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    The Basics of Window Blinds and Shades

    Contrary to popular belief, some situations call for window treatments other than curtains. In such cases, window blinds and shades are the perfect solution.
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    Window blinds and shades offer greater control over the privacy of your home, and they are also generally cheaper than most curtains. Moreover, window blinds and shades come in a wide variety of styles and materials, making them highly customizable.

    Blinds are "hard" window treatments with slats made of wood, composite, vinyl, or aluminum. Shades are "soft," made of fabric, vinyl, woven woods, or grasses. For more information about window blinds and shades, check our handy guide below.

    Blinds

    The biggest difference between blinds and curtains is that blinds give you much more control over your privacy and the amount of light entering the room. While curtains must be either open or closed, blinds can be completely open, completely closed, or slightly angled either upwards or downwards. This nifty feature makes blinds particularly well-suited to bedroom and bathroom windows, which generally require more privacy.

    Blinds come in a variety of different materials, including vinyl, aluminum, and wood. Vinyl is generally the cheapest material, while wood is the most expensive. Vinyl or aluminum blinds should be used in bathrooms and kitchens, as moisture negatively affects wood and could cause it to rot.

    Blinds can be either horizontal or vertical. Wide horizontal blinds are best suited to smaller windows that you want to appear larger, while vertical blinds are best suited to long windows with a narrow width.

    Shades

    Shades often give a room a more welcoming look than blinds, and consequently can be excellent additions to living rooms. Shades come in a variety of styles, including:

    Woven Wood: Often made out of bamboo, woven wood provides an organic, earthy atmosphere.

    Roman: A formal style of shade best suited to elegant dining rooms or living rooms.

    Honeycomb: This energy efficient style controls the inflow and outflow of heat, keeping your house warm during winter and cool during summer.

    Blackout: Usually the most expensive style of shade, blackout shades block exterior light and are best suited to bedrooms, especially if you are a sensitive sleeper.

    Paper shades can add a soft light to your bedroom | © CC BY 2.0 flickr.com / Ben Seidelman

    Costs for Window Blinds and Shades

    The costs for window blinds and shades will vary. However, you can generally expect most blinds to cost between $10 and $200, depending on the quality, size of the window, and the material used. Aluminum blinds, for instance, are usually on the lower end of the cost spectrum. Wood blinds tend to be the most expensive. Shades also come in a wide range of costs, from $20 to $250. Most shades, however, cost between $40 and $80, while only the high-end styles, such as bamboo, Roman, and blackout shades, reach the upper crust of the price limit.

    How to Maintain Your Window Blinds and Shades

    The best way to ensure the longevity of your window blinds and shades is to avoid the accumulation of dust. For most styles of window blinds and shades, you can use the duster on your vacuum on a low suction setting. This allows for thorough cleaning without damaging your window blinds and shades. If stains need to be removed, window blinds and shades can be cleaned with a damp cloth. (Avoid soaking them with too much water and soap.)


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