Window treatments are a great way to tie a room’s design together while providing privacy, protection from the sun, and eliminating excessive sunlight.
Blinds and shades are the two most used window treatments. But making a purchase isn’t as simple as deciding between the two. Within each type of window treatment, there are various subtypes, with different features and looks. We’re featuring 25 of these different types.
We will also help you determine the difference between blinds and shades to decide which one better suits your needs. We’ll also look at some other important information you may need while shopping for window treatments.
Table of Contents
Different Window Treatments
To put it simply, window treatments are a covering added over a window to enhance the room’s interior design. But window treatments also help provide privacy while reducing the amount of light that can shine through the glass.
Window coverings can also help protect your furniture from sun exposure. You can even find ones that block UV rays, darken your room, or provide insulation. Curtains or drapes look great on your windows, but they don’t always do a good job. But when paired with blinds or shades, you get style and functionality.
There are two common types that we will discuss today – blinds and shades. While both are useful to cover your windows, they do have different design features, making it easier for you to make a final choice on which to use.
Blinds are a window treatment option that has been around for centuries. These coverings consist of evenly spaced slats operated by a corded ladder.
To raise or lower your blinds, you may need to pull a cord or lift on the bottom rail, depending on the style. To change the slats’ angle to block out or allow light, you twist the attached, long, plastic wand.
Point of View from a Parent
Here are a few notable experiences from a parent with four children and two dogs. Blinds are great for covering your windows, but you want to ensure the cord is out of reach, as it’s a temptation that children and pets rarely pass up.
When one slat breaks on a blind, you mind as well chunk it and buy a new one. Many of these cannot be repaired due to the ladder construction, which causes the slats to move against each other.
And some types can be challenging to adjust evenly. I can’t tell you how many collective hours I’ve wasted trying to get blinds to open evenly after one of my kids decides to play. It’s no fun at all! Especially for those with OCD who need things to be level and even.
Shades are another type of window treatment to block light, cold air and provide privacy. This option is a single solid piece of material that rolls up onto a round tube.
Unlike blinds, which have individual slats, shades will provide full coverage with no light filtering through the cracks since it’s a solid piece.
Adjusting shades is easier since these roll up neatly onto the tube. But if you use too much force when pulling them down, you can cause the fabric to tear or the rod to bend, which reduces the shade’s functionality.
Blinds Production Method
When shopping for blinds, you have two options. You can purchase some that are already ready-made. Or you can have some custom made. Let’s look at the differences between the two.
Ready-made blinds are blinds that are built and shipped to a store to be sold. When you purchase ready-made blinds, they’re already made before you buy them. All you have to wait on is for them to ship to you. Or you can pick these up in a store and go straight home to install them.
Before you buy blinds, you should take the time to correctly measure your window so that you purchase the proper size. Improperly fitting blinds can detract from the aesthetic and fail to perform as hoped.
The first thing you’ll need to do before taking measurements is to decide if you want to mount your blinds inside the window or outside. This decision will affect how you will take your measurements.
Ready-made blinds come in a variety of styles, sizes, and types, so you’re sure to find ones that fit your window perfectly without needing to go with custom blinds.
Some people may have oddly shaped or sized windows that won’t work with ready-made blinds. In this case, you may have to turn to made-to-measure options.
When you buy a made-to-measure blind, you have window coverings that are made custom to your size. However, because they are custom, there are a few drawbacks.
First, these are often more expensive than ready-made blinds because they are one of a kind. Second, you may have to wait a specific amount of time before you receive them because they have to be made separately from regular blinds.
When you purchase made-to-measure blinds, it’s essential that you get the measurements correct. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck waiting on a new set of blinds. And you may not be able to return the previous ones because it wasn’t the company’s fault that they didn’t work.
Blinds have two different modes of operation, depending on the style you buy. When shopping for blinds, you have to decide between manual and automatic. Let’s look at some criteria that will help you decide which one would be better for you.
Manually operated blinds require you to access the blinds to raise or lower them physically. It can be tiring having to go through your whole house every morning to raise the blinds so the light can come in. Then have to turn around and do it all over again that night to close them.
