The Wonderful World of Window Treatments: Find Out The Difference Of Each Type
Windows without any type of covering look stark and uninviting. Most homeowners opt to use some sort of window treatment–but how to choose? A comparison of several types of window treatments will help you to make an informed decision on which type you should get.
Know the Difference Between Curtains, Drapes, Shades and Blinds
All four of the main types of window coverings give you light and heat control, some sort of privacy level and when layered can help your window treatments last longer as well as your home furnishings by blocking the bright UV rays from the sun. In each of the categories, you will find many variations and styles from which to choose. In addition, all window coverings can fit with your home decor and style, although some may be a better choice than others may for you.
What are the 4 Different Types of Window Treatments?
The four main categories of window treatments are curtains, drapes, shades and blinds. Within each of the categories, you have a multitude of different choices from which to choose to find the perfect window covering for each and every room of your home. Read on to find out all the specifics of each type.
We all have heard the term curtains and each person has a different product that comes to mind when they hear the word. That’s because there are several types of curtains that are readily available on the market.
What are Curtains?
Curtains are the prepackaged and pre-made window coverings that you find in big box stores or online at many retailers. Most are made of lightweight fabrics and they are designed to add some character to your home. Curtains install on the outside of the window frame, may cover the entire window, a portion of it, or consist of a valance and a half curtain called a cafe curtain. They may just cover the length of a window and end at the bottom of the frame or they can be full length and end just above your floor.
Curtains are often sold in pairs as curtain panels, which require two panels per window and open in the middle of the two. You can find cafe curtains with a valance that is most often used in kitchens.
Curtains are usually installed on the outside of the window frame and hung from a rod. The rod may be covered up entirely with the fabric in the rod pocket style at the top of the panels, or it may show through as in a tab top panel heading. You have other options to hang them as well, such as metal grommets, fabric or metal rings, or the most common method of a rod pocket at the top or on the back of the panels.
When Should You Use Curtains?
Curtains are available in delicate prints or solid colors and you can find a design that will go with just about any decor you have. Curtains are at a low price point and are often used by renters in homes and apartments because they can find a different choice when they move to another abode that will match that home’s color scheme and palate.
Curtains are often used in smaller windows, such as a kitchen or bathroom, especially if they don’t get a lot of light in the windows. Curtains are easily replaceable if they happen to get splashed with liquids or food in the kitchen area or with water repeatedly in the bathroom. If they happen to become moldy or mildewed from a “wet” area, you can simply replace them.
If you already have blinds or shades in your windows, lightweight curtains are a good choice. They can add texture and color to solid color blinds and shades when you use them in layering window coverings. When you take this approach and the window blinds or shades are often closed as well as the curtains, the curtains can actually promote longer life in the blinds and shades. They won’t need dusting as often and the blinds and shades will be protected from children and pets who can often wreak havoc on them in mere seconds. In this instance, you can simply take the curtains down off the curtain rods and give them a shake outside to remove dust from them. Some curtains can also be washed and dried at home, but you need to read the label thoroughly for the instructions because you wouldn’t want to launder them and then they don’t have the original appearance anymore.
If you use curtains and layer them with blinds or shades in your bedroom, remember that they don’t block all the light out because the fabric is usually thin and it doesn’t have a backing on it. Therefore, if you take naps in the daytime or you want to sleep in late one morning it may be too bright in your bedroom to do so.
Colorful curtains can add a lot of interest to any room and contrast with other fabrics and textures in your textiles. Interesting patterns can liven up any space and you can choose sheer curtains to add femininity and softness to a room as well.
When are Curtains Not the Best Choice?
In some instances, curtains may not be the best choice for your home. The largest factor that determines this is size. Homeowners should be advised that there are no “standard Sized” windows. Windows are an architectural feature and they can be really huge or very small and in a specialty shape, such as a circle, a half-moon, or any other shape you can possibly imagine.
Store-bought curtains only come in a limited number of sizes in both the width and the length. If there is too little fabric in the width of curtain panels, there will be no fullness and your window covering will appear as a flat piece of fabric, which is really not attractive. You should shoot for the width of your curtains to be at least 1.5 times the width of your window. The length is also very important. Curtains that just cover a large window and end at the bottom of the window frame look like a mistake. The best length for curtain panels is to have them about a half-inch off the floor. Pooling on the floor adds a lot of glamour, but the bottoms will also tend to get dusty or dirty from opening and closing them. Pooling bottoms are also subject to having threads pulled and the seams falling out on your store-bought curtains.
