Everything You Need To Know About Window Treatments
Here is your perfect guide in buying blinds for your windows. Get to know the latest and modern types of blinds in the market today, the different options and where to buy them.
Window blinds are one of the most popular types of window coverings. It’s not surprising. Blinds for windows are highly functional, versatile and can look pretty stylish too! Whether you opt for woven wood shades or the softer, more homely aesthetic of a fabric blind; you can’t deny that this type of window covering looks neat, clean and aesthetically pleasing in any window frame!
While blinds might be a bit difficult to clean, the benefits definitely outweigh the cleaning hassle. If you’re looking to pimp your window treatment – then blinds could be the easiest way to transform the interior (and exterior) of your home!
However, not all blinds look the same, nor do they operate in the same way. You’ll need to know a little more about the different types of blinds if you want to go ahead and make a purchase.
The “Blinds for Windows” Buyer’s Guide
The complete buyer’s guide to modern blinds and shades for your windows. We’ve tried to make this guide as comprehensive as possible to help you learn all about the different types of blinds, and make an informed buying decision. The focus of this article is indoor blinds. Before using this guide, however, it may be helpful to ask yourself a few questions – and make a few considerations.
For example, what will be the primary purpose of your blinds? Will they be decorative or more blackout blinds to help keep sunlight out? Do you prefer vertical blind or horizontal blinds? Do you require manual blinds such as a roller blind or roman shade, or would motorized blinds be more suited to your needs?
Understanding Different Interior Window Treatments
More often than not, the term ‘blinds’ refers to both blinds and shades. While all different types of blinds and shades serve the same basic function as indoor window coverings, there is a fundamental difference that separates the two. So, before we go any further, let’s make sure we understand what makes them different. Blinds fall under the umbrella term “window treatments“.
Indoor blinds come in a variety of different types, materials, and sizes. All blinds have individual slats, which adjust up and down. Blinds can also tilt from side to side, which allows you to control the amount of light entering the room. For most blinds, a cord located on one side of the blinds allows you to adjust the blinds up and down. A rod located on the other side of the blinds controls the tilt of the blinds, allowing you to open the slats, or close them. There are many types of blinds. We listed them below.
Shutters While usually thought of as exterior window treatments you can also buy interior shutters. These swing inward and are hence controlled from the inside.
Shades Shades also come in many types, materials, and sizes. Unlike blinds, they’re made from one piece of material, instead of individual slats. For this reason, they can be adjusted up and down, but not side to side.
Different Types of Blinds
1. Vertical Blinds
Vertical blinds have individual slats that run along a track at the top of the blind. Depending on the style, vertical blinds either open from side to side, or by parting in the middle. These blinds are a popular choice for patio doors and floor-to-ceiling windows. But, they can still be used over smaller windows as well.
Easy-to-clean: Vertical blinds not only look great, they’re easier to clean.
Sliding doors: If you’re outfitting blinds for a sliding door, vertical blinds are a great solution.
Large windows: If you have huge windows, vertical blinds are a great solution (compared to horizontal blinds which can bow or bend over time… I know from personal experience).
Small windows: Venetian style blinds are best for smaller windows and single doors.
Choosing and buying vertical blinds
How do you choose which site to buy vertical blinds from?
The best approach is to check out all of the BIG 3 vertical blinds stores below and browse their inventories as well as comb through their custom ordering process to ensure they offer the style, color, material, sizes and brands you want. If you’re getting similar results from more than one, go with price but also be sure to inquire about installation and shipping.
Choosing the right vertical blinds for you when ordering online.
Step 1: Measure the height and width of your windows and/or doors on which you’ll be placing vertical blinds.
Step 2: Browse the gallery of many different styles. Put together a short list of the options you like (check that it’s in stock… there’s nothing worse than jumping through a pile of ordering hoops only to be told it’s out of stock.
Step 3: Go through the customization options including size, material, texture (if offered), color, control type, stack options, brackets, valance (if getting a valence), warranty options and of course quantity.
Buying blinds is an involved process but you can save a lot of money buying online instead
Where can you buy blinds?
