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Types of Blinds and Shades

Before you even start to think about color or material, it’s important to narrow down which type of window treatment will work for your space. Here you will find a list of some of the most popular types of blinds and shades.

Blinds are window treatments made of horizontal slats. Raise or lower the slats using a cord or a pull chain.

Curtains come in a huge array of choices. Often confused with draperies, curtains are usually unlined window coverings that can be hung over windows using a curtain rod.

Draperies are made of heavier fabric than curtains, and they are often lined for enhanced energy efficiency or light blocking power. Draperies and curtains can both be motorized.

Shades is a catchall term to refer to pleated shades, Roman shades, roller shades and more. Shades can be adjusted manually and work well as motorized options.

Plantation shutters can be made of wood or faux wood and are used on both the interior and exterior. Plantation type shutters open out into the room and can be either half-window or full-window size, but cannot be motorized.

Blinds and Shade Styles

Roman Shades – Soft fabric folds characterize these elegant shades. The pleats or folds are created when the shade is raised.

Café Curtains – Also referred to as tiered or kitchen curtains, café curtains usually cover the bottom half of a window. This style is excellent for a window near a dining table or by the kitchen sink to allow a view outside.

Valance – Valances are decorative window treatments that dress the top of a window. A chief benefit of this style is that they can hide unsightly hardware.

Blackout Curtains – Excellent for children’s or media rooms, blackout curtains are heavy, lined curtains that block out the light. This also means they are fairly energy efficient.

Cellular Shades – Characterized by an unusual honeycomb shape, these multilayered shades trap air inside of the honeycombs, making them energy efficient.

Types of Windows

Of course, windows come in just as many styles and varieties as blinds and shades. Understanding what your windows are called will help you converse with your contractor, designer, or salesperson on equal footing.

Awning Windows are top-hinged windows that open outward. Most often their width is greater than their height. A benefit to this sort of window is that is can provide additional ventilation.

Hopper Windows are the opposite of awning windows and hinge at the bottom and open into the inside. These are most commonly found in basements.

French Doors are often used as patio or interior doors and divide spaces between two similar rooms. Glass panes provide a visual connection between the two spaces.

Casement Windows attach to the window frame at the side and open out. A chief benefit is that they may provide an uninterrupted view of the outside.

Bay Windows are actually a set of three windows. The middle window is a picture window, flanked by two smaller windows on the side. The window panes may lie flat in modern homes, while a more traditional bay window might bow out.

Transom Windows, or fanlights, are windows placed directly above a door. These ornamental small windows were historically used to allow more light into the home.

Slider Windows open horizontally are usually wider than they are tall. They are a perfect space saving solution and are popular in hard to reach areas.

Window Treatment Hardware

Now that you know which type of blind you want for your transom (or awning or bay) window, you’ll need to understand how to install them. Today’s window treatments come in a wide variety of styles and functionality. Whether you appreciate an industrial flare, or understated simplicity is more up your alley, there is a hardware set up that will work for you.

A Tension Rod, as the name implies, uses tension to support itself. One of the most-user friendly window treatment hardware options out there! No drilling or fastening is required.

Holdbacks are decorative metal or wood curtain rods that usually have a medallion at each end.

Molly Bolts are wall anchor plugs with elbows that attach at each end of a curtain rod.

Brackets are the metal pieces attached to the wall that support a curtain rod.

Drapery Hooks or pins are often S-shaped hooks used for hanging drapes from a rod.

Center Draw Rods are those curtain rods that interlock in the center.

Window Treatment Material

Window treatments come in every shade and texture imaginable, from apricot to zebra print. But if you’re not an expert, the difference between damask and gingham may elude you. Before you start your window treatment project, know some of the frequent fabric options.

Lace is a fine and delicate fabric with an open weave that lets in light and air. Lace is usually paired with another fabric type when we are talking about window treatments.

