The Homeowner’s Guide to Window Treatments


Introduction to Window Treatments

Window treatments and coverings are more than just an aesthetic choice to add to your overall home decor, and they can be just as important as your actual windows. Window treatments also provide a number of different benefits for your home. Each type of treatment or covering comes with its own pros and cons, and the type that is best for your home will depend on several factors, including type of window, intended use of the room, and amount of light that best suits the room, in addition to pricing. This guide is meant to inform you of many of the different possible window treatments that are available, as well as list the pros and cons of each so that you can make the most educated decision when it comes to renovating your home.
We will also talk about the types of window treatments that best suit different types of rooms and the special types of windows that require additional consideration before making your purchase. With different types of windows come different types of treatments that are specially made to consider any of their unique functions as well as the planned use of the room. Wood blinds or other types of horizontal blinds, for example, would not necessarily be suitable for sliding doors that people would regularly be walking through, and heavy cloth curtains that retained water would not be fitting for bathrooms, kitchens, or other spaces that see lots of water and humidity. This guide will help you evaluate how much light each room in your home needs and how the everyday use and function of the room will affect the type of window treatment needed, as well as the best treatment or covering for the types of windows you have.

If you would like to know more about window treatments, their uses, pros and cons, and the best fit for different windows and different rooms, talk to one of our knowledgeable and friendly staff members, and please contact us at (813) 254-4066 — or keep reading!

Types of Window Treatments

The type of window treatment you choose depends on how you intend to use the room the windows open into, and how much light you will need in the room. For example, a family room or a living room usually requires more natural light and less privacy than a bedroom or a bathroom, so semi sheer curtains or blinds usually work the best for these kinds of rooms. A bedroom, particularly a baby’s room, for example, benefits from both natural light and total darkness, meaning curtains that are with blackout material in the lining that are easy to tie out of the way are often a very good option. This section of the guide will briefly cover the most common types of window treatments that are the most likely to be useful in any home.

Curtains are pieces of fabric that hang from wall mounted rods or clips. They come in all different kinds of materials, from cotton to polyester to silk and woven tapestry. Panel curtains, particularly those with blackout material as the lining, are made of thicker fabrics that are fairly solid; with their heavy, tightly woven-together threads and fibers, they are great for blocking out light, even during the day, and they provide a higher level of privacy.  Sheer curtains are semi-transparent and provide moderate privacy while allowing a larger amount of natural light into a room than panel curtains. Sheer curtains usually work best in living rooms, dining rooms, and other gathering spaces. Panel curtains go well in TV rooms, bedrooms, and any other room you’d like to keep the light out of. A combination of panel curtains and sheer curtains are popular choices for bedrooms, as this collaboration allows for both total darkness and lots of natural light that can be easily controlled to suit the occupants.

Blinds are a type of shade that has either horizontal or vertical slats that are strung together on cords that are pulled to retract them. These slats are most often constructed from wood, plastic, or metal, and the blinds themselves can be operated either manually or automatically, controlled with the touch of a button on a remote. Mini blinds and Venetian blinds both use slats that are oriented horizontally and are strung using ladder cords to be pulled up and down and rotated to provide maximum control over the amount of light in the room. Mini blinds are usually made from aluminum, and the slats are less than half the width of the slats used for the more traditional Venetian blinds. Venetian blinds, or wood blinds, are much thicker in width and give a room a fuller, more old-world sort of feel. Vertical Blinds are most often used for windows that cover a wide expanse and doors that see a lot of movement through them, such as sliding doors or windows that are opened frequently. Rather than a ladder-like pulley system, vertical blinds usually run on a raised track that stacks the slats off to the sides rather than at the top, allowing the blinds to be passed through below quite easily.

Shades are another type of fabric window covering. Roman shades fold evenly into themselves, and they hang flat and smooth in a window to block light, creating a different feel to the textured appearance of blinds. Roller shades are similar in design to Roman shades in that they also hang flat and smooth in a window; however, rather than folding in on themselves like Roman shades, roller shades do exactly what the name implies and roll up, instead. Honeycomb shades or cellular shades are made of soft, paper-like or cloth-like materials, and are constructed with cells that run along the width of the shade, reducing the heating or cooling effect of the window on the room by trapping the air around it within the cells of the shade.

