A Comparison of Blinds, Curtains & Shutters

Published: 11th June 2012
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If the time has come to redecorate you may be wondering what your best options are when dressing your window spaces. Perhaps the options that come to mind most immediately are particular styles of curtains and blinds, but how to shutters stack up as an alternative?

A Brief Background
Within each category of window dressing there are many different styles and varieties. Curtains can differ in the type of fabrics used and most noticeably in their appearance, with an almost limitless variety of colours and patterns on the market. There are also many varying styles of blinds but they can be broadly defined in terms of roman, roller, venetian and vertical panel blinds. Roman and roller blinds will tend to be produced in fabric however the slats or panels on vertical and venetian blinds can be made in a range of materials including wood, plastic, metal and fabric.

Shutters can come with either solid or louvred panels, usually made from wood but with plastic and metal options available. Louvred shutters can also be referred to as Plantation shutters and shutter styles can vary from full height (covering the whole window space) to cafe style (across the base of a window space) and tier-on-tier (separate bottom and top panels).

The Look
The first thought when buying a window dressing is most likely going to concern what will suit or look good in a room. Curtains, and some roman blinds, will provide a softer option and can increase the ‘cosy’ factor. They, alongside most blinds, can also be coloured and patterned to suit any decor however they may not provide a distinctive look if that‘s what trying to achieve. Blinds and interior shutters will give a cleaner edged and more minimalist look to a greater or lesser extent depending on the materials and design you choose and therefore can suit a modern interior.

In addition, older style shutters can give a room an authentic aged appearance and in many cases be used to reinstate the original features of an older home which would have been contemporaneous with its construction - particularly those build in the Victorian era or before.

Living Conditions
Your window dressing can have a big effect on living conditions within a room. It is quite easy to simply consider the aesthetics when buying a window dressing but there are many more considerations that should be taken into account...

Light - All window dressings are obviously designed to allow light in when it is needed and provide privacy when it’s not but blinds and shutters will allow greater amounts of light because they can usually be folded out of the way more effectively than curtains. In instances where you may need to limit the direct sunlight entering a room, blinds and shutters will give you the control with adjustable slats and louvres whereas solid shutters will provide the best blackout when required.

Ventilation & Air Flow - Heavier curtains may be effective at blocking air flow whilst light curtains can allow a good ventilation but neither provide much control. Blinds do not tend to be sturdy enough to be used to regulate air flow but shutters are - louvred shutters give flexibility in this respect and solid shutters can provide an easily controllable barrier to air flow when needed.

Temperature - Due to their ability to block direct sunlight and regulate the air flow in a room shutters are particularly useful at controlling room temperature. They can retain heat in a room when it is cold outside and keep a room cool in hot weather.

Privacy - All window dressings can provide a good barrier to prying eyes with the main distinction again being the flexibility and control that both slatted blinds and louvred shutters will offer.

Noise - The more solid construction of shutters, particularly solid shutters, are ideal for blocking out external sounds and a set of heavy curtains can be effective at soaking up noise from all sources.

Cleanliness - If you need to consider how easy it is to keep your window dressings clean then both non-fabric blinds and shutters are likely to be most suitable as their harder services can be wiped clean in situ with little effort. Curtains, meanwhile, require full washes and are more likely to trap dirt and odours in their fabric in the first place.

Allergens - Due to the ease in which they can be cleaned blinds and shutters are again going to be a preferable option for those who suffer from dust and pet allergies or asthma. What’s more, particularly with shutters and slatted blinds, such as venetian, the particles and allergens will be less able to accumulate in the first place than on the fabrics of curtains or to some extent roller and roman blinds.

Durability - Curtains are particularly susceptible to wear and tear at the paws of pets or due to environmental damage like fading in sunlight. Blinds can offer a more durable solution and in some cases, such as with broken slats, can be patched up and repaired but shutters, especially hardwood shutters, should outlast both due to the sturdiness of their construction.

Location/Space - Blinds and curtains are restricted to use as internal dressings, however, shutters are durable enough to be deployed either on the interior or exterior of the window. Blinds and shutters (open or closed) will also tend to take up less space in the room than a set of hanging curtains.

Cost - Blinds and curtains will offer the most affordable options although the cost of shutters is falling due to modern production techniques, the rise in their demand and the range of new materials that they are now available in.

Every home is different and every room is unique but there are a myriad of options to suit any window space and ultimately the best option will be determined by personal taste. However, when weighing up the effect the contenders have on the aesthetic and the quality of conditions in a room it is certainly worth considering window shutters as a solution.
© Stuart Mitchell 2011

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