One of the most popular websites for blinds, Justblinds.com offers a full suite of customization including material, sizing and colors. Worth checking out the site, not only for the many types of vertical blinds but also any big discounts they’re running.
Shop an insane amount of existing blinds inventory on the website or place a fully customized order by brand, feature, width, height, material and color. This site frequently offers big discounts.
Let’s round out the big 3 for blinds online with BlindsGalore.com which also has a massive inventory, full order customization, big sales (almost always) and a great website.
2. Venetian Blinds
Venetian blinds are the most popular style of blinds. They are horizontal blinds featuring horizontal slats that attach with string or strips of cloth known as tapes. As Venetian blinds are raised, the bottom slat is pressed into the slat above it.
These blinds can be custom-fitted for any window including arched windows (yeah, really).
Smart home technology includes motorized features as well.
Choosing and Buying Venetian blinds
The term “Venetian Blinds” is an umbrella term for horizontal slat-style blinds. These are the most common types of blinds used on windows, especially smaller windows. They are completely customizable so take the time when ordering to understand all the features you’re opting for and of course your sizing.
Sizing: You definitely want as snug of a fit as you can without the edges of the blinds scraping or scratching along the inside of your window or door frame.
Style: Venetian Blinds include both thick and thin styles although these different styles now have their own sub-names to differentiate the various styles within the “Venetian Blinds” category.
Materials: Venetian blinds come in every conceivable material that you can buy blinds in. Specifically, materials include aluminum, bamboo, faux wood, PVC, vinyl and of course wood.
Where are Venetian blinds best used? You can place them on windows and doors of all sizes but they are best for smaller windows and single doors. If you need blinds on a double door and wish for them to span the entire width, vertical blinds might be best. Same with wide pictures and bay windows.
Where can you buy Venetian Blinds?
You can find local custom blinds outfits in many towns and cities but you can also buy them online. Definitely get some quotes locally but then compare those prices to the big online stores. Two that specifically offer Venetian blinds include:
3. Mini Blinds
Mini blinds are very similar in operation to Venetian blinds but they feature slats of a smaller width than traditional Venetian blinds. The slats are usually about 1” thick. Here’s an example of mini blinds.
Personally, I prefer thicker blinds. Mini blinds can look ratty after a while. The thicker wood or faux wood are far more elegant but they cost more money.
Another disadvantage of mini blinds (and micro blinds) is that they’re more difficult to clean. There are more slats to clean and it’s more finicky work.
4. Micro Blinds
Micro blinds are an even tinier version of mini-blinds. These types of blinds feature slats that are ½” thick.
5. Panel Blinds
Panel blinds are another popular choice for patio doors, as well as very large windows. Panel blinds feature sections that move along a track, which allows you to open and close them.
6. Pleated Shades
Pleated shades (sometimes referred to as pleated blinds) feature a piece of material that’s pleated so that the shade forms an accordion-like pattern that can be raised or lowered. These shades have a similar look to Venetian blinds, while also “softening” the look of the window. But, they cannot be adjusted from side to side, like blinds. Pleated shades are usually made from fabric or paper.
7. Cellular Shades
Cellular shades, also known as honeycomb shades (or honeycomb blinds) look similar to pleated shades and are also made from similar materials. However, unlike a pleated shade, cellular shades are made of two different pieces of material.
The front and back sections of the cellular shade are open in the middle, which creates a pocket that provides insulation. Cellular shades are available in a variety of different cell sizes designed to fit the needs of different windows. These shades are a great way to help your home stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Cellular shades also provide sound insulation, as well.
7. Roman Shades
Roman shades (also known as Roman blinds) are a very traditional window covering made from fabric or materials like jute or seagrass. There are several different styles of Roman shades available, but they all share one thing in common: As a Roman shade is raised, it folds into itself, similar to how a Venetian blind operates. Since the fabric of a roman shade continues to fold into itself, it can create quite a large stack of fabric at the top of the window when they’re raised completely. So, while Roman shades offer a beautiful and timeless look, they do remove a portion of the viewable space of your window when raised.
Roman shades are available both lined or unlined to suit different needs. The linings often offer additional features, like blackout and thermal linings.
