BUYING GUIDE:
Window Shades

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Window shades are a popular, versatile option for many types of windows in homes ranging from modern to traditional. Shades come in a variety of styles, each with their own unique benefits and customizations. But how do you know which one is right for your space? And where do you even begin?

That’s where we come in. With this buying guide for custom window shades, you’ll learn everything you need to know from the different styles of shades to material selections, control types and more, all so you can pick the right one to suit your style and needs.

What Are Shades?

Shades are a type of window treatment that you move up and down to cover or reveal your window. Shades come in a wide variety of styles from sleek Roller Shades to elegant Roman Shades and energy-efficient Cellular Shades. Each style offers a wide range of material options that vary in terms of light and privacy control as well as color and pattern. Plus, many window shades offer several control types to choose from, including cordless options and motorization.  

What’s the Difference Between Blinds and Shades?

The terms “blinds” and “shades” can sometimes be used interchangeably, but they refer to two different types of window treatments. Both shades and blinds are installed over your window and move up and down to cover or reveal your window. However, the main difference between the two is that blinds feature horizontal slats made of wood or metal that you can tilt up or down while shades feature a single panel of material that covers your window.

Now that you know what shades are and how they compare to blinds, dive into all the details from benefits of window shades to types, customization options and more.

Why Choose Window Shades?

Window Shades in a living room with wood tones include Flat Roman Shades made of Sahara Stripe in Desert

Regardless of the style you choose, there are universal benefits to choosing window shades, including:

  • Six types of shades to choose from, each with their own styles and customizations to create the right look with the right functionality.
  • Hundreds of fabric and material optionsbetween the different styles so you can find the perfect complement to your existing interior.
  • Control types to suit your functionality needs, including cordless and motorization options.
  • Lots of style versatility, with designs ranging from sleek and modern to luxurious and elegant.
  • Install flexibility for most window shades, as many can be mounted either inside the window frame (inside mount) or outside the frame (outside mount).

Types of Window Shades

Within the category of window shades, there are several styles to choose from that vary in aesthetics and functionality. Learn more about each style of shade to determine which is the right fit for your style and functional needs.

Customizations for Shades

Now that you know the different types of window shades, you’re ready to explore some of your customization options. These customizations may vary based on the type of shade you choose. For instance, materials are categorized by the type of shade because there’s very little overlap of materials between shade types. Additionally, each control type may only be compatible with certain types and styles of window shades. Learn more about your customization options so you can choose the right shade and customizations for the perfect look and functionality.

Material Options for Shades

Materials for window shades vary between the different types of window shades. All types of shades offer versatile neutral tones, but for pattern and color variety, Roller Shades and Roman Shades are your best bet. Find out more about your material options based on type of shade.

Roller Shade swatches from the Park Collection are decoratively arranged on a white stage for visual interest

roller shade materials

Materials for traditional Roller Shades come in light-filtering and blackout materials with a range of colors and patterns from versatile neutrals and subtle patterns to bold hues and complex designs. You can also find exclusive designer patterns created by well-known interior designers like Nate Berkus, Sheila Bridges and more. For specialty Roller Shades like Double and Venetian Roller Shades, your selection features versatile neutral tones.

solar shade materials

Materials for Solar Shades feature unique characteristics that allow them to block UV rays while still letting natural light filter through and allowing you a view to the outdoors. Colors for Solar Shade materials are primarily neutral tones since, even when pulled down, you can see through them based on the transparency level. However, there is a lot of textural variation between the materials, especially when choosing from one of the designer collections like Chilewich or Sunbrella.

Solar Shade swatches from the Chilewich Rib Weave Collection are decoratively arranged showing their rich texture
Roman Shade swatches from the Nate Berkus Lowell Tweed Collection are decoratively arranged to show their soft texture

roman shade materials

With 650+ fabric options, including exclusive design fabrics from Nate Berkus, Victoria Hagan and others, Roman Shades offer the most choice when it comes to material selection. The fabrics available vary in terms of colors, patterns, textures, weight and more so you can find the perfect look with the right light control and privacy. Plus, you can add lining to Roman Shade materials to increase your privacy and light control to achieve perfect functionality.

