This post is provided by Steffen Ploeger.
“What’s in a name?” is an oft-quoted line penned by none other than literary master William Shakespeare himself. And while this simple phrase can lead one to examine the importance of an item’s name relative to its quality, it is dubious to think that it was coined with window coverings in mind- and yet, perhaps it could have.
Many homeowners tend to use the terms window blinds and window shades interchangeably, in spite of the fact that there is a veritable world of difference between the two. Are they both window coverings? Indeed. But they are both so much more than that.
How do Window Blinds and Window Shades Differ?
First of all, let us talk materials. Traditionally, blinds have been produced using rigid materials such as wood, metal, plastic, or a composite material. Shades, for their part, are made from a variety of different fabrics, which not only gives them a softer and warmer aesthetic compared to blinds, it also means that they perform differently than them as well. Knowing how both blinds and shades work can go a long way in helping you to choose the right product for your home.
Because blinds come in such a wide variety of materials, they can be a very versatile solution in regards to the number of options you have at your disposal. That being said, the materials mentioned above tend to result in a “harder” look, so naturally, there must be some thought as whether or not a set of blinds’ rigid lines will augment or detract from the style of the room.
When it comes to light permeability, blinds can be adjusted to let just the right amount of light in. When closed, the opaque nature of the material they are made from makes them excellent at preventing unwanted light (and therefore heat) from entering your home or office.
Open blinds tend to provide a perfect surface for collecting dust. Thankfully, keeping them clean is a relatively easy- a weekly dusting ought to do just fine.
Food for thought:
If you are going with wooden blinds, make sure that they go well with your home’s exterior. While this is purely a cosmetic consideration, you would not be doing yourself any favors by making your home look less inviting to guests.
Condo owners: Remember to check your condo agreement as it pertains to window coverings. Many of them do not let you deviate from white as a color, so it may impact your buying decision.
In rooms that do not get a lot of natural light, choose a wider slat if you are going with a set of blinds because the wider the slat, the more light will enter the room.
If absolute privacy is required, choose a set of routeless blinds or blackout shades.
Window shades tend to give homeowners a bit more flexibility in terms of light filtering; in addition to obviously being adjustable, window shades can range drastically in the opaqueness of the material. Thicker materials can even outperform blinds in reducing the amount of light enters the room.
Shades can also be used to diffuse sunlight, acting as a filter that can allow light in, while blocking heat. Shear materials can still provide a level of privacy without cutting off the occupants of your home from the outdoors the way blinds can.
When it comes to cleaning window shades, it is generally acceptable to vacuum the material. For people with mobility issues, this task can become arduous, requiring them instead to hire a professional cleaning company to do it for them. And while they may not have to be cleaned as frequently as a set of blinds, professional cleaning does add to the cost of ownership, so that too must be taken into account.
One nice feature that certain window shades offer is “top down bottom up”. This allows you to keep the top portion of your window unblocked so you can still allow nature light to enter while discouraging the prying eyes of neighbors.
Common Features Between Blinds and Shades
As different as they may be, window blinds and shades do share some qualities. Both have motorized options available which tends to address at least two homeowner concerns- doing away with unsightly cords and rods, and eliminating a potential choking hazard in homes with young children.
Additionally, both types of window coverings can help you to save money on heating and cooling costs- though to varying degrees. Aluminum blinds for example (when closed) will reflect solar radiation, keeping your home cool. Honeycomb shades on the other hand offer insulated properties- meaning in addition to keeping the sun’s heat out of your home in the summer months, they can also help to prevent heat loss in the winter.
In summary, consult the list below to help you determine which window coverings are right for you:
Style/Appearance (both indoor and outdoor)
Upkeep (ease of)
Material (does it jive with the rest of the room)
Home heating and cooling impact