Types of Window Treatments and How to Choose the Right One

Window treatments not only create style and privacy, they control light and heat gain/loss through windows. With so many options from shades to shutters, how do you determine the best window treatments for your home? Start by understanding the pros and cons of different types.

Common Types of Window Coverings


  • Made of various fabrics and weights. Provide privacy and softness.
  • Layer curtains: sheers + heavier drapes for light filtering.
  • Hung on rods above or beside window frame. Can be opened or drawn closed.


  • Slat panels tilt open/closed. Made of vinyl, wood, faux wood, aluminum.
  • Adjust light gap by tilting slats. Lift slats up into headrail to expose window.
  • Cordless operation or with draw cords. Available in horizontal or vertical slats.


  • Solid panels roll up/down from headrail. Options like cellular, pleated, or roman shades.
  • Fabric, vinyl, bamboo materials. Provide privacy when lowered.
  • Let light in from top/sides when raised. Easier to clean than fabric curtains.


  • Hinged panels close over window. Made of wood, composite, vinyl.
  • Fully cover window when closed. Can be opened fully or partially.
  • Mount inside window frame or outside on casing. Add architectural detail.


  • Short top treatments, typically 12″-15″ high. Made of fabric or wood.
  • Conceal hardware, provide softness, frame window.
  • Pair with other treatments like curtains or blinds.


  • Plastic films apply directly to glass. Types like frosted, stained glass, tinted.
  • Add privacy without blocking light. Static-cling or adhesive-backed.
  • Inexpensive solution for hard to cover windows. Low light filtering ability.

How to Choose Window Treatments

Consider these factors to select optimal treatments:

Privacy Level

Assess how much you want treatments to cover the window when closed:

  • Sheer – minimal privacy, some softened view. Still transparent.
  • Light Filtering – silhouettes visible, obscured details. Sheers + heavy drapes.
  • Opaque – blocks view completely when closed. Good for bedrooms, baths.

Also account for height of windows – consider exposing top portion rather than fully covering.

Light Control

Manage incoming daylight and glare:

  • Blackout – blocks exterior light, reduces UV rays/fading. Useful for media rooms.
  • Light Filtering – diffuses and softens direct sun. Prevents glare.
  • Room Darkening – dark fabric, sides seal against window. Not total blackout.
  • Translucent – maintains exterior view while filtering glare. Frosted film or sheers.

South facing rooms tend to need the most light blocking ability.

Insulation Ability

Manage heat loss, hot/cold spots, condensation:

  • Heavy lined drapes help insulate windows, reducing drafts.
  • Close cellular shades and shutters at night for extra insulation.
  • Avoid gaps for best insulation – treat floor to ceiling for patio doors.
  • Add plastic window film for added insulation in cold climates.

Style and Decor

  • Choose look and feel – casual, elegant, modern etc.
  • Decide on hard shades or soft curtains
  • Coordinate with room colors and architecture
  • Mix treatments like shutters+curtains or shades+valance for depth
  • An all-white palette makes treatments disappear into trim

Window Type and Size

Factor in window dimensions, shape, and style:

  • Large picture windows require enough coverage for full privacy.
  • Odd shapes like circles require creative made-to-order treatments.
  • Bay or corner windows often need multiple coordinated treatments.
  • Small high windows may need extenders for sufficient coverage.

Measure precisely to ensure proper fit.


Prices range widely:

  • Inexpensive: plastic film, basic vinyl shades, tension rods
  • Moderate: Standard blinds, discounted drapes, DIY kits
  • High End: Motorized, custom, built-in, automated smart shades

Shop sales and budget more for impact windows like living room.

Best Practices for Installation

Follow manufacturer instructions for installing hardware and treatments. General tips:

  • Mount hardware securely into studs or solid backing.
  • Allow 3″-5″ clearance between rod/rail and frame.
  • Ensure sufficient overlap with wall or window – at least 1.5x treatment width.
  • Confirm treatments clear any handles, latches, cranks when fully open/closed.
  • Check draw cords cannot be reached by kids – secure with clamps.
  • Test operation and adjust. Seal gaps with trim or insulation for light blocking.

Proper measurement, mounting, and adjustment create flawless fit and performance.

Mix and Match for a Custom Look

Combine multiple treatment types for enhanced aesthetics and functionality:

  • Sheers + blackout drapes
  • Top down-bottom up shades + valance
  • Curtains + shutters
  • Layered panels on wide windows

Vary style and shapes – consider roman shades with straight curtains or casual bamboo blinds with formal swag valances. Play with texture mixing fabrics, woods, and metals.

Window treatments solve privacy, insulation, and aesthetic needs. Assess each room’s requirements and try out different combinations for the perfect custom solution. Quality installation ensures your window treatments perform reliably for years to come.

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