Wondering About All the Different Types of Window Blinds? Here’s a Quick Reference Guide:
Window blinds have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Although they are essentially coverings for windows that are typically attached to the interior side of windows, they have become much more. Today, they are not only used from functional purposes, but as key design elements in interior design. They not only must contribute to the visual design of a room, but they also reduce sunlight, deliver light control, insulation or energy efficiency, privacy, beauty and views on demand.
There are an ever growing number of blinds on the market today. The major categories are covered below:
Because of their tremendous utility and beauty, Venetian blinds have a long history. They were used in Italy, France and England as early as 1700 (possibly earlier), and came to America by 1761 (St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia).
Venetian blinds have horizontal slats, one above another, which are suspended by strips of cloth called tapes, or by cords. The cords allow all the slats to be rotated through nearly 180 degrees in unison. The slats can be rotated so that they overlap with one side facing inward and then in the opposite direction such that they overlap with the other side facing inward. By varying the rotation, the slats can be adjusted to many angles to control light.
There are also lift cords passing through slots in each slat. When these cords are pulled, the bottom of the blind moves upward causing the lowest slats to press the underside of the next highest slat as the blind is raised.
Venetian blinds are often made of metal or plastic; wooden slats are sometimes used but these are usually referred to as wood blinds or bamboo blinds. The shape or the slats can be curved, flat, or even elliptical.
Mini blinds are Venetian blinds with very narrow slats, about 1″ wide (usually 25 mm wide). Micro blinds have 1/2″ wide slats (usually 12 mm wide).
Mini blinds are perfect for smaller windows and long narrow windows, or when a finer sun-filtering effect or stylistic effect is desired for a large expanse of windows.
Faux or Vinyl Blinds
Vinyl mini blinds are actually made from PVC (poly vinyl chloride plastic). The slat’s surface can be smooth or embossed with a wood grain. When embossed with a wood grain, they are called faux wood blinds. Today there is a wide color selection as well as different textures to choose from.
PVC or faux blinds are very durable, UV resistant, waterproof, and simple to clean. They are an excellent choice for damp areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. The main drawback with faux blinds is the weight of the slats. PVC slats are heavier than both wood and composite slats and when used with large windows, they can make raising the blinds a difficult task. They also tend to bow when used on a large window.
Composite blinds are made from a combination of wood products and polymers. They are durable and economical, but are somewhat heavier than wood. The slat surface with composite is a smooth poly coating or even a solid composite material.
Similiar to PVC, the color selection these days is quite good, with many wood tone and stain colors available. Composite blinds are affordably priced, in the low to mid range. They have qualities similar to PVC and faux, and are some of the best available.
Wood blinds are actually Venetian blinds, but are made 100% from wood. They work in the same way that Venetial blinds work – a number of horizontal wooden slats are joined together by corded pulleys which can either gather all the slats at the top of the window to open up the view or simply angle the slats while allowing some light to travel through the blind yet retaine some level of privacy.
Wooden blinds come in a number of finishes (determined by the type of wood used, which ranges from painted to most types of solid oak varieties) and sizes.
Both value (budget) and premium wood blinds are made from real wood. The value wood blind slats are made from assorted Oriental hardwood, and the premium slats are made from American hardwood, which is normally Basswood.
If you plan to match a cabinet or trim stain, wood blinds are your best choice. Wood blinds are among the best, although they are also among the most expensive. All wooden slats can warp if exposed to moisture and may fade in color over time, however, today’s finishes are more durable than ever. They are also the lightest material available and work very well with large windows.
Vertical Blinds are usually made up of wider slats than venetial blinds and are hung vertically instead of horizontally. They operate in virtually the same way as their horizontal counterparts (i.e. instead of being drawn upwards to reveal the window, they draw to one side, gathering in a vertical bunch).
They can be made of wood, faux wood, vinyl, fabric or fabric attached to PVC.
Cellular Shades (also know as Honeycomb Blinds) get their name from their shape which resembles honeycombs (individual cells glued together). From the side, they have the look of a honeycomb.
Cellular shades are very energy efficient shades. They get their energy efficiency from the pockets of air that the cells create. They come in light filtering fabrics as well as room darkening fabrics. There are several configurations these shades come in: standard corded, continuous cord loop, top down/bottom up, and top down only. They are often used as a softer alternative to Wood blinds (Venetian blinds).
Bamboo shades have a rustic, natural elegance that exudes warmth and beauty. They are very versatile as they come in roll down, Roman shade, or side to side styles, allowing them to be used indoors for windows and French doors, or outdoors for patios. Their usefullness and look can’t be beat for greenhouses and conservatories. They hold up well both vertically and horizontally, even for large windows because they are relatively lightweight.
Bamboo shades are made from thin bamboo slats wowen together with cord and can provide complete privacy or an airy, slightly see-through look, depending on the styling.
Today, blinds for many different needs are available. You can get hardware with remote control motorization as well as solar shades that come up with the sun. Super insulated blinds and shades are available for cold climates as well as the lightest of sheers. There is a vast array of colors, fabrics, materials and functions to choose from.
Since they were first introduced, window blinds have proven to add invaluable style, beauty and functionality to the home. They have undergone great tecnological advances in the last decade to offer solutions for every need. By choosing the best window treatment solution for your home and your needs, your home’s interior design can be greatly enhanced by your window blinds.