So, you are in the market for new window treatments, the catch-all phrase for almost any kind window shade or blind. Or, maybe you're in the market for new window coverings, which implies the latter plus drapes and curtains. Still confused? Stay with me. This article is intended to give you a basic primer on the words and qualities of the major choices available to consumers these days within the window blinds and shades consumer market.
The good news for those in the market for new window shades, blinds or curtains is that there is a plethora of choices these days. You can fulfill just about any decorating desire you have. The bad news is there is a plethora of choices, enough to give you a headache and send you running for an over-priced decorator.
The wrong shades or blinds can make a room look terrible, or at best terribly average. The right ones will compliment your décor and really make a room look beautiful. There are other considerations though, there's price, energy efficiency, opacity (see-though), even durability. It is my belief that once armed with a little information you can skip the costly decorator and choose the right window blinds or shades that will work within your budget as well as compliment your room or home.
First things first, here are the major types of window blinds: mini blinds, vertical blinds, panel track blinds (also called sliding window panels), shutters (also called plantation shutters), wood blinds and faux wood blinds. And, here are the major types of window shades: cellular or honeycomb shades, woven wood or bamboo shades, roman shades, roller shades, solar shades and pleated shades. Basically anything with a slat or louver (shutters) is considered a blind, whereas, window shades have a continuous length of fabric or other material and can be rolled up. Lastly there are drapes, also called drapery panels or curtains, no further explanation is required.
On the lower end of the price spectrum there are mini blinds and vertical blinds. These are the ubiquitous choice for millions of homes across the world. They work well, look decent and are relatively affordable, especially if you buy vinyl. For more durability consider aluminum mini blinds. If you are interested in vertical blinds and want more insulation, consider cellular vertical blinds.
Continuing on the point about insulation, cellular shades, also called honeycomb shades are designed to act as an insulator for windows. Their honeycomb fabric structure creates air pockets like many other types of insulation. Cellular shades come with single, double or triple cells, depending on how much insulation you want. The price obviously increases with more cells but it is worth looking into because the long-term cost savings are significant.
Pleated shades look almost identical to cellular shades but simply lack the honeycomb structure and therefore most of the insulating properties. They are therefore less expensive then cellular.
Wood blinds are similar to mini blinds with three main differences: they generally have larger slat sizes and are made from wood, usually basswood, as opposed to aluminum or vinyl and, they are more generally more expensive then regular mini blinds
Faux wood blinds are made from either PVC plastic or are a wood composite. They look almost identical to regular wood blinds but are less expensive and will not warp, crack or fade an important detail for hot and humid areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
Plantation shutters come in both wood and faux wood and have louvers, as opposed to smaller slats. These are the classic shutters you see in the old homes of the south, thus the name, plantation. They tend to be on the high-end of the price spectrum but could very well be one of the nicest types of window treatments. They can actually add more value to your home.
Woven wood shades and bamboo shades are a type of roller shade generally made from natural materials like bamboo, grasses, wood or weaves. Roman shades are similar to woven wood shades but come in fabrics like denim or silk and can either roll-up or fold-up via pleats. Both options are in the mid-price range depending on materials and options.
Roller shades are usually fabric and come in different levels of opacity from sheer to blackout. They are simple to use and generally affordable. Solar shades, also known as solar screens are kind of like window tinting for home windows, except that they roll-up. They're great for windows with views. They filter light in greater or lesser degrees while still allowing see-through. They block harmful UV rays as well as heat gain.
Sheer shades are kind of a hybrid between a shade and a blind. They come in horizontal and vertical configurations. They can roll-up like a shade of you can close the blind portion just like you would on a mini blind or vertical blind. They feature two sheer fabric facings over soft fabric vanes – imagine the functionality of a blind within a roller shade. Sheer shades offer a lot of versatility and are in the mid-to-high price range of roller shades.
Lastly there are panel track blinds. They are much like vertical blinds only with larger panels or vanes which are usually fabric, woven wood or a solar screen material. They operate on a wheeled track system. The panels range in width from approximately 48 "to 192" and in lengths to fit most windows and sliding doors. Panel track blinds can also act as a cool room divider. Panel tracks are more expensive the regular vertical blinds but certainly are more unique