A Guide to the Different Types of Blinds

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Windows are great for letting light in, but sometimes, you want to keep the light (and the peeps) out. Enhance your level of privacy and safety at home by adding the fresh look of blinds, shades or shutters to your window treatments. Blinds and shades give you control over the amount of light in a room and also provide some protection against burglary, hiding your valuables from the outside world. With so many different types of blind designs to choose from, you won't have to forsake style for security.

Types of Blinds

  • Cellular shades, also known as honeycomb shades, allow sunlight to filter into your home without sacrificing privacy. They are constructed from layers of fabric that filter light while keeping heat and cold out, so they provide great insulation. The material is also very easy to clean, and they are available in roller models and remote controlled models.
  • Roller shades are classic and have a bad reputation for being unreliable. However, today's technology has made them more durable, so they are less likely to get stuck or jammed. Roller shades come in blackout and filtering types for different lighting preferences.
  • Venetian blinds, also known as horizontal blinds, are the standard light-control window blind. They are usually made of plastic, composites or vinyl and operate on a pull string or turn switch. Modern Venetian blinds have wider slats than earlier models, and many now come in wood and faux wood versions.
  • Roman shades are drawn up from the bottom by cords or strings and create horizontal folds when raised. When lowered completely to cover the window, the shade panel is completely flat. Roman shades are made in bamboo styles, woven fabric, solar materials and others.
  • Vertical blinds are the most common and inexpensive kind of blinds. They are great for tall windows or sliding glass doors, because they hang down in adjustable panels that are controlled by a string or turn switch. When opened, they hang perpendicular to the window, allowing light in. When closed, they overlap one another to keep light out. They come in varying widths and materials, from aluminum and plastic to textured, fabric-colored selections.
  • Window panels are often confused with curtains, because they are panels of fabric that operate on a top and bottom track of the window. They commonly cover closet doorways and sliding doors and are also commonly used as room dividers.
  • Woven wood blinds filter light through the weaves in the material, eliminating all natural light. They are often made from bamboo or some other natural material, but they can be dyed different colors for variety. Many woven wood blinds come in roller-shade or Roman-shade styles.
  • Traditional shutters, also known as colonial shutters, control light with 1 ¼-inch slats. These slats can be adjusted (with a centered piece of wood when closed and as doors when opened) to determine the amount of light the users want in. Shutters are available in interior and exterior models, are often made of wood or another sturdy material and can be painted a variety of colors for dramatic effect.
  • Plantation shutters work the same way as traditional shutters, but they have slats ranging from 2 ½ to 4 ½ inches. They are also usually a basic color, such as white or cream. Traditionally, plantation and colonial shutters are more formal than other blinds and shades options.

Important Blind Features

  • Controls: Different blinds are controlled in different ways. Depending on your height and upper body strength, certain controls may be more difficult for you to use. For example, roller shades are extremely easy to use, but if the top of your window is above your arm span, then it can become increasingly difficult to operate. Also, controls have different qualities. Often, turn switches are poorer choices than strings, because they can break or become stuck. Strings also run the risk of tangling or knotting. Examine the control options on blinds before you purchase them to see which you prefer.
  • Panel direction: For blinds with panels, the direction of the panels can make a big difference. For example, vertical blinds can become a problem if you live in a windy area, because the bottoms are not attached to the windowsill and are likely to fly upward sporadically. Also, if you want to let more light into your home, then wider blinds are preferable, because they allow larger spaces between them when opened. To limit light, you'll want thin, horizontal blinds.
  • Material: The material of your blinds not only dictates their quality, but also determines the amount of insulation they provide. For example, wooden blinds are sturdier, but they offer poor insulation, so they are unlikely to keep heat or cold out of your home. Woven material, however, offers great insulation. Plastic material offers neither insulation nor quality, so be wary of that material, unless you're looking for something inexpensive. Also, heavy woven materials can be difficult to adjust if you have limited upper body strength, so keep the weight of the blinds in mind, as well.

Blinds Cost

Depending on the quality, material and manufacturer, window blinds can cost anywhere from $20 to $100. However, high-end or designer blinds can cost upwards of $250. Oversized windows or large sliding doors will require larger blinds, either custom or oversized, both of which will raise the price significantly. For the best deals, search different retailers and manufacturers for sales and discounts.

Blinds Design Tips

Blinds have many uses other than just to block light and offer privacy. Here are a few other great ways to use your blinds, and things to consider when shopping for your set.

  • Blackout blinds: A good set of blinds are perfect for people who need some rest during the day. Heavy materials and many woven materials can offer this sort of protection. If you work night shifts and need a break during the day, you have small children who nap regularly, or you need to separate your bedroom at night from the blaring streetlights outside, then look into blackout blinds. With a special lining to block out the light, blackout roller blinds and blackout Roman blinds are great choices.
  • Personalizing your blinds: You can always add personal touches to your blinds, giving you a wide variety of options for decorating, such as sleek, chic, modern or just creative. Some manufacturers have an option to upload a picture to their Web site, where they can lay your image out on your blinds, so that you have a happy surprise whenever they close. You can also always add decorative tape to Venetian blinds, which can add color and personality to any room. Some people even paint their blinds a rainbow of colors, really brightening up a room. This is especially creative for a child's room.
  • Hiding storage space: Everyone has those cluttered cupboards and shelves that they don't want to look at, let alone allow others to see. Blinds add style to a room and can cover your shelf at the same time. Roller blinds are particularly good at hiding storage spaces.
  • Steamy room décor: Not all blinds are suitable for steamy rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Wooden ones, for example, tend to warm. However, there are moisture-resistant vertical blinds that are perfect for bathrooms. Also there are aluminum Venetian blinds and roller blinds that work wonders in kitchens or bathrooms. If you like the look of wood but don't want to risk warping, then there are faux wood Venetian blinds available, as well, to keep your aesthetic alive.
Last Updated: April 16, 2013
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for Idealhomegarden.com

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