When you buy manual blinds, you have to use a string, chain, or another device to change the blind’s position. And you have to use the attached wand to change the slats’ angle.
On the other side of the fence are automatic blinds, which operate from a motor. Automatic blinds do not require you to pull anything to make the blinds go up and down. Instead, you can control the blind’s positioning with a button, remote control, or a smart device.
As a busy parent, I feel that automated blinds make life much easier. You can set a timer for when they open and close or push a button to adjust them automatically. It’s so much easier than having to walk through every room and adjust every blind.
If you’re a fan of having your blinds change with the time of day, it may be worth it to invest in a quality automatic set that reduces the work you need to do. And for children, it reduces the chances of having broken blinds if your kid can’t figure out how to work a manual one.
Now, the downside of automated blinds. First of all, they’re more expensive. But given that they’re electric, that’s to be expected. It’s worth the extra cash for me.
And second, if there’s no power source, your blinds will not operate. Dead batteries or a power outage could mean you’re stuck in the dark (or light) until you’ve fixed the power.
The great thing about blinds is that they come in various types of materials, so there’s no way you won’t find one that you like! Now the material can affect things like cost, effectiveness, and design. So take your time to look at each variety to decide which one sounds best.
Wood blinds have individual wood slates made of real wood. The type of wood can vary by company, so you’re sure to find one that matches your room palette, regardless of if you want dark or light wood.
Using wood blinds for your window treatment adds warmth with a style that never goes out of fashion. And they’re more durable against rough use compared to some other lightweight materials.
Wood can go with all designs, so it’s a great solution to add to a home where you’re continually redecorating. You’ll never need to change your blinds because they clash with the new look.
However, wood blinds can warp in hot climates, so that’s a factor to consider if you have brutal summers. And when opened, the way the wood slates stack can reduce your view out the window.
But you have to use care when cleaning wood blinds, as some products can cause damage to the wood grain. Only use cleaning products intended for wood to avoid issues.
If you want the wood look, but you can’t stand the idea of trees being chopped down just to add style to your room, you’re in luck. Faux wood blinds may be just the thing you need.
A cheaper alternative than real wood slats, faux wood lets you have a wood look without sacrificing trees to get it. These blinds are made of composite wood (a wood center coated with polymer), vinyl, or PVC, but they look like real wood!
Faux wood blinds have a few advantages over real wood blinds. First, many are cheaper since they’re not real. Second, they are more durable against fading, warping, and cracking.
For homes with busy children, windows that will get lots of use, or locations where there are high humidity and heat, you can’t beat choosing faux over real wood.
And, my favorite reason, they’re easy to clean. You can use any type of cleaner without worrying that you’re damaging the wood grain.
However, faux wood will be heavier than real wood, which can be challenging to get into position if the top of the window is out of reach.
Plastic blinds are usually made of a PVC blend, which allows you to achieve a pleasing room aesthetic without breaking the bank.
While plastic blinds are a cheaper solution, you get what you pay for in terms of quality. These blinds hold up well against moisture and heat, unlike wood, which can warp.
When you use plastic blinds, you don’t have to worry about warping, cracking, or molding, despite frequent exposure to direct sunlight or high moisture. And they do well for insulating your home to keep in heat or cold air.
But before you run out and toss a bunch of plastic blinds into your shopping cart, let us go over a few drawbacks of using this material.
Because PVC is a type of plastic, it contains traces of many different harmful chemicals. A shortlist of what your plastic blinds may have include:
- Vinyl chloride
- Hydrochloric acid
This chemical composition is known to cause respiratory problems, congenital defects, and some types of cancer.
As your blinds age due to exposure to heat and the sun, they start to break down and release particles of these chemicals into the air, which you can breathe into your lungs.
The most concerning of these ingredients is the lead, which can form a layer of non removable dust over your blind slats. Trying to clean these puts lead into the air, which is extremely harmful to pregnant women and children under the age of 6.
Metal blinds are an excellent solution for large windows that have thin frames. Most of these are made of aluminum, which is lightweight, durable, and resistant to rust.
