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Blinds & Shades Technical Tips



How to guide for buying window coverings, blinds and shades.


Bargain hunters everywhere are learning that they can save lots of money by buying from the source instead of paying high prices to get products from retailers who have to cover their overhead. The following is some information on how you can select the best window covering for your home from what can be a very confusing industry. Even better, you can do it all from the comfort of your home. The window covering industry has quickly become very competitive. Because of this there are a variety of names for a limited amount of choices.

Aluminum blinds are very popular in business offices. These are commonly called MINIBLINDS but they do come in the smaller ½" size known as MICROMINIS and larger 2" slats. These are a very inexpensive way to cover a window and although the common colors are white and gray they can be found in a variety of colors to match the interior of your home.

Wood blinds are a very stylish way to cover you windows and dress up the interior of your home. They are most commonly in the 2" variety but also come in 1" and 2 ½". Most wood blinds are made of a very light weight wood called basswood. They can also be found in a variety of oriental hardwoods. This material is perfect for large windows because they do not put undue stress on the headrail (mechanism that raises and tilts your blind).

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 usually made of PVC and come in the 3 ½" size. You can also find some that are 3 ½" and made of wood. They work great with sliding glass doors because they can be drawn in several ways. They can be drawn to either side both sides or even stack in the middle. They are fairly durable and surprisingly light weight. Vertical Blinds are pretty easy to clean and warp resistant.

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.

Bamboo and Woven wood shades are the hottest trend in window coverings and are a great way to give your home some style. They come in several different varieties of wood and have several different earth tones to choose from. For this reason it is important to try to get your hands on some samples to make sure that you find the perfect shades They can be retracted in either the roman fold or roll up style. When fully retracted they still occupy a lot of space. This may something to consider if you are looking for window covering that are out of site when not down.

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 usually made from a poly cotton fabric that has been treated to be stain resistant. They are a great way to block UV light from coming through and even help with insulation. R values (resistance to heat flow) can vary from one manufacturer to another but you can get between a 3 to 5 R value for winter and from 2.8 to 4 in the summer. R values for summer measure the amount of heat that comes through the window and the lower the number the less heat that is transferred which means a cooler room. These shades also offer differing levels of transparency all the way to black out which is ideal for home theatres or those who sleep during the day. There is an almost endless selection of colours and you can even choose different sizes of cells. They come in 1/2", 3/8" and 3/4" cells. We'll send you free samples so that you can see for yourself which cell size you like the best.

Specialized areas of your home may be better suited for specific products. For example, blinds for doors with windows that need covering can be difficult. You do not want your blinds bouncing around every time you go in or out. It can damage the blind and the door. In that case you should consider either a 1" wood blind or aluminum blind or a cellular/honeycomb shade. They usually come with hold down brackets for the bottom but it is a good idea to request them. That way when the blinds/shades are down they will be secure. These are also good choices because they are not bulky and will not make it awkward to open and close the door and can fit between the door and the door handle. You also need to keep in mind the location of the tilt and lift cords on the blinds so that they are on the side of the door next to the hinges to prevent them from swinging out and getting in the way of the door when opening and closing.

Blinds for sliding glass doors are another special case. The most common window covering is the vertical blind. These are usually 3 ½" per slat and can be drawn to either side, to the middle, or to both sides. Keep in mind the location of the sliding glass door handle and the size of the blinds stack so that they can be moved out of the way to operate the door.

Blinds for wet environments such as blinds for bathrooms or blinds for kitchens should be very warp resistant. Your best bet are faux wood blinds, as they are made from PVC and will not be damaged like hard wood blinds. Most wood blinds are treated with a coating to resist water, but eventually they will break down when in continual contact with moisture. You can also consider aluminum miniblinds.
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