Linen is made from flax. It is a smooth, soft fabric that is often blended with other materials such as cotton, silk, or polyester.

Gingham is a cotton or cotton-polyester blend that is characterized by small checks. It is a fun, casual material ideal for kitchens.

Boucle is an intentionally rough and chunky material made from thick-stitched yarn.

Polyester, the familiar synthetic, is easy to care for and may be blended with cotton for a more natural feel.

Chenille is thick and luxurious, with a dense pile. It holds in the heat, so it may not be an ideal choice for warmer climates!

Voile is often used as the filmy under-treatment beneath curtains or drapes. It is breathable and allows light to filter through.

Basic Terminology

Arch Window
Arched windows are a popular way for builders to make a dramatic design statement. While arched windows are commonly found over the front door and in kitchens, they’re also used in family rooms over standard windows. Wood blinds and cell shades can be custom fitted to the exact measurements of your arched window for an inside mount.


Bathroom window treatments
When choosing bathroom window coverings, you’ll need to keep the material in mind. The best bathroom window treatments are those that are resistant to both moisture and heat. That way, they won’t warp when you use the shower.

Faux wood is a great option because it is less likely to warp when compared to real wood.
Metal blinds should also be considered. They won’t warp, fade, or bow because of heat or humidity, and they’re extremely easy to clean.
Top down/bottom up shades are a popular choice for bathrooms. You can open the top of the shade to allow light to come through while keeping the bottom closed for privacy. It’s the best of both worlds!


Bottom Rail
The bottom rail consists of a thicker slat at the bottom of the window coverings. It holds and secures all the cords and ladders and makes it possible to raise and lower the blinds. The material used to create the bottom rail will either match or coordinate with the rest of the window covering.

Box Bracket
Horizontal coverings are mounted using a box bracket, which mounts either to the inside of the window frame or outside the window. Once the box bracket is installed, the window covering will slide right in.

Braided Ladder
Usually made of strong polyester, the braided ladder runs vertically through the slats. It helps control the raising, lowering, and tilting of the window covering.

Center Support Bracket
The center support bracket is for horizontal coverings that are too wide to adequately support the weight with only the two end brackets. For example: faux wood is heavier than real wood, a center support bracket might be required to make sure they’re secure.

This refers to the depth available for an inside mounted window treatment. Typically, horizontal blinds require a greater clearance than a window shade. Door blinds normally have a small clearance and often require you to use an outside mount.

Cloth Tape
Cloth tape is a decorative piece of fabric that is mounted over the ladders on horizontal window coverings. This can be used to further customize the look and style, to cover unsightly corded ladders, or to cover those small pinpricks of light that come through.

Continuous Cord
A Continuous cord loop is used to raise and lower a window covering. The cord is looped inside a cord tensioner, and the cord tensioner can then be securely installed on the wall. This keeps the cord taut, which is safer for children than dangling cords. Operating a continuous cord loop is easy. Pull on the cord in one direction to raise the shade and then in the opposite direction to lower it.

Control Length
The control length is how long the lift and tilt are, which is usually half the length of the window covering.

Cord Lock
The cord lock is the mechanism used to lock the window coverings in place when they’re being raised and lowered.

Cord Tilt
If your window covering has a cord tilt, you can expect two cords – one to tilt and one to raise and lower. When the cord tilt is pulled, it tilts the slats open and then closed.

A cutout provides a space in the window covering for an obstacle, like a door handle, a window crank, or even for crown molding. This is most often used for door coverings.

End Cap
End caps cover the ends of the headrail and bottom rail and are color coordinated to match the color of the window coverings.

Extension Brackets
Extension brackets are used when your window frame protrudes too far for the standard outside mount brackets to fit properly. Adding extension brackets, which are L-shaped, will provide extra clearance and depth so your window coverings will fit perfectly.

