Blinds vs Shades: The Ultimate Guide

Choosing Between Blinds vs Shades

When you are choosing new window treatments for your home or office, you have many different types and styles from which to choose. Blinds and shades are very popular styles for many reasons. So how do you know which is best for your situation? Comparing both of them will help you to decide.

Window blinds and shades both block the hot sun, glare and warmer temperatures in the summer from heating up your home or office. They are each made quite differently from each other and this gives them different attributes. There are also many different styles of blinds and shades. A complete guide to the similarities and differences will help you decide which is your best bet for your unique situation.

What are the Qualities of Blinds?

Blinds are considered a “hard” window treatment because they are made of vanes or slats from top to bottom on a horizontal blind or from side to side on vertical blinds. Horizontal blinds stack at the top of the window when they are opened and vertical blinds stack on one side of the window when they are opened. The louvers or slats are linked together to form the entire blind. You can close or open the slats fully, or tilt them to get the exact amount of light control that you wish. Blinds are made from aluminum, wood, a composite or a woven bamboo or grass. These materials give you a feeling of hard or bumpiness to the touch (hence the term “hard” window treatments) and add visual interest in any window. 

What are the Types of Blinds?

There are several different types of window blinds from which to choose. The most popular types of blinds are wood, faux wood, woven wood, mini blinds, vertical blinds and top/down bottom/up. 

Wood Blinds - blinds vs shades

Wood/Faux Wood Blinds

Hard wood blinds and faux wood blinds look exactly the same and they give your home or office an updated appearance while matching any type of decor you may have. Both of these types of blinds are beautiful and the whorls and swirls of the wood grain are accented by the paint or stain color you have on them. Hard wood blinds do not do well in areas of high humidity, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens, as they tend to deteriorate quickly with the addition of moisture, just as you would expect hard wood to do. Faux wood blinds are made of a composite material and they can withstand high moisture without cracking, breaking, warping or discoloring in bright sunlight. Both are beautiful options for any size or type of windows you may have in your home or business.

Woven Wood Blinds

Woven wood blinds are made by weaving bamboo or other types of grasses together to form a window blind. This style of blind in very popular on the island as it fits the island feel and theme in any setting. You can choose from a huge array of colors and hues including browns, greens and other natural colors that are woven together to form a truly wonderful pattern. You can also add accents to your woven wood blinds with decorative tapes to coordinate colors to your decor. Woven wood blinds are considered the most relaxed blinds for a casual and inviting feel.

Mini Blinds

Mini blinds are a very long-lived window treatment, as they’ve been in use for many decades. They usually have aluminum vanes or slats that are small in size of 1 or 2 inches wide. You may think of boring when you think of mini blinds as they originally came only in a white or off white color–but just as all things evolve, so do window treatments and they are now available in many different colors to match any decor. 

Vertical Blinds

Vertical blinds were actually invented for large expanses of glass windows or sliding glass doors. Horizontal blinds are too heavy for a very large area and the lifting mechanism will break prematurely with the weight of the entire blind. Vertical blinds have vertical vanes or slats and they slide from side to side to open them. Exciting use of vertical blinds includes having custom fabric attached to the vanes in a wonderful color or print. Vertical blinds are versatile in that you can have the stack on either side, both sides or in the middle if you choose when you open the blinds. This gives you a custom appearance that is quite memorable, especially if you have rental properties.

Top/Down Bottom/Up Blinds

This is the newest style of blinds and an exciting feature in custom window treatments. It actually does double duty, because the manner in which the blinds are mounted allows you to open only the top or only the bottom to block some sunlight and heat while still giving you a great view outdoors. The top and bottom attach to a top and bottom rail. To operate them you simply unclip it and pull the top down to the height you want or unclip the bottom and pull the bottom up to the height you wish. These looks fantastic in a bank of windows when you have them adjusted to different levels to add a huge amount of depth and texture to any area.

What are the Qualities of Shades?

Window shades are “soft” window treatments of a continuous material in a roll that covers a window opening and they are often made of fabric that is soft. Shades mount inside of your window frame for a clean appearance and when open either they roll up on the roller at the top of the window or they stack neatly at the top of your window. Shades don’t have slats or vanes but instead appear as a flat fabric sheet when closed and they give your spaces a feeling of warmth and flowing. You can’t adjust them for light filtering as you do when you tilt the vanes or slats on blinds, but you can choose different opacity levels in fabrics to filter light slightly or completely. 

What are the Types of Shades?

The most popular types of window shades include roller shades, Roman shades and cellular shades. Each of these appears a bit different from each others and they can all be customized with literally thousands of types of fabric in solid colors, prints and beautiful patterns. It’s a great manner to cover your windows and you can choose a solid color fabric and then add some decorative tape to the bottom or you can have scallops on the bottom of the shade to add more softness to any space.

blinds vs shades

Roller Shades

For clarification, a roller shade is a broad category of window shading products. It is any window shade that rolls up onto a roller at the top of the window when you open it. Many homeowners and business owners love the simple lines and will use a solid color roller shade with a wonderful coordinating fabric on a cornice or a valance at the top of the window to actually hide the roller. 

Roman Shades

Roman shades are a timeless and classic window treatment. You have several choices in this category too. A flat Roman shade appears flat when it is down as a straight sheet of fabric and it has delicate folds at the top when you open the shade. The soft fold or hobbled Roman shade shows beautiful soft folds when the shade is down as well as when it is up. 

Cellular Shades

Cellular or honeycomb shades as they are often called are excellent at energy efficiency. They are made with little cells sandwiched in between a front and a back piece of material. The cells trap hot or cold air next to the window and they won’t allow it to enter your home or office. This means lower heating and cooling bills all year round. You can choose from many opacities to get the exact level of light filtering you wish. The opacity is the amount of light that comes through the material and into your space. You can choose a sheer cellular shade for maximum natural light, a semi-sheer for liter filtering, a semi opaque for medium light filtering or darkening and an opaque material for blackout shades that make a room entirely dark.

Binds vs Shades: Pros and Cons



  • Easier to clean
  • Less expensive
  • Better light control
  • Can be adjusted and controlled by the user


  • Minimal designs available
  • Less energy-efficient
  • Cords can be dangerous
  • Dust accumulates on the slats
  • Does not offer much privacy



  • Many styles to choose from
  • Easier to use 
  • Cellular shades are energy-efficient
  • Better choice for children and pets
  • Extremely durable


  • Fabric stacks at the top of the window
  • More expensive
  • Difficult to maintain
  • Cannot be adjusted as easily

Considerations for Blinds Vs Shades

Children and pets can be caught in dangling cords of blinds or shades, so for safety’s sake it’s best to choose cordless options in either type of window treatment. 

Blinds are cheerful and come in some colors, though not different styles so to speak. They have the best light control with the tilting feature, but they are not as energy efficient as shades are. Dust accumulates on the horizontal blind slats, but it’s easy to clean with a duster. When blinds are closed entirely, they give a little less privacy than a shade. 

Cellular shades are super energy efficient. All shades have many different styles from which to choose, they are a good choice for kids and pets and extremely durable so you won’t have the need to replace them any time soon. The fabric stack is at the top of the window, which can obstruct your view and some shades need professional cleaning depending on the material and fabric you choose.

This comparison on blinds and shades should help you to decide which of the two window treatments will work best for your unique situation. You also have different choices in each of these categories from which to choose.

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