Any living space or home usually has windows of some type in different areas of the space. You don’t want to leave them open, so you could spend a decent amount of time looking at types of blinds. But, which types of blinds or shades will work best for the bedroom or living room? What materials will give you what you need and last the longest?
If you’re not sure what’s available or what will fit perfectly into your home, this detailed guide can help. We’re going to outline the various types of blinds in detail and what you can get the most use out of them with.
No matter if you’re trying to find types of blinds or shades that will darken the room to make it easier to sleep, or you want a light and airy blind that allows sunlight to filter in during the day, you can find all of these answers and more below.
Blinds by samantha celera / CC BY-ND 2.0
- 1 The Difference Between Blinds and Shades
- 2 13 Different Types of Blinds and Shades
- 3 Made-to-Measure or Ready-Made Types of Blinds
- 4 Additional Considerations for Picking Types of Blinds
- 5 Types of Blinds and Shades Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 Bottom Line
The Difference Between Blinds and Shades
There are dozens of types of window coverings available that you can use throughout your home, but you’ll find that a lot of companies mistakenly use the terms blinds and shades interchangeably. Since this isn’t technically correct, it’s easy to see why there is confusion amongst people as they start to sort through the types of blinds and try to narrow down their choices. The main difference between blinds and shades is:
- Blinds – Blinds are a hard type of window covering. They feature horizontal slats that you can open or close at will.
- Shades – Shades are window coverings that feature one or more pieces of fabric, so they’re a soft type of window covering.
13 Different Types of Blinds and Shades
Now that you understand that you’re looking for types of blinds, we can outline the most popular blinds and shades available on the current market. In turn, you’ll be able to make your choice with confidence that you have the best option to meet your needs.
1. Venetian Blinds
First up is Venetian blinds, and this blind style encompasses models that have horizontal slats. Typically, you’ll find them made out of plastic, wood, or metal. They use either pieces of fabric or cords to suspend them, and the cord or fabric will keep each slat the same distance apart. You can tilt them up to a maximum of 180°.
This is one of the most common types of blinds in a lot of homes because they have a very versatile design that allows them to blend seamlessly into a range of different decor styles. You can also use them in any room inside your house. However, they can be amongst the most challenging to adjust because you have to pull the string or fabric piece to the left to unlock your slats before you raise or lower them.
- Mini or Micro Venetian Blinds – You can choose from micro or mini blinds in this category too. Mini blinds have the same build, but they only offer an inch for the slats. Micro blinds are smaller, and they only offer a ½-inch for the slats. They work best if you have smaller windows in the bathroom or any room that needs a smaller-scale choice.
Venetian by Ted & Dani Percival / CC BY 2.0
2. Vertical Blinds
Vertical blinds come designed to work on larger glass doors, like backyard or patio doors that require coverage from a few inches from the ceiling down to the floor. The blinds come long enough to cover your entire door, and this can block the light that would stream in. They’re also a nice choice for larger or wider windows. You can get them in fabric, but they’re usually made out of vinyl. Each blind gets hung individually from a clamp located on the top section of the blinds, and every panel will turn right or left when you twist the pole on the side in the direction you want the panels to go.
These vertical blinds work like horizontal blinds for smaller windows, but you can’t raise or lower them. If you want to move the blinds out of the way to get through the door, you slide them to the left. They have a fairly easy and straightforward installation process, and they’re great if you’re on a tighter budget.
PVC by Dennis Sylvester Hurd / CC0 1.0
3. Roller Blinds
Roller blinds are a very convenient pick for people who don’t like the mechanism that Venetian blinds have to open and close them. Inside of having rotating slats on it, this type of blind has fabric that rolls up or pulls back down to cover your window. The blind attaches to the window frame using a pole. There is a string located at the bottom of the blind, and it usually comes with a small bead or loop at the end that lets you pull your blinds down to cover the window.
There is a locking mechanism that keeps the blinds from accidentally rolling up on your storm window until you pull the string to release them. You get an easy installation process with a fairly cheap price tag for this type of blind, and they use a host of different materials that allow you to have waterproof, energy-efficient, or a standard option.
