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A scandi-chic living room doesn't have to decide between roller shades vs romans shades because it layers both
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August 10, 2023

Comparing Roller Shades vs Roman Shades

When comparing Roller Shades vs Roman Shades you’ll find several similarities, as well as distinct differences. Both are types of shades that move upwards and downwards to cover more or less of your window. Deciding which is best for your home will come down to these distinct differences.

To decide between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, first learn what each one is, then dive into a comparative analysis that looks at each type of shade through the lens of important considerations.

Roller Shades on tall windows in a stairwell show the style difference in roller shades vs roman shades

What Are Roller Shades?

Roller Shades are window treatments with a single, flat panel of light-filtering or blackout material. The material rolls around a tube at the top of the window that allows you to control the height of your shade. Roller Shades come in a couple of different styles, all of which are highly functional.

A Roman Shades has crisp folds of fabric at the bottom, showing the style difference between roller shades vs roman shades

what are roman shades?

Roman Shades are window treatments that are raised and lowered by folding into themselves, creating a series of folds when raised and unfolding in a cascading motion when lowered. Roman Shades come in several different styles, with some being more functional and others being more decorative.

Are Roman Shades or Roller Shades Better?

If you’re considering Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, one of the first questions that likely comes to mind is, which is better? The truth is that both are great options, but the better choice for your home between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades will depend on your specific needs and wants and which shade best suits those needs and wants. 

Considering Other Window Treatments?

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Roman Shades vs Roller Shades: How to Choose

Compare Roller Shades vs Roman Shades through the lens of the following topics to determine which is the right choice for your space.

Aesthetics

Aesthetics is all about how the shades look. Finding the right style for your space between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades will depend on which best blends into your existing interior décor to create a unified aesthetic.

Roller Shade Aesthetics

A mid-century modern living room chose roller shades vs roman shades for the sleek, modern look of roller shades

In comparing Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, Roller Shades feature a single, flat panel of material and discrete tube that creates a sleek, clean and minimalistic look. This type of shade best suits modern or contemporary style homes. However, Roller Shades offer many different material options from soft, neutral solid colors to bold, bright patterns so you can find just the right look for your space. Plus, Roller Shades do come in a few different styles, including Venetian Shades and Double Roller Shades, which offer a unique look and their own customizations so you can create the right look for your space.

Roman Shade Aesthetics

A dining room chose roman shades when comparing roller shades vs roman shades for its elegant folds of fabric

Overall, when comparing the aesthetics of Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, Roman Shades deliver a more elegant, sophisticated look. Their soft folds of fabric give them an elevated appearance that adds refinement to any room. Yet, with their many different styles you can create a look that suits a wide range of aesthetic styles. For modern or contemporary homes, try Flat, Cascade or Aventura Roman Shades. For homes with casual styles like coastal- or farmhouse-inspired aesthetics, opt for Tulip or Relaxed Roman Shades. Or, for opulent elegance with great functionality, choose Pleated Roman Shades.

The Shade Store Recommendation

Between Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, Roller Shades are generally more modern and sleek while Roman Shades are more traditional and elegant. However, both offer so many options for colors and patterns that you can likely find the look you want with either option.

Ease of Use

Ease of use refers to the functionality of the shades and how easy they are to use on an everyday basis. Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, their ease of use differs between the different styles of shades as well as the control type chosen.

Roller Shade Ease of Use

No matter which style of Roller Shade you choose, you can expect nearly effortless ease of use and excellent functionality, making Roller Shades ideal for everyday use. And between the different control types available, each one offers easy, simple control over your light and privacy levels:

  • Continuous Loop – A continuous loop consists of a looped chain that hangs from the tube of your Roller Shade. To adjust your shade, pull the front side of the looped chain down to lift the shade and lift the chain up to lower the shade. You can also lower the shade by pulling down on the side of the chain closer to the window.  
  • Cordless – A cordless control mechanism allows you to adjust your shade without any dangling cords. To lift and lower your shade, grab the bottom bar and pull the shade slightly down and toward you to release the lock. Then adjust the shade to the desired height by pulling down or lifting up. To lock the shade in place, simply push the bottom bar toward the window. 
  • Motorization – For motorized Roller Shades, the motor lives in the tube mechanism and mechanically lifts and lowers your shade. You can control your shades with the press of a button on a remote, through an app on your phone or tablet, or with the sound of your voice when paired with a home automation system.  