8. Roller Shades
Another popular shade option is roller shades. Roller shades are usually made from synthetic or natural fabrics and can be rolled up or down to suit your needs.
Roller shades are available in several different styles that mount to the window in a variety of different ways. The most economical roller shades feature an external system that allows you to see all of the different mechanisms and mounting hardware of the shade (which can also help in the event of tangles!)
If you’re after something a little more premium, stylish roller shade options are also available featuring valances, cornices or fascia’s which hide all of the components of the shade and provide a more polished look. Like Roman shades, roller shades are available in a broad range of natural and synthetic fabrics. They often have additional features such as thermal or blackout linings (effectively creating a blackout shade), and can also come in the form of double roller blinds – which is essentially two blinds installed on the same bracket.
10. Tie-Up Shades (Curtain Blinds)
Tie-up shades are sort of like a cross between window blinds and curtain blinds. Tie-Up shades are available in a broad range of materials. These shades are constructed from a piece of fabric that features ties that extend beyond the bottom of the shade.
You can raise the shade by rolling it up and then tying the shade in place. This style of shade offers a casual or country look that blends seamlessly with many styles of decor.
11. Solar Shades
Solar shades are very similar to roller shades. Their purpose is to reduce the amount of sunlight, glare, UV rays and heat entering the room from outside while preserving the window’s view. If your main prerogative is to limit the effects of sunlight (and pretty much provide a pair of ‘sunglasses’ for your window) then a solar shade is the best option.
12. Outdoor Shades
Outdoor shades are usually made from heavy duty, weather-resistant materials, and are placed outside of the windows (or glass doors) that they are covering. Outdoor shades are often used on a patio door or window to reduce the amount of sun exposure and heat that’s entering the area, although internal blinds like solar shades or skylight blinds (or conservatory blinds) are also often used for these purposes.
13. Skylight Shades
Skylight shades are available in many different styles including roller, pleated and cellular. These shades are designed to cover difficult to reach skylights. Conservatory blinds can also include skylight shades (used to cover and insulate the glass roofs of conservatories).
Cellular shades are especially popular for skylights because of their insulating properties. Skylight shades usually feature a largely removable rod that’s used to raise, lower or adjust the shade. Sometimes, skylight shades are raised or lowered with a handle instead of a rod. Automatic versions are also available.
14. Smart Blinds (Modern Blinds with respect to technology)
They still may seem like something out of a science fiction novel, but smart blinds, which are high-tech modern blinds, are becoming increasingly common thanks to smart home technology . Smart blinds and shades are available in many traditional styles, as well as new, high tech styles.
Smart blinds sync with a smartphone application and can be controlled in groups or individually. They can also be programmed to open and close at certain points during the day. Not only are smart blinds some of the most visually attractive on the market, but they can also help you save on energy costs.
If you’re interested in smart blinds but don’t want to shell out the cash to retrofit your home with them, there are also smart controllers available. These smart controllers allow you to outfit your existing blinds with the same type of smart technology that pricey smart blinds use.
C. Blinds Materials
Not only are blinds and shades available in a wide range of different types, but there are also a wide range of materials they can be constructed of as well. Depending on the room you’re installing the window coverings in and your personal taste, the material the window coverings are made from will likely be important to you.
Wood blinds are a popular choice for most applications. They offer the natural beauty and warmth of wood, and they’re available in many different stains, types of wood and colors. Wooden blinds are a strong choice for most rooms in the home, however, in rooms or areas where humidity and moisture are a concern, they aren’t the best choice. Since wood is a natural material that can expand and contract over time, wood blinds are susceptible to warping, splitting, cracking or breaking.
Wood is also the material of choice when it comes to installing more permanent window coverings, such as shutters, which are a category in their own right category (there are plenty of styles – from a full height shutter to a stylish plantation shutter).
2. Faux Wood
Faux wood blinds provide the same beautiful look as real wood. However, they’re made from synthetic materials, which makes faux wood blinds more economical than wood blinds. Since they aren’t made from natural wood, they can be used in areas and rooms with higher humidity, like bathrooms. Since wood blinds are so durable and affordable, they have become a very popular choice for any application.
