Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to Buy Blinds

Sometimes you need blinds or shades for you windows, not curtains or drapes. Making a choice is tough. So, here is how you do it.

Write down a list of the things you want from your blinds. For example - they must block all light, or they must provide privacy when down, or they must control heat coming in and heat going out. 

Make a list of the things you do not want. You may not want vertical blinds; or blinds with vertical rows of cords, or slatted shades.  A word of caution here - slatted shades have come a long way in the last few years, so try to keep an open mind about them.

Look at your window and decide where you want the blinds to be hung.  Most blinds require a minimum of 2 to 3 inches for a blind to be fully recessed into the frame. Consider window frames and handles on opening windows. If the handles interfere with a blind falling straight, consider replacing the crank handle with a butterfly or collapsible handle.

Think about the style of your room. Seriously think about it. If you have a lovely traditional room, filled with antiques and old rugs, do you really want hard blinds on the windows? There are soft shadings on the market that will fit any decor style. Perhaps incorporating a fabric valance or side panels is the solution to bridging the modern shade to the traditional room.

And now we come to the budget. The stinker is that unless you get some quotes you won’t have any idea of the possible cost - there are no square-foot averages in this business. But, come up with a figure of how much you are willing to spend. Total.
The trade guideline is that a window covering budget, for the whole home,  should be about 10% of the home value. This would be a higher budget, but it is a place to start.

After all this is done, do your homework. Go to the stores and look at the blinds, taking your list with you. Call a window treatment pro and get a consultation. The money you spend on a consultation may well be saved if you don’t have to re-do your coverings because they weren’t right for you.  A pro can advise you on how to get what you need and stay within your budget.

Up Go the Heating Costs

Don’t know exactly why, ( I have a good idea, but can’t be sure ) but my electric bill has increased 50 percent over where it was this time last year. My condo is heated with electricity, so this is a substantial increase. I know many of you are in the same position because I am being asked more often than ever about insulated window coverings. So, here is a bit of information I have mentioned before, but bears repeating now.  Think about this: the correct window coverings can reduce your heating bill by up to 25 percent.

Hunter Douglas, one of the largest manufacturers of window coverings, have produced a variation on the honeycomb shade, the Architella with an R value of 7.7.  (R-value is a measure of resistance to heat transfer.)This is believed to be the highest insulating value of any manufactured shade. Yet.

A new home with 4” studs probably has R-20 insulation, older homes less. If you have a double insulating glass window with 1/2” air space between the layers, the R-value of the window is about 2. Add a single layer of fabric and a typical lining for an increase to a total R- value of R3. Add a black out lining; R-value is up to about R5 or 6. Add an interlining, and the R-value jumps to about R9. Add an insulated roman blind and valance and the R-value of the whole window treatment becomes about R16. Remember that the window treatments must be snug to the window and layering will provide the best protection. Consider side panels over blinds to counter the gap between the blind and the window frame. If you have a blind inset into your window frame and the gap on each side is 1/8”, over 80 inches (40 inches on each side) this equates to a 3” x 3” hole in your coverage.

As a full service drapery workroom, I will add lining to existing drapes, either a permanent or removable liner, or you can find pre-made panels on-line or at Fabricland.
If they are blackout liners you will get the most protection against heat going out in the winter and coming in during the summer. In addition to blackout lining, I use a thin cotton quilt batting - works like putting a quilt on the window.

I can tell you how much of your heating bill is actually going out your windows. Call me for more information. 250-833-1120.