Roman Shade Ease of Use

When it comes to comparing Roman Shades vs Roller Shades in terms of ease of use, not all styles of Roman Shades are the same. Certain styles of Roman Shades are made for functionality as well as style, while others are made primarily for decoration.

A dark Roman Shades made of Jasmine in Midnight offers lots of texture and dimension to a window in a modern room

Functional Roman Shade Styles

Roman Shades with easy functionality include Flat (pictured), Cascade, Aventura and Pleated Roman Shades. These four styles offer simple use and are easy to raise and lower on a daily basis.

When comparing these functional Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, you’ll find that the two both have many of the same types of control options, with cord lock being the only differentiator:  

  • Cord Lock – A set of cords that allow you to lift and lower your shade. Pull the cord toward the center of the shade to release the lock, adjust your shades to the desired height, and then pull the cord back toward the edge of the shade to lock it into place. 
  • Continuous Loop – The looped chain hangs from the headrail of your Roman Shade and you adjust it the same way you adjust the Roller Shade: Pull the front side of the looped chain down to lift the shade and lift the chain up to lower the shade. You can also lower the shade by pulling down on the side of the chain closer to the window.  
  • Cordless – Just like Roller Shades, a cordless control mechanism allows you to adjust your shade without any dangling cords. To lift and lower your Roman Shade, grab the ring sewn into the back of the fabric at the bottom of your shade and pull the shade slightly down and toward you to release the lock. Then adjust the shade to the desired height by pulling down or lifting up. To lock the shade in place, simply push the bottom ring toward the window.
  • Motorization – For motorized Roman Shades, the motor lives in the headrail and mechanically lifts and lowers your shade. You can control your shades with a remote, an app or the sound of your voice.

Decorative Roman Shade Styles

Tulip and Relaxed Roman Shades (pictured) both fall into the decorative category of styles and are not suited for everyday use. These types of shades come with either a continuous loop or cord lock control mechanism, but whenever lifting or lowering them, you’ll need to adjust or dress their loose folds, so they look intentional and attractive.

Relaxed Roman Shades made of Windsor Stripe in Sage deliver a soft, casual look to a coastal-inspired sitting room

The Shade Store Recommendation 

In comparing Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, think about how important functionality and ease of use are to you. For the best ease of use, opt for Roller Shades or the functional styles of Roman Shades. With these options, no matter which control type you choose, you’ll enjoy a simple, easy-to-use shade.

Light & Privacy Control

The ability to control your natural light and privacy is a key characteristic of window treatments. Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, both offer the same mode of operation to control your light and privacy levels: lifting and lowering the shade. However, your light and privacy exposure vary based on the style of shade chosen as well as the material selected.

Roller Shades Light & Privacy Control

Roller Shades offer two main types of material that provide different levels of light and privacy exposure: Blackout and Light Filtering.

A blackout Roller Shade made of Chilewich Quilt in Tuxedo delivers a geometric pattern and darkening effect to a bedroom

Blackout Material

Blackout material blocks up to 99% of the natural light entering your room, giving you excellent privacy and a room darkening effect that’s ideal for bedrooms and media rooms.

A Roller Shade made of Chelsea in Sand allows light to filter into a mid-century modern dining room with colorful chairs

Light-Filtering Material

Light-filtering material filters natural light into your room while cutting glare, resulting in a soft, warm glow. Light filtering materials vary in how much light they let into your room.

Other styles of Roller Shades, like Double and Venetian Roller Shades offer different privacy and light control levels based on their functionality and chosen material.

  • Double Roller Shades feature two layers of alternating sheer and opaque horizontal bands that you can adjust with a quick pull to either alternate them or line up the opaque bands for greater privacy and a room darkening effect.
  • Venetian Roller Shades feature S-shaped vanes that you can tilt up or down between two sheer layers of material. The S-shaped vanes come in either light-filtering or blackout material.

Roman Shades Light & Privacy Control

When comparing Roller Shades vs Roman Shades in terms of privacy and light control, Roman Shades offer a variety of materials and linings that provide different levels of both light and privacy.

