The best window shade
Window shades have come a long way. Today, they're mostly cordless due to new technology and the quest for child safety. As an added benefit, cordless window shades offer homes a clean, modern look without all the dangling cords. Before you shop, it's helpful to know there's a difference between window shades and window blinds: shades are made from soft materials while blinds are constructed from harder materials, such as plastics, wood, or composites.
Our buying guide gives you our top tips on how to choose the best shade for your needs, including our favorite, Trader Blinds Cordless Light-Filtering Cellular Shade, which we like for its affordable custom sizing.
Considerations when choosing window shades
Single- vs. double-cell shades
Cellular shades are popular for their light and airy look and for the energy efficiency and noise-blocking abilities of the horizontal honeycomb-shaped pockets. There are two types of cellular shades:
Single-cell shades have larger cells. They only offer a little bit of insulation and block out a small amount of noise and light. They're well proportioned for picture windows.
Double-cell shades, which have a double layer of honeycomb cells, offer more insulation and more blockage of noise and light. Since they require more material, they're pricier than single-cell. Double-cell shades work best on smaller windows and around areas where you want more privacy.
Roller shades are traditional window coverings constructed of fabric on a tube. The tubular structure is designed to help you raise, lower, and lock the shade into place.
Pleated shades differ from cellular shades. They are only semi-honeycomb-shaped on the front and are not energy efficient. They're lightweight and are best if you have a window where you just need a bit of light filtering.
Window shades can be controlled a few ways:
Top down/bottom up models let you extend the shade from the top, bottom, or simultaneously, which gives you the greatest control over privacy
Cordless are now popular because they're easy to raise and lower from the bottom.
Motorized shades -- the priciest versions of window coverings -- can be manipulated by remote control so you don't have to rise from bed to adjust your privacy.
Today, custom-size shades are easy to find and order. Many manufacturers say their shades are delivered to exact sizing or within one-eighth of an inch of exact measurements. You can also find self-trimmable cellular window shades for those confident in their measuring abilities. Trimmable shades are cut from the width of the shade (side to side), not from the length (top to bottom). Self-trimming window shades typically come with an appropriate instrument to handle the job.
There are shades that can be permanently installed on the window with mounting hardware and ones that can be temporarily installed with peel-and-stick designs. Peel-and-stick shades are for quick installations to meet an immediate need, such as in a dorm room or recreational vehicle.
Window shade prices
The size of a window shade generally determines what it costs. In the $9 to $20 range are standard 36-inch wide pre-cut and trimmable pleated shades. From $20 to $54, you find cellular and roller shades of standard or narrow custom sizes. From $54 to $175, you can purchase much larger nonstandard and custom sizes of both cellular and roller shades.
Q. What's the difference between light-softening shades and light-filtering shades?
A. Light-softening shades reduce and diffuse the amount of bright light that comes into the room, but they won't block out much light. Light-filtering shades are made of semi-opaque fabrics that let in only a small bit of light, even when they're closed. They are ideal for rooms in which you prefer privacy.
Q. How do I get bugs and dirt out of my open-ended cellular blinds?
A. For the exterior of cellular shades, simply use a wand attachment on a vacuum cleaner or spot clean with a slightly damp cloth. For the inside of narrow cells, blast some compressed air from a can into the opening to dislodge bugs and dirt. In a pinch, grab a hairdryer, put it on the high and cool setting, and blow-dry your bugs away.
Window shades we recommend
Best of the best: Trader Blinds Cordless Light Filtering Cellular Shade
Our take: An excellent value for a customized high-quality polyester fabric blind with clean lines and contemporary styling.
What we like: Easy install. Cordless lift operates smoothly and easily to adjust shade. Available in popular neutral colors. Comes with hold-down brackets to anchor the bottom of a shade on a door mount.
What we dislike: Some users would prefer thicker material for room darkening.
Best bang for your buck: Redi Shade Quick-Fix Light-Filtering Pleated Fabric Shade
Our take: A low-cost solution where you need an immediate window covering that's easy to install.
What we like: Kid- and pet-friendly shades that are lightweight and easy to open and close. Ideal for skylights because they install fast. Clips included keep the pleated shades at your desired length, or you can keep them all the way down, clip-free.
What we dislike: The peel-and-stick liner isn't strong enough to keep the shade installed for long-term use.
Choice 3: ZY Blinds Cordless Roller Shades
Our take: Quality roller shades that block the sun and any other outdoor light from coming in.
What we like: Top-notch and responsive customer service, easy install, smooth roller mechanism. Shades fit the window like a glove.
What we dislike: Light may come in from the top and sides if they aren't framed by other curtains.
Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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