Shutters are a type of window covering that are generally made of harder materials, and they can be implemented in both the interior and exterior of your home. Louvered shutters are popular for interior window coverings, and they have a somewhat similar aesthetic look to blinds, with horizontal slats that allow for control of the temperature, light, and air flow in a room. Functional shutters are most often used as protective window coverings for the exterior of a home, often resembling a door with paneling and a hinge at the edge of the window, though non-functional shutters are also popularly used to enhance the appearance of a home.

Window valances are a mostly aesthetic choice of window treatment that covers the very top of a window. Either hung alone or with curtains, valances are most commonly used to conceal drapery hardware that may be unsightly or fail to fit with the overall decor of the room. Valances are handy for distracting the eye from architectural flaws, such as windows installed at different heights, and for tying the decor of a room together by matching or contrasting the upholstery of the room.

Energy Efficient Window Treatments

Windows are the number one reason for temperature transfer in homes, cooling rooms in winter and heating them in summer by convection heat transfer – the glass panes reflect the temperature of the outdoors, and they transfer that temperature into the air that is in contact with those glass panes inside your home. This can cause your home heating and cooling system to have to work even harder to properly heat or cool your home, driving up your energy bill as well as harming the environment. With the right type of window treatment, however, you can minimize the temperature transfer of windows in your home, significantly lowering the cost of your energy bill and contributing to the preservation of the earth. Below you will find just a few of the energy efficient window treatment options for preventing both heat loss and heat gain in your home.

With their layered cellular design, honeycomb shades are among the most energy efficient window treatments. Honeycomb shades trap air in each of their cells, reducing air movement and in turn the transfer of heat energy. Double-pleated honeycomb shades have been shown to prevent the loss of energy at the same rates as ⅛ inch sheets of rigid insulation foam. Roller shades and Roman shades are also quite effective at energy loss prevention, so long as they are installed as close to the window as possible and extend all the way to either edge of the window to tightly seal it. Buy shades with one dark side and one light, reflective side, and change their orientation to suit the season; during the summer months, the light side of the shade will reflect light and heat, and during the winter months, the darker color will absorb them.

Both interior and exterior blinds are effective for reducing unwanted heat gain in your home, especially if they are reflective (meaning they are white or near white). When closed and fully lowered, white or near white blinds can reduce unwanted heat gain by nearly 45 percent. Exterior blinds are particularly effective at blocking heat gain before it even reaches the window, but they can be very difficult to install over a window that has already been built, so it is best to include them in plans for new buildings rather than renovations.

Medium-colored drapes with white plastic backing are the most effective window treatment for reducing both heat loss and heat gain. The darker colors absorb light and heat in colder months, while the reflective white backing has been shown to reduce heat gain by as much as 33 percent on sunny days. The key to energy efficiency is creating an effective seal between the window and the room, so make sure to install the hardware from a cornice or even the ceiling, and buy drapes that will reach all the way to the floor and fully cover the window end to end. Thermally lined drapes are best suited for homes in colder areas, whereas drapes with blackout lining are best suited to homes in warmer climates.

Window Treatments for Sliding Doors

Sliding doors can be tricky to effectively cover, simply due to the high frequency of their use. Curtains and drapes, though pretty, can get in the way and cause mobility issues, as well as risk being damaged themselves if they are not pulled out of the way properly. Because sliding doors open vertically, it is more often than not best to use window treatments and coverings that also open vertically. Luckily, there are a huge variety of window treatment options for sliding doors that do not interfere with their everyday use. Below you will find several of the most widely used window treatment options for sliding glass doors that will not interfere with movement through them.

Vertical Blinds
As mentioned earlier in this guide, vertical blinds are the easiest and most popular window treatment for a sliding door. Vertical blinds are among the easiest vertical window treatments to clean and install, and are generally one of the most affordable options for covering sliding glass doors. They also offer a lot of control over how much light is allowed into a room thanks to slats that are rotatable.

