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Blinds 101
An Article reprint courtesy of:
Joseph Mehm of islandblindssa.com

How to Choose the Right Window Treatments

Time to cover those windows and not sure where to begin? You’ll definitely want to read this. We’ll try to tackle some of the general concerns when shopping for blinds, shades or shutters.

Some things that come into play when deciding what is right for your windows are:
1. Will price play a major factor in the decision?
2. What is the overall décor/style of the room(s)?
3. How important is the energy efficiency of the window treatment?
4. Close neighbors? What are your privacy concerns?
5. Got light? Glare on your television? Too much sun when sleeping in?
6. Breathtaking views? How can I maximize the view and minimize the glare or loss of privacy?
7. What if there is a lot of humidity in the room?
8. What treatments stand up best in harsh sunlight?
9. What type of products work best against abuse in rental units? Kids play areas?




1. Will price play a major factor in the decision?
Almost always a factor, price will sometimes lead you to a product that will cost you more misery than whatever you may have saved in dollars. Let’s look at the options. One of the least expensive products are 1” aluminum mini blinds. Mini blinds offer great light and view control and value pricing but lack the energy efficiency of some of our shade products which over time could more than offset the initial cost difference. If you’re looking for an inexpensive product for a guest room, rental and short term home ownership then this may be just the thing. If you plan on staying in the home/office for let’s say 5 years or more then consider more than the initial cost of the product.

I’ll list a few of the main product categories from least expensive to most.
Mini Blinds (least expensive)1” blinds cost less than the ½” Micro Minis or 2” Macro Aluminum.
2” Vinyl BlindsSmooth then Embossed/Textured Styles.
Roller ShadesVinyl Roller Shades cost less than Fabric Roller Shades.
Vertical BlindsSmooth Vinyl, then Embossed Vinyl, Fabric and Fabric with PVC Backing.
Faux Wood Blinds – Both Smooth Fauxwood and Embossed Faux Woods are usually same price.
Wood Blinds – Painted are usually less than the Stained Colors.
Pleated ShadesNo Backing, Privacy Backing & Blackout Backing.
Bamboo ShadesLight Filtering then Privacy Backed.
Cellular ShadesSingle Cell then Double Cell, Light Filtering to Blackout.
Horizontal ShadingsIllusions Brand, then Horizontal Window Shadings.
Plantation Shutters (most expensive) – Vinyl Shutters then Wood Shutters.



2. What is the overall décor/style of the room(s)?
Good question! It would not look appropriate to install say PVC Vertical Blinds in a beautiful old Victorian home. You will also want to consider what the window treatments will look like from the outside of the home. If your home has horizontal lap siding you may not want to use Vertical Blinds. Another consideration is the neighborhood itself. If you live in a condominium or have a strict home owners association you may need to check on their guidelines. Most will at least require the blinds or shades to be neutral on the exterior (facing the road).

Here are some general product suggestions:
Contemporary Style Homes - Verticals, Mini Blinds, Wood & Faux Wood Blinds, Illusions Shadings
Traditional Style Homes - Cellular Shades, Roman Shades, Pleated Shades, Roller Shades, Illusions Shadings, Shutters
Older & Historical Homes - Roller Shades, Wood Blinds, Fauxwood Blinds, Wood Shutters
Country Style Homes - Roman Shades, Roller Shades, Cell Shades, Pleated Shades, Plantation Shutters
Vacation Homes & Rentals - Sheerweave Shades, Verticals, 2" Horizontal Vinyl Blinds



3. How important is the energy efficiency of the window treatment?
If you live in the north then you'll want to keep the cold weather out, in the south it's the summer heat. Most newer homes have well insulated windows but the older homes with single panes of glass can get pretty drafty. Windows that have east and/or west exposure will also have to deal with sun and heat blockage.

If you're trying to keep the cold out try these:
Cellular Shades - One of the most energy efficient products we carry. Double Cell works best.
Plantation Shutters - Excellent slat closure while still offering light and privacy control.
Privacy Lined Bamboo Shades - One of the most popular products on the market today.
PVC Backed Fabric Vertical Blinds - Also offers excellent slat closure while still offering light and privacy control.


If you're trying to keep the heat and sun out try these:
Sheerweave Sun Control Shades - If the view is important but the sun is driving you crazy you'll want to check these out. The most popular product for sun control while still offering a view of the outdoors while in the lowered (closed) position.
Cellular Shades - One of the most energy efficient products we carry. No rout holes in the fabric so it has a solid fabric face to block out all of the direct sunlight. Use the Room Darkening Cellular Shades or Blackout to block even more heat and sun.
Plantation Shutters - This product has thick frames and slats that work really well blocking out the heat and sun.
Privacy Lined Bamboo Shades - The most popular product offers great sun and heat control when ordered with the Privacy Liner on back.
PVC Backed Fabric Vertical Blinds - The PVC vanes on back offer great heat and sunlight control and the fabric side (inside) makes them all the more energy efficient.



