Blinds vs Shades, Pros & Cons, How to Choose

Blinds vs. Shades: Choosing the Right Window Treatment

blinds vs shades

When renovating a room, windows should be one of the preliminary things you decorate, after all, they draw a substantial amount of attention in a room. But as there are so many options within even the two most standard categories, window blinds and shades, choosing the perfect window treatment can seem overwhelming.

To make it simple, first think about what you want to accomplish with your window treatments. Do you want to have control over privacy in the room? Do you want to let in a lot of sunlight without obstructing the view? Are you concerned about energy efficiency? There are many types of window blinds and shades that address each individual issue. Before deciding, understand the difference between blinds and shades, as well as their many subtypes, to find which one works best for your room.

What Makes a Blind a Blind?

Blinds have horizontal or vertical slats that louver to control the amount of sunlight and air allowed in a room. In case you want extra air entering the room or windows with an unobstructed view, blinds can be completely pulled up as well with a pull cord or cordless system. Manufacturers make blinds in a range of materials, like aluminum, wood, faux wood (PVC), faux composite (wood + PVC) and vinyl. If you want eco-friendly natural alternatives, you can also find wood blinds made from bamboo.

Choosing the Right Type of Blinds

The most popular window blinds are wood and faux wood with mini blinds a strong second. Here are the some options:

  • Mini-blinds: Also referred to as horizontal aluminum blinds, mini blinds are available in 1” slats in 6 or 8 gauge aluminum as well as ½” slats, 1-3/8” slats and 2” slats. Mini blinds are extremely durable and come in hundreds of colors. They are also available in a vinyl slat which is a very economical product.
  • Wood or faux wood blinds: The warm tone of wood makes any room cozy and inviting. Wood blinds are available painted or stained and come in several different types of wood including bass, bamboo, ash and maple. Composite faux wood looks more like real wood blinds than standard PVC faux wood and is still less expensive than wood.
  • Vertical blinds: Perfect for patio doors and large windows, vertical blinds are easily controlled to provide a high amount of light control and privacy. They are available in vinyl or fabric in a wide range of colors and styles.
  • Shutters: Similar to wood blinds but more like a piece of furniture for your windows, shutters surround your windows with a casement while the inside of the shutter has slats to louver open and close.

What Makes a Shade a Shade?

Shades do not have slats that louver, they go up and down and are made from fabrics and woven woods. Unlike blinds, some shades can be opened from the top, bottom, or both ends to control light and privacy.

Choosing the Right Type of Shades

Just like blinds, shades are also available in different types and varieties.

  • Roller shades: Material is rolled onto a tube and rolls off the tube with a continuous cord loop clutch system or cordless system. Roller shades are available in solid and print fabrics from modern to traditional. Add trim and tassels for a highly custom look. Roller shades are also very popular in homes and businesses with solar screen fabrics which keep the glare of the sun away while allowing you to see through them.
  • Cellular/honeycomb shades: These shades, available in both single- and double-cell varieties, are beautiful and functional. They provide both temperature and sound insulating features, and have many lift system options such as cordless, continuous cord loop and motorized. Some fabrics can be soaked for cleaning but most just need an occasional vacuuming.
  • Pleated shades: Pleated shades are a single piece of material and have the advantage of more unique fabric options. They are available standard or with no holes; that is you cannot see the string running through the fabric. Roman shades: Roman shades are made from a fabric panel that is flat or softly looped when drawn; when opened, the fabric folds up into neat stacks. They are available with or without a liner for added privacy and insulation and are available in a wide range of color and texture options.
  • Woven wood or bamboo shades: When natural materials like bamboo, grasses or reed are used to make woven shades, you end up with a highly stylized look. They are a little more fragile than most blinds but are available with tapes on the edges to prevent fraying.

Blinds vs Shades

There are several shades that fall within both blinds and shades categories. Sheer horizontal shades pull up and down like shades and louver like blinds. Drapery sheer vertical blinds are similar to actual draperies made of a sheer fabric, but like vertical blinds, they louver open and closed for privacy. Panel track blinds are a nice alternative to vertical blinds because they are available in matching roller shade, roman shade and woven wood fabrics and the panels are wide versus the narrow 3-1/2” vertical vane.

Deciding Factors

Consider how much privacy and light control is needed in your rooms then take the time to browse through the different styles and colors available with your goals for the room in mind. You can select a window treatment by estimating light requirements, privacy necessities, energy efficiency and pricing. Picking the right window treatment for your home can create a subtle yet significant difference in its atmosphere.

1 Comment

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About the Author: Marta Baker

Marta Baker is a writer, designer, and an expert in window coverings,. Married to an artist, Marta learned to appreciate good design whether it was art, furniture, the written word or a beautifully appointed room. She studied journalism in college and has worked as a writer for nearly 20 years. Marta has been has been working at BlindSaver for over 5 years as a senior designer. Marta has been has been working at BlindSaver for over 5 years as a senior designer.