Vertical Honeycomb Shades
One of the most cost effective and energy efficient styles of window treatments and coverings on the market are the honeycomb shades, or cellular shades. The hollow structure of the cells of these shades traps air and creates a barrier between the glass of the windows and the rooms within the home. Many honeycomb shades are oriented horizontally, but vertically oriented honeycomb shades are widely available and are perfect for sliding doors, as they open and close effortlessly in the same direction as the door. Because a majority of heat loss and heat gain is through windows, and because sliding doors are often quite large, installing a vertical honeycomb shade is one of the best ways to combat climbing energy prices and keep your home at a comfortable temperature without breaking the bank.

Sliding Panel Track Blinds
Among the more upscale, modern options for window coverings that are compatible with sliding doors are sliding panel track blinds. These window coverings are large, wide panels that can be made of stretched fabric or harder materials, such as woven wood, that are suspended from a track directly next to the tracks for the sliding doors themselves. These panels slide along each of their respective tracks, and stack neatly at one end or the other of the sliding door. Sliding panel blinds are also very popular among DIY home renovators, as they are very effective room dividers and very easy to install.

Window Treatments for French Doors

With their latticed patterns and old world style, French doors and French windows ooze class. Finding the right type of window treatment or covering that is both stylish and functional can be a tough balance to strike, however, since the coverings can hinder the use of the door handles, and vice versa. Problems can also arise because of the shallow depth of the windows, meaning there are no cornices from which to hang window treatments or coverings, and from the jostling of the window treatment whenever the door is used. To combat these issues, make sure to install the window treatment outside of the borders of the window, buy shallow blinds or other treatments that fit between the door handle and the windows, and utilize hold down brackets at the bottom of the door or windows to keep the jostling to a minimum.

Blinds come in a variety of widths and materials, and most blinds come in slat sizes of 1-inch or ½ inch widths – the perfect size to fit just behind that pesky door handle. Blinds allow homeowners the most versatility in controlling the amount of light that a room receives, thanks to the ability to angle the slats accordingly. Venetian style wood blinds are a classic style that offer homeowners a wide range of stains and finishes, though faux wood blinds are more resistant to warping and moisture damage – and cost considerably less than natural wood. Aluminum mini blinds most often come in slat widths of ½ inch, making them an even easier fit behind the door handle than its competitors. The aluminum makes these blinds both light and durable, meaning they can stand up to the wear and tear of everyday use on a door.

Because they hang flat and are only as wide as the fabric from which they are made, shades are also very good window treatment options for French doors. Roman shades are great choices for shallow windows and doors since they can easily be installed above the borders of the French windows, and many include blackout fabric options for maximum light blocking. Honeycomb shades, as mentioned before in this guide, are powerhouses of energy efficiency in a home, and with their slim, snug fit against windows, they are an impeccable choice of window treatment for a French door. Both honeycomb shades and Roman shades come in a rich variety of colors to choose from, as well, making either a great choice

Window Treatments for Bay Windows

Bay windows are a lovely element in any home, but finding the right window treatment for them can be both aesthetically and functionally difficult. Because of the angles of the walls in which the bay windows are set, curtain rods and other, more traditional window treatment hardware will not always fit or function properly for bay windows. There are, however, some tips and alternatives for installation in this guide, along with suggestions for the window treatments themselves.

Outside mounting, or installing window treatments outside of the borders of the window, is the most classic and easiest way to ensure that your window treatments are both aesthetically pleasing and fully functional. Hinged curtain rods with elbows that bend and swivel are the easiest to fit into bay window spaces. Curtains and draperies especially look best when they are hung as close to the ceiling as possible, with no more than an inch or two between the curtain rod and the crown molding. If, however, you are going for a more unique look, or are forgoing curtains or draperies for alternatives like mini blinds or shades, inside mounting is not impossible with bay windows – simply find hardware with smaller headrails that fit into the alcoves of the windows.