Woven Wood Shade Materials

Made from natural fibers like reeds, bamboo, grasses and even paper, Woven Wood Shades offer a natural, organic look. Materials are available in two main collections: Artisan Weaves and the Naturals Collection. Both offer options that vary in terms of texture, and all colors feature nature-inspired tones ranging from dark espresso to white sand.

Woven Wood Shade swatches from the Artisan Weaves Collection are decoratively arranged to show their rich woven texture
Cellular Shade swatches from the Single Cell Collection are decoratively arranged to show their unique honeycomb cells

cellular shade materials

Cellular Shades come in both light filtering and blackout materials, as well as ¾” single-cell or 3/8” double-cell materials. Double cells feature smaller pleats with two rows of honeycomb cells while single cells feature just one row of larger cells. Double cells will provide a bit more insulation, but otherwise the choice is up to your preference. Colors are all neutral tones that range from warm tones to cool tones and dark to light.

pleated shade materials

Pleated Shade materials vary based on whether you choose a Cellular Shade or a Pleated Roman Shade: either single or double cell options for Cellular Shades in neutral tones or 650+ fabric options ranging in color, pattern, texture and more.

Cellular Pleated Shade swatches from the Single Cell Collection are decoratively arranged to show their unique fabric cells

CUSTOMIZE
YOUR DESIGN

Get started customizing your window shades. Choose the style you like, pick a material and select more customizations like control type, lining and more to create the perfect shade for every room in your home. START CUSTOMIZING

Linings for Roman Shades & Woven Wood Shades

Lining refers to extra material sewn to the back of your shade. Linings are only available for Roman Shades and three styles of Woven Wood Shades. They are free to add when you buy your window shades from The Shade Store.

Each type of lining has its own unique benefits, but all linings also share common benefits, including:  

  • Gives your shade fuller body and weight for a more structured, tailored look.
  • Protects your shade material from the harsh rays of the sun, which can cause fading and deterioration, especially for natural fabrics and woven fibers.
  • Provides added privacy and better light control for your peace of mind.
  • Contributes to better insulation, from heat and cold.

Now that you know the common benefits of lining, learn about your lining options for both Roman Shades and certain styles of Woven Wood Shades to determine which might be the right choice for you.

Window shades in a modern bedroom include Flat Roman Shade made of Shoreham Stripe in Jet for a striking look

roman shade linings

All styles of Roman Shades can have linings added and options include:

  • Privacy Lining – Made of white polyester, this lining provides excellent privacy while still letting some light through.
  • Blackout Lining – Made of white polyester, this lining blocks up to 99% of natural light through your shade for a room darkening effect.
  • Interlining – A cotton flannel material that’s lined in between your shade material and privacy or blackout lining for a fuller body and better insulation.

woven wood shade linings

Only the three Roman Shade-like styles of Woven Wood Shades can have linings added (the Roller Shade style of Woven Wood Shades cannot have lining added as the material rolls up and down around a tube).

Lining options include:

  • Privacy Lining – Made of white polyester, this lining provides excellent privacy while still letting some light through.
  • Blackout Lining – Made of white polyester, this lining blocks up to 99% of natural light through your shade for a room darkening effect.
Window shades in a boho bedroom include Waterfall Woven Wood Shades made of Grassweave in Hemp for an organic look

Control Types

Control type refers to the control mechanism with which you lift and lower your shade. Window shades have several control type options, but not every type or style of shade is compatible with every control type. Learn about your control options and which shade styles are compatible with each to help you decide on the right choice for your needs.

Basic Control Types

Basic controls are those that are most common and typically come standard with your shade for no extra charge. All types of window shades are compatible with at least one of these options:  

  • Cord Lock – Cord lock control features a cord attached to a locking device in the headrail. To operate shades with a cord lock, you need to pull the cord to the center of the shade to release the lock, adjust the shade to your desired height and then move the cord back to its original position to lock the shade back in place. Available for Roman Shades, three styles of Woven Wood Shades (not Roller Woven Wood Shades), Cellular Shades and Pleated Shades.
  • Continuous Loop – This control type features a looped chain attached to a tension device in the headrail that allows you to lift and lower your shade by pulling on one side of the chain. Available for all types of window shades.

