Difference between Blinds vs. Shades


Are blinds or shades the better choice when it comes to window furnishings?

This is a question many people find themselves asking when they start the process. And in our opinion it’s a fair one, as most don’t know if they’re different to begin with.

The confusion stems from both terms being used interchangeably when speaking about window furnishings. It’s commonly and widely assumed that both are one and the same. However as it turns out, there are some differences that do set them apart. 

This is because the term ‘blinds’ is used more as an umbrella term, without differentiating between the different types. As a result, people understandably assume that the two kinds of window furnishings available are just blinds and curtains. 

Simply put, blinds are structured and feature controllable slats that can be opened or closed. Shades are more a single, solid structure typically featuring softer textiles. They’re also generally made out of one piece of fabric. So if you’re looking for something that gives you superior light control, blinds are your best bet.

Both offer similar functions in terms of offering privacy, controlling light and of course aesthetics. However which you opt for, is a personal preference. Let’s take a look at this article to help you make a more informed decision when you buy shades or blinds online.

1. Light Control

  • Blinds

You need to ask two questions: One, how much sunlight comes through, and two, how much light you actually want.

Some instances call for a constant stream of light, others a total blockout. Then in some other instances, you may need a mix of both depending on your needs. 

When it comes to precise light control, blinds do a better job. Some of them feature panels and slats, like panel, vertical and Venetian blinds. These features allow you to decide exactly how light flows through. For instance, the slats in Venetian blinds can be tilted as needed for different times of the day. These slats give you highly variable light control, with the option to fully raise them if you please.

  • Shades

Shades on the other hand, are unable to offer such specific benefits, because they’re simply not built for them. As single blocks of window coverings typically made out of a solid block of fabric, they can only do so much. However, they can still help you diffuse light especially if you choose a light filtering fabric, or block it out completely. 

When they’re closed, a shade with a light filtering fabric won’t darken a room fully. They will, however, help create a soft, warm glow in the room while maintaining privacy. 

Blockout features can be incredibly useful for nurseries, night-shift workers, studio/ media rooms and home theatres. You could also make the most of both worlds with double-roller blinds for example, which are more shades in this context. They don’t include panels or slats, and are instead solid fabric panels featuring both blockout and light filter/ sunscreen in one. This means that you can alternate between the two, switching from day to night as needed.

You can still enjoy seamless control over the light in your home with DIY Roller Blinds (aka shades) and double-rollers. But only by rolling them up or down.


2. Privacy with Blinds and Shades

  • Blinds

You can expect privacy from both types of products. However, you have the option of angling blinds strategically, so light can come in while blocking outside vision in. This is a sophisticated feature for window furnishings, one that is highly sought after. Blinds with panels or slats are able to cater for this need.

  • Shades

Shades can only be either open or closed. The type of materials used for the construction of the shade will determine the privacy levels you can expect. For instance, as mentioned above, light filtering fabrics aren’t designed for 100% blockout. They also don’t offer you 100% privacy, however they do obscure views into the space considerably. For someone looking in from the outside, there’ll be no direct view or clear vision. Blurry shapes or silhouettes are what they’d see at best.

Strictly opaque fabrics like blockouts however, do offer 100% privacy. 


3. Cleaning Blinds and Shades

  • Blinds

Frankly, both these options are easy to clean. However, roller shades would be easier to clean than, say, Venetian blinds. 

There are several reasons as to why blinds and shades can soil. You might be living close to a highway or road which sees a lot of traffic and thereby a lot of dust. Or perhaps you’ve just got too many people coming in and out of your home. Maybe you have kids and pets, and let’s admit it, we all know what that does to maintenance!

The easiest way to clean blinds is to use a soft, slightly damp cloth to run over each slat/ panel. So if it’s panel blinds, you’d wipe each panel down, running a dry cloth after if needed. You don’t always have to use a damp cloth though. In-between, just dust them and that’ll do the job. If you have a stain, use a cleaning solution and spot-treat. 

  • Shades

Seeing as how shades such as roller blinds are just one block of fabric, they’re in a sense a little easier when cleaning. You don’t need to work your way through each slat or panel, you just need to clean it in one go. 

On that note, now’s a good time as any to learn more about this. So let’s take a look below:

– How to Clean Roller Blinds / Shades

Note: These steps are specific to fabric roller blinds.

  1. Roll them fully down. This goes for any blind with a solid block of fabric. 
  2. Vaccuum: Never really ever used that brush-head attachment that comes with your vaccuum? Well now you have a reason! Vaccuum your shades thoroughly, to remove dust, cobwebs, insects and dirt.
  3. Wipe: Prepare a bowl of warm water and a dash of detergent. Get a clan cloth and soak it in the solution. Ensure any excess water has been wrung out. Then start wiping in the same direction. 