Plastic blinds are the most economical of all materials. They’re available in many different colors and sizes. They’re well suited for all applications, particularly areas where fabric blinds wouldn’t be suitable (such as a bathroom window). However, they don’t provide the same luxurious look that you see with other materials such as real wood blinds. It’s also important to note that there are environmental considerations when it comes to choosing plastic products – so if you are eco-conscious then this could be one to miss.
Also, be aware that plastic blinds is a broad term, and could include other types of blinds that happen to be made of plastic – such as vinyl blinds.
Metal blinds offer a similar look to plastic blinds and are available in an even larger variety of finishes. They’re resistant to moisture which makes them a great choice for bathrooms and humid environments.
Metal blinds are often available in different gauges. The smaller the gauge, the thicker and more durable the slats. Since they’re made of metal, these blinds tend to be the noisiest variety on the market which may bother certain people.
Paper shades are a popular and economical choice for many different decor styles. Paper shades are most commonly available in pleated shades. Paper shades are usually a solid color, but occasionally they feature beautiful decorative motifs, pictures, or paintings. Graphic shades are especially popular in Asia and can make a beautiful and unique addition to your home.
6. Natural Fabric Blinds
Natural fabric blinds are a popular material used to produce shades. But, the availability of different synthetic fabrics has cut into their market share a bit. The most common fabrics you’ll see used are cotton, jute, and seagrass. These fabrics are usually available as tie-up, roller or roman shades. Natural fabric shades are relatively easy to clean, and they’re durable. However, they aren’t resistant to fading and can take quite a pounding from the sun’s UV rays over time.
7. Synthetic Fabrics
Synthetic fabrics are the most popular material used to produce certain types of shades like tie-up, roller or Roman. Like natural fabrics, they’re durable and easy to clean. But, synthetic fabrics are usually highly resistant to fading and tend to maintain their beauty for longer, compared to natural fabric shades.
How a blind or shade is produced will likely be a major consideration for you as you search for the perfect window covering. Depending on your budget and the amount of time you have, you’ll need to choose between made to measure and ready made options for your window coverings.
1. Ready Made
Ready made blinds and shades are made in most popular window sizes. Usually, they can be adjusted by the customer to provide a more custom fit for their windows. Ready made blinds are much cheaper and in most cases, the store can deliver them the same day you order them.
Usually, these blinds are installed in the home by the customer.
While ready made blinds offer a fairly wide range of options and styles, you won’t be able to fully customize the look of your window treatments in the way you can with made to measure blinds or shades.
2. Made To Measure
Made to measure blinds are custom made for the customer by the manufacturer. With made to measure blinds, the customer can customize every single aspect of their window covering including color, finish, material, hardware configuration, and additional features. There are many different benefits of choosing custom made window coverings.
Made to measure options are best for customers looking for the perfect option for their home, without the compromises you’d usually be forced to make with ready-made options. They’re also the best choice for homes with odd shaped windows that aren’t readily available in ready-made sizes.
Depending on the level of customization desired, it can take a week or more for the manufacturer to produce made to measure blinds. Once a manufacturer delivers the blinds, they’re usually installed by the manufacturer or a trained professional. As you’d imagine, made to measure blinds and shades are considerably more expensive than the ready-made varieties.
Window Blinds Features
All blinds and shades serve the purpose of providing privacy and limiting the amount of natural light that enters a room. But, some window coverings have additional features which add to their versatility and usefulness.
One of the most popular additional features of different shades is blackout fabric. With this fabric, external light is almost completely blocked by the shade. This feature is a popular addition to shades that are used in bedrooms, as well in rooms where privacy is key.
Another popular feature that you’ll find in many shades is thermal fabric or thermal insulating pockets. Usually, the thermal fabric is sewn onto the back of the decorative fabric. In some cases, there is a thermal lining or a foam-like material inside of the blinds. This additional layer helps to insulate the window which helps keep the room cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Sheer fabrics can be added to shades to provide an additional level of functionality to the product. Sheer shades serve the same purpose as other shades, but they feature slats like blinds do, which can be adjusted to increase or decrease the amount of light entering a room. Sheer shades offer the soft look of shades while providing the additional level of functionality that’s typically reserved for blinds.