Rolls of Roman Shade material show some color and texture options available when comparing roller shades vs roman shades

Material Options

Different materials on their own will provide varying levels of light and privacy. Sheers, for instance, will let the most light in and offer the least privacy, while thicker materials like wool and wool blends will block more light and deliver greater privacy.

In addition to the material itself, Roman Shades also offer different levels of light and privacy based on the lining you choose. Options for lining include:

  • Unlined – Without lining, your light and privacy levels will depend entirely on the Roman Shade material chosen.
  • Privacy Lining – Provides excellent privacy, while still letting in some light.
  • Blackout Lining – Blocks up to 99% of the natural light, giving you a serene room darkening effect and the best privacy.
  • Privacy with Interlining – Consists of a cotton flannel interlining between the Roman Shade material and the privacy lining, delivering excellent privacy and blocking a good amount of light, while also giving your Roman Shade even more body and fullness.

The Shade Store Recommendation 

Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, both provide many different options for varying degrees of light and privacy control, so you can find just the right amount for your space with either one.

Insulation

Insulation refers to how well your window treatments help regulate your interior temperatures by either preventing heat buildup, blocking a cold draft or both. Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, both offer some insulation but differ in the type and level of insulation provided.  

Roller Shades Insulation

Roller Shades with their flat, singular panel of material are best for heat regulation. Both light-filtering and blackout materials block some level of sunlight, which is responsible for causing heat buildup in your room. Solar materials are especially effective at heat regulation thanks to their unique ability to block up to 99% of UV rays. By blocking the natural light, Roller Shades can help a sunny room stay cooler. However, since their single panel does not absorb moisture or air very well, it does not offer the best insulation against the cold.

Roman Shades Insulation

Just like Roller Shades, Roman Shades, when lowered, block some level of sunlight, which helps regulate interior temperatures from the heat. Depending on the material and lining options chosen, Roman Shades can also provide great insulation from the cold. This is because thick, lush fabrics, as well as linings, absorb cold air and moisture helping to take the chill out of the room. For the most effective insulation, opt for thicker materials like wool and then choose a privacy lining with interlining for an extra thick, full, insulating shade.

The Shade Store Recommendation 

Between Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, Roman Shades offer better overall insulation against the heat and cold, thanks to their thicker materials and lining options.

Durability

A Roller Shade is layered under a Roman Shade which emphasizes the differences between roller shades vs roman shades

Durability refers to how well a window treatment holds up to everyday wear and tear as well as common mishaps like spills. When comparing Roller Shades vs Roman Shades in terms of durability, the differences come down to the material chosen for each.

Roller Shades Durability

For the most part, Roller Shade material is typically made from synthetic fibers like polyester and acrylic. These man-made materials are very durable and handle everyday wear and tear with ease. They’re also typically resistant to stains and dirt build up, and some materials with Microban® technology are even resistant to bacteria growth.  

Roman Shades Durability

The durability of Roman Shades will very much depend on the material you choose for your shades. Roman Shades come in a wide variety of fabrics from naturals like delicate silk and hardy wool to synthetic materials like Sunbrella acrylic. Synthetic materials will typically give you greater durability and performance when compared to natural materials. Plus, they often are also resistant to stains and moisture. However, some naturals like wool and linen are hardy in their own way and will stand up well to everyday use with mindful handling, so you don’t necessarily need to sacrifice your love of natural materials for better performance.

The Shade Store Recommendation 

Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, both offer synthetic material options that give you excellent durability. If you’re committed to using a natural material, consider Roman Shades made from wool, linen or cotton, as these natural fabrics offer good hardiness against everyday use.

Upfront Costs

Upfront cost is how much the material of the shade costs when initially purchased. This does not include any labor costs for professional installation. Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, Roller Shades will typically have lower upfront costs, thanks to less overall material being used to make the shade.

Roller Shades Upfront Costs

Between Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, Roller Shades are typically more affordable than Roman Shades. This is because Roller Shades feature only a single panel of material vs the pleated styles of Roman Shades that use more material. So, for most projects, Roller Shades will be more affordable than Roman Shades when covering the same window.  

