Shopping tips for window treatments

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Think of window treatments as the little black dress of your home. On the one hand, Roman blinds, silk curtains or plain old blinds are practical must-haves. They block the glare of street lamps and morning rays, protect you from heat and cold, and even protect you from the eyes of nosy neighbors. But with the right flourishes, they double as decoration, elevating your home from a bare college degree into a gorgeous magazine.

There are many options – and price ranges – when it comes to window treatments. Here you will find advice to help you get good products and good deals.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Think about what you need from your window treatments. Looking to block sunlight in a child’s room or need insulation for a chill cave?

In addition to traditional wooden or venetian blinds, most window decoration stores also sell roller blinds, curtains, roman shades (fabric shades that fold neatly when you pull them up), and roller shades. The latter, often made of elegant, natural materials or trendy fabrics, have recently made a comeback thanks to technological improvements and the trend toward minimalism. Shades now come in materials that look far better than the flimsy ones from decades past, and many of them can also block UV rays while still letting light through. Or they can block outside light thanks to their thin yet dense construction.

Spend time visiting showrooms or browsing online to determine what you want. Like most types of retailers, online window dressing businesses continue to grow in importance. Although most offer tools to help you visualize colors, models, and types of trim on generic windows, you’ll find it easier to evaluate options in a place where you can touch and compare materials and styles. Also, in the best stores, professionals will help you choose what is suitable for your type of window.

To help you find a retailer, through June 25th, readers of the Washington Post will have free access to the non-profit Washington Consumers’ Checkbook’s unbiased reviews of local window treatment retailers at

In addition to specialty stores and large department stores, some upholsterers and color centers or design stores offer window treatment services, usually for curtains or roman shades. While this sounds expensive, it’s often cheaper than using big online outfits, and you have a wide range of fabrics and colors to choose from.

A beginner’s guide to window treatments

Bring home samples (which should be free) of materials you are considering. You want to see first hand what complements your facility and it is better to do so at the location where the treatments are taking place.

You can tell workers or online sellers what your space and windows look like – or show them photos – and ask for advice. Some stores also send salespeople to your home to advise, show samples, and take measurements. There is usually no fee or obligation to purchase, but ask to be sure.

Before you decide, stick samples on the wall near where the treatments will be hanging and see how they will look at different times of the day. And hold them in front of the window during the day and at night to see how much light penetrates.

With most blinds and blinds, you have choices about how they work. You can order standard cables; endless cords; top-down, bottom-up treatments; or something cordless that’s ideal for families with pets or young children who may be at risk of strangulation from traditional hanging cords. These work on a covert pulley system; You operate them by pulling a bottom bar or ring on the back. The Consumer Product Safety Commission continues to work with window treatment manufacturers to eliminate cord strangulation. check his website, cpsc.govand visit the Window Covering Safety Council website, windowcoverings.orgfor warnings, tips and safety videos.

Motorized blinds and shades have become increasingly available in recent years, and some can be connected to timers or controlled via smartphones. While these models can appear cool and are useful for otherwise inaccessible windows, the add-ons can be costly; Some stores charge $300 to $500 per window for automated systems.

Get product descriptions, dimensions and delivery dates in writing and ask for a written guarantee before paying. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute charges if the store doesn’t keep their promises or refuses to fix problems. And compare warranties and guarantees, both for the blinds and for the installation (if you don’t do it yourself).

Some stores offer lifetime warranties, which means they’ll send someone to fix a broken blind slat, replace a broken motor, or untangle wires. While you may save money by buying from a cheap online store and doing your own installation, this agreement doesn’t offer the free repairs you would get from a store that offers a customer-friendly, long-term warranty.

Many blinds, blinds and curtains are custom made. This used to take up to a month, but increasingly some stores can deliver in a few days to a week.

If you’re in a hurry or want to save money, many retailers such as Pottery Barn, Target, Ikea, Anthropologie, and West Elm, as well as home improvement stores, offer ready-made shades, blinds, or curtains. For blinds, some stores can cut stock to fit, and you may be able to trim slats yourself.

With stock Roman blinds there is wiggle room if they are too long – but not if they are too short. Even prefabricated curtains can be shortened with hem tape or sewing, or by going to a tailor.

When Checkbook’s undercover shoppers searched for prices on four-window window treatments – including shades, blinds and roman shades – at a selection of local stores and online outlets, they found plenty to choose from.

For example, Checkbook’s cellular shade buyers indicated that they wanted four ⅜” single-cell, white, light-filtering cellular shades that were 30″ wide by 68″ long. For the cheapest brand available at any local store, prices ranged from $437 to $2,010 without installation. Local store winners include major stores (Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s) and JC Penney.

Be sure to consider the installation costs. Some stores include these in the price of window treatments; in others they are extra (or essentially extra). Some providers do not offer professional installation. Don’t assume that buying online will save you a lot of money. Some online retailers charge low prices while others charge high. Also, some of the expensive internet retailers were more expensive than local brick-and-mortar options.

Kevin Brasler is Editor-in-Chief and Jennifer Barger is Associate Editor at Washington Consumers’ Checkbook Magazine and, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers get the best service and lowest prices. It is endorsed by consumers and takes no money from the service providers it reviews. You can access Checkbook’s unbiased reviews of window treatment retailers in the Washington area at no charge through June 25th

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