4. Close neighbors? What are your privacy concerns?
Only 10 feet between you and your neighbors? Facing a busy road? Condo? Town Home? Try one of the products listed below:

Privacy Bamboo Shades - When the privacy liner is used the Bamboo Blinds offer total privacy.
Wood & Faux Wood Blinds with Cloth Tapes - Excellent privacy when the optional Cloth Tapes are added to the Wood and Faux Blinds. You also have a lot of control over light and view outside.
2" Vinyl Blinds with Cloth Tapes - These work just as well as the Wood and Fauxwood Blinds.
Vertical Blinds - Again, great for privacy and control of light and exterior view.
Cellular Shades - Total privacy but limited in view/lighting options. If you add the optional bottom up/top down feature you can lower the shade from the top just enough to have a view yet still have the needed privacy.



5. Got light? Glare on your television? Too much sun when the baby is sleeping in?
Abundant lighting in a room is great, at the right time of day. But if I was trying to sleep in on Saturday or watch a football game on the big screen TV or baby Amanda (my favorite niece) is waking up early from excessive sunlight in the room then I would want to find a window treatment that 'kicks it down a notch'.

Here are my suggestions:
Privacy Bamboo Shades - The privacy liner is a white material that is adhered to the back (outer) side of the Bamboo Shade offering substantial sun and light blockage.
Wood & Faux Wood Blinds with Cloth Tapes - When the optional Cloth Tapes are used these blinds can keep all of the sun and most of the light out. They don't work as well as the Bamboo blinds but are just fine for most applications.
PVC Backed Fabric Verticals - The PVC Backed Fabric type Vertical Blinds offer the best closure of all the verticals. This product should do the trick keeping ALL of the sun out and most all of the light. Having control of light and view when needed is a real plus here.
Blackout Cellular Shades - This is the best product for blocking light. When you lower these shades be ready for total darkness. Works best for a baby's room or master bedroom (especially for those who like to sleep in). You'll have a hard time telling if it's day or night when you wake up. :-)
Blackout Vinyl Roller Shades - The vinyl material itself does an excellent job of blocking all of the sun and light in general but these usually have larger side gaps which can let quite a bit of light in through the sides. One advantage of this product is price. If you're looking for a value priced product for light blockage this is your best choice.



6. Breathtaking views? How can I maximize the view and minimize the glare or loss of privacy?
This is a really popular question. You probably didn't put that large picture window or sliding glass door in your home just to cover it up, right? Let take a look at some of the options available today.

Sheerweave Sun Control Shades - The is by far the best choice when trying to maximize the view and minimize the glare and still maintain a fair amount of privacy at night.
Light Filtering Bamboo Blinds - Some of the more open weaves of Bamboo Blinds allow at least a peak through the reeds. Best to order a few samples and hold them up to your window.
Sheer Vertical Blinds - When rotated closed this product offers excellent privacy and rotated open the sheer fabric facing offers decent glare reduction and some privacy.
Illusions Window Shadings - This product has opaque and sheer alternating bands that when overlapped the right way offer great views while minimizing most of the glare. Privacy is minimal if the vanes are left in the open position at night. You can close them for total privacy by overlapping the vanes with a simple pull of the control chain.



7. What if there is a lot of humidity in the room?
OK, bathrooms are always an issue when it comes to humidity, especially if there is a shower and the bathroom is lacking an exhaust vent. Maybe it's a damp garage or basement. Sun Room or Patio. Whatever the cuase for dampness we have the answers.

Here are the best choices for a long happy, not so soggy blind life.
2" Vinyl Blinds - All of the choices here work great. The 2" Vinyl Blinds have the added advantage of control of view and lighting in the room.
Vinyl Roller Shades - These are usually the best choice when shopping for the lowest price but you need remember that the roller shades have a rather large gap on both sides. The reason for this is they sometimes tend to track to one side or the other when being raised and need the additional spacing to keep the material from hitting the side brackets..
PVC Vertical Blinds - PVC Verticals come in Smooth, Ribbed and Embossed styles. The Smooth being the best price and Embossed being the highest. The Smooth PVC is the easiest to maintain with it's solid smooth vanes, the Ribbed PVC and Embossed PVC styles can be a little more of a challenge but more than make up for that with all the beautiful color and pattern choices.
2" and 2 1/2" Faux Wood Blinds - The 2" Fauxwood and 2 1/2" Fauxwood Blinds are the most popular. They offer great moisture resistance without sacrificing beauty or light control.
Phifer Sheerweave Shades - The Sheerweave Shades are made from a PVC coated polyester that works great at repelling moisture. If privacy is a concern you may want to try one of the options above since this is a screen type material and at night with the lights on inside you will probably be able to see into the room.