The manner in which you hang your curtains can also look odd. When you hang the curtain rod barely over the top of the window frame, cuts off the openness in the room and reduces the amount of light that shines in when they are open or partially open. The hanging width makes a difference too so as not to limit your view. When your curtain panels are open, there should be no more than 2 inches of fabric inside the window frame on each side.
#2. Drapes or Drapery Panels
Drapes or drapery panels are usually made from thicker fabrics than store-bought curtains. In many manners, they are similar to curtains. You can purchase pre-made drapes or you can have custom-made draperies.
What are Drapes?
Drapes are often found in pairs as drapery panels. Drapes are usually lined on the back so they are thicker and block more light than curtains. There are blackout styles of drapes that are often used in bedrooms for complete darkness to aid in sleep habits. Drapes are usually floor-length and they may even stretch from the ceiling to the floor in some cases. Drapes are often made of fabrics that are somewhat stiff, such as luxury materials like damask, silk, or velvet.
When you purchase pre-made drapes from a store, they are most likely a solid color, although you may be able to find a patterned drape if you do your research first. The top of drapery panels are often pleated across the width to contribute to the formal appearance of this type of popular window treatment. Draperies may be hung on a drapery rod, rings, hooks, or grommet as well as a rod pocket.
When Should You Use Drapes?
The thickness of drapery panels lends itself to some great characteristics. Drapes are really good at insulating and soundproofing rooms because of the thickness. Thick thermal drapes with a heavy liner are also great for reducing your heat loss in the winter and keeping drafts next to the window while not letting them enter a room. This results in great energy efficiency. Since thick draperies create a dampening effect for noises of all types, homeowners who live near railroad tracks, busy highways, or any type of industrial factory will be pleasantly surprised at the quietness they can provide.
The soundproofing in the heavy fabrics also will work wonders in a media room, so that you can concentrate and hear what you are watching on your theater television without any interruptions from noises. Drapes work well to help dampen the noises from your landscaping crew when they are cutting the lawn and weed whacking around trees and flowerbeds.
Drapes give you a formal appearance like no other window covering. Curtains are considered very informal and casual in their style. Drapes are more formal in their functions and their appearance. Drapery panels work very well in formal dining rooms and living rooms when you entertain guests. This doesn’t’ mean in any way that you can only use them in formal settings. When you pair drapes with blinds or shades in high quality, they can add a bit of formalness to any room without looking out of place as the shades and blinds will lessen the formality in the room.
When are Drapes Not the Best Choice?
If you happen to find drapery panels that are unlined, and there are some out there, you should probably steer clear of those. The same is true for store-bought drapes with very thin linings. When you hang unlined fabric in a window that receives a lot of sunshine, the UV rays will fade your fabric on the back, which will eventually show through on the front. A beautiful elegant red will turn into an awful orange and keep in mind that the darker the color is the more likely it will fade and be really noticeable, such as navy blue, dark brown, black and dark green. Any colors on the darker spectrum will fade faster than lighter colors, such as tan and while.
Drapes aren’t the best choice for damp areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. The thicker fabric doesn’t hold up well with humidity and it will lose its shape very quickly. Your beautiful pleats on the header may appear as if they are falling out and the pleats won’t extend downward on the drapery panels as intended. Kitchens are the area where most homeowners want the most light to come in. It helps to see well with natural light when you are cooking or cleaning, so a sheer window treatment or a cafe-style curtain may be a better choice in a kitchen window.
If you have any specialty-shaped windows, drapes will most definitely not be pre-made to fit them. In this case, you will most likely want to have custom window treatments so that you can choose your product and have it fit perfectly to highlight this architectural feature in your home.
Window shades are available in a huge selection of styles, colors and patterns from which to choose. Purchasing them pre-made rather than custom-made gives you fewer choices, but there are still some great shades available for your home.
What are Shades?
Window Shades are not quite as common in homes as blinds are, but they are a great window covering. They are popular for blocking light and increasing your privacy. There are now advanced fabrics for shades and many types from which to choose from.