Many people prefer to use metal blinds due to affordability. Compared to other blind types, metal is among the cheapest, along with plastic and PVC. And they’re easy to clean with a simple wipe down using a wet cloth or a duster.
However, you’ll rarely see people using metal blinds from an aesthetic standpoint, meaning you probably won’t hang these up in your living room. But they’re a fantastic solution for garages, bathrooms, or utility rooms. And they’re fabulous to use for covering skylights.
Paper blinds are often used as a temporary solution window cover. These blinds are great for dorms, rental properties, tight budgets, or when you need your window covered temporarily, such as photography, photo development, or construction.
You can find paper blinds with light filtering properties that allow more sunlight to shine through while blocking direct sunlight. If you want to block out the most light, you can opt for a thicker product.
And if you need to block out all light, there are even blackout options. And they come in a wide variety of color choices so you can change your room’s look multiple times a month.
Now, these blinds won’t last nearly as long as traditional blinds, but they’re super easy to install. You mount these to your window frame or wall using the included adhesive strip. Then pull them down when you’re ready to remove them.
Some types of blinds are natural fibers, which can add a touch of naturalism to your environment. Common natural materials include cotton, bamboo, linen, silk, and hemp.
Most of these will come in a shade design rather than a blind. The difference is that shades are made of a solid piece of material, whereas blinds are multiple slats that overlap each other to block out light.
Blinds and shades can also be synthetic fibers such as nylon or polyester. These materials are durable, easy to clean, and less expensive options.
However, most synthetics are not as good at blocking out light and heat as natural fibers. You can find these in various types, colors, and styles.
4 Considerations When Buying Blinds
When shopping for blinds, there are some criteria to consider before making a selection. Buying blinds without considering the details can result in making the wrong purchase. Consider these factors.
You’ll want to consider how much privacy you want to get when your blinds are closed. You’ll also want to determine how much light you want to block.
You’ll also want to consider how much you want to spend. If you’re only buying blinds for one window, you may not mind splurging on an expensive model.
But if you’re covering multiple windows, you may choose to buy mostly cheap versions while spending extra money for ones that go in the main areas of your house.
For homes that have pets and small children, it’s best to choose cordless or automatic blinds. Cords can become a potential choking hazard.
Many varieties of blinds are low maintenance, so they don’t need a lot of cleaning. You can use a duster or a wet cloth and wipe them down. Some types of fabric shades can go into the washing machine or vacuum.
Features of Blinds
Blinds consist of individual slats of material stacked on top of each other or laid vertically. These louvers can angle to block or allow light. And they collapse together at the top (or side) of the window when open.
Most blinds also have a rope ladder system made of string or rope that connects the slats together. This system allows the slats to move together.
And blinds have a way to operate the blinds. Manual styles have a rope or chain that you pull to make the blinds lower or raise. Automated types have a motor that operates the slats.
Shades are a solid piece of fabric that lifts and lowers by rolling onto a tube or bar at the top of the blind. These can be manual or automated.
Where to Buy Blinds
Blinds are an everyday item that you can find almost anywhere. You can get them from retail or bargain stores, specialty blind shops, home improvement stores, home decor shops, or you can buy them online.
Types of Blinds
Now that we’ve covered what you need to know about blinds let’s get to the fun stuff. We’ve listed 25 different types of blinds for your home.
1. Vertical Blinds
Vertical blinds have vertical running slats of varying material, meaning they run top to bottom instead of horizontally, with each slat stacked on top of each other.
Despite the different look, these operate like Venetian Blinds by tilting the flats in or out. A wand allows you to open the windows left or right and controls the louvers.
2. Venetian Blinds
The most common type of blinds is Venetian blinds. This style has 2″ horizontal slats operated by a rope system of strings or cloth strips. The slats can be plastic, aluminum, or wood – although many in the US consider wood slats as wood blinds instead of Venetian.
Pulling the string causes the bottom slat to press into the one above it, collapsing the blinds closed. A tilt rod adjusts the angle of the slats almost 180-degrees to control privacy and light.