8. What treatments stand up best in harsh sunlight?
Most products today fight the elements like harsh sunlight well and offer years of trouble free service but there are some unique advantages to each of the ones listed below.

PVC Vertical Blinds - All of the PVC Vertical Blinds are an excellent choice for blocking intense sun and heat. You can actually feel the temperature drop in the room as soon as they are closed if the sun was beaming in. Most PVC Vanes come with a lifetime guarantee against warping and cracking.
2" Vinyl Blinds - This is the same material as the PVC Verticals and as a matter of fact even comes in matching patterns. You can use these on your windows and get the matching Vertical for your sliding glass door. Available in Smooth and Embossed patterns.
Vinyl Roller Shades - Out of these five choices this one will have the shortest life span. It works better than most window treatments but after a period of years the material will start to deteriorate if exposed to intense direct sunlight.
Phifer Sheerweave Shades - For harsh sunlight areas this one can't be beat. There is a reason these products are called "Sun Control Shades". If you have a view that you'd just hate to block out or maybe a commercial storefront that you don't want to look like it's closed then this is the product for you! The Sheerweave Shades come in a wide variety of colors and patterns with different degrees of openness and view. My personal favorite is the Sheerweave 3000 Series, The 3000 Series has a 14% openness factor which allows plenty of view while blocking all of the sunlight.
Plantation Shutters - Get out the checkbook! These babies are going to set you back a little. It's not the most expensive product for no reason. They are considered by most as 'furniture for your windows' and will have all the neighbors talking. When ordered with the optional horizontal divider rail you have the ability to close the lower half for privacy while keeping the upper half partially open for view.



9. What type of products work best against abuse in rental units? Kids play areas?
OK, generally rental units and kids play areas should be considered two different topics. But not when it comes to blinds. I've seen many "How in the world did that happen?" situations. Time for a little story, I hope you have the time.
Back in the early 80's I was installing blinds for a few companies and I had this one job that kept calling me back out for repairs. They ordered PVC Verticals and whenever I got there the whole track system and slats were a mess. No one was ever home so I never got an answer as to what was happening to them. Having to make my third trip out to this job in less than a year I was starting to get frustrated. I was hoping to finally catch someone home and this time I got lucky. I knocked on the door and a polite young surfer dude answered and let me in. He walked back to the living area where the blinds were and sat back on the sofa with his friends. The blinds that kept breaking were on a 12' sliding glass door that faced the ocean in that room. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but it didn't take me long to figure out what the problem was. They had the sliding glass door pulled completely open yet had the vertical blinds drawn closed so the sun didn't glare in. It was a rather windy day at the beach and the vanes were flapping wildly in the breeze, some flapping all the way up to the ceiling. Before I could speak one of the young men, sitting next to his wet surfboard on the sofa said "It's this one dude, I don't know what's wrong with it". I wonder if he owns any rental units of his own now...
Back to the little guys. Kids can at times be fairly rough on your window treatments. Believe me, I know. I have four of them. Some like to color on them, bend them, pull the cords and all kinds of other fun stuff.
Anyway, back to the advice you came here for.

Here are the DO'S:
Vinyl Roller Shades - Get the clutch! The clutch operated shade works much better than the spring roller version. These are real easy to care for. Just use a little mild detergent on a wash cloth and wipe it down.
Phifer Sun Control Shades - Pretty much the same as the Vinyl Roller Shades. The price is a little higher but the ability to have your view while the shade is in the down position is well worth it.
2" Vinyl Blinds - The slats are made of a flexible vinyl and the ladder strings are braided polyester so they will withstand most any abuse. The Smooth Vinyl Blinds are easier to clean than the Embossed/Textured Blinds.
2" and 2 1/2" Faux Wood Blinds - These clean a stand up just like the 2" Vinyl Blinds but have a better quality look to them.
ALL PVC Vertical Blinds - Again, Smooth Verticals will be easier to clean than the Embossed PVC Verticals but both wear and clean really well.


Here are the DON'TS:
Aluminum Mini Blinds - The metal slats, although spring tempered, will still bend when torqued too far. They can be a little tricky to dust too.
Sheer Verticals - This one doesn't need much of an explanation. Any drapery or sheer type fabric that gets a stain in it means the whole window treatment needs taken down and professionally cleaned.
Real Wood Verticals - One of the most beautiful products you could put on a window OR door but not the best in areas that may take a beating. The price to replace slats can add up real fast.


Hope this information was helpful. If you ever have a question as to what may work best in your particular application don't hesitate to call one of the window treatment professionals at islandblindssa.com - 1(888)460-1198.




Article by Joseph Mehm
Joseph Mehm has been in the retail window treatment industry for over 22 years and presently manages the Internet retail giant islandblindssa.com, 1-888-460-1198. Reprint is allowed as long as this footer text and all links remain intact. (view and copy source code to add to your site)


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