, storm, and humidity. As these come in both blinds and shades, let's discuss them separately.
Outdoor shades are made of weather-proof and heavy materials. They are typically used for large outside windows or patio doors to reduce the amount of sunlight. Many use the additional benefits of solar shades to completely block all sunlight.
They don't block your view but still shield you from the sun's rays. So, you can enjoy a one-way view from the inside as they allow you to see everything on the outside.
Outdoor blinds are an excellent option for your open-face barbeque area or patio to protect it from rainwater. The slats of these blinds are composed of woodgrain or reed, which are thick, more robust materials. These materials can withstand a variety of weather conditions.
The use of fabric is not often preferred as these blinds need to withstand long hours of sunlight every day. Additionally, textiles can easily get damaged in such harsh conditions.
Method of Production
Depending on your budget, you can decide which type of production of window treatments suits you the best. There are two types of production: Ready-made and Made-to-measure. Here are a few pointers about each method to help you choose:
These are pre-set blinds to specific measurements. These are usually produced in bulk to distribute to several outlets. Ready-made blinds/shades are available in various sizes based on average window sizes. Such blinds can be cut down to fit your window if required.
Many sellers online provide the option to customize the fabric prints. You can order from the select options of pre-set sizes available.
- As they are made in bulk, they are cheaper
- There are hundreds of options to choose from
- No need to shred extra bucks for a professional to install them
- You have to do the work of installation
- As they are not of custom-made sizes, they may not fit your window perfectly.
- As they are usually made in bulk, chances are your neighbor has the same design as yours.
These are professionally made to fit your windows and glass doors. You can order them online on specific sites that specialize in custom-fit blinds. Either you can enter the measurements yourself or ask for a professional to visit your home to take the measurements. You may even get advice on the type of blinds and the color you should purchase according to your needs and home esthetics.
- They will fit perfectly
- You do not have to do anything
- Customize fabric and print according to your needs
- Professional help and customization can be expensive
Materials of Blinds
It is just not the styles of the blinds or shades that vary, but they often differ in the materials used to make them. Every type of blind mentioned above can be made with different materials. They can be made according to your primary needs, the specific window in the house, budget, home esthetics, and above all, personal taste.
Here are some of the most popular materials used to make blinds:
You can not get anything cheaper than plastic. Plastic is a very versatile material; thus, it comes in various sizes, colors, patterns, and prints.
Plastic can often be found in rundown rental apartments, or if you are a student and need a quick fix, this is the best option for you. You can use these in the bathroom where the fabric ones are not suitable. It can go in your kids' playroom too.
Sadly, plastic lacks the elegance and beauty of rich materials like wood. Additionally, it can make a little noise on closing or opening if used in horizontal blinds. However, this does not imply that it is not durable. Plastic is highly resistant to moisture and can withstand seasonal changes. It is straightforward to clean as water will not cause any damage to the plastic.
Also, if you worry about the future of our planet and pollution, then you should avoid plastic. Its disposal harms the environment. Blinds made of vinyl can also fall into this category.
Metal blinds resemble plastic blinds in appearance. It is hard to differentiate between these two types without taking a closer look. The main thing that differentiates metal blinds from plastic blinds is their different gauges.
Metal blinds come in various finishes and gauges. And as it goes, the greater the gauge size thinner and less robust will be the size of the slats. If you need something durable and resistant to bending or twisting, go for the metal blind with a smaller gauge size.
Metal blinds are water-resistant and hence most widely chosen for bathrooms and humid areas. However, if you decide to apply them to your bedroom or living room, you will have to deal with loud annoying, clanking sounds.
Wood blinds are popular for their perceived elegance. The wood stain gives your home a vintage and expensive look. They are available in various types of stains, woods, and colors.
These are precisely opposite to plastic and metal blinds, being highly susceptible to damage in humid and wet places. Wood grows in size during rainy days and shrinks on sunny days. This change in shape will cause damage, resulting in splitting, warping, or breaking of the wood.
It is advisable to use them in the living room or bedroom windows. They are widely used to make shutters as a permanent solution.
If you still want a wooden look without the issues with wood blinds, then faux wood is your solution. They are not originally made from actual wood but instead made to look exactly like wood. Faux wood is made of materials like PVC, composite, and foam wood with a wood-like wrapping.
