Blinds vs. Shades

Blinds vs. Shades

Are you better off with blinds, or are shades a smarter choice for window coverings? When it comes to window treatments, many homeowners aren’t sure whether to pick blinds or shades—or whether there’s even a difference! Bloomin' Blinds can help you decide.

Difference between Blinds vs. Shades

Though many people use these terms interchangeably to refer to all window treatments, blinds and shades are different kinds of window coverings. So what’s the difference? 

The short answer: Blinds are window treatments featuring slats that can be tilted open or closed. Shades are a single window covering made from softer textiles. Blinds can be horizontal or vertical and come in wood, bamboo, faux wood, aluminum, and vinyl. Shades can be opaque (blackout) or more transparent (light filtering). Shade styles include cellular, roman, and roller shades.

Both blinds and shades serve the same basic function of covering a window for purposes of privacy, light control, or decoration. However, depending on your specific preferences and lifestyle, one may be better suited to your home than the other.

Bedroom with Window Blinds on Two Windows

How Do You Choose Blinds or Shades?

Both shades and blinds are available in a range of styles, materials, and functionality—as well as a range of price points—so there’s something to fit every room and budget. If you’re trying to decide whether to choose blinds or custom shades for your home, here are a number of factors to consider.

Light Control: Blinds Offer More Control But Blackout Shades Can Block More Light 

How much sunlight does your window get, and how much light do you want in the room? Are there times when you want full daylight and other times when you want the room dark? These questions will help narrow your options.

Because of their slatted construction, blinds offer the most variable light control. You can tilt the slats to direct where the light lands and how much enters. If you want a clear view, you also have the option to raise the blinds completely.

Shades are better for diffusing light or darkening a room altogether. When closed, most cellular shades create a soft, warm glow without sacrificing any privacy. Vinyl roller shades or lined roman shades can darken or completely black out a room, which is useful in rooms such as bedrooms or home theaters. If you want to absorb UV rays and deflect heat from the sun, solar shades may be the right fit.

Privacy: Shades Offer Better (& Worse) Privacy Depending on the Material 

Both blinds and shades can offer privacy by obscuring the view from outside, though there is nuance in this function. Blinds can be angled strategically to allow in light but block sightlines. Meanwhile, different construction materials vary the privacy level for different types of shades. For instance, roller shades made from a more sheer fabric may prevent a detailed view while still displaying silhouettes, while those made from vinyl or opaque fabric offer exceptional privacy.

Cleaning: Some Shades Can Be Vacuumed; Blinds Accumulate More Dust

How often do you see yourself cleaning your window treatments? Are they in a high-traffic area, or do you have kids or pets? Shades are often easily cleaned with a vacuum’s brush attachment or a gentle spot-clean, though tough stains or excessive dirt may need to be handled by a professional. Blinds, on the other hand, generally just require the occasional dusting with a soft cloth or even a quick vacuuming.

Insulation: Specialty Shades Offer Superior Insulation 

Several types of shades offer excellent insulation by either blocking the sun’s rays to keep your home cooler, preventing warm air from escaping during colder weather, or both. Cellular shades are generally considered to be the most energy efficient window treatments in that regard, thanks to their signature honeycomb pockets of air that create separation between the room and the window. Roman shades, especially with an insulating liner, and solar shades are also good choices for insulating window treatments. Blinds allow more airflow than shades, making them poor insulators, particularly against heat loss. Opt for shades if this is your main concern.

Safety: Cordless Options Exist for Blinds and Shades 

The biggest safety issue with blinds and shades involves the lift cord. Bloomin' Blinds offers a number of cordless styles for both shades and blinds, as well as automated blinds or shades options. One consideration for those with small children or pets: Cordless blinds still contain laddering strings to connect the slats, so cordless shades may have a slight edge when it comes to safety.

Popularity: Blinds Are At Least Twice As Popular 

When it comes to demand, blinds have been the dominant window treatment for decades. If you want a neutral option that can withstand the changing of trends, blinds may be the right choice. On the flip side, if you want to stand out and be more unique, shades offer plenty of patterns, colors, and designs that make a much bolder statement than blinds. 

Style: Blinds and Shades Are Both Available in a Massive Array of Materials and Colors  

Anyone who’s lived in an apartment or starter home is likely familiar with basic white aluminum mini blinds, vinyl vertical blinds, and white roller shades. There’s a reason these are so ubiquitous: They are truly neutral, they’re budget-friendly, and they get the job done. However, there’s a whole world of colors and textiles and finishes to choose outside these utilitarian options. From elegant wood blinds for the dining room to cellular shades in a playful color that matches your kid’s room to woven grass shades that bring a natural element to the living room, there’s something to suit every taste.

Cost: Some Blinds Are Cheaper But Both Range from Affordable to Luxury Prices  

Blinds are often considered more budget-friendly, but high-end custom blinds can be more expensive than simple roller shades. Though basic aluminum blinds are generally less expensive than basic shades, there truly is something for everyone. For a general idea, though, product and installation for eight windows ranges about $350-750 for aluminum blinds or $675-$1300+ for roman shades.


Still Need Help Choosing?

Bloomin' Blinds offers free, no-obligation consultations and estimates. We can answer any questions you may have, make suggestions on the best window treatments to solve particular design challenges, and give you a cost comparison for your favorite blinds or shades styles. Since we’re fully mobile, you’ll be able to complete your consultation in the comfort of your own home. If you’re looking for custom blinds or shades, call Bloomin' Blinds today!

Kris Stuart About the Author: Kris Stuart, Bloomin’ Blinds
Kris has been a window covering expert in the industry since 2001. He has expertise in a wide range of window covering matters, including repairs, installations, sales, and administration. In his free time, Kris loves to spend time with his wife and kids, making them laugh, travel together, and trying new hobbies.