Most importantly, be sure to leave your shades to air-dry by keeping them rolled down. If you roll them up before this, mould and dirt could build-up.

cleaning blinds


4. Insulation

  • Blinds

While window furnishings instantly elevate and amplify the look and feel of a space, they also serve a practical purpose. Insulation.

The right window furnishings make a world of difference when designed and installed correctly. This ensures minimal exchange of air internally and externally, effectively regulating the temperature of your home. In turn, this means reduced energy bills.

It’s a well-known fact that blocking light, means essentially also blocking heat. Hence, having either blinds or shades will help with this. However, as blinds feature slats and panels, there are ever-so narrow gaps through which air can slightly seep through. Today’s technology and designs of course minimise this as much as possible, but it’s still worth noting. 

  • Shades

Since shades don’t feature any slats or panels, they’re great at insulating. The single block of fabric covers the entire area of the window, from top to bottom and at the sides. ‘Reveal fit’ or ‘inside window fit’ shades in particular are experts at this. This type of fitting allows them to sit snugly within the window frame, preventing air from passing through. So whether it’s Summer or Winter, you’re covered all-year round. 

If insulation is a primary concern, then we recommend opting for shades.

5. Safety

No, the boogie-man isn’t lurking behind your window furnishings, no matter what your 3-year old insists. But there is a hazard you should be wary of; cords. 

Homes with kids and pets should especially take this into consideration when making a decision.

Over the years, improved knowledge, research and technology has helped reduce these accidents. But as they say, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

Both blinds and shades have cords or chains for operation, so if you’re after something that doesn’t, why not consider automation? Automating your blinds/ shades puts your mind at ease and keeps any unsafe situations at bay. This means neither your blinds nor your shades will feature any cords. They’ll do their own thing, as if by magic.

With automated blinds, you can expect many benefits. For one thing, you can control light and privacy without leaving your comfortable spot on the couch. And for another, you can programme several blinds/ shades onto the one remote. So if you’re in the living room, you can easily control blinds/ shades in the kitchen to reduce glare on your TV. Finally, you can finish that Season finale in peace.

6. Styles

  • Blinds

Where, oh where to begin?

When it comes to styles, you’re likely familiar with two main kinds: Roller shades and vertical blinds. There’s a reason for it too. They are two of the most popularly found window furnishings in homes and offices. 

You may also wonder right about now, why everyone keeps opting for them. Well, to put it bluntly, that’s all they know. Most people don’t know the various styles blinds sport today, and so tend to miss out.

Here are some alternate options in the blinds category you could explore:

  • Timber-look venetian blinds

These blinds feature individual slats, which as you know by now are excellent contenders for light and privacy control. Timber blinds can fade, warp and peel when not maintained over time, which is why timber-look is a better option. They’re excellent for use even in bathrooms or laundry rooms as they can stand up to moisture well.

  • Panel glide blinds

These blinds are similar to vertical blinds, but feature much wider panels. They look neater and more streamlined, and look really beautiful in their full glory. As a bonus, they can also be used as room dividers. The panels neatly stack behind each other when drawn to a side.

  • Shades

The same is true for shades. Why play it safe when you can try something different that works just as well?

Here are some ideas for shades beyond everyday roller shades:

  • Double-roller shades

These are just like their single counterparts, but with double the power. They run on a single bracket, but feature two fabrics: Blockout and light filtering/ sheer.

As we love to say, this really does give you the best of both worlds. You get to enjoy your views, while limiting vision into your space during the day with the filter blind down. Then when the sun goes down, you only need to roll the blockout. 

  • Roman shades

We can’t get enough of Roman shades. 

We’re not just saying that. They really are a show-stopper in the window furnishing world. 

Aside from featuring a unique system where the panels stack up at the top forming a pelmet, they come in stunning colours. Gone are the days of boring neutrals and single tones. You can create Roman shades that are your very own, personalised with specific fabric choices.


7. Costs

Now for the part you’ve been dreading. The cost of it all.

We’ll begin by saying that at the end of the day, there isn’t a straight answer here, as it depends on the final product. But our goal is to make all of it accessible, because we believe this shouldn’t be something out of reach.

As all our operations are done right here on Australian soil including production and delivery, we’re able to cut out any middlemen. This means lower costs and more savings, which are then passed onto you. You’ll find that our tailor-made, luxury blinds are of a far superior quality and at a lower price than ready-made retail. We even offer luxury sheer curtains without the hefty price tag.

Our advice? Don’t let cost be a factor when there’s not much of a difference in price between products. Lead with your vision instead. And of course if you ever need us, we’re here to help you with your home makeover!

Difference between Blinds vs. Shades
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