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Blinds & Shades Technical Tips

The ultimate “how-to” guide for buying window coverings - shades, blinds and shutters

Frugal is in, and you can save a lot of money by buying direct from the source, instead of paying the high retail mark-up.
This guide is meant to empower you, so that you can choose the best window covering for your home amid all the attractive but confusing options. Best of all, we'll show you how to choose from the comfort of your home. The window covering industry is highly competitive, offering a wide variety of brands for a limited number of choices.

Aluminum blinds are very popular for businesses, because they look more professional and help to keep costs down. People often call them "mini blinds", but they are not always "mini", and some half-size blinds than "mini" are even smaller, often called "microminis". And some have larger slats, as deep ad two inches. The most common colours for aluminum blinds are white and gray, but you can find them in almost any colour to match the rest of your home decor.

Wood blinds are a stylish and classy covering that give your windows and your rooms an air of luxury. You will usually find them with two-inch slats, but one-inch and 2" slats can also be found. Wood blinds are usually made from basswood, which is very light weight and easy to manoeuvre. However, some are made from a variety of light oriental hardwoods as well. These light weight woods work well for large windows especially, because they put very little stress on the headrail across the top.

Fauxwood Blinds are composite material usually made from PVC or plastic but can include some wood. They are very popular because they are durable and easy to clean. They are especially good for areas that may be exposed to moisture as they do not warp easily. However, they are substantially heavier which can be a problem when you have larger windows to cover. Many manufacturers will recommend that you split the blind into two or three parts on one common headrail for larger orders to prolong the life of the blind.

Vertical Blinds are most often used for floor-to-ceiling coverings, and are usually made of PVC (although there are some made of wood). They typically feature 3 ½" slats. These are by far the most popular option to use with sliding glass doors. They can be drawn to either side of the doors, or to both sides. They can even be drawn to the middle of the doors if that is preferred. Vertical blinds tend to be quite durable and surprisingly light weight. Because they are made from PVC, vertical blinds are easy to clean and of course warp-resistant.

If the vertical blinds are for doors, which open and close, you need to make sure that the blinds are secure. The blinds should be ordered for an outside mount, along with hold-down brackets to protect them from swinging wildly each time somebody opens or closes the door. You will find that smaller slats work best on door applications, because blinds with larger slats might interfere with opening and closing the door. Smaller one-inch slats keep the depth of the blinds to a minimum.

For Doors that open and close you want the blinds to be secure. You will need to order the blinds in the outside mount style and can secure them to the door. Blinds can be mounted with hold down brackets to keep them from swinging away from the door when opened and closed. Blinds with smaller slats are recommended on door applications because larger blinds may interfere when opening the door. The smaller slats on 1" blinds keep the depth of the blinds to a minimum.

Another thing to keep in mind when placing an order for blinds that will cover a door is the location of the tilt control and the lift control. You will want to have the controls for the blind on the side of the hinges and not the handle. They can get in the way and become a nuisance if they are near your door handle when you are trying to come in and out and gravity makes them less likely to get in the way of the hinge.

If you are interested in the roll up window coverings, consider several more choices like cell/honeycomb shades and/or bamboo shades. All of these products do offer differing levels of light to come through and come in a variety of different looks. They are a great way to give your home a unique look instead of the usual white coloured blinds that most people put in their windows.

When planning to cover a door with blinds, make sure to order the controls for the blind on the side of the hinges, and not on the handle. When on or near the handle, the controls can interfere with using the door. Due to gravity, the controls are less likely to interfere with the hinge.

You also have a number of roll-up options to cover your windows. For example, you might like cell/honeycomb shades and/or bamboo shades. Covers like these allow various amounts of light through, and of course, they have very different appearances. Choosing something a little different can give your home a unique look, creating a personalized decor apart from the plain white blinds you'll find in so many other windows.

Bamboo and Woven wood shadesare the hottest trend in window coverings today. These will give your home a dash of style, and give you the look of being up on the latest trends. They come in several varieties of bamboo and wood, in many different natural tints. Ask for some samples before buying, so that you can see what hues work best with the rest of your decor. You will also want to choose between the roman fold style and the roll up style. Just keep in mind that they still cover a fair amount of the top of your window, even when pulled all the way up.

Roller shades are window coverings that can be opened by rolling the shades up on a cylinder that runs above a window. They come in vinyl, cloth and a sheer weave material. The vinyl blocks all light from coming through and come in several colors and textures to match most home decors. They are very inexpensive and therefore remain popular.

Cellular shades/honeycomb shades are a great way to block UV light from coming through the window and they even provide extra insulation, because of the air pockets they contain. R values (resistance to heat flow) vary, but you should expect a 3 to 5 R value in wintertime (keeping out the cold) and a 2.8 to 4 R value in summertime (keeping out the heat). The lower the number, the less heat transferred, which means a cooler room in summer and a warmer room in winter. Honeycomb shades are usually made from a stain-resistant poly cotton fabric, offering various levels of transparency, from highly translucent all the way to black-out. The black-out versions are ideal for home theatres or night shift workers who need darkness to sleep during daylight hours. You can choose from a wide variety of colours, and from cells of 1/2", 3/8" and 3/4". Just ask, and we'll send you free samples to view in the comfort of your home. You can decide which size will work best in your home.

Specialized areas of your home may be best suited for specific types of window coverings. For example, you might find that blinds on door windows flop around quite wildly when the door is used. The blinds can easily be damaged, and so can the door. Your best bet for door windows is a wood blind or aluminum blind with one-inch slats or a cellular/honeycomb shade. They are not bulky, so they won't make opening and closing the door awkward. Plus hold-down brackets usually come with these types of coverings, but ask for one with your order (just in case). That will prevent all the flopping and bouncing whenever the door is used. Make sure to install the tilt cord and the lift cord on the side of the door next to the hinges. Otherwise the cords will swing out and into the way as people pas through the doorway.

Sliding glass doors are another special case requiring a special blind. As we have already noted, the most common window covering for sliding doors is the vertical blind. These usually come with 3 ½" slats and can be drawn aside to the left, the right to both sides at the same time, or gathered together in the middle. Make sure that you place the blinds in such a way that the handle of the door does not interfere with them.

Wet environments are yet another special case. For instance, blinds for bathrooms and kitchens need to be warp resistant. Anything made from PVC or plastic, such as faux wood blinds, will withstand damage much better than wood blinds. Although wood blinds are usually treated with a coating to resist moisture, that coating won't last forever and the wood can warp anyway. Another option would be aluminum mini blinds, which a lot of people choose just because they cost less.
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