Cool off with Cellular Shades

If you haven’t heard the northeast has been experiencing record temperatures this summer, just last week the mercury reached 106 degrees in New York’s Central Park.  Due to the extreme heat we have had many customers have been inquiring about the insulating qualities of Cellular Shades (also known as Honeycomb shades) for windows and skylights.  I have always known that these shades were effective in keeping the air cool in summer and warm in the winter but this extreme weather has people talking about how effective these shades really are.
I just received a call from a good customer let’s call her Mrs. “C”; she was in a panic because her motorized cellular shade had just run out of battery power and was stuck in the up position.  She explained to me that with the shade down in her living room the temperature was 15 degrees cooler than with the shade up.  Not only was the room uncomfortable even with the air conditioning at full blast but, she was wasting her money by making the air conditioner work harder than it had to.  Because of the insulating qualities of cellular shades it is common for these shades to pay for themselves over time.  Yes, the savings that you receive on your energy bill from the insulating qualities of cellular shades will more than pay for the shades over a period of years.  Let’s not forget that these shades not only can save you money on your energy bill but, also offer a beautiful and functional window covering that will provide both privacy and light control. As for Mrs. “C”, once I explained how to change the batteries in her motorized shade the crisis was averted and Mrs. “C” was able keep cool once again.  So if you are in the market for a beautiful window covering that will keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, check out the great selection of cellular shades also known as honeycomb shades.

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How to Choose Window Coverings

There are many different types of Window Blinds and Shades currently on the market so how can you know which one is right for you?   In general window coverings are divided into two categories “Hard Window Coverings” and “Soft Window Coverings”.  Hard Window Coverings are usually broken down in to two categories consisting of window blinds and window shades each of which contain many different products.  Soft Window Coverings are decorative window treatments usually made from fabric by the yard.  Products such as Draperies, Swags, and Valances all are considered products within the soft window covering category and are often used to “dress up” the Hard Window Coverings.

So with all of these choices how does the average person select the window covering that is right for them?

There is no simple answer to this question because decorating is like choosing a flavor of ice cream some like chocolate while others prefer vanilla. With that in mind I will attempt to lay some ground rules that apply when choosing the correct window covering for you.  In this article I will focus mainly on “Hard Window Coverings” these are typically the functional part of the window covering and as stated earlier consist of mainly window blinds and shades.  Watch for future articles that will focus on “Soft Window Coverings”.

If I had to guess I would say, that 95% of all households in America that have windows have at least one window blind or shade covering a window.  There are many different types of window blinds and shades on the market today and new products are always popping up.  Up until recently the “hard window coverings” category was divided into two categories Window Blinds which are window coverings with some type of movable louver or slat to control light and privacy and Window Shades usually some type of solid fabric that must be raised or lowered to control light and privacy.  Now there is a third category often referred to as “Window Shadings” these are products such as Shangri-La shades that actually combine the functionality of a Blind with the Soft look of a shade.

When choosing the best window blind or shade for your window the first question you must ask your self is “What do I want from the window covering?”  Is light control the most important or is Privacy the most important feature? It may be that you want both, or it may be that you just want your windows to look beautiful with little regard for light control and privacy. What ever it is you are seeking from your window blinds and shades it is important that you understand the functionality of each product in order to make an informed decision.  Going forward I will outline each hard window covering product currently available on the market that will assist you in making an informed decision when shopping for window blinds and shades, and let’s not forget the window shadings.

Window blinds such as, Wood Blinds, Faux Wood Blinds, Mini Blinds and Vertical Blinds are all slatted blinds that control light by rotating or tilting the slats (sometimes called Louvers).  These blinds are the most versatile because they need not be pulled up or stacked to see outside your window. The amount of light entering the room and the privacy level is controlled by simply rotating the slats or louvers.  Blinds such as these are typically considered more “casual” when decorating and are often used in less formal areas of the home such as, Family rooms, children’s bedrooms, Bathrooms, and Kitchens.  Of course there is no rule that says you can only use these blinds in certain rooms but remember that decorating is very subjective and if you are happy with the way something looks in your home then it is the right choice for you.

Window Shades such as Cellular Shades, Roman Shades, Roller Shades, and Woven Wood Shades are usually made from semi opaque materials that restrict the view to the outside world.  Because these shades tend to be made out of fabric (with the exception of woven wood shades) they lend a softer look and feel to the window. Most of these products can be made light filtering or room darkening it depends on the amount of light you want entering the room.  Room darkening shades are perfect for bedrooms or media rooms when total darkness is something that is required.  Light filtering shades can be used in any room of the house when total darkness is not a concern.  The functionality of window shades differ from that of window blinds mainly when it comes to the “view through” of the window treatment being used.  When a window shade is installed on a window you must raise the shade in order to see the outside world there are no slats or louvers to be tilted.  Because most fabric window shades have a “softer” look and feel they tend to be installed in rooms such as Living Rooms, Dining Rooms, Master Bedrooms, and Girls Bedrooms.  Woven Wood Shades or “Bamboo Shades” are a bit more casual and tend to be used mostly in family rooms or anywhere a more casual feel is what you are looking to achieve.  Remember if you have a creative eye these products can be used in any room of the house, I have seen Woven Wood Shades used successfully in dining rooms and living rooms so let your design instincts take over when making your selection

Window Shadings is a new window covering category that was introduced by Hunter Douglas about 20 years ago with the introduction of the Silhouette® shade.  Window shadings incorporate the versatility of a window blind with the soft look of a window shade.  These shades often have a fabric slat that can be opened or closed for light control and privacy along with a sheer fabric facing for a soft uncluttered look at the window.  They can be raised and lowered like a window shade or they can remain in the lowered position to operate the fabric louvers just as you would operate a window blind.  These shades are typically higher priced and are used in Living Rooms, Dining rooms and Master Bedrooms.  They are truly unique in appearance and typically draw a lot of attention to the window.  If you are looking to increase the “WOW” factor of any given window then Window Shadings is the choice for you.  Since the introduction of this Window Shading Category products such at Shangri-La have evolved and made this window covering category a bit more affordable while still capturing the same “WOW” factor.

