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

Should you get blinds, shades, shutters or curtains for your windows? Not an easy decision. Let us help with our detailed comparison article for all these 4 main window treatments and coverings.
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Living room nook window with no window treatment



Window treatments aren’t always easy to choose.  In many cases, any of the 4 main options being blinds, shutters, shades or curtains will do.  How do you choose?

One way is to compare each and get an idea of the pros and cons of each, which we set out below.  Price is a big factor as well as any personal preference you have.  The style of your home may dictate your decision.  While the decision is ultimately yours, below we set out in detail the pros and cons of each type of window treatment.

Poll: Do you prefer blinds, shutters, shades or curtains?

Blinds

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

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

Pros

  • Blinds are generally much less expensive than other window treatment options, and there is usually no discernable difference in quality when you choose budget blinds over more expensive choices.
  • They offer amazing light control and allow users to quickly and easily adjust the amount of light coming into a room.
  • Blinds resist moisture damage, making them ideal in all types of rooms, including 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 options do.
  • While options with cords are very dangerous for small children, there are cordless options that are available. Of course, this may come with an increase in cost.

Cons

  • There aren’t very many design choices available, and the strong lines of the blinds don’t appeal to all people.
  • Metal, wood, and bamboo blinds can be very noisy when they are opened and closed.
  • Dust will quickly accumulate on the slats, requiring regular dusting, especially if anyone in the home suffers from allergies.
  • The closing mechanism can easily be damaged if it is not used correctly.
  • Hanging strings cause a safety hazard for small children and need to be stored out of reach.

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. They actually fit inside the frame of the window, which can help create neater lines and keep your home from appearing to be messy, if that is a concern. Like curtains, they come in many different colors, materials, widths, and lengths, making it fairly easy to find shades that not only perfectly fit your window space but also match the interior design of your home. Shades have to be raised in order to let light into the home or to be able to look outside, and this is accomplished by the shade rolling around itself or folding up accordion-style. Roller shades can be very inexpensive, but more expensive options are available. These pricier shades include tie-up shades, balloon shades, and Roman shades.

Shades are ideal if you have windows that are not standard-sized, as you can easily have shades custom-made to fit your windows. Shades are also preferred if you want to lower your heating and cooling costs, as cellular shades in particular do a great job of insulating your home and keeping warm or cool air trapped inside.

Pros

  • Shades come in many colors that are ideal for blocking out the light. From light shades that allow diffused light into the home to room-darkening options that make it possible to sleep during the day, you can easily find shades that will meet your needs.
  • They are incredibly durable, and high-quality shades will last for years before needing to be replaced.
  • There are no long strings that can put a child or a pet at risk.
  • It’s very easy to use shades, as most will go up with a simple tug at the bottom, and 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 a lot of the window when opened, as the fabric will stack into a pile at the top.
  • They have to be cleaned regularly or roller shades will be at risk of developing mold in a damp bathroom or kitchen.
  • Opening the shades is the only way to let in light, and once they 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 and can greatly improve the appearance of any home. They not only decorate the home and complement the décor but also protect against the damaging effects of the sun’s rays and help keep furniture, carpet, and art from fading and becoming discolored. They are available in many different materials, but the design is the same. Slats that are made from wood, plastic, aluminum, or faux wood are mounted into a strong frame that is then installed on the window. Most options are painted white, as this color reflects heat and helps keep the home cool, although wood shutters are generally left their natural color to showcase the beauty and grain of the wood.

These window treatments are generally installed in homes that need protection from the sun and the heat of the day, as they do a great job of protecting the home while still ensuring that the windows look amazing. They also help reduce energy consumption in the home. Unfortunately, they come with a much higher price tag than other options and are often custom-made to fit the window, which increases the overall price even more. They’re preferable for use in homes where owners are willing to commit to a window treatment and who want extreme control over the light that enters the room.

Pros

  • They can last for years, are incredibly stable, and won’t ever warp or change shape.
  • Shutters add additional protection against intruders trying to break into your home through the windows.
  • It is easy to clean 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 they are very costly to have made and installed.
  • They need to be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure that they look their best, and they also need additional maintenance from time to time. This consists of tightening the slats to ensure that they are in position and haven’t begun to loosen.
  • The slats and shutters stay in place all the time, and this naturally obstructs the view from the home. For owners who want to be able to open their window treatments and easily see outside, shutters are not the best choice.

Curtains

Living room window with curtainsThese panels are made of fabric and come in many different colors, patterns, widths, lengths, and types of fabric, so you can easily choose ones that will most improve the appearance of your home. They work great in any room, even kitchens. They are hung from a rod, and this can be either decorative or plain, depending on the appearance that you want for your room. In addition to choosing the rod and type of curtain, users need to decide how they want their curtains to be hung from the rod, as the can be attached via rings, grommets, or even a sleeve of fabric that has been folded over at the top and then sewn. They can either brighten up a space or act as a more neutral force in the room.

Curtains are best suited for rooms where you don’t need a lot of light-blocking power, as even ones that claim to be room-darkening are generally not thick enough to do a great job of blocking out all the light from the sun or street lamps.

Pros

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

Cons

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







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