Transitional Roller Blinds by Blinds Online / CC BY 2.0
4. Solar Shades
A solar shade is technically a sub-type of roller blinds. It’s a type of roller blind that gets designed with fabric that works to reduce the sun’s glare, give you more privacy, and decrease heat gain while allowing you to see outside. The fabric has a transparent look to it, but they don’t let anyone outside have a clear view of your home’s interior. They’re great for private rooms that have a view that you want to enjoy during the day and nighttime.
You can choose from different colors with this option, including black and still get a decent view when you look through them. It’s a nice touch for mountain homes where hikers come through often and you don’t want them to see in but you don’t want to block your view of the landscape. They can be much more expensive than other options because of the material quality and the convenience factor. They’re not a good idea for people on a budget because they can cost two times as much as roller blinds.
Solar Shades! 3 by carmichaellibrary / CC BY 2.0
5. Honeycomb Shades
Honeycomb shades are also referred to as cellular shades, and they closely resemble pleated shades while using similar materials. However, honeycomb types of blinds or shades feature two different pieces of material instead of one.
The front and back sections of this product feature an open middle, and this creates a pocket for insulation. You can choose from a large range of cell sizes when you pick this option, and they come designed to fit different windows’ needs. They’re a great way to keep your home cool during the summer and warm during the winter months. They also give you excellent insulation.
Insulated Shades by liz west / CC BY 2.0
6. Pleated Shades
Pleated shades come made from a very thin piece of pleated fabric. You can also get cheaper models that come with a paper material that you fold together to flatten them out to hide them from view and expose your window. They’re one option that is easy to install and inexpensive because you can easily attach them to the top of your window frame with a common blind mount or an adhesive.
Pleated shades won’t allow for any sunlight to come in when you close them because they don’t have any slats with open spaces between each slat. You can use them in rooms where you want a high degree of privacy, like bathroom windows that are close to the tub or toilet because they give you no way to look into the room from the outside when you close them.
Roses, settings 013 by m kasahara / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
7. Panel Blinds
It’s a toss-up on whether this type of blind is actually a blind or a shade. By definition, it would be a shade since it’s made from a very thin but wide fabric panel that you hang vertically. However, most companies refer to them as blinds. They usually only feature four wide sections instead of the thinner slats that vertical blinds have. You typically use this type of blind on bigger glass doors, and they’re very common on sliding backdoors.
The panels won’t rotate or tilt, but you can slide them together to allow light to enter your space. When you want to close them, you’ll slide them back until they lay against one another and cover the entire door or window. They have a number of benefits attached to them, including the fact that they use soft fabrics, they’re usually cheaper, they’re easy to clean, they slide open and closed, and they’re economical because they don’t use any plastic in the design.
Excuse the mess by Christa / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
8. Tie-Up Shades
This shade comes designed to get tied up with strings or ribbons from two sections in the middle of the piece of fabric. When you tie up the section, this will allow the fabric to cover the top section of your window to increase your privacy while keeping it from falling to cover the whole window. They usually feature delicate and light fabrics that give you some degree of privacy without completely blocking out the sun when you let them down to their full length.
Because this product has ties, the bottom portion will take on a scalloped look that many people feel adds a small element of design to the window instead of having it go straight across like traditional blinds will. You typically get an easy installation process, and they can be larger than the window’s width. You can use a metal attachment or curtain rod to support it and hold it up.
Shade, half drawn by Kim Love / CC BY-SA 2.0
Again, by definition, shutters aren’t really a type of blind or shade. However, they function close enough to traditional horizontal blinds to make the list. Shutters are a great way to keep the sun from filtering into your home when you put them on your windows. They’re very solid as they’re typically wood or vinyl, and they can be a very durable alternative to more traditional slats or fabrics.
Shutters usually feature a wood design that fits onto your window frame’s interior, and they have slats that connect to and are controlled by a vertical wooden portion. To open or close the shutter’s slats, all you’ll have to do is move the vertical control up or down to move all of the slats at once. This is a very expensive choice compared to most types of blinds or shades because they have a solid wood constitution and the installation process is very precise to ensure they fit into the window frame snugly.
