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Blinds or Shades? What’s the Difference?

Blinds or shades – what’s the difference? The main difference is that a blind is a “hard” window covering made up of individual slats that are joined together, whereas a shade is a “soft” window covering that is made in one solid piece. Read on to find out some further differences as well as which is better for your particular needs. If you would like some free advice to help you choose between blinds or shades, contact the window treatment experts at Graham’s & Son for a no-cost, in-home consultation.

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blinds or shades

“Let me start by saying, I love my window treatments!  Mr. Graham was very professional, easy to talk to; he talked with me, not above me, I was at complete ease.  He listened to my thoughts, went through my options, and just like that – decision made.  The installation crew was quite professional, friendly and efficient.  They were in and out in no time, with cleaning up after themselves, and ensuring that I was satisfied with what was done.  I would highly recommend Graham’s and Son Interiors to anyone, and I look forward to working with them again!”
Anne Allen
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Blinds or Shades? What is the Difference?

Blinds or shades? Many people think that these two words are synonymous, but actually, they are different.

What Exactly are Blinds?

Horizontal aluminum blinds
Source: Horizontal aluminum blinds

Blinds is a term that many people use quite generically to refer to many different types of window treatments.

Hard Window Covering: The term blinds actually refers to “hard” window coverings. The term “hard” refers to the type of material used to construct blinds. The materials used to make blinds have a hard or bumpy feeling to them so that is why that term is used.

Popular Materials Used to Make Blinds: There are many types of materials used to make blinds. The most popular ones include:

  • Wood
  • Faux-Wood (made from a composite wood and man-made materials)
  • Woven Wood (mad from Grass or Bamboo)
  • Metal
Horizontal aluminum blinds
Source: Horizontal aluminum blinds by Hunter Douglas

Made of Slats Joined Together: Blinds are made up of individual slats or vanes which are joined together. As the blind is lowered, the slats tumble down and as it is raised, they neatly stack up on top of each other.

How Blinds are Raised and Lowered: Blinds are traditionally raised and lowered by using a manual pull cord, however recently, other methods such as a wand or automation have been developed to operate blinds to make them safer around children and pets.

horizontal blinds
Source: Horizontal blinds by Hunter Douglas

Light and Privacy Adjustments: The slats themselves can also be adjusted or tilted at various angles to let you determine the amount of light that you let in. There is usually a tilt bar located on the left side of the blind that is used for making the adjustments. For complete privacy and light control, the slats can be fully closed.

Horizontal or Vertical: The slats on blinds can be either horizontal or vertical. Horizontal blinds are usually better on smaller windows whereas vertical blinds work well on larger windows and patio or French doors.

What Exactly are Shades?

Soft Window Covering: Unlike blinds, shades are a “soft” window covering. The term soft also refers to the type of material used to construct the shade. The materials used to make shades have a “soft” or smooth feeling to them so that is why that term is used.

Popular Materials Used to Make Shades: There are many types of materials used to make shades. The most popular ones include:

  • Natural Fabrics (cotton, jute, seagrass)
  • Synthetic Fabrics
  • Paper (often with a decorative motif, picture or painting)
Natural fibre shades by Graber
Source: Natural fibre shades by Graber

Made of One Piece of Material: Unlike a blind, which is made of individual slats, a shade is made from one continuous piece of material. The exception to this is the popular cellular shade, which is made of two pieces of material joined together front and back with space in between the pieces. This creates an effective insulation barrier.

How Shades are Raised and Lowered: Shades are either drawn up and down by cords, rolled up with a spring device, lifted by hand as with a cellular shade or automated to open and close by a touch of a button on a controller or your mobile device. Some shades are designed to have top-down and bottom-up raising and lowering.

cellular shades
Source: cellular shades by Graber

Light and Privacy Adjustments: Although you can’t adjust the levels of lighting like you can with a blind, you can choose to have your shades made with a material that gives you the level of light filtering that you want. Sheerer fabrics will allow for more light while opaque will block more light. You can also have a room darkening liner installed behind your shade that will give you more lighting options.

Horizontal or Vertical: Traditionally, shades have only been designed to open and close horizontally, however, there now are some types of cellular or honeycomb shades that are vertically aligned so they can be opened from side to side like a vertical blind. These types of shades are great on larger windows and patio or French doors.

Duette Honeycomb shades
Source: Duette Honeycomb shades

Blinds or Shades? Which One Is Best for Your Situation

For The Most Light Control:

If you want or need extra privacy and light control, then blinds offer you the most flexibility. For example, in a room where you are watching TV or are working on your computer, you will need to eliminate bright sunshine at times so you can see the screen better. Blinds can be tightly closed to block out more light than shades will. If you really prefer the look of a shade in these rooms, then you could consider installing a room darkening liner behind your shade.

For the Most Privacy:

Blinds also give you the most privacy because they can be tightly closed. For bedrooms and bathroom where you want more privacy, blinds may be your best choice. If you prefer the look of a shade though, you could choose a darker, opaque material or get a light darkening liner to go with it.

Roman shades by Graber
Source: Roman shades by Graber

For the Most Energy Efficiency:

Shades such as cellular or honeycomb designs will give you the most energy efficiency possible. Their special design actually traps hot or cold air at the window thus providing excellent insulation. On a colder day in winter, a cellular shade will allow you to take advantage of the sun’s radiant heat while blocking out the cold air outside. The reverse effect happens during the summer months where this type of shade will allow natural light while keeping the cool air trapped inside. If you are planning on purchasing new shades, it is a good idea to get them at the beginning of a season such as the beginning of summer to get the most energy efficiency that year.

For the Best View:

Roman shades can remove a rather large portion of viewable space from your window because the fabric on a Roman blindfolds into itself so that when it is fully raised, there can be a significant amount of fabric stacked at the top of your window. Blinds or other forms of shades other than Roman blinds will give you a more unobstructed view.

Roman Shades
Source: Roman Shades by Graber

Blinds or Shades? Come to Graham’s & Son

If you are looking to purchase blinds or shades for your home, come to Graham’s & Son. Graham’s & Son Interiors has over 40 years of design experience serving the Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo, and surrounding regions. We firmly believe that each of our clients deserves “superior design concepts, top-of-the-line materials, and timely project management.” That is why our satisfied customers gladly recommend us to their friends and family. Our customers have been so pleased with the high standard of our work that they selected us for the “Best Business Service – Interior Decorating: Platinum” and “Best Shopping – Kitchen Renovations: Gold” awards in the 2017 Cambridge Times Readers’ Choice Competition. Book a free in-home consultation today and find out for yourself why Graham’s is the best in the interior design business.

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2017 CT Reader's choice award platinum 2017 READERS Gold Black

Find out for yourself why Graham’s & Son Interiors are Southwestern Ontario’s premier interior decorators. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation. If you prefer, you can shop at home. Browse through our website, make your choice and simply give us a call at 519-658-9025 to place your order without ever having to leave the comfort of your own living room. 

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Right now is the perfect time to purchase vertical blinds as we are offering an amazing buy 2 get one free deal on all of our blinds, shades, and shutters.

Buy Two Blinds, Shades, Or Shutters & Get One Free!



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