The many different types of blinds and shades can make choosing the right window treatment tricky. Here's some information that will help you differentiate between the varieties, and ultimately select the best one for your space.
First things first. What's the difference between blinds and shades?
In the cosmic scheme of things, it probably doesn’t matter. But when it comes to getting what you want for your home decor concerning style and function, then the distinction can be crucial.
Contrary to popular belief, blinds and shades are not the same product. People - including industry professionals - often use the terms interchangeably, and for the most part, this is no issue. However, it can cause some confusion. Much like the customer asking for bed linen will find herself confronted with a drastically different set of products (often, a pricier set) than if she'd asked for bed sheets. A customer asking for shades might actually be looking for blinds. Linen is a material used to make some sheets. So is cotton, silk, flannel, bamboo, polyester and blends. So while all bed linens are bed sheets, not all bed sheets can be classified as linens.
Similarly, while blinds and shades are both used for privacy and to control the amount of light that enters a room, and while they can be utilised top down or bottom up, they are not actually characterised by the same features. Asking for one when you really mean the other can result in a lot of frustration.
Here are the main differences between blinds and shades:
Blinds usually have louvres, better known as slats.
These slats rotate forward and backwards to adjust the amount of light entering the room, as well as the degree of privacy. Even when a blind is lowered, the light will still come through these slats, albeit a limited amount. Despite the different kinds of blinds (i.e. top-down or bottom-up) and materials used, the slats are their defining - and differentiating - characteristic.
Shades, on the other hand, are usually composed of a single sheet of material.
Like the blind, it can be lowered down or moved up to allow in light but does not allow for the same degree of privacy and light customisation. On the other hand, shades are superior when it comes to their thermoregulation. They're the best option for people looking for extra insulation since they work to keep the heat out in the warmer months and the cold out in the cooler seasons.
While there are hundreds of subtly different types of blinds and shades, here are the most common.
10 Most Common Blinds and Shades
1. Aluminium Blinds
Aluminium Blinds are most likely what comes to mind when you think of blinds. Their old school presence in offices and rec rooms worldwide have made them iconic. Easy to clean with a duster, or more deeply with a damp, soft cloth, aluminium blinds are durable and offer superior light control. Available in a wide range of colours, they can be used widely and stylishly around personal and professional spaces.
2. Honeycomb Shades/Cellular Shades
Named for the diamond shaped cells visible from the side view and created by the solid, cloth-ish material, Honeycomb Shades are often called Blinds. And again, while this distinction doesn't always make a difference, it's important to know that when it comes to this product, the industry uses the terms interchangeably. These shades come in a fantastic range of colours and offer incredible thermoregulation. They are available motorised, top to bottom and bottom to top, and their ability to efficiently block light makes them ideal for bedrooms.
3. Vertical Blinds
These streamline blinds are brilliant when it comes to adding a sense of increased height to a room. Super simple to clean, robust and perfect for light control, vertical blinds are a signature over sliding doors everywhere.
4. Sheer Shades
Here's the optimal option for people who want shades but don't want to shut out light entirely. Made from a sheer fabric that connects one blind to the next, providing privacy and soft light, sheer shades are ideal for bathrooms and kitchens. You can say that sheer shades combine the best of both worlds.
5. Timber Venetian Blinds
Included in this category are also faux-wood venetian blinds. Timber Blinds are one of the best window treatments if you're looking to create a comfortable, natural look. Easy to clean with a soft duster or a little wood soap, wood blinds can be used beautifully in high-traffic rooms, like kitchens, dens, and sunrooms.
6. Roman Shades
While technically a shade, since it's made of one piece of fabric, this elegant window treatment is often referred to as a blind, since the folds of fabric create a slanted look. A wide array of colours and fabrics can make this a solid choice for any space, and their safe and smooth cordless option is fantastic for dwellings or professional areas with children.
7. Bamboo Blinds
Image: Creative Commons
This is another blind that is often slated into the wrong category. While often considered wood, bamboo is actually a grass and therefore holds a classification of its own. Not only are bamboo blinds eco-friendly, since they’re made of natural and sustainable material, but they’re reliable and durable, so they add steadfast functionality and a certain elegance to any room. Just keep in mind, bamboo is not wood, and unlike wood, it should never be cleaned with water. Just use a soft cloth.
8. Solar/Roller Shades
Spaces with large windows - especially the floor to ceiling variety - love roller shades. Solar shades stop UV rays from damaging furniture and floors. Buyers can control the amount of 'openness' - or the amount they can see out the shades. The higher the transparency, the more you can see out - but, as a result, the more UV light is let in. Openness ranges from 1% to 99%. Higher transparency is ideal for porches or sunrooms, whereas lower openness is better for bedrooms. It's also important to keep in mind that solar shades that have high openness factors are going to let in more heat.
9. Exterior Shades
It's time to give some love to the hardworking outdoor shades. Incredibly durable, these shades are made for outdoor living spaces, like patios and pool areas, providing UV protection and a reprieve from the glare of the sun. They also reduce your exposure to the elements, like wind and rain - though they won't stop you from becoming a sopping mess in a proper rainstorm.
10. Pleated Shades
Much like their Roman counterpart, pleated shades look like blinds, but unlike the soft, rounded folds you see with Roman shades, the fabric in pleated shades is just that - pleated. This sharp, accordion-like look gives this shade variation a look even more similar to that of a blind. Pleated shades fold as they contract, and transform into a single piece of fabric as they unpleat. Pleated shades give your place a crisp, finished look, while also providing privacy and light control.
It’s evident the different types of blinds and shades are as versatile as they are vast, so there’s a fair amount to consider.
Before you decide which is best for your space, be sure to consider your style as well as the area’s function. Once you have accounted for these two factors, the choice becomes considerably easier.