Shades are a streamlined choice in window treatments as they mount inside of the window frame for a low profile appearance. When shades are lowered, you can have complete privacy and even a blackout backing so you can have great control in light and heat gain.
Shades are made from a fabric panel and attached to a rod or frame at the top. They are sold individually and come in a range of colors, materials, widths and lengths to fit inside the window frame. Unlike drapes or curtains that may be floor length or at least hang lower than the windowsill, shades will only touch the windowsill. To open or close shades you simply grasp the center bottom rail and raise them up to open them to any height you wish and to close them you lower them to any height. There are different styles of shades with different lifting mechanisms.
Roller shades roll the fabric onto a roller at the top of the window when they are open. Roman shades pull up into beautiful deep pleats whereas balloon shades open into poufs of fabric that looks like balloons. Tie up shades fasten with a fabric tie to hold them open. You can find a style of shades to compliment any decor you may have. Shades are dressy enough on their own when you choose beautiful fabrics, but many homeowners choose to pair them with sheer curtains on top or a cute valance at the top of the window. You can add a pop of color, a beautiful pattern, or texture to any space with shades.
When Should You Use Shades?
Shades work well in just about any space. The thicker fabrics and linings give you good privacy and light control, which will make them a great choice for bedrooms, media rooms, living rooms and home offices to block glare from screens of all types and give you privacy at the same time.
For kitchens, you may choose a sheer fabric that will block the glare but still allow you a view of the outdoors even when they are down. If you have a bathroom where privacy isn’t a concern because no one could see inside anyway, you may choose a type of shade to give you a pop of color in an otherwise monochromatic room.
When are Shades Not the Best Choice?
If you have windows that are very tall or behind a piece of furniture, such as a couch, then shades may not be your best bet. Skylights don’t work well with shades either. In any of these instances though, if you truly want to use shades, you can add motorization to them so you can open and close them with the touch of a button.
Blinds are traditional window coverings that are used widely around the entire country in homes and commercial spaces. Window blinds are available in several different styles to meet your needs.
What are Blinds?
Blinds are built with a headrail at the top with adjustable slats from top to bottom that attach to a bottom rail. They mount inside the window frame and need to fit in width. However, if they happen to be longer than your window the excess of the slats and the bottom rail rest on the window sill so you can still use blinds that are too long for any window.
There are several types of blinds available on the market today. The least expensive are the aluminum mini blinds, which are popular because of the cost. The first mini blinds were only available in off-white or white, but now, due to their popularity, you can find aluminum mini blinds in many different colors to add a brightness to your indoor spaces. Aluminum blinds can also be repaired if the slats happen to break.
Hardwood and faux wood blinds are very beautiful and elegant. You can see the wood grain as it is highlighted by the color of stain or paint that you choose. They look identical to each other, but the faux wood blinds are at a lower price point.
Vertical blinds work very well for large windows and sliding glass doors. The slats or vanes are vertical instead of the traditional horizontal blinds. They are easy to open and close and you can even customize them by adding a beautiful fabric to the vanes. Vertical blinds are very durable and made to last for many years.
When Should You Use Blinds?
Window blinds work well in almost any space of your home or office space. Not only can you open or close them fully, or partially, but you can rotate the slats or vanes to any position to have complete lighting control. This allows you to let light inside while deflecting it off any type of screen you are using so the glare is reduced or eliminated, making it easier to see without eye strain.
When you are installing blinds in any space, you don’t have to use all the same kinds of materials or the same colors throughout your entire home. You can also pair them with curtains or drapes for even more light control when both the window coverings are closed. Blinds make an exceptionally great first layer in window treatments to build upon.
When are Blinds not the Best Choice?
Kitchens and bathrooms are areas in your home of high humidity with hot showers steaming up the bathroom mirrors and boiling pots of food that steam in the kitchen. High humidity areas don’t do well with hardwood blinds because of the natural properties of wood, which tend to warp or break in moist areas. In your bathroom and kitchen, you can opt for aluminum or faux wood blinds instead so they will be durable and long-lasting.
This comparison of the four main types of window treatments should help you to decide which type will be best for you in any situation. Remember that you can mix and match hard treatments, such as blinds and shades with soft treatments, such as curtains and drapes for a professional layering effect. Store-bought items may work well for you or you may decide to have custom window coverings so they will fit perfectly and look beautiful.