Cordless

Cordless control allows you to lift and lower your shade without any cords or chains thanks to a tension device in the tube or headrail. To lift and lower cordless window shades, you’ll need to pull the shade gently down and toward you to release the lock and then adjust the shade to your desired height. Or, in the case of Cellular Shades, simply grab the bottom bar and pull it down or push it up.

Cordless control is available for:

  • Roller Shades (excluding specialty Roller Shades)
  • Solar Shades
  • Flat Roman Shades
  • Cascade Roman Shades
  • All styles of Woven Wood Shades
  • Cellular Shades

Motorized

Motorization allows you to adjust your window shades effortlessly. The specific controls available to you will depend on which motorization system you choose. However, most systems, including our proprietary motors, come with a remote. Some systems can be paired with an app on your smartphone or tablet to control your window shades. Others still can be paired with a smart home device like Google Nest or Amazon Alexa, allowing you to control your shade with the sound of your voice.

A motorization remote sits on a table next to The Shade Store wireless link and a Google Nest smart home device

effortless ease from The Shade Store

Our proprietary motors are quiet and discrete and are powered by either a rechargeable battery or a plug-in cord. To control your shade, use our sleek remote, or our app on your smartphone or tablet.* For truly effortless ease, pair your motor with your smart home device and control your shades with the sound of your voice.*

*To pair your motor with a smart device, you’ll need our wireless link which converts the digital signal from your smart device into a radio signal that the motor understands.

Valances

An additional customization for window shades is valances. Valances can be soft or hard structures, depending on the type of shade you choose. In comparison to cornices, which are similar structures, valances are typically shorter in height and shallower in depth. Cornices can be added to any shade and can be designed however you envision them, but they are most commonly used with Drapery. When it comes to valances, there are certain styles that are compatible with different types of shades. Learn more about your valance options based on shade type:

Roller & Solar Shade Valance Options

A product image of a metal valance for Roller shades shows the sleek metal design of the valance

metal valance

Metal valances come in five finishes, and you have the option to include a fabric insert to match the material of your shade. Inside-mount (pictured) and outside-mount options are available.

A product image of an upholstered valance for roller shades shows how it can match your roller shade material

upholstered valance

A 4-inch wooden valance, that’s handmade and fully upholstered in the same material as your shade. Inside-mount (pictured) and outside-mount options are available.

Roman Shade & Woven Wood Shade Valance Options

A product image of an upholstered valance for Roman Shades shows a sturdy structure with woven material

Upholstered Valance: Roman & Woven Shades

A 4-inch wooden valance is available for both Roman and certain collections of Woven Wood Shades. It is handmade and fully upholstered in the same material as the shade for a clean, finished look.

An upholstered valance for Woven Wood Shades is only available for the Naturals Collection.

Inside-mount and outside-mount options are available.

A product image of a soft valance for Woven Wood Shades shows the flap of textured material to match your shade

Woven Wood Shade Soft Valance

The 6-inch soft valance is a piece of fabric that hangs from the headboard and matches the shade material.

Soft valances are available for the Woven Wood Shades Artisan Weaves collection only.

Inside-mount and outside-mount options are available.

discover
curated designs

Explore our Photo Gallery for inspirational ideas to fuel your creativity for your own window shades design. VIEW THE GALLERY

Cost Considerations for Shades

Now that you have an overview of all the types of window shades and their customization options, you’re ready to consider cost. The following chart shows a cost comparison of each type of shade at its starting price — meaning with basic customizations — without the additional price of upgrades or installation.

