August 4, 2013

Blinds & CurtainsImage sourced from Window Fashions, Terenure, Dublin 6 

Blinds are a fuss free way to dress a window. There are 6 main types of blinds; roller, venetian, vertical, roman, velux and cellular. Blinds may be fitted inside the window opening or outside the window opening. If fitted within the opening they can either be fixed to the sides or underside of the window reveal or to the window frame itself. Blinds can be operated by electricity, or a chain, cord or spring mechanism. All blinds operated by a chain mechanism should have a chain / cord guide fitted to prevent small children from tangling themselves in the cord or chain. These guides can either be fixed to the wall or the window frame.

Tip: If a window has motion alarm sensors fitted the blind may need to be fitted on extension brackets so as not to interfere with the operation of the alarm.

There are a few key questions to ask before selecting a blind. Different blind styles offer different characteristics and it’s important to pick the right blind for the situation.

  • How much privacy do I need?
  • What way is the window facing?
  • How much do you need to control the light?
  • How do your windows open?
  • What is your budget?
  • Where you want the blind to be fixed?
  • Is the wall strong enough to take a heavy blind?

Roller blinds are made from fabric which has been specially treated or stiffened and are operated by either spring mechanisms or side chains. They provide excellent protection from heat and light and come in a wide range of fabrics. Most good roller blind fabrics are now finished with a protective anti-static coating that helps repel dirt and dust. Roller blinds can come with a variety of edge profiles including straight, scalloped, turret or envelope. Roller blinds are available in blackout fabric, light diffusing fabric, wipe-able fabric and bamboo. Roller blinds made from bamboo are often called pinoleum blinds. Although most roller blinds sold in this country are top-down blinds it is possible to get roller blinds that pull from the bottom-up. They have the advantage of letting light enter a room through the top of the window while still providing privacy. The downside to bottom-up roller blinds is the dirt that can lodge within the roll of fabric.

Tip: By fitting a contrasting braid to the bottom of a roller blind’s edge profile you can emphasis the edge detail.

Tip: You will always get some light leakage with roller blinds but fitting fit guides to the sides of the window reveal in which the blind travels up and down will minimise any light that can get in.

Venetian blinds are made with horizontal slats which can be tilted, raised or lowered to let in as much or as little light as you require. The slats are typically made from aluminium or timber and are available in a variety of widths, ranging from 16mm to 50mm (although the thinner slats are only available in aluminum). Venetian blinds are either strung together with cord or tape and come with a tilt control on one side and a raise control on the other. Venetian blinds strung with cord can be routed or routeless. Routeless blinds do not have a slot cut out of the notches and so offer more privacy, energy efficiency and less light seepage. The cord ladder and head rail of venetian blinds are typically colour coordinated with the colour of the slat although contrasting tape is sometimes used for effect.

Tip: The slat size of venetian blinds should match the proportions and size of the window. Large slats may overwhelm a small window and may be too heavy for a very large window.

Aluminium venetian blinds are available in slats as narrow as 16mm but for durability they need to be made of 5mm or higher gauge aluminium. Because of their lightness aluminium venetian blinds can be easier to operate and because the slats of aluminium venetian blinds fit together more tightly than timber blinds they can offer better blackout than wooden venetians.They are typically the least expensive finish in venetian blinds and are ideal for damp rooms.

Wooden venetians are made of stained or painted basswood with a metal head rail faced with a section of valance of matching timber. The common size of wooden slats are 25mm, 35mm and 50mm, such wide slats can make a timber venetian blind difficult to raise and lower. Timber venetian blinds also have a very deep stacking height and can warp if used in a particularly damp room. Stained timber blinds may also fade over time.

Roman blinds are made up of a fabric that forms soft folds when raised and hangs flat when lowered. The pleats are kept in place by dowel rods or slats that are sewn into casings on the lining. A cording mechanism is attached to the dowel rods or slats on the back of the blind allowing it to be raised and lowered. Roman blinds are either operated with a side chain or a basic cleat and cord system. Most roman blinds are made from fabric but they can also be made from bamboo. Fabric roman blinds are typically lined with a second material, which may be a blackout fabric.

Tip: Roman blinds made of thick fabric may be difficult to operate.

Tip: Blackout lining can help the pattern on fine fabric to stand out more that if a lighter cotton sateen lining is used.

Vertical blinds or track blinds consist of vertical strips attached to runner rail. The adjacent vertical strips, also called vanes, slats or louvres are connected by a beaded chain that runs the length of the vertical blind. The strips can be tilted or drawn using a simple chain control unit and light is controlled by varying the tilt of the vertical strips. The strips can be made from fabrics, plastic or aluminum and typically come in widths of 89mm and 127mm. Vertical blinds collect very little dust, which makes them ideal for commercial settings. Tilt and turn windows can be fitted with special tilt and turn blinds and curved rails are available for bay windows.

Tip: Vertical blinds tend to swing in the breeze if not weighted

VELUX Blinds are made to fit skylights / rooflights made by the company velux. The VELUX Blinds range includes blackout, roller, flying pleated and venetian. Each velux window has a code on a metal plate fixed to the frame, which is used when ordering velux blinds. Velux blinds may be motorised or hand operated. Motorised blinds can be worked by a switch or by remote control. Hand operated velux blinds can be worked by cord, knob or, for out-of-reach windows, an extension pole.
Cellular/ Pleated Blinds provide privacy while letting light to gently filter in – unless of course a blackout version is used. They are also a very good thermal insulator particularly if treated with heat-resistant coatings. When raised they have a very shallow stacking height giving a clear, unobstructed view out of the window.

Austrian blinds are made from lightweight fabrics or voile and have cords attached at the back that pull the blind up from the bottom to give a ruched appearance.

Tip: Motorised blinds can be battery powered but they are typically mains operated and so require power, which adds to the installation cost.

Tip: Contrary to what some people think, blackout fabric isn’t actually black fabric.

Tip: If you intend to fit roller or vertical blinds in a bay window be aware that there will be a gap where they meet in the corners.

Tip: Positioning blinds close to the glass offers the best insulation but the blind may rot if it gets too damp.

Tip: If your doors or windows open inwards you can either fit the blind to the frame of the door or window or opt for a blind that will clear the door or window when open.

Glossary of Terms
A very good glossary of terms relating to blinds is available on http://www.englishblinds.co.uk



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