Shutters vs Curtains vs Blinds vs Shades: Which Is Better?


Shutters vs Curtains vs Blinds vs Shades

Finding window coverings to suit your style and window design can be exhausting. Between shutters, curtains, blinds, or shades, the choices are vast. Each type of window treatment will have benefits and disadvantages, so knowing these beforehand can help you determine which will be better for your needs. 

The four main window treatment options available include shutters, curtains, blinds, and shades. Deciding which application is better depends on several factors, including budget, purpose, and current decor. For the most durable, aesthetically pleasing, and safest option, shutters would be the top choice. 

While shutters top the list as the best window treatment, they are not for everyone and have their limitations. Read on to dive into the benefits and advantages of each style of window coverings and how you could incorporate them into your home or office. 

Why is Choosing Window Treatments So Difficult? 

Many homeowners will have a hard time deciding on which window covering to choose. If you recently purchased a home or want to freshen up your living space, changing the way your windows look can make a significant difference. 

When first examining these four types, it helps to note these elements that directly impact which choice works best for your space. Some determining factors when exploring window treatments include: 

  • Budget
  • Size and shape of the window
  • Current decor 
  • Durability 
  • Maintenance
  • Safety
  • Ease of use 
  • Reasons for window treatment

Budget

If money is no object, you can look at all four covering choices and use other factors to help narrow down your decision. For those with a strict budget in mind, shutters are the most costly option, often making them one of the least likely selections. 

Shades and curtains will typically fall into the mid-range of overall cost, depending on the size of the window and the materials you use. While you can find inexpensive fabrics to pair with a window, many others can quickly add up to a significant amount. 

Overall, blinds have been the popular choice as being the cheapest selection for window coverings. The cost also depends on what type of blinds you choose, from Venetian to vertical or panel. Each will come with various materials and an associated price tag. 

Size and Shape of Window 

Not all window coverings will work with every window type, unfortunately. How the window opens will also impact the treatment you use. Keep in mind the shape and style of the window when exploring all covering selections. 

It may not be evident until you install a window treatment that it looks out of place. You may have to research what style of coverings will be best for unique windows, such as a laundry room, foyer, skylight, or mudroom. Often these hard-to-cover windows will require unique applications to ensure privacy and light restriction.

Current Decor 

Style and decor is an essential factor when choosing between shutters, curtains, blinds, or shades. These items should fit in with the current design of your home or office and complement the existing decor without overtaking the room’s attention. 

Whether you have a classic motif, minimalistic ambiance, modern decor, or even rustic decor, there is a suitable window covering for you. How you choose to incorporate your window treatments is your choice. Some individuals will want to use their windows as accent pieces and bring attention to them, while others prefer to blend into the background. 

Durability 

Durability is essential for many homeowners. No one wants to be frequently repurchasing window coverings or performing repairs. Items that can stand up to wear and tear, cleaning, and UV rays, are favorable against other materials that are not as long-lasting. 

You may require different window treatments in high humidity areas such as a bathroom or kitchen than those in your sitting room or bedroom. It would be best if you chose a style that will stand up to frequent use and the environment so you can enjoy them for years. 

Maintenance 

Window treatments are an investment and may require regular maintenance to last. Cleaning and repairs are essential with age. Choose a window covering that will not pose a problem for frequent cleaning or when you need to complete repairs. 

If you are having difficulties removing your window treatments for cleaning or repairs, they may not be the best choice for your space. You want an item that you can clean and take care of effortlessly to spend less time working with them and more time enjoying the room they are in. 

Safety

Although safety may not be on your mind when shopping for shutters, curtains, blinds, or shutters, it should be. Long curtains that puddle on a floor can be a tripping hazard, while attachments like hanging cords or chains can pose a danger to children or pets. 

Ensure your window accents are safe for visitors or anyone in the home. Styles like cellular shades and shutters without chains or drawstrings are some of the safest choices for homes with children and pets.  

Ease of Use

Ease of use is critical when focusing on your newest window treatments. They should not be difficult to open or close and not cause frustration each time you adjust them. The operation of the window can determine how easy a window covering will work with your space. 