Type of Window Shade Starting Price
Roller ShadesWindow shades in a mid-century modern lounge include Roller Shades made of Tea Leaves in Brown for an organic pattern$$
Solar ShadesWindow shades in a modern grey kitchen include Solar Shades made of Sunbrella 3% Solistico in Ash to soften the light$$
Roman ShadesWindow shades in a bright sitting room include Flat Roman Shades made of Victoria Hagan Sankaty Stripe in Moon$$$
Woven Wood ShadesWindow shades in an inviting sunroom include Waterfall Woven Wood Shades made of Coastline in Oat for a warm golden color$$$
Cellular ShadesWindows shades in a modern boho bedroom include Cellular Shades made of single cell blackout material in Midnight$$$
Pleated ShadesWindow shades in a modern sitting room include Pleated Roman Shades made of Wool Blend in Fleece for a luxe look$ - $$$$

GET A QUICK
PRICE QUOTE

Simply enter your measurements and get estimated pricing for different product categories and price groups. QUICK PRICE QUOTE

While having a sense of the basic starting price points for window shades is important, it’s also essential to understand how different customization factors affect your upfront cost.

Factors That Affect Upfront Costs

  • Shade type – Each shade type has a different starting price point based on the general materials it takes to assemble the structure. The quality of the basic material and amount of material it requires to achieve the right look also affects cost.
  • Size – The larger your shade, the more material is required for it, and the higher the price will be.
  • Material – Your material selection will affect your final price as some materials, like exclusive design fabrics, will have a higher price than standard materials.
  • Control type – Basic controls like continuous loop and cord lock don’t cost extra so are baked into the starting price of the shade. However, upgraded controls like cordless and motorization will have an additional cost, with motorization being the most expensive option.

Explore Shades in Your Budget

Start customizing your window shades by choosing your style, material size and control type to create the ideal design to meet your needs while sticking to your budget.

Best Applications for Each Type of Shade

Window shades in an earthy dining room include Flat Roman Shades made of Lowell Tweed in Flint for a stony color

As you’ve learned, each type of shade offers its own unique characteristics that make it better or less than ideal for different applications. Consider different types of applications, such as inside- or outside-mounted shades and different rooms in your home, to confirm which window shades are the best choice for your particular situation.

Inside & Outside Mount

Inside vs outside mount refers to where your shade is fastened in relation to the window frame.

Window shades in a modern room include Flat Roman Shades made of Victoria Hagan Jasmine in Midnight for a bold look

inside mount

Inside-mount applications mean your shade is fastened inside the window frame from the “ceiling” of the frame or from the sides of your frame.

Window shades in a playroom include Waterfall Woven Wood Shades made of Somerset in Cloud for an inviting organic look

outside mount

Outside-mount applications mean your shade is fastened outside of the window frame, either on the wall above the frame or from the ceiling.

When it comes to inside- or outside-mount applications, all types of window shades work great in either one. However, make sure you pay attention to the depth requirement for each type of window shade to ensure it can be securely mounted in your window. Depth requirement refers to how deep your window box is when measured from the glass to the edge of your window frame. For most window shades, you’ll need a depth requirement of at least ¾-inch for a secure inside mount and around 2 inches for a flush inside mount.  As long as your window box is deep enough to accommodate an inside mount for your chosen type of shade, the choice is purely based on your preference.

Rooms Best Suited to Each Type of Shade

Window shades in a chalet-inspired room include Flat Roman Shades made of Sheer Wool Blend in Cloud for a light, breezy look

In addition to inside- and outside-mount applications, it’s also important to think about the room you’re installing your shade. Different types of shade may fare better in certain rooms than others. For instance, rooms with lots of moisture and humidity like bathrooms and kitchens will do best with a shade made from a hardy synthetic material, like Roller or Solar Shades. Find out more about the best room applications for each type of shade.

Roller Shades offer a lot of install versatility. Whether installed in an inside- or outside-mount application, they take up minimal space and offer a clean, modern look. Thanks to their material composition being primarily performance synthetics like polyester and acrylic, as well as their flat, unadorned face, these shades are great for rooms with a lot of activity and/or moisture. Kids rooms, bathrooms, basements and kitchens are just some active and humid rooms where Roller Shades can be a good choice. Roller Shades can also be a good choice for a more casual living or dining room

Similar to Roller Shades, Solar Shades offer a lot of install versatility. They can easily be inside or outside mounted in most windows and take up minimal space. Plus, Solar Shades are also primarily made from synthetic materials, so they fare well in rooms with lots of activity and moisture. However, thanks to their UV-blocking properties, Solar Shades are ideal for your sunniest rooms, whether the kitchen, living room or sunroom.

