Blinds vs. Curtains vs. Shutters vs. Shades Comparison: What’s Best?

What to use on your windows: blinds, shades, shutters, curtains? Let us help with our detailed comparison article for blinds vs curtains vs shades vs shutters.

Living room nook window with no window treatment

Window treatments aren’t always easy to select. In many cases, any of the four main window covering options are blinds, shutters, shades or curtains will do. How can you possibly choose?

One way is to compare each of the window covering options to one another in order to get an idea of the pros and cons of each. We’ve set out a few of these pros and cons below. Price is an important factor in selecting window coverings, as well as any personal preference you may have. The style of your home may influence your window treatment decision, also. While the decision of which window covering to use in your home is ultimately yours, there are a few factors to keep in mind during the selection process.

Related: Types of Blinds | Blackout Curtains vs. Blinds vs. Window Films | Types of Curtains | Types of Soundproof Curtains | Types of Shutters | Online Blinds and Shutters Stores | Window Shade Ideas | Types of Window Shades

Blinds

Kitchen window with blindsWindow blinds use a mechanism that allows the user to raise or lower them easily and quickly. Blinds are made of many slats, which can be made from vinyl, faux wood, wood, bamboo, or aluminum. The slats present in window blinds not only raise and lower, they can be tilted open to allow more light to enter the room, or tilted closed to block light and keep outsiders from being able to see into the home, also. Blinds do a wonderful job of blocking out any light from the outdoors and keeping a home’s interior private, but these type of window treatments only come in a few colors. For this reason, many homeowners choose to install window blinds as well as curtains, to soften the appearance of the blinds and better incorporate the window treatments into the home décor.9

Blinds are the best option for those who want to have a lot of control over their windows; namely, over how much light or visibility is allowed through them. Window blinds do not help to insulate a home, but they are ideal for use on windows of all sizes. Since blinds come in both horizontal and vertical options, they can be used on windows and even on sliding doors.

Pros

  • Window blinds are generally much less expensive than other window treatment options, and there is usually no discernible difference in quality between budget blinds and other, more expensive window blind choices.
  • Blinds offer amazing light control and allow users to quickly and easily adjust the amount of light coming into a room.
  • Window blinds resist moisture damage, making them ideal in all types of rooms, especially kitchens and bathrooms.
  • These window treatment options are easy to wipe down with a dust rag and don’t need to be vacuumed or taken down to be washed in the way that some other window covering options do.
  • While blinds options with cords can be quite dangerous around small children, there are cordless options available to purchase and use. However, this feature may come with an increase in cost.

Cons

  • There aren’t very many design choices available when it comes to window blinds, and the strong lines of blinds don’t appeal to all aesthetics or tastes.
  • Metal, wood, and bamboo blinds can be quite noisy when opened or closed, which can be irritating and/or disturbing.
  • Dust quickly accumulates on their slats, so blinds requiring regular dusting. This is especially true if anyone in the home suffers from allergies.
  • The closing mechanism on window blinds can easily be damaged if not used correctly.
  • Hanging strings to raise and lower blinds can pose a safety hazard for small children, so they must be stored out of reach of little explorers.

Shades

Dining room with window shadesThese window treatments consist of a soft panel of fabric that attaches to a frame or a rod at the top of a window. Shades actually fit inside the frame of a window. This fit can help create neater lines, which can keep your home from appearing messy or visually busy. Like curtains, window shades come in many different colors, materials, widths, and lengths. This makes it fairly easy to find shades that not only perfectly fit the window space but also match the interior design of the home.

Shades must be raised in order to let light into a home or to give the ability to look through a window. Raising shades occurs when the shade either rolls around itself or folds up accordion-style. Roller shades can be very inexpensive, but more expensive options are also available, if that’s more your style. Pricier shades include the tie-up shade, the balloon shade, and the Roman shade, among other window treatment types.

Shades are ideal if you have windows that are not standard size. This is because shades can easily be custom-made to fit a window. Shades are also preferred for those who want to lower their heating and cooling costs, as cellular shades in particular do a wonderful job of insulating a home and keeping warm or cool air trapped inside it.

Pros

  • Shades come in many colors and are ideal for blocking out outside light. From light shades that allow diffused light into the home to room darkening options that make it possible to sleep even during a sunny day, you can easily find a window shade that will meet your every need.
  • Window shades are incredibly durable; high-quality shades will last for years before needing to be replaced.
  • Window shades do not have long cords that can pose a risk to small children or animals.
  • It’s very easy to use a shade, as most rise once given a simple tug at the bottom. A shade will quickly pull back down with very little effort.

Cons

  • In general, shades are a more expensive option than other kinds of window treatments, especially blinds or curtains.
  • Stacking shades will block much of a window when opened, as the fabric will stack into a pile at the top.
  • Shades must be cleaned regularly. Roller shades are susceptible to developing mold, especially when used in rooms like kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Opening shades is the only way to let light into a space, and once the shades are open, there isn’t any way to control the amount of light that comes into your home.