Roman Shades Upfront Costs

Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, the upfront cost of Roman Shades will typically be a bit higher than that of Roller Shades. However, the costs within the Roman Shades category will vary considerably between the different styles. For instance, Pleated Roman Shades, with their luscious folds made from additional fabric will generally be more expensive than a Flat Roman Shade covering the same window. Plus, the type of material you choose for your shade will also play a role in the cost, with higher-end materials like silk typically being higher in price than more accessible materials like cotton.

The Shade Store Recommendation 

When comparing upfront costs of Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, in most cases, Roller Shades are more affordable, thanks to less material being used to cover the same area.

Installation

For installation between roller shades vs roman shades, both require a step ladder and drill as well as similar processes

In comparing the installation ease of Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, you’ll find that both are straightforward to install and share many of the same basic steps. Installation ease will inevitably depend on your own experience and comfort level for the job, but this high-level install overview can help you determine whether or not you’re up for the task.  

Between Roman Shades vs Roller Shades, both share these same basic installation steps:

  • Step 1: Gather tools. You’ll typically need a stepladder, pencil, tape measure, level, drill and screwdriver, but check your chosen shades’ specific install instructions for an exact list.  
  • Step 2: Decide whether you’ll inside or outside mount your shades, which means deciding whether to place them inside the window frame (inside-mount) or outside the window frame on the wall (outside-mount).  
  • Step 3: Measure appropriately based on your mount choice and mark where the mounting brackets and/or headrail will go. 

Step 4 is where installation instructions diverge slightly between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades.

  • Roller Shades Step 4: Install the brackets in the places you marked in Step 3 with the appropriate tools as indicated in the installation guide and then attach the tube. 
  • Roman Shades Step 4: For inside-mounted Roman Shades, install the headrail in the place marked in Step 3 with the appropriate tools as indicated in the installation guide. For outside-mounted Roman Shades, install the brackets in the places marked in Step 3 and then mount the headrail on the brackets.  

The Shade Store Recommendation 

Between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, both are straightforward to install, with only some variations in the installation process. However, we highly recommend using our professional measure and install team to relieve you of the work and ensure the perfect fit for your shades.

Cleaning & Maintenance

A family room features Roman Shades layered with Roller Shades to show the differences between roller shades vs roman shades

Just like durability, cleaning and maintenance between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades comes down to the material chosen.

Roller Shades Cleaning & Maintenance

Roller Shades are generally very simple to clean and maintain, thanks to most of them being made from synthetic materials like polyester and acrylic. To keep your shades clean, vacuum with a low suction, handheld vacuum or dust with a soft, clean cloth or feather duster. For stains or embedded dirt, try a Mr. Clean magic eraser to spot treat the affected area. If that doesn’t work, we recommend you contact a local window treatment cleaning specialist who can treat your shade on-site at home.  

Roman Shades Cleaning & Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining your Roman Shades will depend on the material you’ve chosen. For most natural fabrics like wool, silk and linen, you can typically vacuum with a low-suction, handheld vacuum for general cleaning. For stains on these natural materials, we recommend relying on a local window treatment cleaning specialist who can treat your shade at your home, without taking it down.

If you’ve chosen a Sunbrella material for your shade, you can likely clean stains at home. For most liquid spills, get as much of the liquid out as you can by blotting with a clean, dry cloth. For oil-based stains, first apply an absorbent like cornstarch, then remove it with a straight edge. Next, spray on a mild cleaning solution of dish soap (like Dawn) and water. Then rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove all soap residue and let it air dry. 

The Shade Store Recommendation 

Typically, Roller Shades are easier to clean and maintain, since most are made of synthetic material. However, choosing a Sunbrella material for your Roman Shades can also give you an easier-to-clean solution.

Explore Both Shades Further at a Showroom

After learning about all the differences between Roller Shades vs Roman Shades, you’re ready to explore your options in more depth. Visit your local showroom where you’ll find interactive displays of the different styles of Roller and Roman Shades. Be sure to play with the different control types like cordless and motorization and explore the many styles of these shades to find the right look for your space. And if you have any questions, you’ll find our expert, friendly Design Consultants will be happy to help.

A round white table with cream chairs sits in a custom window treatment showroom with drapery, shades and blinds displayed.

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