Choosing the ideal solar shading solution for your windows involves a multitude of alternatives and can be quite a daunting task. When deciding on how to dress a window there are many considerations to contemplate. For many it comes down to a matter of personal style, although the favourite option could have a big influence on the overall appearance of a room.
For example; a room with several windows would look overwhelmed with full curtains, so blinds are often the recommended solution. Choosing between blinds and curtains can be one of the most difficult decisions in solar shading as functionality, composition and maintenance play an equal role to design and aesthetics.
Functionality includes privacy, controlling the flow of light, keeping heat in and any draughts out. In office environments blinds or curtains can be an effective way of improving acoustic performance which will reduce the impact of discomfort to staff due to poor acoustics in many offices.
Vertical Louvre Blinds
In general, blinds are extremely practical as they can filter the amount of external light entering a room. Vertical blinds are exceptional at this, and still provide an acceptable level of privacy. Vertical blinds are also a good option for covering wide windows in a single blind. Modern homes and offices are adopting vertical blinds due to a wide range of fabrics and materials, easy maintenance and suitable for all budgets.
Many blind fabrics offer substantial energy efficiency as they have reflective properties that can reduce heat gain from the sun and can be tightly fitted to the window cavity so as not to cut off heat sources such as radiators. There are several acoustic fabrics that will have a significant impact on reducing echo as well as providing protection from heat and glare.
Light control is excellent with vertical blinds, so whether you want to change the lighting conditions or create some privacy, it’s just the pull of a control chain, twist of a wand (or remote control) to get the required ambiance. Rooms can be kept bright while retaining privacy by just tilting the louvres in right direction. Dedicated privacy blinds are mounted as close to the glazing as possible within the window opening and blackout fabric will provide room darkening, although there could always be light leakage between vertical louvres and around the edges.
Control of vertical blinds is also a bonus as they can have controls on either side. They can be made to be pulled to one side or alternatively split in the middle like curtains. The louvre’s can be changed if the colour scheme is changed at a fraction of the cost of buying and installing a new blind and headrails come in a variety of colours. They are easy to clean and do not collect dust, so maintenance is minimal, and durability is high.
Because of these reasons vertical blinds are particularly favourable in offices and modern homes to give an elegant and luxurious touch to dressing a window and work well if the windows are uncommonly wide or long or if there are several grouped together.
Reasons to Choose Blinds
- Very good light filtration as standard, exceptional with block out materials
- Easily fitted to the window recess, so ideal for limited space
- Easy to maintain and clean, inexpensive to replace damaged panels
- Wide range of materials including wood or vinyl
- Versatility – can be moved completely to the side or tilt the panels to vary light ingress
- More affordable than curtains
- Can offer good energy saving benefits
- Best option for kitchens and bathrooms
Curtains come in a vast array of styles with a range of fabrics suitable for just about any interior. They can completely block out light and add warmth in the cooler months or with a soft, gentler fabric they can create a chic and opulent look that will sway with the breeze when the window is open.
Curtains certainly have a charm and character of their own and even though they are a classic option they are an effective way of blocking sunlight and ensure maximum privacy. The homely ambiance they create is always a favourite for any type of accommodation.
Thick material is ideal for reducing draughts from windows and blackout linings would be the ultimate solution to creating a dark room as there are very few light gaps when comparing to other solar shading products. They generally provide a better efficiency of blackout than a blind as a result of being mounted outside the window opening, overlap on either side and the fabric hanging snug against the walls each side. Curtains also have the widest range of textures, designs and colours so will always be a popular choice for home decorating and interior design.
Traditional aesthetics favour curtains to show wealth and opulence, even some boardrooms may still install them for a luxurious feel and improved acoustics, typically in a heavy wool serge or velvet.
They can also be used as room dividers or creating an acoustic or visual partition and have long been used in theatres for this purpose. The fullness of the curtain would usually affect the acoustic properties, but with recent advances in fabric manufacturing lightweight sheer and voile materials can have a similar performance.
Reasons to Choose Curtains
- Most effective at blocking sunlight
- Gives a room a cosier ambiance
- Wide range of colours, patterns, fabric types and designs
- Wide range of linings, interlinings and headings
- Less likely to get damaged and safer around children
- More effective at keeping draughts out and warmth in
- Different thickness options for various conditions
- For night-time privacy
- More sound absorbent
Which is Best – Blinds or Curtains?
The answer to this question depends on many factors including personal preference. There is always the option to have both!
Blinds can be used to control light while the curtains function as a window dressing and to provide extra insulation when needed. This way the best of both worlds can be attained.
Any contract blinds or curtains installed must adhere to the BS5867 Fire Safety Standards. There are 3 levels of durability depending on how the material is affected by the laundering process during the life of the product.
In conclusion, both vertical blinds and curtains can be a feature in their own right in your offices, or they can work seamlessly into a room’s interior. It’s all about the look and style you want to go for and ultimately what you want from your window treatments.
The biggest advantage vertical blinds have over curtains is that they are usually less expensive and simpler to install. You also use less fabric for the softer blinds and has a more modern look. They reveal much more space than curtains and can be fixed either within the window recess or outside the frame.
Pairing curtains and blinds, particularly in areas such as Bay or French windows and in place of voile curtains in bedrooms is a very popular option to consider.