You should also consider how your window treatment will be if your windows are frequently open. Curtains and shades may blow around, while blinds may bang against the window frame on a windy day. Functionality, when the window is open and closed, is an essential aspect of your final decision. 

Reasons for Window Treatment

The reasons for the window treatment can guide you to which options will suit your space best.

  • Do you want to block out sunlight entirely or allow some natural light into the room?
  • Are you looking for a window covering that will provide you with privacy? 
  • Are your utility bills too high? 
  • Do you have children or pets in the home?
  • Are you looking to update your home decor with different window treatments?  
  • Will you be selling your home in the future? 

With so many elements to consider, it’s no wonder some individuals have a hard time deciding which method of window treatments they should use in their home or office. 

Having the choice to restrict UV rays can protect the furniture, artwork, and carpet from fading or discoloration. Window treatments can also help regulate the temperature indoors to save money on utility bills. They can easily keep a room cooler in the summer months and warmer in the winter season.  

Pros and Cons of Shutters vs Curtains vs Blinds vs Shades

One of the best ways to choose a window treatment is to examine the pros and cons of each style and narrow down the decision. This way, you can compare all four of these popular choices and see which is better for your needs. 

Shutters

Shutters
Shutters

For the purpose of this comparison, the term shutters reference the inside window treatments and not the exterior side shutters that you see around the windows on the outside of a home. 

Indoor Window Shutters 

Shutters are incredibly versatile window applications. They offer the most flexibility in privacy and lighting, allowing you to adjust them as you see fit. They are mounted permanently inside a frame on the window. 

This type of window covering is the most expensive of the four styles, but there are valid reasons for this. They are highly durable, are a long-term window treatment option, and can help increase the resale value of your home. 

Shutters give a room a classic look and feel while remaining functional. They are versatile enough that you can pair them with curtains or a valance to add a touch of softness to your space. 

You may have heard the term plantation shutters when shopping for window treatments. This shutter style is slightly different from a classic indoor shutter due to the size of the louvers. The width of these can be anywhere from 1 ⅞ inch up to 5 ½ inches, making them significantly larger than traditional shutters of 1 ¼ inch in width. 

Shutter Materials 

You can find shutters in many materials, including

  • Wood
  • Faux wood
  • Laminated wood
  • Composite wood
  • Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Foamed synthetic materials
  • Aluminum 
  • Medium Density Fibers (MDF)

Each of these materials will have advantages and can provide you with a beautiful window covering while being functional. Some shutter materials are more heat and moisture resistant while being non-toxic, and you can paint or stain many types in various colors to match your decor.  

Although these window treatments are beautiful choices, shutters do not work with everything, unfortunately. They are not well-suited for large bay or picture windows, double-mulled windows, or dormer windows. They can obstruct the view outside, so anyone inside the home will not have a clear view. 

Shutters are a permanent installment and will require significant work to remove them if you no longer want them in a room. These window coverings are often not easy to install as a DIY project and will need the attention of a professional, adding to the total cost. 

Pros 
  • They have the most versatile option for privacy and lighting
  • They come in various materials
  • They are exceptionally durable 
  • They can increase your home’s value
Cons 
  • They are the most expensive option
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance can be cumbersome 
  • Potential buyers may not like the style when selling your home

Curtains 

Curtains
Curtains

Many individuals consider curtains and drapes as interchangeable items, but they are not. There is a primary distinction between the two. 

Curtains Are Not Drapes 

Simply put, curtains come in panels or pairs to hang as standalone window treatments or with blinds or shades. They typically come in lighter materials, but you can find thicker options to help cut back on light exposure and increase privacy. Most curtain selections only extend to the window sill, but some styles will run to floor-length, although they are less common. 

Drapes use thicker fabric materials and have a liner to help block out light and secure privacy for the window. They typically run the entire length of the window to the floor. While you should not pair drapes with blinds or shades, you can incorporate them with shutters and curtains for a unique look. 

Curtain Materials 

There are dozens of materials that work well for curtains in any room of your home. Choosing the suitable material will depend on the overall look you want to achieve and how much natural light and privacy you seek. 