Roman Shades vary in style, but all can be installed inside or outside mount, but just be aware of the depth requirement (¾-inch) to ensure they can be installed securely. Thanks to their beautiful pleats and soft fabric, Roman Shades make an elegant addition to more formal spaces like living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. These rooms are also less likely to have moisture and humidity, which depending on the fabric chosen for your Roman Shades, can cause wrinkling, stretching and potentially even mold and mildew growth.

Woven Wood Shades offer lots of install versatility whether you choose one of the Roman Shade styles or the Roller Woven Wood Shade style. With their natural material composition of reeds, grasses and bamboo, Woven Wood Shades are best used in rooms with low moisture and lower levels of activity, similar to Roman Shades. Living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms are all great options for Woven Wood Shades.

Thanks to their minimalist look and small headrail, Cellular Shades can fit in most windows for an inside mount, with a depth requirement of only 5/8-inch. Thanks to their pleated honeycomb design, Cellular Shades are excellent insulators so are best suited to sunny or drafty rooms that get particularly hot to cold. The pleats will trap the air from the window to keep your interior climate more temperate. Since Cellular Shades are simpler in their aesthetics, they’re usually best suited to more causal applications like family rooms, media rooms, basements or bedrooms.

Both Cellular Shades and Pleated Roman Shades can be inside or outside mounted, but due to the extra fabric of Pleated Roman Shades, you’ll likely need a deeper window for a flush inside mount. Whether you choose Cellular Shades or Pleated Roman Shades, both make excellent insulators, thanks to the honeycomb design of Cellular Shades and the extra fabric in Pleated Roman Shades. The extra fabric of Pleated Roman Shades also makes them must more luxurious and elegant compared to Cellular Shades, meaning they are best suited to formal rooms like living rooms and dining rooms.

How to Measure for Shades: Best Practices

With all the information you have regarding the different types of window shades, you likely have an idea as to which will work best for your home. To order window shades, you’ll need to learn how to measure for your ordering length and width. Luckily, measuring for shades is similar regardless of the type of shade you choose. These instructions are best practices that work for most shades. However, it’s always best to view the specific install instructions for your chosen type of shade to get the best measure advice.  

An illustration shows the how to measure for window shades length and width in an inside mount application

measuring for Inside Mount

The process for measuring for an inside-mount application is similar across shade types.

Step 1: Measure the depth of your window frame (from the glass to the edge of the window’s interior trim) to ensure you have the appropriate depth requirement (at least ¾-inch for most shades).

Step 2: Take three measurements for length (from the right, middle and left of the frame) and use the largest number as your order length.

Step 3: Take three measurements (from the top, middle and bottom of the frame) and use the smallest number for your ordering width.

For Roller and Solar Shades, take three measurements for length, but only one measurement for width: At the top of your frame, since that’s where Roller and Solar Shades are widest.

Measuring for Outside Mount

The process for measuring for an outside-mount application is very simple. Plus, it’s universal between all types of window shades.

Step 1: To measure width, measure the entire distance you want your shade to cover beyond the window frame on either side, making sure the shade extends the same distance on each side of the frame.

Step 2: Measure for length start at the point above your window frame where you want the headrail to be installed. If you’re installing it on the ceiling, start at the ceiling. Then measure down just past the window frame. This is your ordering length, based on how far you want your shade to extend above the window frame.

An illustration shows the how to measure for window shades length and width in an outside mount application

Best Practices for Shades Installation

Now that you know how to measure length and width for your window shades, you’re likely wondering whether or not you can DIY installation. The good news is that most shades are relatively simple and straightforward to install, but of course the actual difficulty will depend on your abilities and level of comfort with the project. These installation instructions are general guidelines with best practices for most shades and will help you decide if a DIY install is right for you.

Remember: Always read through your shade’s installation instructions before starting your project.  