Window Treatments
Long, flowing panel draperies are a stylish, classic look for bay windows, and the options for fabric color, print, and weight are virtually endless. Silk panels that are gathered at the sides will give your bay windows a stylish, traditional look, and long drapery panels that hang straight will create a wonderful framing effect for the bay window area. Roman shades are an elegant solution to controlling levels of light, and they are easily paired with curtains or drapes framing the windows. A well-color-coordinated valance will draw the eyes up, giving the whole room a sense of height and unity. Because bay windows are often quite large, it is possible to combine several types of window treatments and coverings for a balance of functionality and good taste. As mentioned before, Roman shades in each of the bay windows works well with long drapes on either side, where the windows begin to bay; Venetian blinds would also work with this type of framing with long drapes. A valance that matches or sharply contrasts the drapes on each window is another classic, traditional look for a home, or a valance paired with blinds and drapes can create a funky, unusual look.

Window Treatments for Large Windows

There is no such thing as a window that is too big – we love natural light and good views, and the bigger the window, the more natural light we get. Large windows, however, can pose a problem when you need to block out some or all of that natural light, especially if the large window or windows are in a bedroom.
Venetian blinds, particularly wood blinds, are lightweight, meaning they will not put unnecessary strain on the walls after installation. The slatted style of this type of window dressing makes it easy to control how much light enters through the windows, no matter how large. Venetian blinds are much more affordable than other types of wood window dressings, such as shutters, and are easy and relatively inexpensive to have custom made.

Vertical blinds are another great choice of window treatment for large windows, as they stack neatly to either side without obstructing the view when open, yet can block out the light from a window very effectively when fully closed. Many are made of highly durable vinyl, but some companies do offer vertical blinds made of fabric, as well, for those looking for even more customizable options.

Honeycomb shades, the household champion of energy efficiency, are also easily customizable to suit large windows, and considering how much temperature transference happens even with smaller windows, installing a honeycomb shade on your large windows is a decision that is sure to save you money in the long run.

Roman shades, especially those made of cloth, are yet another lightweight, easily customizable option in window treatments for large windows. You can either have one custom-made large enough to cover the window on its own, or you can install several side by side and use multiple colors or patterns to enhance the look of the room.
Solar shades are roller shades made of perforated vinyl that still allows some light in; these window treatments are good for reducing glare, especially the glare to which west-facing windows are particularly prone. They tend to work best in rooms that do not require blackouts, or in conjunction with other types of window treatments that can fully blackout a room, such as a Roman shade or drapes.

Window Treatment Pricing

Window treatments and coverings are as varied as the people who own them, and this variation extends to cost, as well. Most would assume that window treatments for an entire room, much less a house, would cost an arm and a leg, and in some cases they would be right – but window treatments are not expensive in and of themselves. There are several factors that massively impact the cost of window treatments and coverings, and with the right combination of these elements, you can dress the windows in your home for far less than one would assume. Below we have outlined the main factors that would affect the pricing of window treatments so that you know your options.

The type of window dressing you choose has a great deal to do with the final cost of dressing your windows. Shades are the cheapest option, though there is a lot of variance in pricing due to the quality of materials used – the general rule of thumb is the longer it will last, the more it will cost. Blinds are the next most affordable style option, though the widely varied prices appear again due to the cost of materials, such as hardwood versus aluminum. Shutters will generally cost more than shades or blinds, and curtains and drapes will generally be the priciest option – though again, pricing will vary based on the other factors listed below.

The square footage of the window you are dressing will massively impact the cost of the window treatment. Most treatments are sold by the panel, rather than the square foot, but regardless of what kind of window treatment you are considering, you will need to measure your windows to properly estimate how much the treatments for them will cost. Simply having the measurements for the window itself will not always cut it, either; depending on the type of dressing you are interested in using, you may have to measure the width of the inside surfaces of the window, how close it is to the ceiling and the floor, and other spacial elements.

