How to Buy Blinds and Shades (2022)

With so many styles of blinds and shades to choose from, finding the right one for your needs isn't always a quick open-and-shut deal. Here, we've gathered our best advice to help you see your way through the process.

Whether you're looking for privacy, style, or both, it can be a daunting task to choose window treatments. Should you head to a specialty blind store, your local home center, or shop online? How formal should you go, or how sheer? And how come your stylish neighbors always seem to get it right?

"Windows are a great focal point in a room and blinds and shades should be both decorative and functional. Thankfully, we've come a long way from the days of hiding them behind basic mini blinds. Now you can dress up a room in hundreds of ways without making a major investment," says Carolyn Forté, Home Appliances & Textiles Director in the Good Housekeeping Institute.

At Good Housekeeping, we saw a need for better, well-priced window treatments that are more safety-conscious — and then decided to roll them out in a wide swath of colors, fabrics, and styles. Backed by our GH Seal, Good Housekeeping Blinds and Shades are stylish and well-priced — and they put safety first, offering many cordless options. Some adjust with one touch via a motorized wand; others are insulating, which helps you save on heating and cooling.

Here's what to consider before you buy to keep from getting blindsided:

(Video) How to Shop for Window Shades | Easy Step-By-Step Process

What's the difference between blinds and shades?

The main difference is in the material: Blinds are usually made from wood, metal, or a composite, so they have a harder look; shades are fabric-based, giving rooms a softer feel.

Things to consider when buying blinds and shades

  • Light and privacy: Decide whether you want your room bright and airy or more "buttoned up" and cozy. Blinds tilt to let the sun in or keep it out; when they're closed, you lose light. Shades have fabric options that are room-darkening or light-filtering, giving you more control over brightness. But unless you opt for the most sheer, they have to be pulled up to let light in or down to deter nosy neighbors.
  • Your budget: Are you outfitting just one window or the entire house? You may consider spending more on certain windows and scaling back on others. Window treatments are priced by size, so expect larger treatments to cost more. Custom sizes and specialty fabrics, patterns, and features also add to the cost.
  • Safety: If you have kids, opt for cordless styles, since accidental strangulation is a top concern.
  • Cleaning: Blinds don't need professional cleaning, but they can be dust magnets. To make dusting them easier, use Swiffer's 360° Duster (it's a Seal holder). Shades in textured fabrics and weaves hide soil better, but cleaning shades is trickier — you can lightly vacuum and spot-clean, but bigger messes are best left to the pros.
  • Your decorating style: Is it formal or casual, comfortable or chic? Bold colors can be fun or dramatic. Subtle hues are perfect for a room decorated in neutral, earthy colors. Do you prefer corded styles or sleeker, streamlined cordless ones?

    Types of Blinds

    Blinds are best if you want tiltable slats that can be adjusted to let the sun shine in (or not). They offer a handsome, clean-looking custom fit and plenty of privacy. Prices for blinds generally climb in this order: vinyl, aluminum, faux wood (or textured vinyl), and wood.

    (Video) How to Measure for Window Blinds & Shades (Easy) | Blinds.com

    You don't have to put blinds at half-mast to let in light, as you do the with shades — the full length of the window pane can always be covered for a finished look, even when slats are open. Handy for bathrooms and bedrooms because you can leave blinds down for privacy but adjust as needed for light. The downside is that blinds generally require more of a commitment to keep clean, because the slats attract dust and grime.

    Here's what to know about some types of blinds:

    • Wood blinds come in light and dark hues and polished or painted finishes — our GH line ranges from white Country Cottage to rich Peruvian Walnut — and they're perfect for offices and dens. They're not the best choice for kitchens or baths, where moisture could do damage (choose polymer or faux wood instead), or for bedrooms or living rooms where you want a softer, more romantic effect.
    • Insulating blinds help conserve energy and filter or block light, so they work hard for your money. Our GH branded selection of insulating blinds come in a variety of colors.

      When choosing blinds, keep in mind that wider horizontal slats create the illusion of bigger windows and more space in apartments and small rooms. Slats in the GH line range from 1 inch to 2 3/8 inches.Vertical blinds work for windows that are wider than they are tall. They're an ideal pick for picture windows with a sweeping view or across sliding glass doors.