As such, faux wood can be used in humid and wet places like the bathroom. Additionally, it is not as heavy as natural wood and is comparatively cheaper due to the synthetic materials.
You get the elegant look of wood for less than half the price is the reason for its popularity.
Paper blinds are cheap and give a very DIY feel to your room. It often gets hard to tell the difference between paper and fabric blinds. The best paper use is seen in pleated or cellular blinds in a single color.
Asia, however, does not believe in monochrome. This is why Asian-made paper blinds often have scenic paintings or any graphic shapes or photographs printed on the slates of the blinds. These blinds form a complete picture when the blinds are fully open.
Synthetic fabrics are the most commonly used material to produce specific shades, such as roller, tie-up, and Roman shades. They are widely preferred as they are resilient and easy to clean. Moreover, they resist fading and tend to keep their attractiveness for longer than natural fabric hues.
Natural Fibre and Fabric
This is one of the traditional ways to make blinds and shades. Natural fabric blinds are a popular type of shade material. Roman, roller, and tie-up shades are commonly found in these textiles. Natural fiber, like the name suggests, naturally promotes cooling on hot summer days and efficiently blocks and absorbs heat waves simultaneously.
They are, however, susceptible to fading and can take a beating from the sun's UV rays over time. But, it is easy to replace them at affordable prices.
Despite the rise of synthetic fabrics on the market, this is still the most used material for blind manufacturing. Cotton, seagrass, and jute are the most prevalent natural fabric blinds.
Special Textile Blinds
Industry-formulated materials are used in some conservatory and blackout blinds. Because of the unique features of these blinds, they are a little pricey. They have the appearance of fabric blinds.
One of the advantages is that they can assist in energy conservation. And, of course, they can induce a complete blackout in the room, which is beneficial in the bedroom, especially for a peaceful sleep.
Features of the Blinds
Every material and type of blind serves a particular purpose. Keeping the sun rays at bay may be the primary reason for every blind/shade but let us explore additional features:
Total Sunblock - Blackout
Blackout fabric is one of the most popular extra characteristics anyone looks for. The shade keeps out the sun's rays and other external lights like a street light. The most popular place to use this is the room you need the most privacy, like the bedroom. When buying a shade, go for a thicker fabric with an inner lining if required. And if you prefer blinds, go for slats that are close to each other when shut and are broader in size.
Sheer textiles are used in shades to give the product a new degree of utility. They are similar to other shades, but they are also like blinds as they have slats like partitions. These are used to adjust the amount of light entering the room, just like a blind.
Summers cause difficulty in keeping the heat out, and in winters, it is challenging to keep the heat in. Thus, it is essential to have a material that traps the temperature in the room and is good at blocking the sun. Ensure you get a material that provides thermal insulation that suits your needs. A unique material like foam is sewn on the backside of the beautiful fabric.
While shades may not be able to insulate the room, blinds do not have this problem. You can tilt the slat at an angle and let the cool breeze in or completely flatten the slats when the sun glares outside.
Whether you are a light sleeper or live in a noisy neighborhood, soundproofing materials can be the right option. All blinds will assist reduce sound levels in your home to some extent, but some are better than others.
The best soundproofing blinds are the Honeycomb blinds, as they trap the sound waves in the cells. If that is not enough, you can go for exclusive soundproof curtains.
When installing blinds, consider whether you want others to be able to see into each room of the house. Bedrooms and bathrooms may need extra privacy, but living areas and kitchens are also areas where you may want a little extra privacy.
The level of privacy you require will help decide the type of blinds to purchase. Solid fabric blinds, such as shades, will not allow any visuals through when closed. This may not work for you if you want to watch your children while they play outside.
Blinds are often associated with cords that help them close and open by moving their slats. Nowadays, many cordless options can save you from getting confused with twisting the cord or the adjusting angles of the slats. Plus, there is no fear of kids breaking the cord.
You can simply pull down these blinds and lock them to keep them in place. It does not have to be the bottom, as the blinds can lock at any length. To lift the blinds up, simply pull down to unlock and leave as the blinds will travel upwards to the top by themselves. You can also gently lock them on a higher level of your choice.