This feature is especially popular in homes with small children since there is no cord for children to break, or hurt themselves with. With cordless blinds and shades, the cord is eliminated completely, allowing the window covering to be adjusted with the touch of your hand, as opposed to with the cord. By eliminating the cord, the blinds also become much easier to operate. Because let’s be honest, does anyone really know how to work the cords properly?
5. Top Down Bottom Up
The addition of top down bottom up functionality is a great way to add visual interest and increase the versatility of your shades. These systems can be raised or lowered from the top, as well as the bottom, which offers the customer even more options for light control and privacy. Top down bottom up shades are especially useful in rooms with many windows, as they can be adjusted individually to create interesting and visually appealing configurations, like in the photo below.
Despite the fact that top down bottom up shades feature a more complicated design, they’re actually incredibly easy to install and maintain. Many varieties of top down bottom up shades can be installed without so much as a single screw.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, a new consideration for you to make has been introduced. Now, blinds and shades are available in their traditional configuration, as well as automatic versions as well.
Manual blinds and shades adjust by hand. Traditionally, a cord located on one side of the blinds or shades controls the height of the blinds. Pulling on the cord will cause the blinds to be raised or lowered. With blinds, a rod on the opposite side of the controls allows you to control the orientation of the slats to control how much light can enter the room.
New automatic systems add a touch of sophistication and cool to your blinds or shutters. With these systems, a hidden motor is added to the top of the blinds or shades, and they can be adjusted by remote control. These systems come at a price, and they’re considerably more expensive than manual varieties. Check out this video of an automatic blinds system in action.
Where To Buy the Many Different Types of Blinds
Now that you’re armed with all of the information you’ll need to select the perfect blinds or shades for your home, let's take a look at some retailers who specialize in window coverings.
1. Ready Made
If you’re interested in ready-made blinds, you can purchase them practically anywhere. Big box retailers like Target and Walmart sell several different types of blinds and shades. Home improvement stores also have blinds and shades available, and they tend to have a wider variety of styles available.
There’s also plenty of brick and mortar and online specialty stores with an even wider range of choices and styles available. Here’s some stores you can shop online or in your area for ready made blinds.
2. Made To Measure
If your needs call for a more custom solution, and you’ve decided to go the made to measure route, you may want to consider where you shop more carefully. There’s a strong chance that there are many custom blind and shade stores in your area. These stores can walk you through the entire process of selecting your window coverings and options. They can handle all of your installation needs.
There’s an even wider variety of online retailers that can service your custom window covering needs. But keep in mind that with these services, you’ll probably need to arrange installation yourself once you’ve received your order. Here are some of the most popular and reputable custom blind and shade stores online.
Since there are so many different blinds and shades available, there’s also a pretty broad range of prices, as well. There are several factors that go into determining the price of window coverings. These factors include things like the style, material and any additional features the window covering has.
Another huge factor that goes into determining the price of window coverings is how they operate. Manual blinds and shades are considerably cheaper than fully automatic systems.
Finally, the final price factor is the construction of the blinds. Blinds which are ready made and available off the shelf are considerably cheaper than blinds which are custom made for your individual home.
2. Measure Twice, Cut Once
The adage measure twice, cut once is particularly important when it comes to blinds, especially if you’re going to be handling installation yourself or if you’re shopping for custom blinds online.
With ready made blinds, you’ll want to measure accurately, so you’ll be able to achieve a polished finished look once your window coverings are installed.
If you are custom ordering online, measurements are arguably even more important. Since the manufacturer will be creating your window coverings to the exact measurements you provide, accuracy will be key to ensure a perfect fit in your home.
If you’re uneasy about the idea of doing your own measurements, it may be a good idea to consult with a custom window covering shop in your area. That way, the trained staff can walk you through every aspect of the process and also handle the measurements.
With so many different types of window coverings available, you’ll have no problem pinpointing the types of blinds that are going to look best in your home.