Shutter by Rene Gademann / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
10. Outdoor Blinds and Shutters
You can get outdoor blinds and shutters too if you want to keep your patio or pergola area cool and comfortable during the hot summer months.
- Blinds – Blinds can help shield your area from the rain or sun, and they feature more durable and heavier materials in the design like reed or woodgrain. This allows them to handle different weather conditions. Unlike thinner materials or fabric choices, you can easily hang this type of blind in areas that get sun for hours every day and keep them up during rainy weather without any damage. They also usually have slats you can open and close, and the slats are closer together or almost completely overlapping to give you more shade in your sitting areas when the temperature climbs and the sun is out.
- Shades – Outdoor shades are also vastly different from fabric indoor shades. Instead, they usually are solar shades because this material is weatherproof and much more durable and long-lasting. They also allow you to look and see through them if you wish to see what is going on around your area without blocking the view but blocking the sun’s rays to help keep you cool and protected.
DSC_1696 by serena_tang / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
11. Roman Shades
If you have a Roman shade, you have something that will block out the sun using a layer of fabric. When you raise it up, it stacks under itself. When you lower it back down, it’ll lay flat. This creates a fold that you call a pleat, but you can see the underneath folds when you raise it up and lock it into place.
Roman shades are some of the most popular options available on the current market today because you can get a custom pattern or design on the shades’ fabric, and they come in a huge range of colors. A few interesting choices include striped, floral, tropical flowers, solid coloring, paisley, art deco, earth tones, and a fleur de lis.
Roman shades in Breakfast Area by Kerry Ann Dame / CC BY-SA 2.0
12. Smart Blinds
Did you know that smart blinds exist and they’re one type of blind you can have in your home? They’re getting much more common due to advancements in technology, and you can get both smart blinds and shades in high-tech styles or in more traditional ones to suit your tastes. Most smart blinds will sync with an app on your phone, and you can control them as a group or individually. You can program them to close or open at specific times during the day.
Smart blinds are some of the most visually-attractive types of blinds on the current market, and they can help save on energy costs. If you love the idea of this type of blind but you’re on a budget and don’t want to retrofit your home with them, you can get smart controllers instead. They let you outfit any existing types of blinds you have with the same technology that you’ll find in smart blinds.
Blinds by clydesbale / CC BY-NC 2.0
13. Skylight Shades
You can pick out several different styles when it comes to skylight shades, including pleated, roller, and cellular. The shades come specifically designed to cover any skylights that are difficult to reach. The conservatory blind category can also include this shade type, and they’re used to insulate and cover the glass roof in conservatories.
Cellular shades are extremely popular to cover skylights because they have insulating properties attached to them. These shades typically have a large, removable rod that you use to lower, raise, and adjust your skylight shade. They could also use a handle instead of a rod to raise or lower them, and there are automatic versions on the market.
Skylight by beana_cheese / CC BY-NC 2.0
Made-to-Measure or Ready-Made Types of Blinds
Now that you’re up to date on the best types of blinds and you should be able to confidently pick out the perfect option for your space, you have to decide if you want made-to-measure or ready-made types of blinds.
If you need a more custom type of blind and you’ve decided that you don’t want ready-made options, made-to-measure blinds are a viable option. There’s a very strong possibility that you have custom shade or blind stores in your area, and they can walk you through the processes of picking your window coverings while explaining your options. They can even handle the installation process for you.
If you look online, you’ll find an even wider variety of online sources that can help you with your made-to-measure blinds. However, online services usually mean that you have to handle the installation process yourself once they ship the finished product to you. A few reputable sources online include 3 Day Blinds, Blinds to Go, Just Blinds, and Smith & Noble.
- Are perfectly fitted to your windows
- Usually have professional installation
- Don’t need to make any adjustments
- Allows for more customization with the print and fabric
- Can cost much more overall
If you want ready-made blinds, you can walk into virtually any big box or home improvement store and purchase them. Walmart and Target both sell several different types of blinds or shades. Home improvement stores tend to have a slightly larger variety readily available too.