      Types of Shades

      Shades are the answer if you're looking for tremendous versatility and style. They provide more ways to create different looks and moods using texture, pattern, and fabric weight. Shades are a versatile way to easily refresh any room and can lend a warmer, softer look than blinds. The downside is that to keep them fresh and clean, you'll need to hand-wash vinyl shades. Fabric shades (especially if they're a light color) should be vacuumed with a hand tool regularly and either spot-cleaned or sent out for professional cleaning.

      Here's what to know about some types of shades:

      (Video) Easy Modern Window Shades for Home Office | Blinds.com Review | Julie Khuu

      • Woven wood (such as bamboo) offers full, natural-looking coverage. It works well in garden rooms and breakfast nooks, where you often need to filter out the sun to read the newspaper or see your iPad screen.
      • Tight weaves like twill or microsuede offer optimal privacy because they're opaque. These work well in bedrooms and bathrooms — and don't forget the guest room.
      • Roman shades have soft, wide pleats that fold flat when raised by a cord. These are lovely for the dining room, living room and family room. Balloon, where the fabric is gathered into billowy poufs — make a high-style statement and are a dressy touch for formal living rooms or sitting rooms.
      • Honeycomb, a.k.a. cell or cellular, are designed with horizontal rows of air pockets (like the tight, neat rows in a bee's honeycomb) which work to keep heat in during winter and out during the summer. These energy savers are a favorite for all around the house.
      • Blackout, with a room-darkening fabric, block out up to 100% of light (they cost more than conventional styles) are ideal for bedrooms, home theaters, and media rooms.
      • Solar are made from a sheer weave that offers protection from harmful UV rays but don't completely block your view. They are a good option for sunrooms, kids' rooms, dining areas, and light-drenched offices.

        Our Good Housekeeping line includes everything from sheer horizontal to energy-saving cellular to blackout roller shades and more, in either traditional bottom up or with top down designs for more light-entering options.

        Blinds and Shades Safety

        "There's an important push to get manufacturers to make blinds and shades safer, since the cords are hazardous for small children," says Carolyn Forté of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. First line of defense: Don't use corded window treatments or leave cords dangling within reach of curious little hands.

        (Video) How to Adjust the Spring in a Window Shade

        Good Housekeeping's line of blinds and shades was carefully designed with an eye on child safety. "We've included cordless options, and special safety mechanisms for continuous loop and traditional pull-cord styles," says Forté. "These products also carry our Good Housekeeping Seal." GH engineers and textiles experts reviewed the line, and if any style becomes defective within two years of purchase, the product will be repaired or replaced, or your purchase price will be refunded.

        How to Buy Blinds and Shades (3)

        How to Measure Blinds and Shades

        Knowing the sizes of the windows you want to cover will help you choose more wisely. "You should measure exactly where you want the blind or shade to be," says Forté. So if an inside-mount blind will stop at the frame, so should your measuring tape. For outside-mounted styles, include the window frame in your measurements. When ordering online, consider calling the site's customer service representative to confirm that you have measured correctly. We also like this helpful how-to-measure guide.

        (Video) THE BEST TYPES OF WINDOW SHADES |

        More Window Helpers

        • Stink stopper: Spritz Febreze Fabric Refresher on fabric shades (since you can't easily throw them in the wash) to trap and destroy odor molecules instead of just covering pesky smells. In our tests, it zapped everything from smoke to cooking odors.
        • Pretty curtains: Layer JCP Liz Claiborne Kathryn Grommet Panels over blinds or use them alone. They're machine-washable, so there's no need for costly professional cleaning. Our Lab found virtually no shrinkage after five wash cycles.

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          FAQs

          How do you figure out what size blinds you need? ›

          Measure both the width of the window and the height of the window. Consider adding an extra 3 inches to the width and height for optimum light control and privacy. Extending the blinds outside the window will also provide the space needed for the mounts and help the window appear larger than it actually is.

