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All the Window Treatments, Explained

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

What's hanging on your window? Is it a blind? A plantation shutter? Curtains? A cell shade?

At Window-ology, we often get folks on the phone who aren't sure what type of product they want. We always ask, prior to a consultation, what type of window coverings someone is interested in, so that a designer can proffer the best options. However, many times, people will use "blinds" to mean anything that isn't a curtain. Truth is, those other products have names!

We're going to break down all the types of window treatments we offer, and hope it helps you find what you're looking for.

Types of Window Treatments/Coverings

There are four general categories of window treatments: blinds, shades, shutters, and drapery. Each type of window covering comes in multiple options for materials and operation.

What shade comes up from the bottom and can be pulled down?

We've heard plenty of roundabout ways to describe the "bottom-up top-down" window treatment. (We abbreviate it in our notes as "BUTD.") If you want your shade to lift from the bottom and pull down from the top, then you want "bottom-up top-down."

A leafy plant sits on a windowsill in front of an open blind. A tree is in the background and it is probably winter; all the leaves are gone.
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

What is a window blind?

Ah, this is the misnomer for pretty much all window treatments. We'll have clients tell us they want blinds, but as we probe further, discover they actually meant something else. Blinds have the smallest horizontal slat sizes and come in metal, wood, or faux/composite wood. Slats can be as narrow as 0.5 inches and as wide as 2.5 inches. You control the tilt and lift by either wand and cord and the lift by either cord or cordless.

Please also note that blinds come in two formats, horizontal and vertical.

Blinds are one of the most economical window treatments available. Horizontal blinds have slats running parallel to your floor; giving a shutter-like look without the shutter price tag. The slats on a horizontal blind can tilt with either a wand or a cord which controls light and privacy. These slats can also operate up and down with a cord or a cordless lift system, allowing you to access your windows for cleaning and opening.

The other type of blind is a vertical blind. These blinds have vanes instead of slats that run perpendicular to your floor. Vertical blinds operate by cord or wand for tilting the vanes, controlling light and privacy, and traversing side to side to stack the vanes out of a doorway or window opening. The most common application for a vertical blind is over a sliding glass door. Ask your designer about a fabric wrapped vertical blind for a modern upgrade!

A large, arched bathroom window provides a view onto the sunny San Pablo Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. The window is located next to a bathtub and is partially covered by a sheer white roller shade. A rack of fluffy towels hangs on the left wall.

What is a window shade?

Shades are not blinds, and one of the main differences is in the material. Most shades are fabric, with the option of woven woods. There are several types of shades: roller, roman, sheer, woven wood, and cellular shades (to name a few). Cellular are one of the most popular and are also referred to as "honeycomb" shades.

Shade features include insulation, light filtering, and room darkening capabilities.

Three windows are covered in white composite shutters. The slats are partially open, allowing the daylight to pass through. The light reflects on the oval wooden dining table, surrounded by four white wood chairs. On the table are two fat candles atop their own candelabras.

What is a plantation shutter?

A plantation shutter is actually the formal name for interior shutters. This window treatment comes in two options: Real wood and composite (faux). The composite shutter comes exclusively in white, while the real wood options offer different textures, stains, or solid painted colors.

Shutters have the largest slat (louver) size, with a choice of 2.5 inches, 3 inches, 3.5 inches and the largest coming in at 4.5 inches.

A white-walled living room features an imposing, oak-brown grand piano in the right corner. On the left are a plush sofa and sitting chair in a pea-green. Green, white, and black-patterned drapes frame each of the three windows on the back wall.

What is drapery?

Drapery doesn't mount inside your window, but rather hangs from a rod above. You can do two panels on either side, or one that runs across the length of your window.

Drapery also layers well with other window treatments for more texture and contrast, giving a truly robust design for your home.

Are window treatments motorized?

Yes! You can motorize all window treatments. Check out our blog post about window covering motorization, or speak with one of our designers.

Whew! Feeling a little overwhelmed? That's ok. This blog post was meant to be an introduction to the different types of window coverings and to help you differentiate from the four overarching product categories. Trust us, we didn't cover it all. Schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our designers, and they will help you choose the right solution for your home.

Window-ology is a local, Diamond Certified business in downtown Pleasanton, CA. We specialize in custom blinds, shades, shutters, drapery, and motorized, retractable awnings. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

We are the exclusive Northern California dealer for SunSetter Awnings, the number one manufacturer in the United States. We are an authorized dealer for Hunter Douglas, Norman Window Fashions, KE, and others.

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