When exploring the many curtain fabrics, you will notice that the price will jump significantly, depending on which material you choose. Some thicker fabrics will cost more than thinner, sheer materials, which may impact which style you decide on for your home. 

You will find many popular curtains that use materials, including: 

  • Cotton
  • Eyelet cotton
  • Gauze
  • Lace
  • Linen
  • Muslin
  • Nylon net
  • Silk 
  • Synthetic fabrics
  • Velvet
  • Voile 
  • Wool 

More often, curtains are decorative rather than functional. Many styles are sheer enough to let natural light through and add a whimsical feel to the room. Unlike other window treatments, curtains can add patterns and colors that you couldn’t use anywhere else. They help to add character and create a warm and welcoming ambiance to a room. 

You can combine solid colors with patterns to easily add depth to any room. Keep in mind that if space is a concern, curtains with thicker material will need more area when you draw them open instead of thin, sheer types. It is possible to create the illusion of considerably larger windows by installing curtain rods above the window, near the ceiling, and using full-length curtains. 

Pros 
  • They are a great way to add a splash of color to a room
  • They can add warmth and a welcoming feeling to an area
  • Some materials are easy to clean in a washing machine
  • They are available in such variety for any budget 
Cons 
  • Colored curtains can become faded or discolored from UV rays 
  • They are somewhat durable but will not retain their color or texture as well as other coverings
  • They can look out of place in small rooms or on smaller windows 

Blinds 

Blinds
Blinds

When thinking of blinds, you may imagine a window treatment that blocks out as much light as possible. While this is correct, there are also many other types of styles to choose from that are functional and add character to a room. They are versatile enough to add boldness to any decor, whether you are looking for classic, modern, minimalistic, or a rustic ambiance. 

Many will consider blinds and shades as the same product, but they are two entirely separate items. Blinds are characterized by having slats, whether they are vertical or horizontal. Most popular blinds will consist of hard materials, but you can find styles that use fabric as an alternative. 

Blinds are terrific at providing a measurable amount of light, as you see fit. The slats can tilt from completely open to entirely closed and everywhere in between. They allow you to easily customize the amount of natural light you want to have in your room. 

Popular Blinds 

Blinds can suit a wide variety of window shapes and sizes, but the blinds in a bathroom may not suit your dining room window. Since windows can be unique and individual to each home, the best choices for blinds can also differ. Deciding which of these blind products is best for your space will depend on the size and use of your window. 

The most popular blind selections include: 

  • Panel blinds 
  • Venetian blinds
  • Vertical blinds

Panel blinds are better suited for patios and oversized windows since they come in long panels that stretch to the floor. They are installed on a track, making them easy to open and close, especially if there is foot traffic through a patio door. You can find panel blinds in fabric or hard composite materials, depending on your style and decorating tastes. 

Venetian blinds are the smaller horizontal blinds that have been around for years. They are the standard style that fits in virtually any small or medium window. You can find them in several materials, including: 

  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Faux wood
  • Vinyl
  • Plastic
  • PVC materials
  • Bamboo 

These smaller window coverings are ideal in spaces like bedrooms, home offices, or small windows in laundry rooms or mudrooms. 

Vertical blinds can be a terrific touch for many rooms, especially those with large windows. They hang vertically from vanes and come in a considerable size range, anywhere from 24 to 72 inches in width. You can customize these window coverings to suit any length you desire. 

If you are following a tight budget, blinds are a cost-effective solution to installing window treatments. 

Pros 
  • They are highly affordable when compared to other window coverings
  • They come in several options to suit various window styles 
  • These products are versatile to fit in with any decor 
  • Blinds pair well with curtains for a unique look 
Cons 
  • Cleaning blinds can be tiresome, depending on the size and material 
  • They can be a safety hazard, with some styles having cords or chains that hang down for operation 
  • Wood blinds are prone to mold and warping in damp environments 

Shades 

Shades
Shades

Shades can be the ultimate window covering, depending on the style. They are terrific in blocking UV rays and ensuring complete privacy, while other models are sheer enough to allow soft natural light into a room, creating a warm ambiance. 

