With their structured simplicity, blinds are universally appealing. They are compact, capable of completely disappearing into a headrail with just the pull of a cord (or not – we’ll address that shortly), and are able to fulfill many requirements most people have when looking for a window treatment, including privacy and sun control. Blinds are also available in a variety of styles, colors and sizes.
There are two primary kinds of blinds: horizontal, which draw up and down, and vertical, which draw side to side. Consisting of a headrail system, louvers or vanes, and a mechanism for adjusting tilt as well as lift and/or draw functions, blinds can also be enhanced with decorative tapes and headrails for added flair.
While the first patent on blinds wasn’t registered until 1841, say the word “blinds” and you may envision (in a historical context of course), the Venetian blinds of the 1930s and 1940s: cumbersome two inch wide metal slats hung together with fabric strips that controlled the lift and tilt.
Noisy, cumbersome and by some standards, ugly, they were all about function and had little to do with beauty.
In the 1950s through about mid-1970, metal blinds were all the rage, but with the introduction of lightweight vinyl, sales soared further due to their inexpensive price point.
Blinds are typically crafted from wood, faux wood, metal or vinyl. Note that the slats can be manufactured in a variety of sizes: from the half-inch micro mini-slat of a horizontal blind, to the large, almost Plantation shutter – size slat of a vertical blind. The biggest difference is this: the smaller the slat, the less light leakage you can expect. The larger the slat, the better view of the out-of-doors when the tilt function is employed.
Also, new “no holes” designs, in which the horizontal slats are strung with cords looping around them rather than through them, offer improved light and privacy control.
Wood blinds are crafted with the highest quality wood available (such as basswood or pine), and are capable of taking a variety of stain colors and paint.
Note that the weight of the finished product means you cannot specify a wood blind in areas where windows exceed a width of 96″. In most cases, this will also mean that multiple blinds (such as a trio of three 32″ wide blinds) will be installed into one headrail.
Can you imagine trying to easily lift an eight-foot long solid wood blind with just one pull cord? More than likely, the weight of that blind would cause the cord to snap – not to mention how difficult it could be for those people who lack strength!
If you believe you may not have the wherewithall to operate a window treatment easily, you can also look at motorization. With just the click of a remote or the flip of a switch, a hardwired motor should be able to lift any blind, no matter how heavy.
Motorization is also a terrific option if the pull cord is in a hard-to-reach area. Metal blinds are usually fabricated from six-gauge aluminum slat material. Unlike metal shutters (as mentioned earlier) metal blinds are used in interiors all the time. They are tough, sleek and modern looking and can also withstand plenty of abuse.
Special anti-static coatings make the product easy to clean – and metal blinds are available in a host of bright, vibrant colors, terrific for kids rooms. And not to worry about pull cord hazards – most aluminum blinds are available cordless. But in any case, never install blinds anywhere near a child’s crib or anywhere a child could fall into the blind.
Finally, vinyl or PVC is the least expensive of the blind materials available, though some companies offer decorative texturing, which can raise the price somewhat. With vinyl, louver sizes can range up to about 3.5″ in width (for verticals). Two-inch vinyl horizontals are the norm. Lightweight, they are able to span somewhat longer distances without sagging.