3. Mini Blinds
Mini blinds have smaller 1″ thick slats, but they operate the same as Venetian blinds, but you can also open and close individual slats.
This option is better for smaller windows and comes in various materials and colors. When you crack the slats of a mini blind, it allows you to see more from outside.
4. Micro Blinds
Micro blinds are the smallest version of blinds available. These are the same thing as a Venician or mini blind but on a smaller scale.
The slats of micro blinds are ½” thick and the shortest length of all blinds. If you have a small bathroom or utility room window that gets dominated by a regular or mini-sized blind, you may need a micro.
5. Panel Blinds
Panel blinds are the best window covering option for large windows and glass doors like patio, sliding, or French. You mount these to the ceiling or wall. A tract allows the fabric panels to slide back and forth or stack to the side out of the way when opened.
These blinds come in different fabric options, as a solar screen or made of woven wooden materials. Many people use panel blinds in combination with other window coverings.
6. Pleated Shades
Pleated shades or pleated blinds are a single piece of fabric with no slats. These let in more light, as many are sheer, which does reduce your privacy.
You can get these as cordless bottom-up, top-down, or cordless, which is safer for homes with pets or children. These shades are more cost-efficient and disappear when you raise them.
7. Cellular Shades
Cellular shades are an energy-efficient solution for window coverings. Some people refer to this style as honeycomb due to the unique design of honeycomb (6-sided hexagonal) air pockets (cells), which offers the highest insulation.
You can find these as single – one air pocket or double cells – two pockets. This style of shades has crisp pleats that control how these fold up.
They come in various colors, light control (sheer or blackout), and pleat sizes. You can get these as motorized, top-down, bottom-up, or cordless.
8. Roman Shades
Roman shades are a classic style of fabric window coverings that lends an air of modern polish to your room. You can get these shades in plain, soft, standard flat, or European folds.
All Roman shades have a pull cord or continuous loop cord that controls lowering and raising the shades. These cords affect how the panel drapes at the bottom.
9. Roller Shades
Roller shades come in both blackout and light filtering options, so you have full control of how much sunlight comes into your room.
This window treatment style is a single piece of fabric that rolls over a central dowel to open and close. When open, the shade lays flat. When you close it, the material rolls up and secures at the top.
10. Tie Up Shades
Tie up shades have heavy influences from London balloon shades. This style consists of a solid material curtain panel suspended by a curtain rod. You can find tie up shades in multiple materials, including sheer linen, translucent polyester, lace, silk, cotton, wool, velvet, or cotton.
There are two or more bands spaced out along the panel’s width, which creates adjustable scallops. These bands can be cords, tapes, clips, ribbons, or strings that allow you to lift and lower the panel.
11. Outdoor Blinds/Shades
Outdoor shades and blinds are specifically designed for outdoor use. They’re the perfect option for patios, sunrooms, decks, and pergolas. These are great for protecting your outdoor furniture from sun damage.
These window treatments are weather-resistant fabrics so that they can handle the elements without damage. And many block dangerous UV rays so you can enjoy the sun without harm.
12. Solar Shades
Solar shades are fantastic for blocking sunlight that other window treatments can’t. If your windows directly face the sun, you may want to consider installing solar shades, which can also block UV rays and reduce glare and fading.
This window treatment option consists of a single piece of tightly-woven material coated to block out heat and light. Most solar shades are vinyl, although there are other materials too.
These come in different percentages ranging from 1%, 3%, 5%, or 10%. The lower the number, the more it blocks, with 1% being the darkest. A 10% solar shade will let in some light.
Shutters are a window treatment made of faux or real wood louvers inside a solid frame. You can use a tilt rod found on the back or at the middle of the shutter to adjust the slats.
You usually see shutters mounted on the exterior of a house, framing the windows. When bad weather happens, you can close these to protect your windows.
But there are also interior shutters, which you put on the inside of your house. You can close these to block out cold weather and sunlight.
14. Roller blinds
Roller blinds also classify as a shade due to their design. This blind type is one of the few that consists of one solid piece of material instead of individual slats.
