Shades and Blinds are very often confused. The majority of homeowners cannot honestly tell you the difference if you ask them. There are often misconceptions too that people have about both. Most people don’t know for example, that both shades and blinds are available in a countless number of options and can be customized to be cordless if needed. It is sad to see people quite often sticking to the same old stereotypes of the white plastic horizontal slats of window blinds or dull-colored roller shades that always have issues with their cords.
We will start with a short definition of each:
Shades: Shades are technically termed as “soft” window coverings as they are often made of one or many pieces of fabric. They can be made of one single fabric or multiple pieces that are sewn together. Hence, materials for making a shade go through a continuous roll, as seen in roller shades, or are folded and stacked up as in pleated shades. Usually, shades allow you to only use one type of light-filter, and this cannot always be adjusted. This was the case until the patent of Pirouette Shades that offer the best of both worlds (shades + blinds) in a single window-treatment solution. Shades can be customized in a myriad of ways and use various combinations of fabrics and colors. They can be a single type of fabric, as in most shades; or two pieces of folded fabric attached together to produce Cellular shades. These Cellular or Honeycomb Shades, are often touted as a great energy saver. The pockets of air trapped between its folds can keep houses warmer in the winters and cooler in the summers.
Blinds: In technical terms, blinds are the quintessential “hard” window coverings. They are made of horizontal or vertical slats of different materials. This can be either plastic, wood, or even aluminum. These slats when pulled together using a cord stack up lengthwise or widthwise (depending on the blind). The design of these slats or “louvers”, as they are often called, is to optimally line them up at an optimum distance from each other. This distance determines the amount of light that can flow through your windows. They can then be tilted and adjusted to the appropriate angle that you need for controlling the amount of light. When you need privacy or want to completely block out the light, they can be pulled together at their maximum 180-degree angle where all slats overlapping each other. The effect of light filtering as you see in shades is usually missing here unless you use Luminette Blinds or Silhouette Blinds.
How to decide whether you need Shades or Blinds?
There are several factors that will eventually decide which window treatment option is preferable for you, but it all really comes down to personal choice in the end. Both types of window treatments have their unique advantages, and very often homeowners combine them to suit their needs. It is very common to see different sets of window treatments for the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms being used within the same house.
- Light control and Privacy: As we mentioned above, shades consist of a solid piece of fabric while blinds have horizontal slats of a harder material. If you are looking for privacy, you can easily implement them using either window treatment option. Using darker versions of a classic Roman or Vignette Shade, or using light-blocking Aluminum Blinds will give you unmatched privacy. However, it must be noted that blinds can be easily tilted and adjusted for the amount of light entering them. This gives you way more versatility with light control. As for shades, you only have the option of pulling them up or down. However, you can customize your shades with light-filtering or UV-filtering fabric that gives an effect that blinds cannot replicate.
- Cleaning: Both blinds and shades have different cleaning needs. Since shades are made of fabric, they can be easily cleaned and wiped with warm water, or often with the brush attachment for vacuum cleaners. Blinds should be regularly maintained with a thorough cleaning with furniture polish and a clean cloth. Since blinds have many individual horizontal (or vertical) slats, if they are not regularly cleaned, the grime can be much harder to remove. Shades usually don’t have that issue since they consist of a single fabric. However, shades will need thorough cleaning and washing if they are likely to be stained if you have kids or pets in the house. It is best not to put shades where you anticipate that they can be soiled easily. Blinds are the choice for places where kids or pets are likely to make a mess. They can be easily cleaned, and since they are not made of fabric, they won’t need to be washed. However, regular cleaning is a must for them.
- Durability: This is usually an easy decision to make between the two. Shades are not very durable since they are made of softer materials. Blinds, however, generally last much longer. It is always proper to place them where there will be high traffic of people entering and exiting. The same applies if you have pets that are likely to test their claws on your window treatments. Both blinds and shades, however, won’t be as durable if kids are likely to play with them and move them up or down using cords.
- Child-Safety: Besides spilling paint or food on your newly installed window treatments, your main worry should be the cords that help pull up your window shades and blinds. They can be a strangulation hazard for your kids. The best way is to opt for cordless solutions for your window treatments. In this case, cordless options for shades are plentiful but much harder to find for blinds.
- Variety and customization: We have a huge range of customizable designs for both shades and blinds. In any event, however, you will discover that the number of options you have with shades is significantly more than with blinds. You can customize fabric styles, designs, textures, and colors in innumerable ways which you often cannot do with blinds. It’s not that blinds have to be monochrome or dull, they are also available in many materials and colors but customizing them to the same level as shades is not always easy.
Shades and blinds will always be in competition for your windows. However, our verdict is clear – If you want durability and ease of cleaning then blinds will beat out shades any day. If you opt for child-safety and variety for your window treatments, then we suggest using shades over blinds. In any way, we recommend decorating your windows with a perfect mix of both blinds and shades and get the best of both worlds!