Prefer to Leave it to the Pros?

Our team of window treatment professionals offers free measurements to take the work off your plate. Plus, they’ll come back for installation to finish the job (install fees apply).

Best Practices for Installation

The installation instructions are a simplified version that correspond to most shade installations. For full instructions, be sure to read the install guide for your chosen shade.

  • Step 1: Gather tools. You’ll typically need a stepladder, pencil, tape measure, level, drill and screwdriver, but check your shade’s specific install instructions for an exact list.
  • Step 2: Mark where your brackets and headrail, or tube in the case of Roller and Solar shades, will be fastened.
  • Step 3: Install the brackets in the place marked in Step 2 with the appropriate tools as indicated in the installation guide for your chosen shades and then mount the headrail, or tube for Roller and Solar Shades.

Cleaning & Maintenance

A bright rustic dining room with a dark wood table has Flat Roman Shades made of Shoreline in Cloud for a light inviting look

To ensure your window shades look their best and maintain optimal functionality, it’s best to keep a regular maintenance schedule. Regardless of the type of shade or material chosen, you can follow the general cleaning guidelines:

Regularly clean them using a low-suction, handheld vacuum, or dust them with a soft, clean cloth or feather duster.

For deep cleaning of embedded dust and dirt or a stain, follow these instructions based on material type:

Cleaning Natural Materials

Natural materials are more likely to be sensitive to cleaning solutions, so if you want to clean your shade at home, test the cleaning solution on a swatch first to ensure it doesn’t ruin the material. However, due to the delicate nature of natural materials, we highly recommend contacting a local window treatment cleaning specialist who can likely clean your shades without taking them down. If you don’t have a window treatment cleaning specialist in your area, take a swatch to your local dry cleaner to discuss cleaning with them.

Cleaning Synthetic Materials

Cleaning synthetic materials can be done with the following steps based on the type of shade.

For Roller and Solar Shades:

For traditional Roller Shades (excluding specialty Roller Shades) and Solar Shades, you may be able to remove dirt and stains with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

For Roman Shades with Sunbrella fabric:

For Roman Shades made with performance Sunbrella fabric, you can follow these steps for cleaning dirt and stains:

  • Blot (don’t rub) liquid spills with a clean, dry cloth. For oil-based spills, apply an absorbent such as corn starch, then remove with a straight edge.
  • Spray on a mild cleaning solution of soap (such as Dawn or Woolite) and water.
  • Rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  • Leave your shade to air dry.

If these efforts do not remove the stain or dirt from your shade, contact a local window treatment cleaning specialist or dry cleaner.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shades

Review the following frequently asked questions for a deeper understanding of window shades.

Window shades come in several price ranges that you can see in the cost section above. Plus, you can keep your costs down by sticking to simpler customizations, such as basic control types and more affordable materials.   

The “best” window shades for you will depend on your individual needs and wants. If insulation is important to you, Cellular Shades are your best bet. If you’re looking for an elegant, functional option for your dining room, try Flat Roman Shades. For sunny rooms with lots of natural light, cut down on cooling costs while maintaining your view with Solar Shades.

Ease of use depends on the type of shade and control type you’ve chosen, but most shades are very easy to use. The only exception is for some decorative types of Roman Shades, including Relaxed Roman Shades and Tulip Roman Shades. These window shades add a beautiful decorative element to your space but will require dressing (manually adjusting the pleats) each time they are lifted and lowered, which makes them a bit less functional than other types of shades.

Yes, all window shades will provide a level of insulation, but some shades are better at insulating than others. For the best insulation for both hot and cold environments, choose Cellular Shades. Roman Shades with interlining can also provide excellent insulation for your room. For heat control, Solar Shades block heat-generating UV rays while still filtering natural light for a bright, welcoming space.

Ease of installation will ultimately depend on the type of shade you’ve chosen and your individual skills and level of comfort with the job. However, in general, window shades are typically straightforward to install.

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See your product options and make the right selections to design the perfect Shades for your home.   

A boho-inspired bedroom features Waterfall Woven Wood Shades made of Grassweave in Hemp for inviting organic texture