          What kind of blinds are in style 2022? ›

          Top 10 Trending Window Coverings List
          • 1) Automated Blinds & Shades. ...
          • 2) Roller Shades. ...
          • 3) Roman Shades. ...
          • 4) Cellular Shades. ...
          • 5) Silhouette Shades. ...
          • 6) Banded Shades (Zebra Shades) ...
          • 7) Top-Down/Bottom-Up Shades. ...
          • 8) Luminette Privacy Sheers.
          24 Feb 2022

          How do you measure for shades? ›

          Inside Mount
          1. Measure the width inside the window opening at the top, and round down to the nearest 1/8" measurement.
          2. Measure the height inside the window opening from the top of the window opening to the window sill three times. ...
          3. Do not take any allowances on the height or width.

          What color blinds make a room look bigger? ›

          Darker colors tend to make a space feel more enclosed, by choosing white, cream, or eggshell type colors, the blinds will lend a peaceful, airy feeling to the room. Sheer blinds are another great option for making a space feel larger, but not everyone is comfortable with the privacy level that sheer blinds offer.

          How much smaller should blinds be than the window inside Mount? ›

          Record the height of the window accurately, including any brackets or moldings you may have. Add three inches to the measurement to ensure sufficient mounting space. Deduct half an inch from the blind's height when it extends beyond the frame.

          Do blinds have to fit exactly? ›

          Shades and blinds must fit precisely to a window's measurements only if they are installed inside the window frame or opening. This is called an inside mount.

          What is the most popular window coverings for 2022? ›

          In 2022, simplicity and minimalism are emerging in curtain and drapery styles. Less fluff and more flow are the way to go when choosing new curtains for your home. Classic materials like cotton and linen are top of the trend list to match the light, relaxing, naturalist themes this year.

          What blinds are popular now? ›

          2: Roller blinds are the most popular blinds of 2021. 3: Surprise entry in second place: Vertical blinds. 4: Blackout blinds remain hot property for your property. 5: Roman blinds are still the apex predators of the style world.

          How much space do you need on each side of blinds? ›

          Blinds.com recommends at least 1.5" of overlap on each side of the window for blinds and shades, and 2" of overlap on each side for solar or roller shades and vertical blinds. The extra width provides more privacy and light blockage. As always, record your measurements down to the nearest 1/8 inch.

          What size blinds for 35 inch window inside Mount? ›

          The actual width of the 35" blinds are 34.5" (half inch narrower) to comfortably fit inside a 35" opening. So if your frame is exactly 34.5 inches, I would go with the 35" blinds. But first check that the width is the same through the whole length of the frame.

          What is the most common window blind size? ›

          If you've ever wondered what the standard size of window blinds is, the standard window length ranges from 36 to 72 inches, and the standard width ranges from 24 to 60 inches. However, window sizes and shapes can vary greatly, especially in older homes or homes with custom windows.

          Should you have the same blinds throughout the house? ›

          It's not necessary that your blinds should match throughout the house. If your rooms are painted in different colour themes and styles, you'll need different types of blinds to match them. It is possible, though, to have some coordination between them!

          Do wider blinds look better? ›

          You can play with smaller or larger slats, depending on your goals. Smaller slats will block out more light, and also provide more privacy even when open. Larger slats will bring a chunky look to the window, and allow natural light into the room without opening the blinds completely.

          Do long or short curtains make a room look bigger? ›

          Making Your Room Look Larger or Smaller with Curtains

          High-hanging curtains with long vertical stripes create the illusion of height, which is excellent for low ceilings. However, short curtains and horizontal stripes shorten your wall height and make the room appear smaller.

          Are blinds supposed to touch the window sill? ›

          Yes, for your blinds to work to greatest effect and to achieve the right visual finish, window blinds should rest on the windowsill. The only exception to this is vertical blinds which require a small amount of clearance to prevent the louvres from dragging on the windowsill when operated.

          How many inches needed for inside mount blinds? ›

          3⁄4" is the minimum depth required for inside mount blinds.

          Does it matter if blinds are too long? ›

          No, it doesn't matter if the fabric of a roller blind is too long, or more to the point, longer than the minimum length it needs to be. This causes no functional issues and isn't visible, as the additional length remains rolled up around the tube at the top.

          How much smaller should blinds be? ›

          We recommend going at least 2" wider than the opening on either side, so 4" total. For the height, go about 3 inches above the window trim (to allow for the mounting brackets) and measure from that point down to the window sill.

