You will find a zillion options available when you shop for window treatments. Not only are there different brands and fabrics to choose from, there are also numerous different types of blinds and shades – not to mention custom treatments like draperies and valances. While the options may seem overwhelming, there are, in fact, only a few treatments that will work best for YOUR home. Asking the right questions when you begin shopping will help you narrow your choices quickly.
1) Do I need privacy at the window? While privacy is a top concern for someone living in a city, it is often not a concern at all for folks living on several acres of land in the country. If privacy is not a concern for you, semi-private window treatments could be an option; these include solar shades, sheer draperies or window film. Your privacy concerns will also help you decide whether you need to look at specialty options like top-down/bottom up shades, allowing for privacy at the lower portion of the window, but allow light in at the top.
2) What level of sun control do I need at this window? If you have direct sunlight hitting you in the face while you eat dinner, you need more sun control than you may need on a north-facing window of a rarely-used guest room. Sheer treatments would probably not be a great choice if you need heavy sun protection. Likewise, if you are looking for shades on the windows in your media room, or you are a light sleeper, choosing opaque fabrics will be a better choice than something that lets light into the room. Most windows need some type of sun control to protect the furniture and finishes in your home from the damaging effects of the sun.
3) Do I have small children or pets in my home? If so, choosing something with child and pet safety in mind is wise. Cordless shades or blinds eliminate one potential hazard at the window, leaving you with peace of mind. You may also want to consider the cleaning of any shades you choose, as well as the durability of the treatment. Kids aren’t always careful with blinds and shades. :)
4) Do I have a view I want to preserve? While some shades will block a view, including shutters, others enhance the view. Products like cellular shades are easy to move out of the way to enjoy your view, and items like Hunter Douglas Silhouttes offer the ability to look THROUGH the shade. Window film will leave the view open completely, while still blocking the harmful UV rays from your home.
5) Do I have specialty windows that need to be covered? Windows in unusual shapes like arches, triangles and trapezoids can be covered – but not every product will work on every window shape. Find out your options early on, and you won’ waste your time on products that won’t work for you.
6) Do I have many different types of windows in one room? If you have a patio door and several windows in one room, you may want to consider products that coordinate. For example, Silhouettes and Luminettes from Hunter Douglas can be purchased in the same fabrics, allowing for a seamless transition between window and patio door.
7) Do I need extra insulation at my window? Older windows often leak, allowing heat to escape from your home during the winter, and allowing heat inside during the hot summer months. Adding a shade with insulating qualities – like a honeycomb shade – can reduce the heat transfer at the window, making your home more comfortable and saving you money.
8 ) Do I want a treatment that adds a decorative accent to the room, or one that blends into the background? Some shades, like Roman shades, add both decorative accent and sun control in one product. Others, like aluminum blinds, are more utilitarian than beautiful. Adding a decorative valance, cornice or drapery panel to a window with a basic blind or shade will give you the accent you want, with the sun control you need. Or, opting for a fully-traversing set of draperies is another way to combine both beauty and function at the window.
9) What type of cleaning or maintenance does my lifestyle require? Hard treatments – such as wood or aluminum blinds – show dust more quickly than fabric shades do. In addition, while some curtains and draperies can be washed at home, many require dry cleaning and some fabric shades require other specialty cleaning techniques. Determine what level of maintenance works best for you before choosing a treatment, and be sure to ask your sales representative about those requirements before you buy.
10) What is my budget? Determining your budget ahead of time will help you narrow your window treatment choices considerably. While custom draperies and high-end shades and blinds from companies like Hunter Douglas will be the most expensive options, there are many other companies offering similar products at lower prices. Often, you do get what you pay for, so be sure to choose the best products you can afford. If you purchase a very cheap blind, you may replace it several times over the years, while a higher-quality blind may last all of those years with trouble-free operation. Either way, having a budget in mind will help your design consultation or store rep guide you to the products that fit your budget.
11) What is the warranty? With a wide array of window treatment options comes a wide assortment of warranties. In general, the more expensive a product is, the better the warranty will be. Be sure to ask about what repairs are covered under warranty, and what will be required of you to get those repairs taken care of, before you buy.
12) How long do I plan to be in my home? The answer to this question can help you determine not only your budget, but also the colors of your treatments. If you plan to sell your home in a couple of years, your choices may be very different than someone planning to stay in the home for 10 years or more.
Buying window treatments can seem overwhelming. By taking the time to answer these 12 questions before you shop, you can make the process less stressful and more fun.