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Blinds 101

By Lawren Gournay
Posted Friday, September 3, 2004

Ever shopped on line for blinds, shades, or shutters and were confused by all the different products and prices? This page should help. We are currently working on Window Shades 101 and Plantation Shutters 101 to help with your plantation shutters or window shade decisions.

WINDOW BLINDS Grab & Go Blinds vs. Custom made Blinds Grab & Go blinds are simply a name given to pre-cut shades that you buy off the self. They are made to common generic window sizes. Because all windows are not exactly the same dimensions and grab & go blinds have to fit windows in certain size ranges, grab and go window coverings do not fit as well as a custom made blind or shade. The widths of a grab and go window blind must be shorter to accommodate as many windows as possible (this usually causes a light gap, or reveal, at the sides of the blind or shade). The blind's length also has to fit several different sizes and quite often must be shortened. Grab & go blinds are usually the lowest priced blind or shade on the market. The lower price is due to the use of lighter weight cheaper materials, lower quality hardware, fewer sizes, colors and lack of a warranty. A grab & go blind has a product life expectancy of 2 to 6 years. Price makes these a good choice for certain applications like basements, garages and attics. These window coverings are available at most discount chain stores, large department stores, and home improvement centers.

Custom made blinds is made to measure. Each window is measured for it's width and height to the nearest 1/8" and the blind is built to fit the opening. The light gap, reveal, on each side is about 1/4" and the bottom rail (bottom of the window shades) comes right to the window sill. Custom blinds are made with better materials and hardware. The come from well known companies such as Hunter Douglas, Levolor, Graber and Bali. They are usually warranted for as long as you own the home. The color choices range from several shades of white to the most common stained wood tones. The material choices are PVC blinds, wood composite blinds, and real wood blinds. These custom made blinds can be purchased at most retailers and internet companies such as Shades Shutters Blinds. They are usually slightly more expensive than the grab & go blinds.

Mini Blinds Mini blinds are made in several slat widths, 1/2", 1", 2". The slats of this blind are made from several different gauges (thickness) of aluminum. Some of the Grab & go mini blinds use plastic slats to further lower their cost. The higher the gauge the better. Mini blinds were very popular in homes about 10 years ago and are still used extensively in commercial building. Color choices for mini blinds are unlimited. For affordable mini blinds. See Mini Blinds.

Venetian Blinds
Venetian blinds is a large category in blinds. The original Venetian blinds were made with wide curved metal slats much like a mini slat. Over time the slats have evolved to different materials, sizes and shapes. Venetian blind slats are made from plastics, woods, and combinations of plastics & wood. They are made in 1, 2, 2 1/2, & 3 inch slat widths. Venetian Blind's shapes can be curved, flat or elliptical. Most window covering manufacturers buy slats from the same 3 or 4 companies that produce them. To confuse things further, the window blind manufacturers have made their own names for the same materials, same sizes, and same shapes (a 2 1/2 " composite blinds slat can have as may different names as there are companies using them). Hopefully this site can simplify this for you. We will attempt to break down this mess to 4 basic types, PVC blinds, Composite blinds, and wood blinds. See products.
PVC Blinds or Faux Wood Blinds

Faux or PVC blinds are made of a solid or foamed poly vinyl chloride plastic. That's right, the same stuff milk bottles are made of. PVC s is one of the newer materials being used for blind slats. Slat widths are generally 2", 2 1/2", and sometimes 3". The blind slat's surface can be smooth or embossed with a wood grain. Color selection is limited most often to whites but there are a few wood tone colors available. PVC blinds are starting price point in this category. They are very durable, UV resistant, waterproof (as in when the windows are left open and it rains or the sprinklers come on), and easy to clean. The one main draw back to Faux Blinds is the weight of the slats. PVC slats are heavier than wood or composite slats and with large windows can make raising the blind a little difficult.

The large building centers offer a PVC window blind that is a cross over between the grab & go blind and custom made window treatment. These are "cut as you wait". You take the measurements in and they cut your blind at the store. These PVC blinds are cheap and you get what you pay for. The slats are PVC, but so is everything else like the head rail (normally metal), tilt mechanism (normally metal), barrels (metal best) and etc. Customers are more often than not are dissatisfied with this type of PVC blind and there is no warranty.

PVC blinds -Synonyms Here a brief list of some of the trade names blind companies give to blinds made with PVC slats. Many of these are trade marked names.

Woodmates (Hunter Douglas), Doverwood (Comfortex), Faux Wood Blinds (Generic Term), Infusion, Lake Forest (Graber), Wood Look (Levolor), Wood Plus, Inspire, Panama and many other generic names. Be sure to ask your dealer if it is a solid foam PVC blind and ask about the warranty. See faux wood blinds.

Composite Blinds

Composite blinds are made from a combination of wood by products and polymers. Composite Slats are also a newer material being used for the window covering. Slat widths are generally 2", 2 1/2", and sometimes 3" and come in flat or elliptical shapes. The blind slat's surface is a smooth poly-coating or a solid composite material. Like PVC, the color selection is limited most often to whites but there are a few wood tone and stain colors available. Composite blinds are priced in the low mid range. They are very durable, UV resistant, water resistant, less likely to warp than wood and easy to clean. The one main draw back to composite blinds is the weight of the slats. Composite blinds slats are lighter than PVC blinds but heavier than wood and therefore a good choice for large windows coverings.

Composite Blinds- Synonyms- Here a brief list of some of the trade names blind companies give to blinds made with Composite slats. Many of these are trade marked names.

Everwood (Hunter Douglas), Devonwood (Comfortex), Wood Impressions (Timber Blind and Shutter), NuWood (Levolor), Faux Wood (generic term). Other copywrited names for composite blinds are: Windsorwood, Woodperfect, Woodwinds, Distinctive Blinds, Privacy Plus, Shutter Blinds, and Intrigue. See Composite blinds.

Wood Blinds

Both value & premium wood blinds are made from real woods. The value wood blind slats are made from assorted Oriental hardwoods. The premium wood blind slats are made from American hardwoods (usually Basswood). Slat widths are generally 1",2", 2 1/2", and sometimes 3". The blind slat's surface is either painted or stained. The color selection of this window covering is quite large with several different whites and the most popular hardwood stain colors. If you are wanting to match a cabinet or trim stain, wood blinds are your best bet. Wood blinds are the most expensive blinds in this category. All wood slats can warp and may color fade over long periods of time. Wood blind slats are the lightest material and work well for large windows.

Wood Blind- Synonyms- Here a brief list of some of the trade names blind companies give to blinds made with wood slats. Many of these are trade marked names.

Country Wood (Hunter Douglas), Design Basics, ValueWood (Timber Blind & Shutter), Southeastwood, Olympian Wood, Classique, Chalet Wood (Hunter Douglas), Premium Woods (Timber Blind & Shutter), Northern Heights. See wood blinds.

FAQ's about Shades Shutters and Blinds

I also have an article about the frequently asked questions about shades shutters and blinds. See Frequently Asked Questions.

I hope this information about this type of window blinds was helpful. If you would like to get more information about these blinds and the many other products we provide, please visit us at Shades Shutters Blinds or e-mail me at support@shadesshutterssblinds.

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