          How much wider than the window should a roller blind be? ›

          If the window sill protrudes far enough to obstruct the blind, only add 10cm to the height (drop) and allow the blind to sit on the sill. The overall width of a roller blind, including its controls and brackets, is approximately 34mm wider than the fabric width (43mm wider for a day & night roller blind).

          How do I measure to replace blinds? ›

          How to Measure Windows for your Blinds and Shades | SelectBlinds.com

          How wide should blinds be compared to window? ›

          We recommend going at least 2" wider than the opening on either side, so 4" total. For the height, go about 3 inches above the window trim (to allow for the mounting brackets) and measure from that point down to the window sill.

          What size blinds for 35 inch window inside Mount? ›

          The actual width of the 35" blinds are 34.5" (half inch narrower) to comfortably fit inside a 35" opening. So if your frame is exactly 34.5 inches, I would go with the 35" blinds. But first check that the width is the same through the whole length of the frame.

          What is the most common window blind size? ›

          If you've ever wondered what the standard size of window blinds is, the standard window length ranges from 36 to 72 inches, and the standard width ranges from 24 to 60 inches. However, window sizes and shapes can vary greatly, especially in older homes or homes with custom windows.

          Can you cut blinds to size? ›

          In cases where the blinds you have are too big for your windows, you'll need to cut them to size. This is quickly done by simply taking the measurements of your windows, marking them out on your blinds and cutting away the excess fabric.

          How do you replace shades? ›

          How to Replace a Window Shade - YouTube

          Is there an app to measure windows? ›

          Windowmaker Measure facilitates the recording of measurements for window and door openings. It could be used by: ▲ Builders or homeowners who want to request a quote from a window/door supplier.

          Are blinds supposed to touch the window sill? ›

          Yes, for your blinds to work to greatest effect and to achieve the right visual finish, window blinds should rest on the windowsill. The only exception to this is vertical blinds which require a small amount of clearance to prevent the louvres from dragging on the windowsill when operated.

          How far should blinds extend past window? ›

          Outside mount blinds should extend around 3 inches over each side of the width of the window, so a 56" wide window will appropriately require a 62" wide blind. The overlap may be less and wider depending on the type of window, but this is a general rule that you can rely on.

          How much space do you need on each side of blinds? ›

          Blinds.com recommends at least 1.5" of overlap on each side of the window for blinds and shades, and 2" of overlap on each side for solar or roller shades and vertical blinds. The extra width provides more privacy and light blockage. As always, record your measurements down to the nearest 1/8 inch.

          How many inches needed for inside mount blinds? ›

          3⁄4" is the minimum depth required for inside mount blinds.

          How much should you cut off blinds? ›

          Subtract the width of the window from the headrail measurement. This is the amount you need to trim. Divide the amount in half if it's more than 2 inches so you can cut 1/2 of the extra width from each side. If it's smaller than that, you can cut it all from one side.

          Are wider blinds better? ›

          If you prefer to let in more natural light, it's best to opt for blinds with bigger vanes or slat width. When open or tilted, blinds with big slats allow more light to enter a room. In contrast, smaller slats have less space between the slats so there's less room for the sun to shine through.

          What are standard shade sizes? ›

          Standard Sizes for Blinds
          • 36 inches.
          • 48 inches.
          • 60 inches.
          • 72 inches.

          How do you measure a window? ›

          Place a tape measure horizontally between the inside jamb on the left and the right. Close the window and make a similar measurement from jamb to jamb near the middle of the window. Measure the distance between the jambs at the top of the window. Record the shortest measurement.

          Videos

          1. Motorized Blinds & Shades | What to Know BEFORE You Buy
          (Blinds.com)
          2. Buying Custom Blinds and Shades at Blindsgalore.com is Easy
          (Blindsgalore)
          3. Skylight Blinds and Shades - What to Know BEFORE You Buy
          (Blinds.com)
          4. How to Measure for Blinds and Shades | The Home Depot
          (The Home Depot)
          5. Which is better Curtains or Blinds? (Korean Blinds, Blackout Curtains, Venetian Blinds) | Mrs Cath
          (Mrs Cath)
          6. How to Choose the Right Blinds or Shades for Your Windows
          (Blockout Blinds)

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