Window Treatments 101 (Part 1)

Blue Jay Paint and Blinds is your local resource for your interior design needs, including window treatments from trusted brands such as Hunter Douglas and Graber. Window treatments can enhance your home and offer a variety of benefits. In this first of two blog posts we will discuss the various reasons for choosing window treatments.


The terms window blinds and window shades are often used in place of one another, but what is the difference? A blind is often a hard treatment, with the ability to raise and lower, but also has vanes that can be tilted to adjust the light level. Vertical blinds and wood blinds are examples of this. A shade is a soft treatment, such as a roman shade, usually made of a fabric without a vane and the ability to adjust the light level beyond raising or lowering the treatment.


Now that we know the terminology, why do people want window treatments? There are four primary reasons.

1. Light control. We want to control how, and how much light enters our home. This also includes how we deal with potentially damaging UV light.

Light control is often very dependent on the type of material we choose for our treatment. Fabrics offer different levels of opacity and that affects light transmission into the room. Fabrics can be sheer, blackout, or room darkening, and levels in between.

Sheer fabrics are used to soften light or to help lessen the views from the outside during the daytime. They can make the harsh exterior daylight less harsh and still preserve the view to the outside. Sheers can also help stop the infiltration of damaging Ultraviolet light. UV light is what fades and damages floors, fabrics, artwork, etc. Sheer fabric is offered on many treatments and can even be combined with opaque fabrics to produce a more versatile treatment.

Room darkening or blackout fabrics often use a liner behind a more translucent fabric to minimize light infiltration. Usually this gets used in bedrooms or media rooms where we want as little light as possible when the shades are closed.

The bulk of fabrics we use are somewhere in between sheer and room darkening. There are many levels of opacity that are available. We choose different fabrics and colors based on taste, but we need to take the opacity into account when we decide so that we are satisfied with how much light we are allowing in.

2. Privacy. This couples with light control because it is going to affect the choice of treatment we use depending on how much we allow the outside world to look in at us.

Everyone has a different level of what privacy means to them and that needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a shade. For that reason you might not want to put a sheer on your bathroom window, but there are shades that you can do that on and still maintain privacy. A consideration that people sometime forget is that a fabric that works well for use during the daytime might not fulfill the level of privacy expected when it is dark outside and the interior lights are on. This couples with light control because we are controlling the light out from the home instead of in. We have to decide how much of a night time view in to the home when the lights are on is acceptable, be it simply visible shadows or no shadows at all.

3. Energy efficiency. Window treatments can help to make windows more energy efficient by insulating the window to varying degrees, depending on the treatment.

Energy efficiency is a great reason for window treatments. It has been estimated that we can lose up to 50% of heating and cooling energy through windows. Either by stopping the sun from heating up a room in the summer or by insulating the window from heat loss in the winter, treatments can help conserve energy. Hunter Douglas now has an app for their motorized offerings that allow you to raise or lower the blinds automatically during the day to control how solar heat enters the home during different times of the day.

4. Aesthetics. People want to dress up their windows. It’s a preference for design and often finishes the look of the room. This is why window treatments are sometimes referred to as window fashions.


One of the more confusing parts of window treatments is the operating system or the “lift systems”. It gets to be confusing because of the many options available and Hunter Douglas and Graber each has different names for their system. It basically boils down to corded, cordless, and power. Corded means that there is a cord of some kind that makes the blind move. Cordless blinds move by using your hand directly on the window blind’s bottom rail to operate it. Power usually is battery operated with a remote. A cord is often the standard lift system available for window blinds and shades and that may not be the right option for your application. Hunter Douglas and Graber are both very committed to child and pet safety. Many precautions have been built in to the lift systems, both corded and cordless, to keep everyone safe and happy. It is important to have the conversation about what system is best for you.


So what other considerations do we need to take into account before choosing a window treatment? Clearly personal style is a major motivator for what we choose, but we also need to think technically because the shade has to fit in a specific space. Where does the treatment need to mount, inside the window frame or outside of it? What size does the window treatment need to be? Is there enough room? Will the treatment interfere with the operation of a handle or knob? Will there be light gaps that are unsatisfactory? These important considerations can be best addressed by your window treatment professional. Here at Blue Jay Paint and Blinds in Lake Zurich we are trained to help make sure your project goes perfectly.

We hope you found the basics of window treatments informative. In our next blog post we will discuss some of the different style options available in window blinds, shades, and shutters from Hunter Douglas and Graber.