When it comes to window coverings you generally have three options to go for – blinds, shades, or curtains. This article will help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type so you can make the right choice for your home or office.

Window blinds

Blinds are made of slats that can be drawn up and down or sideways to cover a window or a door. The slats are generally made of a hard material like aluminium, bamboo or vinyl, but they can also be made of fabric if they hang vertically. Vertical blinds are often used to cover sliding doors or wide windows as they can be moved sideways along a track to open or close them. The blind slats, or vanes, can also be tilted to allow more or less light to enter. Blinds are well suited for all rooms, but are especially useful in bathrooms and kitchens where fabric coverings would be unsuitable due to damp and humidity.

Popular types: Venetian blinds, vertical blinds

Advantages: Blinds can take up little space if they are installed within a door or window frame rather than outside it. They allow fine control over how much light enters a room (though they don’t do a great job of blocking all light).

Disadvantages: The slats allow light as well as hot or cold air to leak through even when they are closed, so they are not great light and temperature insulators. They also require cleaning as they can accumulate dust easily, though cleaning is fairly easy as the slats can simply be wiped with a soft cloth.

Vertical blinds for a doorway

Vertical blinds for a doorway

Wooden venetian blinds

Wooden venetian blinds

Panel blinds

Panel blinds


Shades are often lumped under the category of ‘blinds’, but it is useful to distinguish between them. While blinds are made of separate slats, shades are made from a solid piece of fabric that is rolled or drawn up and down to open or close. If thick fabric is used, shades can be very effective at blocking out light and providing temperature insulation. To let in more light, a shear (semi-transparent) fabric can be used. Shades can give a softer look than blinds and offer huge variety in terms of fabric patterns and textures. Light dirt and dust can be cleaned away with the soft brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner. Tougher dirt will need professional cleaning.

Popular types: Roller blinds, Roman shades

Advantages: Shades can block out light more effectively than blinds or curtains. They can also offer very good temperature insulation. Shades also take up less space than curtains as they are generally installed within a window frame rather than outside it.

Disadvantages: Can require professional cleaning.

Roman blinds on a window

Roman shades

Pleated roman blinds

Pleated roman shades

Fabric roller blind

Fabric roller shade

Curtains and drapes

Linen curtains

Curtains ofter an easy choice for window coverings because they are easy to hang and can be cheaper than blinds or shades. Curtains are usually made from lightweight fabrics and can be short enough to just cover a window without reaching to the ground. Drapes are similar to curtains but use heavier fabric and reach all the way to the ground. They can give a room a very luxurious, classic look, and are excellent for insulating against light, temperature and even noise.

Advantages: Can be cheaper to purchase and install. Offer good insulation if heavy fabric is used.

Disadvantages: Can take up more space than blinds, making a room seem smaller. Can require professional cleaning. Curtains are not recommended for humid areas like bathrooms and kitchens as they are susceptible to mould and can absorb fat and odours from cooking.


We hope this overview has clarified the issue of blinds vs shades vs curtains so you can make an informed choice.

Still need some direction? Call us for expert advice on custom made blinds and shades.

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