Head Rail
The headrail is found at the top of the window covering, and it’s used for two purposes:

1. Mounting -
Roman Shades are mounted directly to the window frame by screwing in the headrail to the mounting surface.
Horizontal blinds are mounted by inserting the ends of the headrail into the box bracket and then snapping the bracket shut.
Cellular shades, also known as honeycomb shades are mounted by snapping the headrail into a mounting bracket.
2. Operation
The ladders are attached to the headrail and work with the lift mechanism to let you raise and lower your window coverings.


Hold Down Brackets
Hold-down brackets allow you to hold the bottom rail in place. It’s typically used for window coverings that tilt open rather than raising or lowering. They’re also commonly used for door blinds so you can use the door without having the window treatment swing off the door each time it’s used.

Inside Mount
Inside mount means the window coverings are mounted inside the window frame.

These are used for outside mounting when it’s necessary to extend the headrail out from the wall. This gives you enough clearance to properly mount and operate the window coverings.

Ladder Grommets
Ladder grommets are metal clips that are compressed on the ends of the ladders on horizontal coverings. They are used to level the covering and are attached to the bottom rail, which helps you raise and lower them.

Lift Cord
The lift cord is located on the side of the window covering and makes it possible to raise and lower them.

Loop Ladder
This is the braided ladder used in routeless or the No-Holes privacy option, which can be found on both wood and faux wood blinds. The front and back of each ladder have loops that the cord is laced through, enabling you to raise and lower them.

Multiple blinds/shades on one headrail
2 or 3 window coverings can be mounted on a single headrail. This is a great option if you have an extremely wide window and you want to keep the window coverings lightweight. Each blind/shade will work independently, but you’ll still have a unified, streamlined look with the shared headrail.

No Holes Privacy
The no holes privacy option eliminates those tiny route holes in standard window coverings. This gets rid of the pinpricks of light that come through, giving you more light and privacy control. Instead of the corded ladders running through the middle of the slat, there are notches on the back of the slat where the cords run through. You still get the same functionality, but you will have a more streamlined look.

Outside Mount
Outside Mount means the window coverings are mounted outside the window frame.

Projection refers to the distance between the wall and the front of the mounting bracket. This will determine if the window covering will clear the window frame during operation.

With blinds that are outside mounted, there is a gap on the sides which makes the ends of the headrail visible. When this occurs, we include a return to cover that gap. The return attaches to the side of the valance and will match perfectly.

Return L Bracket
This bracket is used for mounting the returns to the face of the valance. It can be made from either plastic or metal.

Roman Fold
The roman fold refers to the specific fold used for roman and woven wood shades. When raised, these shades will fold from the bottom as they move their way up, almost like an accordion.

Route Hole
Route holes are the little holes in the slats of horizontal-blinds and pleated shades. These holes allow the lift cord to attach to the window covering.

The routless feature is known as No Holes Privacy. The standard route hole used in a horizontal blind allows tiny pinpoint of light to filter through your window blind. The hole is not really an issue, and will not bathe the room in light, but if you want as much sun blockage as possible, then choose the No Holes Privacy option for your window blind. Each slat has a notch cut into the edges for the lift cords to attach to for the raising and lowering of your horizontal blind. An added advantage is that you can remove each slat for cleaning as desired.

Stop Ball
The stop ball is a circular piece that joins all the lift cords together at the point they come out of the headrail of horizontal blinds. This stop ball keeps the lift cords from tangling and helps them to operate in unison as they’re raised and lowered.

The valance is a decorative piece that covers the headrail of both blinds and shades.

The valance is a decorative piece that covers the headrail of blinds/shades.

Valance Clip
If the valance is not attached to the headrail at the factory, then it can be attached with valance clips. In many cases, these installed valance clips can be kept out of sight.

Wand Tilter
The wand tilter is used to tilt the slats open or closed. When turned in one direction, the slats open. And when the wand tilter is turned in the opposite direction, the slats close. The wand tilter can also be placed on either side of the covering during the customization process.