Materials and Quality
The quality of the materials used in your window treatment will also have a significant effect on the price. For blinds, shutters, and shades, vinyl is the cheapest option across the board, while hardwood is the most expensive. Faux wood blinds are a popular choice in materials since they are cheaper than real wood, and they are more resistant to warping, splitting, and cracking in areas of high moisture. Curtains can be made from lower-end fabrics like cotton-synthetic blends to reduce cost, but high quality linen or silk curtains will be more effective at keeping out light and heat.

Many homeowners today are embracing the DIY movement and learning how to improve their homes with their own hands, which can drastically reduce the overall price of new window treatments. There are some treatments, however, that require professional installation, and that comes with a price tag. Shades and drapes generally tend to have the lowest cost of installation. Shutters will cost more to install than shades or drapes, but the most expensive installation is usually for blinds. Depending on how many windows you are covering, you may be able to get bulk discounts on installation; talk to your installer for more specific quotes.

Window Treatments Installation

After you have made your decision about the kind of window treatment you will be using in your home and bought all of the necessary materials, the next and final step is installation. Many window treatment sellers will offer professional installation, which is often the easiest option and the most surefire way to ensure that your window treatments are installed and function properly. Professional installation by the same vendors who sold you the window treatments for your home will also have plenty of experience installing those treatments, meaning they will be able to work quickly, efficiently, and know about any potential issues to watch for during installation. Professional installation, however, can come with a price tag that some homeowners simply cannot afford, especially after paying for the new window treatments themselves. DIY installation, then, is the more affordable answer, and below we have a list of tips to help you get things done as smoothly as possible.

Measure Everything Twice
Before you order your window treatments, make sure to measure your windows properly – which is easier said than done. After you have chosen the kind of window treatment for your home, follow online guides or call a customer service rep at your local home improvement store to get the right measurements not only for the window itself, but for the size of the window treatment, as well. Once you have your window treatments in your home and ready to install, follow the golden rule of carpentry: measure twice, drill once. Mark drill locations with a pencil, and be sure that you have the correct placement and distance between each spot before and after marking them to avoid drilling multiple holes into your walls.

Have Your Tools Handy
You will almost certainly need the following tools: drill, screwdriver, level, ladder or step ladder, measuring tape, and of course the screws or anchors for the treatment. Have them all nearby and ready for use when installing so you can avoid getting distracted. A note on anchors – if you are not drilling directly into a wall stud, use drywall anchors to prevent damage to your walls. And lastly…

Read the Instructions
Yes, all of them. If you still manage to get stuck, or if the instructions are not clear, the customer service staff at the vendor from which you purchased your window treatments are willing and able to help guide you through the process by phone.

Conclusion – How to Make your Decision

So, which type of window treatment is right for your home? Hopefully this guide has given you some kind of direction of where to go from here. The best type of window treatment is heavily dependent on the type and use of the room in which it will be. Water and moisture present in bathrooms or kitchens may damage the heavy cloth of drapes or the natural wood of blinds, and blackout curtains would defeat the intended purpose of a sunroom. Blackout curtains and shades work best for bedrooms, since they offer maximum control of light; blinds and drapes work best for living rooms that require more light and less privacy. Shades and blinds are often the best options for bathrooms, particularly honeycomb shades that insulate against the glass.

The cost of the window treatments for your home is another large factor in your decision; shades and blinds are generally more affordable than shutters or curtains, though the quality of the materials used to make each type of treatment creates even more variation in the price range. Natural hardwood for blinds, for example, will cost several hundred dollars more than blinds made of aluminum or vinyl. Silk brocade drapes will similarly cost significantly more than cotton polyester blends. Wooden or metal shutters will outperform plastic shutters, and their respective price tags will reflect that. The cost of installation is another key factor in overall budget management, as professional installation for curtains is usually less expensive than installation for blinds – but DIY installation is the most frugal option, if professional installation is unnecessary or out of the budget.

Making any decision when it comes to home improvement can be stressful and overwhelming, but with this guide we hope to have helped make the process of choosing window treatments and coverings for your home much easier. If you still have questions or need clarification on any part of the process of choosing, purchasing, and installing window treatments, don’t hesitate to contact one of our friendly, knowledgeable customer service staff members at (813) 254-4066.

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