How to choose between curtains and blinds

If you’re moving into a new place, chances are you’re deciding between installing curtains or blinds. Before you finalize a purchase, consider what look you’re trying to achieve, cost, ease of installation, maintenance, lighting options, and energy efficiency. This research takes time and patience, but good news: We’ve consolidated all relevant information into this comprehensive guide for your convenience.

Visual appeal

curtains in bright apartment
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Curtains: In general, curtains provide a wider range of stylistic choices than blinds. Compared to blinds, they feel more luxurious and aesthetically pleasing. Think layered curtains of sheer and dark panels, or curtains draping elegantly onto the floor. Additionally, curtains provide texture and interesting color accents to a room while helping block out light or nosy neighbors. Curtains also vary in length, patterns, and shape, which give way to endless decoration ideas, especially in common spaces like living rooms and kitchens.

Blinds: On the other hand, when you choose a blind, it’s more of a permanent and practical solution. This limits your choices and decoration options because you have to consider functionality above design. However, blinds help make a room feel neat and modern. While curtains may add unnecessary clutter to an already-cramped room, blinds are tucked neatly against windows. In the right instances, they add an element of undeniable charm. Imagine a small kitchen window with lots of natural light filtering through open wooden blinds. Lastly, blinds are efficient at keeping out light and providing privacy.

Different types

Curtains: Curtains mainly differ in length. When shopping for curtains, you’ll see standard sizes measuring 63, 84, 95, 108, and 120 inches. Measure the space between your floor and above your window to determine what size is appropriate. Curtains that are at least 95 inches long are ideal if you want excess fabric to gracefully gather on the floor. This is especially effective in larger rooms or rooms with tall windows. Besides size, curtains differ based on their pleats or how they’re hung on the rod, e.g., by looping the rod through open rings or a long, continuous pocket. Other deciding factors are material, color, and pattern.

Blinds: Surprisingly, there are numerous options for blinds. The most common types are vertical blinds and Venetian blinds. Others include pleated, mini, and Roman blinds. Additionally, you can consider shades that consist of one panel. Single-functioning shades are often remote-controlled — they are either on (open) or off (closed). Double-functioning shades are your typical blinds — you can control them using strings or a tilt wand. Lastly, there are smart shades that automatically close or partially close depending on the time of day. Like with curtains, measure the size of your window and compare it to the product you’re considering.

Cost comparison

It’s difficult to provide an accurate cost estimate comparison between curtains and blinds. This is because the price range is very wide for each option depending on material, length, and number of windows in your home. For example, a single curtain panel can cost anywhere from $17 to $180. Similarly, a single window blind can cost anywhere from $14 between to $186. Consider different types of each window covering to get a feel of average prices.

Installation

woman with Venetian blinds
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Curtains: Curtains require rods to thread your fabric through. Before installation, mark your wall to indicate where the rod will go. The rod rests on brackets that are mounted on top of your window using screws. It’s also a breeze to switch out different curtains to match seasonal decor or weather.

Blinds: Before installation, mark where you’ll be mounting your blinds. For most blinds, you’ll install brackets above or on your window sill. Then, you’ll mount the top rail and attach it to the brackets. Finally, you’ll need to cover the rail with a valence or the casing. This provides added security and makes the rail look cleaner.

Maintenance

Curtains: One inconvenience with curtains is you have to take the panels off the rod every time you wash them. Otherwise, curtains require little maintenance.

Blinds: Depending on what type of blinds you install, cleaning blinds might take a little more time than curtains. If you have common blinds with individual slats, wiping off each one might be tedious, especially if you have several windows. However, if you have single-panel shades or thicker slats, cleaning blinds is unsurprisingly easy. Alternatively, you can dust or vacuum blinds.

Lighting

Curtains: On the whole, curtains provide less control over lighting than blinds. To amend this shortcoming, you can layer curtains using a sheer fabric for the inner panel(s) and use darker/heavier materials for the outer panel(s). During full sunlight hours, peeling back the darker layers and keeping the sheer layers on will protect you from direct sunlight but still keep the room well-lit.

light dining room with blinds
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Blinds: With blinds, you have greater control over lighting. Most blinds allow you to tilt the slats in addition to pulling them up to better block out or let sunlight in. The only downfall with some blinds is that light will creep in through cracks in the slats even when it’s closed. If this is a deal-breaker for you, consider blackout window shades.

Energy efficiency

Curtains: Curtains are better at trapping heat and keeping out cold. This is especially true for blackout thermal curtains, though these have to fit your windows correctly to reap the most benefits.

Blinds: Blinds also provide insulation, but open slats still let heat out and cold in. Consider blackout cellular blinds if you’re serious about saving heating and cooling costs.

If you simply can’t decide between curtains or blinds, combining them is a very practical and stylish decision. For instance, pair mini blinds with sheer, lace curtains over your kitchen window for a refreshing look and more light control. Whichever style you choose, remember that trial and error is all part of the process.

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