You can also find online or brick and mortar specialty stores where all they sell are types of blinds and shades. You’ll get an even broader range of styles and color or pattern choices here. You can shop online or in-person for ready-made blinds at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Walmart, or Wayfair.
- Typically have a lower price tag as they’re not custom
- Don’t need to pay for professional installation
- Several different styles available
- Won’t be professional fitted to your windows
- Have to perform the installation yourself
Blinded by ☼zlady / CC BY-NC 2.0
Additional Considerations for Picking Types of Blinds
Along with everything we listed above, there are more cost considerations to keep in mind as you compare products. Knowing what they are will help you make an informed decision to ensure you get the best type of blind for your bedroom or home.
Consideration One – Measure Twice, Cut Once
When it comes to different types of blinds, taking time to double-check and measure twice before you make any cuts is extremely important. This includes when you’re shopping for custom blinds online or if you’re doing the install yourself. When you have ready-made blinds, you want to measure very accurately so you get a neat and polished look once you install your window coverings.
For online custom orders, measurements can get even more important. Since the company will create your type of blind to the exact measurements you send it, accuracy will get you a picture-perfect fit on your windows. If you’re not 100% confident in doing your own measuring, it can be a good idea to get a hold of a custom window covering brand or shop in your area. This will allow trained staff to walk you through the process, and you can start here:
Consideration Two – Cost
Since there are several types of blinds or shades on the market, you’ll find a huge price range attached to them. There are many things that contribute to the final price, including things like material, style, and any additional features you want included. Another big price point is how they operate. For example, you’ll pay far less for manual blinds or shades than you will for a fully automatic one.
The construction of the blinds will also factor into the price. Any type of blind that is ready-made and available straight off the shelf will cost a decent amount less than any blinds that you have custom-made to fit your bay windows.
Consideration Three – Style
The final consideration to keep in mind is the style of blinds you want. Since there are so many options, you should have little problem finding the perfect match for your design aesthetic. However, you should take your time and narrow down your choices to ensure you get a good fit. Once you get down to the final two or three, consider if you want ready-made or made-to-order blinds.
Types of Blinds and Shades Frequently Asked Questions
Untitled by Joost Markerink / CC BY 2.0
Since you’re not short for choice with blinds or shades, it’s common to have a host of questions about them. We’ve picked out some of the biggest considerations that you want to keep in mind as you shop below.
1. Is it possible to cut your blinds or shades to size?
Typically, you’ll be able to find window blinds that are sized exactly to your window’s width, but this isn’t always the case. Also, depending on the type of blind or shade you pick out, the length could be a problem. However, you can cut both the length and width of the blinds to fit the perfect size of your window.
2. Do blinds or shades help with energy efficiency?
Blinds or shades are a fantastic way to help control the interior temperature of your home. During the summer, you can keep them drawn on the windows wherever the sun is beating through. This will help keep the room from heating up by trapping the cooler air inside. During the winter, you can use blinds and shades to control the heat. Open them when the sun comes out to allow warmth in and close them during the evening hours to keep cool drafts out.
3. Can you paint your blinds?
Yes, you can paint your blinds. Some of the more trendy, newer painting techniques will allow you to make a bright and bold statement with your blinds. This trend has been gaining in popularity as people are trying to keep old blinds or shades out of the trash. You can hire someone to paint the blinds or do it yourself, and the only limits you have are your skill level and your imagination.
4. Can you fix broken blinds?
You can fix almost anything, and this includes your blinds when they break. In case one breaks, you typically get extra slats when you purchase your blinds. It’s a slightly tricky process, but it’s possible to weave the new slat into place. There are also professional companies that will repair your broken blinds.
We’ve gone over 13 types of blinds and shades in-depth, and we also outlined the difference between ready-made and made-to-order options. You can use this guide to gain inspiration, narrow down your choices, and find the perfect blinds to pull your room together to get a neat and finished look.