Choosing the correct window covering for your windows really comes down to what you feel comfortable with.  As I mentioned earlier decorating is very subjective and there is no right or wrong way to decorate, or to treat a window for that matter.  If the window treatment you want to use looks right to you then it is. Don’t let your neighbor convince you otherwise or you will just be unhappy with your choice.  I have been covering windows now for about 27 years, and the one thing I have learned is that there is no such thing as a right or wrong window covering.  Of course you can use my notes about each product as a guide when choosing a window blind, shade or shading but ultimately the choice is yours and what ever you choose will be the right choice for you. This article is a very general overview of the products currently on the market, as time goes on I will publish articles that are more product specific so stay tuned!

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Finding Cellular Shades

cellular shadesHave you been searching for that perfect Window Treatment?  Cellular window shades may be just what you are looking for. Cellular Shades also known as Honeycomb Shades will spruce up any window in your home by adding a soft pleated look at the window.  As an added bonus Cellular Shades by design will substantially increase the energy efficiency of your windows.  How can you beat that?  A window shade that beautifies your windows and saves you money on your energy bills is almost too good to be true.

Cellular shades come in many different cell sizes and colors and offer many different options.  There are single cellular shades and double cellular shades, small size pleats and large size pleats. Choosing a cellular shade that is right for you is a personal decision.  Don’t be confused by the variety of cell sizes and colors, or if the shade is a single or double cellular shade.  The correct choice when selecting a cellular shade is what looks best to you on your window.  Remember, we are decorating your windows and what looks good to you may not look good to a friend or family member.  Decorating your windows is a very personal decision and there is no right or wrong choice.  If you like what you see next to the window, then it is the correct choice for you. The energy savings you receive from these shades can be considered an added bonus!

There are many different options available when purchasing cellular shades.  They are, Light Filtering, Room Darkening, Top Down Bottom up, Cordless Lift, Continuous Cord Loop, Specialty Shapes, Skylight Shades, Two on one headrail and Comfortrack side track system.

Light filtering cellular shades are the most commonly used fabrics.  They are often considered semi-opaque which means they emit a soft glow at the window while maintaining your privacy.  Light filtering fabrics offer 100% privacy while allowing filtered sunlight to enter the room safe from damaging UV rays.

Room Darkening cellular shades are perfect for those areas of the house that require total darkness.  Bedrooms and media rooms are a good example of where room darkening shades work best.  These shades have an added layer of silver mylar adhered to the interior of the cell or “honeycomb” that blocks light and is not visible once properly installed in the window.  Usually white to the “street side” these shades like all cellular shades offer a clean uniform appearance from the outside of the house as well.

If you choose the top down bottom up option then you will have purchased a shade that is like two shades in one. A top down bottom up shade can be operated two ways by use of two lift cords, first the shade can lift up from the bottom as a standard shade would and second the shade can drop down from the top while the bottom of the shade remains closed.  Top Down Bottom up Shades are a great choice for windows that require additional privacy such as bathroom windows.  By lowering the shade down from the top you can maintain your view to the outside while maintaining your privacy inside.

Cellular shades made with the cordless lift option are the perfect choice for keeping your home child safe.  Cordless shades operate with the gentile push or pull of the bottom rail, eliminating the risk of strangulation to young children.  No dangling cords, also adds to the clean uncluttered look of cordless shades on your window.  If you wish you can have the best of both worlds by selecting the cordless top down bottom up option.

For large cellular shades there is the continuous cord loop option.  This option is specifically designed to lift and lower large heavy shades (usually wider than 72”) with ease.  By pulling a continuous cord loop the string maintains a constant length while lifting and lowering your shades. The cord loop can be used for shades of all sizes and the cord loop should be firmly attached to the inside casing of the window or side wall for child safety.

Thanks to the flexibility of the cellular shade fabric, Cellular Shades can be made to fit most specialty windows.  Specialty windows are those odd shaped windows such as, ½ circles, circles, angle top windows and skylights.  Specialty shaped Cellular Shades can be made to fit almost any window in your home. It is important to note, that not all specialty shades are functional.  It is important to ask before you purchase a specialty shade if it will be functional or stationary.

For larger windows where one shade may not be possible the two on one headrail option is available.  This option allows for 2 shades to be share the same top mounting rail.  It allows for a clean uniform look at the top of the window and for easy installation of two shades hanging side by side.  When mounting two shades on one headrail it is important to specify the size of each shade, they do not have to be the same size but must add up to the overall width of the window.

Comfortrak plus energy saving cellular shades offer a side track system that seals off the gaps between the edges of an inside mounted shade (not available for outside mount).  The side track creates a barrier against cold air drafts in the winter and cool air escaping in the summer.  As an added bonus homeowners qualify for a 30% tax credit up to a maximum of $1,500.00, when they insulate their windows with the Comfortrack plus energy saving sidetrack system.

Cellular window shades are one of the most versatile window coverings on the market today. Once reserved for the high end decorator these shades are now available to all, and offer a great bang for the buck!

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