When shopping for new window treatments, shades are in between expensive shutters and low-cost blinds. They are economical and still provide functionality and beauty to a home or office. You can add a touch of class to any room with an attractive shade as your window covering. 

Shade designs have changed drastically through the years. While you can still find classic styles that will suit your home, there are so many more different options to choose from in the market today. You can customize your room with a trendy shade that won’t hurt your bank account. 

Shade Materials 

Today, there are many shades to choose from, making the decision harder for those not sure which route to choose. You can find shades in various forms, including: 

  • Balloon shades
  • Bamboo 
  • Cellular window shades
  • Roller shades
  • Roman shades
  • Tie-Up shades 

Balloon shades consist of sheer or light silky-type fabric materials that include cords running through rings so you can pull on them to create a ballooning effect. The fabric will bunch and look similar to balloons. It is a traditional and classic motif that many remember from an older relative’s home. 

Cellular window shades come in different varieties. From single to double cell shades, they are terrific at helping to insulate your home and provide complete privacy. They are recognizable as pliable, accordion-style shades and come in many colors and patterns to suit any decor. 

Roller shades are self-explanatory in that they use a roller at the top for operation with a pulley system. You can roll them up or down manually, while some come with a remote control for ease of use. Roller shades come in several materials, depending on the need. PVC materials are typical for blackout shades in bedrooms, while some individuals prefer fabrics for other rooms. 

Classic Shade Styles 

Roman shades are one of the most well-known types of shades available. They are characterized by their pleats when they are open and lie flat when fully extended. These shades add a classic touch to any room and are perfect with virtually any window size or decor. 

Bamboo shades can be a terrific choice in rooms of high humidity. They give a more natural and earthy look to your home, especially in areas with plants. This shade style mimics a roman shade by providing a moderate level of light control with adequate privacy while being cost-effective. When open, bamboo shades will pleat at the top, giving a classic style to your window. 

Tie-Up shades are similar to roman shades as they pleat when opened, but they need you to tie them up at the level you desire manually. They come with built-in tie straps that are often whimsical or complementary to the fabric, helping to add character to a room. This style can be cumbersome for anyone who is constantly opening and closing their shades. 

Pros 
  • They are customizable enough to find many colors or patterns to suit any room 
  • Shades can be simplistic to blend in well or decorative, making them the focal point
  • These window coverings can be very economical for anyone following a budget
  • They are terrific at insulating a room and helping to reduce energy costs
Cons 
  • They can be more challenging to keep clean since the fabric can collect dust easily
  • This style is not the best choice in rooms with excessive humidity 
  • With frequent use, the pulley system or chains can break, needing repair 

Keep an Open Mind For More Than One Type 

Although there are four different types of window coverings to choose from, you do not have to settle for only one. Often, homeowners will find their perfect balance of functionality and style by combining two different window treatments for the ultimate decor. Using a mixture of styles can add a unique spin on some classic designs. 

As long as you do the research, there are many ways to enjoy your space while having beautiful and practical elements. You can pair curtains with both blinds or shades to give you the ultimate versatility in decorating your windows. Try having a balloon shade with your blinds to add a touch of whimsy. 

Some homeowners have found they prefer to use some window treatments such as shutters on the bottom half of their windows only, giving them a unique spin on providing functionality and design. Remember that the final decision is yours and how you want your home to look. You can make your windows as individual as you are. 

Which is the Better Window Covering? 

With so many elements to consider when choosing the best window covering, it can be hard to determine a clear winner. Each option has several benefits and advantages that you may not get with other types. After careful consideration and some extensive research, window shutters still come out on top. 

Although shutters can cost a pretty penny up front, they add value to your home and are a significant investment. You can’t go wrong with adding these classic window treatments to many areas. Not only will they add charm and sophistication, but they will also help reduce your energy bills and keep your furniture from becoming damaged from overexposure to UV rays. 

If money is not a concern or you want to make the best decision for your home, take the plunge and choose shutters as your next window treatment. You will not be disappointed in the results and are sure to enjoy them for years to come. 

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