When thinking of upgrading your home's appearance with new custom window treatments, there should be some thought given to meeting needs as well as style considerations. Do you know the difference between a blind and a shade?
Generally, blinds have louvers or slats that tilt open and closed. With the exception of a couple of unique products, shades are either raised or lowered without any tilting of louvers that can be seen through.
There are different categories of light control in most brands and types of window treatments. The four main types are:
This is the choice for you if you want simple, elegant style without concern for insulation. This type of treatment will provide a "sense" of privacy, having something between you and the fishbowl of untreated windows, but it should be apparent (or transparent, if you will) that they can be seen through.
Many of these types of shades will still be rated to provide some UV protection, so they are indeed better than nothing at all.
2. Light filtering.
This is a great choice for common rooms where you will still want to illuminate the room with plenty of natural light, while still providing privacy and insulating qualities. These are also known as semi-opaque.
You can expect complete privacy inside the home during the day, but a well lit room may show through some silhouetted images at night.
3. Light blocking.
This choice is for those who want to dim a room significantly with a shade that is between the denser ends of semi-opaque to very opaque. Many of these types will still let in some light, but only enough that you will probably still have to flip on a light during the daytime when this treatment is closed.
Many day-sleepers would prefer a shade like this. This is about the level of light blocking you should expect from a tilted closed wood or faux wood blind, but even with blinds, keep in mind that a darker color slat will darken the room more than a white or light stain that sunlight will bounce off of – tilted open or closed.
4. Room darkening.
Like the name implies, this is what you want if you need a dark room. Perfect for a media room to create that movie theater experience and also good for day-sleepers or baby nurseries. Or, if you’re like one customer I had, it was perfect for converting a game room into a Frankenstein laboratory complete with a life-sized model of a Frankenstein monster on the operating table!
Be advised that in most applications, an inside mount room darkening shade will still let through light, seemingly pronounced at the sides of the shade. The tightest allowances are on cellular shades. Roller shades will have looser allowances (letting more light in the sides) to allow for mechanisms and the spooling of material as it is raised and lowered.
There are other options that are available on most window treatments that can provide more control of the light introduced at the windows. Top-down/bottom-up is a fantastic feature that allows for the shade to be closed, but then opened from the top-down. This will give you a view to the sky and the treetops, but still provide privacy and insulation on the lower portion where you are walking around.
Lifting systems such as traditional drawstrings, cordless, continuous cord loop, retractable drawstrings and remote-control options complete with iPad or Android integration are also ideas to consider for the more tech-savvy homeowner.
About this Angie’s List Expert: Jonno Epstein is the owner of Delightful Blinds, providing window treatments in San Antonio. Since 2003, Delightful Blinds has specialized in window fashions, enclosed blinds, shutters and much more. You can follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @DelightfulBlind and on Google+.
As of March 5, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.