In simple words, you can close or open the blinds from both sides. This is an excellent feature to add a little fun to your shades. You can either pull up the shades from the bottom or pull them down from the top. This expands the visual area on your window as you do not have to crouch down to peek outside.
If you live in a room with many windows, you have the option to adjust each shade according to your liking. It can create a beautiful inflow of light from different levels in the room.
Even though top-down bottom-up blinds have a more complex construction, they are simple to install and maintain. Many top-down bottom-up shades can be installed without even a single screw.
Method of Operation
How do you open or close your blinds? Do you want to do so traditionally or try something new and techy? Here are the two options:
Manually operated blinds and shades can be adjusted by hand. The blinds can be raised or lowered by pulling on the cable. With blinds, you may alter the direction of the slats to control how much light enters the room. Plus, the elevation of the blinds or shades is traditionally controlled by a string on one side of the blinds or curtains.
Your blinds or shutters will seem more sophisticated and sleek with new automatic systems. These systems install a hidden motor on the top of the blinds or shades, which you control by a remote. This feature is more expensive than the regular blinds, but beauty and elegance come with a price.
Key Factors when Buying Blinds and Shades
There are multiple factors to keep in mind while shopping for blinds. Here is a list you can use to check off while making the purchase:
It is very easy to go overboard when presented with an array of options. But when buying curtains for your entire house, it is best to remember your budget range foremost. You might decide to go cheap where possible in order to use better blinds in the living room or bedroom. If you have a tight budget go for vinyl blinds, and if you have unlimited funds, choose custom-made window treatments.
Only because your friend has wooden blinds does not mean you should get that style too. Keep in mind which window you are buying the blinds for. Do you want to be stylish or heavy-duty? Is privacy your main concern? Consider your lifestyle and which aspects of blinds and shades are most important to you. All of these questions will help you make decisions.
Choose a color pallet for your home and stick to the aesthetics. It is best to have a clear set of hues when making the purchase. Do not get distracted by tacky-looking material if it does not suit your style. Your window treatment should blend nicely with the rest of your home's decor for the best results. Blinds and shades of subtle colors can perform wonders in a house with natural tones. Window treatments in more robust colors, on the other hand, will offer sheer vibrancy to your home.
If you have pets and kids, it is better to look for a cordless option. Unlike their corded counterparts, these window coverings do not require pulling cords, which could be dangerous to children and pets if they become tangled in them.
Knowing the measurements of your windows makes choosing the best window treatment much easier. Be careful to take measurements from the top stitching line to the bottom of the window panel. Because the header fabric is simply for decoration, do not include it over the topstitching line of the rod pocket. Get professional advice if you're unsure what to include or exclude during measurement. You're more likely to acquire blinds and shades that are the wrong size if you don't take proper measurements. Custom blinds or shades are a good option if you don't want to risk buying ill-fitting window coverings.
Measure Twice Before Cutting
If you are installing the blinds yourself, make sure you measure all the sides twice before making the final cut. Once cut, it cannot be undone.
Some blinds are easier to maintain than others. Depending on the material and size of the slats, the cleaning can become more or less complicated. If you are not a fan of cleaning, choose blinds with big broad slats and avoid wood as they require care with water and polishing.
Styling with Blind Colors
Choosing the correct type of blind is difficult. If you are clueless about deciding the right colors that will compliment your style, here are some tips to help you:
Always remember your style. If you are a nature lover and your house is filled with plants, go for more earthy colors. Neutral colors will blend in with your wall as your plants pop out. If you are more of an artistic person with many paintings with colorful patterns, go for blinds with colorful Asian prints.
A contemporary look is in fashion. Selecting bright, bold colors can make your home feel like a modern art museum. Take sunny yellow and place a couch of the same color near your window. It will make the space look warm, cozy, and fun.
Many people design their house around a focal piece. For instance, take a window with teal color blinds and place a tall lamp and a chest of drawers of the same color near it. The rest of the windows and walls should have a contrasting color or a pale neutral color so that the area becomes the room's focal point.
Don’t Go Overboard:
Playing with colors can be tempting, but do not choose more than three colors for your blinds. Otherwise, it can make your room look chaotic and unorganized.
White is Safe
You can never go wrong with white. Classic white can make your room look brighter and more peaceful. Choose sheer white shades, and this will add a touch of mystery and elegance to your room.