What can a blinds specialist do for me?
No matter what style and age of house you live in, you will still need window coverings of some kind. Whilst traditionalists still tend to favour curtains, more modern interiors often call for more functional and streamlined window treatments which are arguably easier to keep clean whilst providing all the coverage you need. Window blinds fill this need perfectly, and come in any number of different colours, finishes and styles. Whilst some styles of blinds, such as Roman blinds, may be home-made by a talented seamstress, the majority of blinds are professionally manufactured. Blinds are, however, not only used in the interiors, but may also form a design and functional feature on the external face of buildings. Due to their rather complex mechanisms and precision manufacturing, specialists are needed to make these blinds.
How many different kinds of blinds are there?
The range and designs of blinds available is amazingly large. These can range from being made-to-measure or standard ready-made which can be bought at any furnishing or hardware store. Made-to-measure blinds are extremely versatile as they can be made to fit any size or shape of window, and provide a unique and bespoke look to any decorating scheme. That being said, one needs to decide what style of blind best suits the needs of the homeowner and the general décor style of the house. It is also wise to remember that, since blinds are manufactured for both external and internal usage, there is a great deal of choice and practicality when choosing the right blinds for your needs.
Different styles of blinds include :
- Roman blinds, which are usually made of materials such as silk, damask and linen. These blinds are designed to gather upwards in folds, allowing various heights of the window to be shown. Since they are raised from the bottom, they are very useful at cutting out sunlight when the sun is shining directly onto a window. They can be made to match, co-ordinate or contrast with upholstery fabric, cushions, duvets and bedspreads, and are therefore great at really pulling a decorating theme together. They are, however, unsuitable for use in rooms which are exposed to a lot of moisture or steam, such as bathrooms and directly over kitchen sinks. They provide a neat covering which does not crease when lowered, as the material is softly folded and not crushed when closed. They can be hung alone or paired with contrasting or complementary-coloured curtains.
- Vertical blinds. These blinds are made from vertical slats which can be pulled completely to one side, fully closed by turning the slats to lie flat touching one another, or partially closed by angling the slats in unison throughout an 180 degree angle. These blinds are mainly used for floor to ceiling windows, very tall windows or patio doors, where they can be easily pulled open or closed and are able to allow filtered, full or no sunlight to penetrate the room. These blinds are not as popular as they were in the 1990’s as decorating norms have changed a lot since then and they are not as popular with younger home owners. They are problematic because the plastic links holding them together at the bottom are fragile and break fairly easily if roughly handled or exposed to constant wind movement. These blinds may often be seen in commercial premises or factories with cold rooms, where they are made from a thick plastic and are used to slow the heat entering the cold room or to assist in keeping the cold inside the room. They can also be found on cold-drink and snack fridges in shops where as they are easy to reach through between the slats but still keep the contents cool. In one respect, they are definitely more effective than solid plastic doors which are often left open by unthinking customers.
- Venetian or Persian blinds. These blinds comprise horizontal slats located one above the other which can be rotated through an 180 degree angle so that either side can be turned to face inward or outward. These slats are made from metal, vinyl, PVC, plastic, faux wood or wood and come in widths ranging from 16mm to 120mm, with 25mm being the most popular.
They can be completely raised from the bottom up or angled to allow decreasing or increasing amounts of light to penetrate into the room. They can be fiddly to clean, but do give a very streamlined look to a room, and can be hung alone or paired with curtains for a more formal look. Mini (or smaller lightweight) blinds can be controlled by means of a turning rod or ‘blind-stick’ attachment which normally hangs to one side in front of the blind.
- Roller blinds, which are made from various types of stiffened material. These blinds are mounted on a metal headrail either within the recess of the window itself or what is termed the ‘outside face-fix’, i.e. on the wall above the window recess. They are operated with a side chain. Weatherproof roller blinds are a popular choice for open patio areas which are exposed to a lot of wind or rain, as they can be used to protect the patio area and extend its usefulness throughout all seasons. Many of these outdoor blinds are made from a strong clear plastic and canvas material which allows light to enter, keeps the outside view visible and prevents a feeling of claustrophobia when the blinds are down.
- Pleated blinds, which can be flat or cellular (‘honeycomb’) in design. These blinds are made from a length of narrow-pleated material which, when pulled up, sits flat at the top of a window and is effectively hidden from sight. The cellular design is generally considered to be one of the most energy-efficient blind styles available as hot or cold air becomes trapped within the cellular compartments. Sadly, insects also find these compartments inviting and crawl into them, often dying there, and these are not always that easy to clean.
Louvre blinds. These are similar to Venetian blinds but are built into a wooden frame and often used on the exterior of the window, allowing air and light in whilst preventing the penetration of sun and moisture.
- Brise-soleil. These are outdoor horizontal blinds which form an architectural feature of a building. They are a practical choice in that they reduce heat within a building by deflecting sunlight from the windows at certain times of the day, for instance, by allowing winter sun to hit the windows in the mornings and late afternoons, but are angled to cut out direct sun during the hot summer months.
- Conservatory or sun room blinds. These are specialised material blinds (rather similar to Roman blinds) which are mounted on the interior roof supports and can be wound down to cut out direct sun from a glass roof during the heat of summer, but rolled back in winter when the sun’s warmth is needed in the area. These are operated manually by means of a long-handled crank or may be motorised, particularly in larger areas.
What are the duties of a blinds specialist?
A blinds specialist will measure, advise, manufacture and fit the blinds you require. Going this route will allow you so much more choice of fabrics or materials for your blinds. Using the services of a blinds specialist will give you the assurance that the blinds will fit perfectly, look good and be the most practical option available.
How to find the right blinds specialist for your needs
Check their online ratings and customer reviews
Blinds specialists are really not difficult to find. They advertise freely in house and home catalogues and magazines, have a visible presence in many towns and cities where they have shops and showrooms, may be found through hardware stores and the Yellow Pages. They are also becoming more and more prominent via the internet, and search sites such as Uptasker will make finding them even easier. Uptasker lists in geographical areas, which makes it so convenient when looking for a specialist near you. As with any reputable search site, Uptasker also provides online ratings and customer reviews which help the decision-making process less worrying. There are also one-click links to supplier websites, allowing one to obtain comparative quotes on the same specifications. Alternatively, use word-of-mouth referrals where possible from friends and colleagues who have been through the process themselves and have an end result which appeals to you.