Shutters

Wooden window shutters with natural wood details.  Source: Home Depot

Shutters are some of the most attractive window treatment options available. They can greatly improve the appearance of any room in a home. Window shutters not only decorate a home and complement its décor, they also protect against the damaging effects of the sun’s rays on the things inside a home. Shutters help keep furniture pieces, carpet, and pieces of art from fading and/or discoloring. They are available in many different materials, but their design is essentially the same. Slats made from wood, plastic, aluminum, or faux wood are mounted into a strong frame that is then installed on a window. Most window shutter options are painted white, as this color reflects heat and helps keep a home’s interior cool. However, wood shutters are generally left their natural color to showcase the beauty and grain of the wood used to make them.

These window treatments are generally installed in homes that need protection from the sun and the heat of the day, as they do an awesome job of protecting a home while still ensuring that its windows look stylish. Shutters also help reduce energy consumption in a home. Unfortunately, shutters also typically come with a much higher price tag than other window treatment options, as they are often custom-made to fit a given window. Shutters are preferable for use in homes where owners are willing to commit to a specific window treatment, and owners who desire extreme control over the light that enters a room.

Roller shutters are also an option for the exterior of a home. These window treatments grant excellent temperature control inside a home and can save thousands on home energy bills. Especially popular in Australia, roller shutters are attached to the outside of a window and prevent UV rays from the sun from getting through the window and turning into infrared light. This is a definite benefit, as infrared light can heat up a room to unbearable temperatures.

Interestingly, many Australian consumers are choosing to install roller shutters on the outside of their home for security, temperature control, and noise and light control. Shutters are the ultimate solution for heat and light in hot climates like that of Australia. This guide on roller shutters in Australia explains in great detail the vast benefits roller shutters can provide homeowners.

Pros

  • Window shutters can last for years, are incredibly stable, and won’t warp or change shape.
  • Shutters add additional protection against intruders trying to break into a home through its windows.
  • Shutters are easy to cleaned from any dust that collects on them, and they can quickly be wiped down with a dust rag.

Cons

  • People with a smaller budget will not be able to afford high quality shutters, as these window coverings are quite costly to have made and installed.
  • Shutters need to be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure that they look their best. They also need additional maintenance every once in awhile. This maintenance consists of tightening the slats to ensure that they are in position and haven’t begun to loosen.
  • Shutter slats and shutters stay in place at all times. This naturally obstructs the view from a home. For owners who want to be able to open their window treatments and easily see outside, usually shutters are not the best choice.

Curtains

Living room window with curtainsThese panels, also known as drapes, are made of fabric and come in many different colors, patterns, widths, lengths, and types of fabric. This makes it easy to choose the window curtains that will most improve the appearance of a room or home. Curtains work well in any room in a home – even kitchens!

Curtains or drapes are hung from a rod. The rod can be either decorative or plain, depending on the appearance desired or aesthetic of a room. In addition to choosing a rod and type of curtain, consumers need to decide how they want the curtains to be hung from the rod, as there are many different methods for hanging curtains. These window treatments can be attached via rings, grommets, or even a sleeve of fabric that has been folded over at the top and then sewn to create a loop, which the curtain rod then goes through. Curtains can brighten up a space or act as a more neutral force in the room.

Curtains are best suited for rooms where a lot of light-blocking power is unnecessary, as even thick curtains that claim to be room darkening, or even lined curtains, are generally not thick enough to do a great job of blocking out all the light from the sun or street lamps. Yes, this even includes blackout curtains.

Pros

  • It’s easy to match the décor of a room to its curtains (drapes).
  • Curtains come in a wide variety of prices, making them ideal no matter how much money you have to spend on your window treatments.
  • Curtains not only give a room a very cozy look, they can actually help hold heat in a home during a cold winter.
  • There are no mechanisms for operating curtains that can be damaged or cause injury to children or animals who are playing with them.

Cons

  • Curtains take up more space than other treatments, such as blinds, do. This can make a room look smaller than it is.
  • Curtains are susceptible to mold in humid rooms such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • If not cleaned regularly, curtains can hold a lot of dust. This can be problematic for people with allergies or asthma.

Frequently Asked Questions about these Four Types of Window Treatments

What is the difference between a window blind, shade, shutter, and curtain?

A window blind is made from a series of slats, which typically use a cord to raise or lower horizontal blinds. Some types of blinds include the Venetian blind, the Roman blind, roller blinds, and vertical blinds. The slats in a set of window blinds can also be tilted to allow more or less natural light into a room.

A window shade is composed of small panels of fabric that raise and lower using pushing up or pulling down motions. Unlike blinds, they cannot be tilted to allow in more or less natural light. Shades must be raised or lowered to let in more or less natural light, which makes them a less versatile window treatment option.

A window shutter is a durable, energy efficient, but often expensive, window treatment option. These window coverings are similar to blinds in that their slats can usually be adjusted to allow more or less natural light into a room.

Window curtains are available in a wide variety of colors, materials, and sizes. There are also many different methods of hanging curtain panels. Most curtains, even if they are described as room darkening, are lined, or even are not described as sheer curtains, allow some amount of natural light into a room where they’re hung.

Which is the best option for room darkening?

The best window treatment option for room darkening is the window shutter. However, these window coverings can be the most expensive of these different window treatment options.

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