Window Treatment Answers…and More Answers! What Was the Question?

Each month my super marketing gurus send me a report from Google that details what people that visited this page were actually searching for. Month after month the results are almost identical: protecting your home/furnishings from UV damage and can blinds be cut down after new windows are installed. These two items vie for first and second place almost every month so let’s revisit the subjects again.

There are previous posts below you might want to read but let’s talk about these top two questions that seem to be on everyone’s mind:

Can Blinds Be Cut Down After New Windows are Installed?

Quick answer? It depends on the type of blinds or shades you have and how much they need to be cut down. While it may seem like a simple thing to do cutting down the width of a shade involves much more than most people realize. Besides the medium the shade is made from, fabric, wood, faux wood etc, the shade also has a top rail, a bottom rail and in some cases where the shade can operate Top Down AND Bottom Up, a center or floating rail. Far from being as easy as trimming a little fabric off the edge, both the top and bottom rail (and the floating or center rail) all have to be cut. Most of the time these are made from extruded aluminum so special blades are required. Depending upon how much the shade needs to be cut down you could possibly also get into trouble with the operating mechanism which most frequently is located on the far left or far right side of the head rail.

If you have something like a wood blind be aware that each and every slat has to be removed and cut and then the whole blind reassembled. Our charge to restring a wood blind runs between $50 & $75 depending upon the size. That’s just restringing! That doesn’t include cutting down all the slats, and the head and bottom rails. Take a good look at the condition of your blind. If it’s more than a few years old and you’ve kind of neglected it (those of you than dust your blinds ONLY when your mother-in-law is coming know who you are!) it may be better to replace the blind than to resize it!

Here’s the bottom line. If at all possible WAIT to buy new shades until your windows have been replaced. (And watch out for the guy that wants to sell you windows that already have blinds in between the glass! – he may know windows but he doesn’t know beans about blinds!) Almost daily someone comes into our store because one of the dozens of replacement window companies in our area promised them they’re blinds would fit after the windows were replaced! Guess what? 9 times out of 10 they don’t!  So if you’re considering an investment in new windows by all means do so but part of your budget should include also replacing the window fashions! After all if those blinds are shades are more than just a few years old you won’t believe the new products that are available! Do your homework and include it in the budget and you won’t be shocked…..or sorry!

UV is NOT Your Friend!

Faded-draperies

An Example of Faded Drapery

The questions that come in regarding UV protection/damage are varied beyond belief! From simple questions like “will sheers protect from fading” to “what’s the best way to protect from UV damage” it seems everyone is confused by this one so let’s start at the beginning!

If your home has windows you have the potential for major UV damage! It’s as simple as that! Sun doesn’t just damage the chair right in front of the window it damages wood floors, artwork, and everything in the room!

Here’s a quick test to perform to see how UV light can fade. Take a piece of construction paper (yes, it’s that stuff you cut in strips and pasted together to make chains in kindergarten) and fold back one corner. Place the paper on an end table in your room. It doesn’t have to be right in the window just on top of a table or even on the back of a chair anywhere in the room. Now forget it! That’s right just walk away and forget about it for about 2-3 weeks! When you come back to the test paper open up the corner you folded back. What do you see? PANIC! Bad news huh? Yes, right in your hand is evidence of the detrimental effects that UV is having on everything in your room!

There are quite a few ways to minimize the damage that can be caused by UV light coming into your rooms. No! You don’t have to live in a dark cave! There are products available that will not only protect against up to 99% of the UV light that comes through the glass but also make your room look great in the process!

Before you decide to put that ugly looking “film” on your windows know that first and foremost…..it doesn’t work! Most will claim to block 80-90% when in fact it’s closer to 30%. Unless you go so dark on a film that you feel like you’re at the movies then it will not do what you need it to do!

Faded Wood Floor from UV Damage

Faded Wood Floor from UV Damage

So what is best? Anything that filters the light is your best defense against damage. Yes, a wood blind does a great job at blocking 98% of the UV light coming in…….if the slats are closed but don’t you want to be able to enjoy your view? Honeycomb shades do the best job of blocking UV at about 99% even for a semi-opaque shade but they’re either up, down or somewhere in between! If you have them up or top-down so you can see out…you aren’t protecting anything! My favorite solution is a window shading like Silhouette or Pirouette. They have a fabric vane or fold that is coupled with a layer of sheer fabric. When the vanes are open the sheer fabric blocks 88% of the UV light! You can see our, neighbors can’t see in during the day AND your furnishings are protected without feeling like you’re a bat!

Sheer draperies can also be used to filter light. Two things to keep in mind about sheers though; 1. They will block a bit more of your view because of the fabric fullness needed to get optimum protection (2 ½=3 times the width of the window) 2. The fabric you choose. Sheer and semi-sheer fabrics can be natural fibers like cotton or linen, blends of poly and a natural fiber or all synthetic. I have actually seen sheers made of silk and other natural fibers that the sun has eaten holes in. This is one case where I’m a fan of polyester! It’s resilient, comes is a bazillion colors and it withstands the sun well. An added bonus is, if properly handled, most can be washed right at home and will last for years! There’s also some fabulous new fabrics such as burn-outs available. They add interest as well as protection at the window!

Draperies, with the exception of course of sheers, should always be lined! A good quality lining protects the face fabric as well as filters more light! Notice I said good quality lining. I’ve seen the lined drapery panels places like Pottern Barn and Restoration Hardware are putting out there. The lining is little more than tissue paper and WILL NOT hold up or protect for long!

Look, you’ve made the biggest investment of your life in your home. To that investment you’ve added furnishings, artwork and family keepsakes that turn that space into a home. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish! Make the proper investment to protect those items and at the same time enhance the most prominent architectural feature of most rooms, your windows!