These shades have a round tube at the top of the window, where the fabric attaches. When pulled down, the fabric blocks the window. You use a sidewinder to roll the shade up over the bar when you want it open.
15. Wooden blinds
Wooden blinds have slats made of wood. You can tilt these to control the privacy and how much light comes in. These are a heavier type, so you want to make sure and secure them properly.
These blinds have a rope ladder system, and the slats stack one on top of the other, running horizontally. When you close these, they fold from the bottom up.
16. Day-Night blinds
Day-night blinds are a versatile option that includes stripes of room darkening opaque fabric and translucent, light filtering fabric combined into one product.
These blinds operate the same as traditional ones, using a chain (or remote control) to adjust the roller positioned at the blinds’ top. You can set all the slats to opaque to get a blackout effect or put them to translucent, so you have privacy without blocking the sunlight.
17. Blackout blinds
Blackout blinds are an everyday staple in bedrooms due to their light-blocking capabilities. These blinds operate the same as any other blind with a roller.
The fabric stores inside a cassette and runs alongside channels, blocking light around the edges. When mounted inside the window casing, you can achieve almost full light blockage.
18. Plantation shutters
Plantation shutters are wood structures that fit your window frames, offering insulation, privacy, and protection from the sun.
These shutters have tilted wood louvers that you can adjust. And they open like doors so you can use your window like usual.
19. Conservatory blinds
Conservatory blinds come in different materials and designs. You want to find ones that will accommodate the massive heat loss you’ll suffer from having a room with so much glass.
Honeycomb blinds, pleated, French pinoleum, Roman, English, Venetian, sheer rollers, and roof blinds are suitable choices for covering conservatory windows.
20. Skylight blinds
Skylight blinds are window treatments specifically designed for skylights. These hard to reach windows can be tricky to cover due to the angle and height.
The best types of blinds for skylights are mini blinds, although cellular or pleated shades are also ideal. You may want to find remote control operated versions for more effortless opening and closing.
21. Office blinds
Office blinds are useful for reducing shadows, glare, and reflections. They also help maintain temperatures and provide privacy and prevent distractions.
Multiple types of blinds can work for office blinds. Wood blinds and shutters give the space privacy and design appeal, but they’re rarely for large office spaces. Solar screens and cellular shades are two options that allow light and privacy.
22. Electric blinds
Electric blinds have a small motor that turns the shaft to raise or lower the blinds. There’s a button or a remote that controls the battery-powered or electrically-powered motor.
Some of these allow you to control them through a switch on the wall. Other models will enable you to work them through an app downloaded to your device. These blinds are efficient and easier to use than having to set each individual blind physically.
23. Cordless Blinds
Cordless blinds bring simplicity into your home, eliminating the hassle of pulling cords to raise or lower the blinds.
These blinds still have cords that keep the blind slats aligned and help them close and open. They’re cordless because you don’t need to pull a cord or string to operate them.
Instead, you can raise and lower these blinds by lifting or pulling down on the bottom rail. To tilt the slats to allow or block light, you angle the bottom rail back or forth, which will turn the slats angle.
24. Automatic Blinds
With everything becoming automatic, it’s no surprise that you can now do the same with your blinds. Automatic blinds have a quiet, powerful motor that runs off electricity or batteries.
This motor controls the blind’s movements on the track so you can achieve the ideal position with a click of a button from your wireless device or set an automated timer so they open or close at a specific time.
You can find these blinds in multiple styles, including pleated, cellular, wood, Roman, draperies, solar, and roller shades.
25. Smart Blinds
Smart blinds also have built-in motors and sensors that allow for adjustments based on the lighting outside. These coverings can be programmed to raise and lower on set schedules such as time or days.
Other names for smart blinds are automatic blinds, automated blinds, or smart shades. And many of these can pair with smart home systems or virtual assistants so you can control them with your voice.
With so many various blind options, it can become overwhelming trying to make a final decision. We’ve broken down the 25 most common blind types and provided a brief description of each. We also explained the differences between blinds and shades and listed other helpful information you may need while shopping for window blinds.