Blinds are one of the many options available for window coverings. Horizontal or vertical, there are several different materials to choose from. We check out four types of horizontal blinds available on the market.
How to Buy
Home improvement stores have blinds you can buy right off the shelf, but you’ll likely have to get some of them cut to fit your window, which can add extra cost, but it’s worth it.
If you are totally new to blinds, consider visiting a specialty blind store for a more informative customer experience.
Proper measurements are crucial to getting the right fit. Measure across the top, middle and bottom of your window frame, either outside or inside, depending on the look you want. Most people install them inside.
The inner mechanics of the blinds is important and can help determine how long they’ll last. Look for mechanisms that are metal on metal, since plastic parts won’t last as long.
Size & Material
To keep out more light, look for wider slats (e.g. 2 inch versus 1 inch.)
Many people opt for faux wood because they’re less expensive than real wood. They’re usually made from a PVC which is heavier than wood, which means raising them will take a little extra strength.
Most blinds give you lots of privacy, but make sure you turn the slats upwards (toward you), which makes blocks unwanted peepers best.
It’s not impossible to install your own blinds, but it’s probably worth it, especially with a custom order, to have them professionally installed.
The cords on blinds can pose a real strangling threat to young children, especially those between 2 – 4 years of age. Many newer blinds now come with break away tassels eliminating this risk. You may need to ask around for blinds with this feature.
We chose four types of blinds for a 4’ x 4’ window frame and put them through our rigorous tests:
- Designwood (wood, 2” slats): $127
- Quick Trim (faux wood, 2” slats): $52
- DH (aluminum, 1” slats): $29
- Vibrance (vinyl mini): $10
Our specific tests and results included:
We pointed an industrial film light into our windows to compare how well each blind did at minimizing the light on the inside.
Real wood (Designwood) definitely blocked out light the best
Faux wood (Quick Trim) and aluminum (DH) came in second
The inexpensive vinyl blinds were like there was no blind at all
All our blinds fared well in this test. Remember, however, to maximize privacy, turn the slats up toward you.
To simulate heat from the sun over time, we applied a heat source to speed up our test:
The faux wood and vinyl blinds started to bend even when the torch wasn’t very close
The real wood didn’t bend, but when we got too close with the open flame they caught on fire. (Keep candles away!)
The aluminum blinds didn’t bend or catch fire, though we ruined the finish.
OUR TOP PICK
We recommend real wood blinds because they keep out the light the best and they’re also a great solution for privacy. For a second choice, try the more affordable faux wood at less than half the price.
We were least impressed with the vinyl blind on all accounts; even if it is cheap you’re not getting much from it.