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Looking out for the basics – Window Shades

Qualities embedded in window blinds

Every time you look at a beautiful blind, remember the qualities it possesses; like appearance, light control and efficiency are built into the fabric. Manufacturers give every fabric they produce a name. Naming is important to maintain a record of the raw material that has gone into its manufacture, the date of manufacture and other relevant information regarding the product. Manufacturers pass on product specifications to suppliers who use the fabric to make window treatments for homes. These suppliers will now be in a position to provide information on the final product to end users, along with additional marketing intelligence available to them, like the feedback obtained by them about the performance of the product, its features and its popularity.



Example: On click the color block Quicksand (0915) of Shades > Cellular Shades > CrystalPleat Graber Light Filtering Double Cellular Shades – you will see:
• Fabric Name : Garden Retreat 3/8” Single Cell
• Openness : Light filtering and room darkening
• UV blockage : Yes
• Composition : 75% polyester, 25% wood pulp, Spunlace.
• Usable width : 120


Openness: Fabrics are available in a variety of mesh with light filtering properties ranging from sheer to opaque and room darkening choices. A selection of the right fabric for window treatment solutions can contribute towards effective light control, view management and energy control. These in turn will contribute towards enhanced comfort at home and lower heating and cooling costs. The building position, geographical location, exposure area, and activity within the space under consideration should be the criteria exercised to decide the openness factor. Dark colors absorb light and hence provide better glare control. Light colors reflect heat so they offer better heat control. Fabrics that provide both glare control and heat control are often referred to as duplex fabrics.


U V blockage: Ultra Violet radiation is present in sunlight. UV radiation can cause chemical reactions when it comes in contact with the material. Due to this the biological effects of UV are great. Freckling, sunburn, skin aging, eye cataracts, weakening of the immune system are familiar effects of exposure to UV. Skin cancer has been directly linked to exposure to UV, which in turn has been linked to the depletion of the Ozone layer in the atmosphere. UV radiation also affects the material that it comes in contact with so we find expensive window treatments, carpets, and upholstery fading and becoming brittle when they are exposed to UV. Countries like USA that come under the northern latitudes are most susceptible to UV because of the ‘ozone hole’ phenomena that over the Arctic in spring and winter.


Composition: Composition provides information of the material that has been used to weave the fabric and the weaving method used, e.g., point bonding or spun lacing that are methods employed by the weaving industry to manufacture fabric. The manufacturing method is decided by the fiber that is being used and the qualities that the manufacturer wishes to embed into the fabric.


Usable width: Usable width is usually 1-2 inches less than the full width of the fabric. Information about the usable width of the fabric is an important criterion while choosing fabric for a window treatment project. It will help in deciding whether the fabric will suit the measurement requirements of the window. If the window width is a little more than the usable width of the fabric, the home owner has options to choose a wider fabric or to even order multiple panels on a single headrail.




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Other important criteria to look out for

F R rating: The US have Fire Retardant Standards for the fabric used for home décor and furnishing. Fabric suppliers and drapery manufacturers generally designate fabrics as flame retardant when those fabrics meet NFPA 701 standards, and note that the fabrics are “FR” or “DFR/PFR/IFR. Fabric that is certified as FR would have been treated in an immersion process with a chemical fire retardant after the fabric has been woven. Very often fabric and furnishings aid in the stoking and spread of fire. Information and awareness about FR rating are important when deciding about window treatments as fire is a significant hazard facing homeowners.


Certification: Concerted efforts by various bodies that work with data and statistics from environmental scientists, health professionals, psychologists etc. have made them aware of the long-term effects that exposure to material have on the health of wellbeing of people and the planet. They have drawn out guidelines and certification criteria that manufacturers need to follow to safeguard the interests of buyers. Look out for and enquire about accreditation. GreenGuard, Oeko-Tex, etc. are certifications that one should look out for. It helps to know that the product is safe and also when efforts are made to get the home itself certified to be environmentally safe through building certifications like LEED which will add to the value of the home and help it to qualify for incentives offered from time to time by the authorities.




Window treatment is an exciting and expensive effort. Launching into it with full knowledge of the material used can make the difference between a good and a bad buy.



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