Getting Started with Blinds
More than any other feature, your blinds will be a defining element of your home’s personality. Like wall art, only in a more striking way. You’ll want to consider how certain blind types complement your home’s architectural features and furnishings — and how everything ties together from room to room. Some blinds, like sheers, will offer infinite degrees of sunlight control, for example, while others, like slats, will offer less. If simplicity and ease of use are important, you’ll may want to consider valance-free indoor shutters, and if you want options for porches, decks or other outdoor spaces, investing in weather and UV-resistant screens will be key. Above all else, take time to do some research. You’ll save money and headaches down the road. Start by checking blind manufacturer and retailer websites, and get an in-home consultation with a pro to see what samples look like in the natural light of different rooms. You’ll also get a chance to feel the difference in quality of the various types of materials.
1) Factor in the room
Before you get to the decorative aspect of your blinds, consider how and where they will be used. Living rooms with beautiful views come with lots of direct sunlight. You’ll want to consider blinds with glare and UV-reducing qualities like shades or sheers to protect furnishings and keep rooms from overheating. If you have sliding doors or French doors in your kitchen, a common solution is to choose verticals. A bathroom will require privacy as well as moisture-resistance, so durable faux wood or sealed hardwood blinds or sturdy aluminum blinds that won’t warp, crack or rot are a great option. Just make sure you don’t forget that some blinds are more suited for certain uses than others, and you’re less likely to have regrets later on.
2) Match your style
Simple or ornate, traditional or contemporary, the style you want in your home is the style you want to reflect in your window coverings. Look for rich fabrics and brightly coloured blinds, shades, shutters and sheers when you want the window treatment to be the highlight of the room; simple blinds, shutters, shades and sheers when you want them to blend into the background.
3) Keep kids and pets safe
The hazards posed by dangling lift cords, wand controls, lead paint, and loose headrails have greatly reduced due to recent design improvements. Innovations such as retractable lift cords, cord tensioners, and motorized systems offer enhanced child and pet safety as well as ease in operation. And new technology such as remote controls and software apps that allow you to open and close your blinds from anywhere take convenience and safety to a new level.
4) Consider ease of cleaning
Most blinds don’t need frequent cleaning. All blinds attract dust, though with new anti-static treatments, the amount of dust has been greatly reduced. A light dusting or gentle vacuuming on a regular basis will keep them looking new for years. Certain types of sensitive fabric sheers and shades are better suited to professional cleaning methods. Ask your blind consultant which products stand up the best to dust and dirt.
5) Let a pro do the measuring and install
Since each custom blind is unique to your space, measurements are crucial. And if you have a lot of windows or large ones in hard to reach places, the process can be a chore. It’s best to leave ALL the measurements to a professional. The same goes for installation. Then any errors are the pro’s responsibility, not yours.
Types of Blinds
Blinds vary in material and design. There are strengths among some blind types, and quality differences. Pricing largely depends on the size, materials, operating system and options you choose. Here are the various blind types to consider.
1) Slats (Louvers, Vanes)
Slat Blinds (also called louvers or vanes) are what most people think of when they hear the term “blinds.” Slats excel at sunlight control and privacy while balancing ease of use and long life. They come in vertical or horizontal formats, and can be made of hardwood, faux wood, or aluminum. They tend to be easy to clean and versatile in where they can be used. For example, if you want a slimmer profile blind, aluminum slats work great. If budget is your top priority, slats are your best option, since faux wood blinds can start as low as $100 or less per window.
Shades, by definition, roll up and down. Made from fabric, woven wood, or polymer, they come in a variety of styles and shapes, from elegant roman rollers to high efficiency honeycombs to sun-blocking designer shades. In days past, shades were not suitable for every type of window, but today’s motorized versions can fit even the most difficult to access places. Shades, excluding honeycombs, cost about the same or slightly more than slats, depending on the material or operating system you choose.
Shutters are hinged window treatments that can be mounted indoors or outdoors, depending on the material you choose. They typically fit within the window casement for a clean, but substantive look. Also called plantation shutters, these window treatments can be made from a variety of materials, including hardwood, polysatin or a hybrid. Polysatin will not warp, crack, fade, chip, peel or discolor, regardless of extreme heat or moisture conditions. As a result, these window coverings offer excellent all-year durability and protection from the sun and elements. Prices of shutters tend to be higher than slat-oriented blinds due to the density and thickness of their construction.
Like stained glass, sheers diffuse the light coming into a room, filtering out glare and harmful UV rays. Offering infinite light and privacy control, sheers are the most luxurious window covering available, and can range from three to four times the price of basic faux wood blinds. They also happen to be one of the fastest growing product categories due to their amazing transformative effect. Sheers are perfect for bedrooms, offices, or living spaces where you want to bring sunlight into the room without blinding you. They are available in a wide array of fabrics in both horizontal and vertical formats.
Blind Features & Options to Consider
When choosing blinds, there are some features and options that can enhance value, convenience, attractiveness and durability. Here are the most important blind features and options to consider.
1) Energy Efficiency
With the cost of energy rising every year, energy efficiency has become a big deal. All blinds provide some level of window insulation, offering your home increased protection against heat loss during the winter, as well as minimizing the sun’s heat or “solar heat” during the summer. Honeycomb shades are particularly effective at trapping air between the cells of the fabric, significantly reducing energy costs.
Safety and convenience are the two key reasons for getting a motorized blind system — which controls your blinds at a touch of a button. The system appropriate for your blinds depends on the type of product you choose. Some systems raise and lower window treatments and adjust slats, vanes and louvers, while others move the window covering from side to side, rotating vanes and louvers. New solar-triggered technology can sense when blinds need to be opened or closed based on the suns rays. Apps on your laptop or tablet allow you to remotely control blinds from anywhere.
3) Moisture Resistance
Most modern blinds are water resistant, but some materials are more resistant than others. Wood blinds are treated to handle moisture, but Faux Wood excel at very humid areas like bathrooms.
4) Outdoor Treatments
Obviously, not every blind is going to be appropriate for outdoor decks or porches where they will be exposed to the elements. Ask your consultant to recommend specialty screens that can be raised and lowered according to the weather.
5) Warranty & Repair
Quality materials and design means less headaches down the road. Look for companies that stand behind their products for a lifetime. And should anything go unexpectedly wrong, consider how likely you will be able to get it repaired locally. Many online and budget retailers don’t offer repair facilities in Victoria, meaning you will face extensive delays if you have to have a blind repaired.