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Pros and Cons of Honeycomb Shades

Pros and Cons of Honeycomb Shades

Honeycomb shades (also called cellular shades) are the workhorse of window treatments.  They offer privacy, insulation and light control for any window.  But, are they the right product for your home?

One of the best features of honeycomb shades is the insulation that they add to the window.  The long, open channels trap air at the window, insulating the room from the hot summer air and the cold winter winds.  In fact, the “R-value” (a measurement of the resistance of the shade to transfer heat) can increase from 3.5 (the R-value of an average double-glazed window) to nearly 7 simply by adding a the most energy-efficient cellular shade to the window.

Cellular shade side view

Cellular, or honeycomb shades, have large channels to trap air at the window; photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

In addition, cellular shades offer supreme privacy at the window.  Unless you select a sheer fabric, which is also an option, honeycomb shades are completely private.  If you choose the versatile top-down/bottom-up feature, which allows the shade to either be lifted up to the top of the window or lowered to the window sill, you can still get light streaming into the room above the shade while enjoying complete privacy at the lower portion of the window.

Duette shade

Duette Honeycomb Shades with Top-Down/Bottom-Up Feature, photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

Light control is another positive feature of honeycomb shades.  From semi-opaque light-filtering fabrics to light-blocking opaque fabrics, cellular shades offer a variety of light control options.  This type of shade blocks out the most light, so if complete darkness is your goal, outside-mountedcellular shades are your best bet.  Their ability to block out all sunlight makes them perfect for media rooms, children’s bedrooms and spaces that cater to folks who must sleep during the day.

HD applause shades

Opaque Applause Shades, photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

Offering cordless operating options, cellular shades offer the ultimate in child safety.  With no lifting cords for children or pets to get tangled in, they make great options for spaces used by kids.  They also come in vertical options, which slide across patio doors with ease.

Another great feature of cellular shades is their ability to disappear.  They have a very small ‘stack,’ which makes them easy to hide behind a decorative valance.

This feature, however, brings me to one potentially negative aspect of honeycomb shades – their appearance.  Cellular shades are workhorses, and they offer great insulation, light control and privacy.  However, they are often not the most fashionable of window treatments.  Some honeycomb shades have the look of pleated paper, rather than a rich fabric, which is objectionable to some folks. They do their job well, but many homeowners prefer to use them in conjunction with a more decorative window treatment.

Duette Vertiglide

Duette Vertiglide shades work well on sliding patio doors; photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

Also, unlike wood or aluminum blinds, honeycomb shades do not offer the ability to tilt vanes to allow in just a little light or view while maintaining a little privacy.  With cellular shades, they are either up or they are down – there are no other options (with the slight exception of the top-down/bottom-up feature mentioned above).  This makes them one of the less-versatile window treatment options. Although they are available in dozens of special shapes (arches, trapezoids, circles, triangles) they sometimes must stay in a closed position.  However, they can still be a great way to control the sun even on large, specialty windows.  Two fabrics can be used on one honeycomb shade, which is a great way to bring in more versatility to a window.  Using a sheer fabric above an opaque fabric, for example, allows you to preserve your view during the day but create privacy at night.

Duette with DuoLite

This DuoLite shade has two fabrics: a sheer to maintain light and view above and a semi-opaque fabric below for privacy and light control; photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

Despite a few drawbacks, honeycomb shades can offer a great option for the windows in nearly any home.  They offer a simple, sleek look for modern spaces, and work well in more traditional settings when paired with decorative valances or draperies.  While they may not be the perfect choice for every room, they are sure to have a place in many spaces.


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9 Responses to Pros and Cons of Honeycomb Shades

  1. Brandon says:

    I see owning honeycomb shades as a definite pro. They do a fantastic job of insulating your window both during the summer and winter months. I am glad that you mentioned the R value rating system in this post. I found the information you provided to be very informative. I am glad that I found your site.

  2. […] of having vanes to tilt open or closed; Romans are either up or down.  While this is also true for honeycomb or roller shades, it is something to take into consideration when making your window treatment […]

  3. […] the use of a full, traversing drapery on her patio door instead of vertical blinds or vertical honeycomb shades.  She needed the utility of sun control (her family was hit in the eyes by the sun everyday while […]

  4. […] are not your style, consider a honeycomb shade.  Both Graber and Hunter Douglas offer vertical honeycomb shades, which slide across the patio door.  The biggest advantages to this option are the enhanced […]

  5. […] honeycomb shades, which feature a double-wall construction forming tubular “cells” along the width of […]

  6. […] the panels cannot be rotated to allow a little light in or to see outside.  Instead, as with vertical honeycomb shades, the panels are either open or closed – there really isn’t anything in […]

  7. […] offer some insulating qualities at the window, but if heavy insulation at the window is your goal, honeycomb shades may be a better option for […]

  8. […] will find the top-down/bottom-up operating feature offered in many types of shades including cellular/honeycomb shades, pleated shades, Roman shades, woven wood/grass shades, and sheer window shadings, offering an […]

  9. […] we selected Hunter Douglas Applause shades with Vertiglide.  These honeycomb shades glide across the patio doors, stacking neatly to the side when they […]

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