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Window Treatment Key Terms

Means light can come through the material, while providing some level of opacity & privacy (think “lampshade”).

Also known as “blackout”, typically this employs the use of a fully opaque material, which blocks a majority of the light and UV energy from coming into a room.

Is typically a piece of material that is designed to fit over the top of a window covering in order to hide any mechanisms.  Fascia is often made from aluminum, and is color coordinated with the shade. Fascia, unlike a valance, is typically designed and manufactured to go with the specific window treatment ordered.  A “fabric-wrapped” fascia is an option where a piece of material matching the shade is attached to the front of the fascia – this is probably the most popular version of fascia for homes.

Is a descriptor of the amount of UV energy that penetrates a solar screen material.  Typically, openness ranges from 0% (totally opaque) to 10% (fairly see through). The more “open” a material is, generally the easier it is to see through; conversely, more open material is less effective a reducing heat gain in a room. For example, a 3% open solar screen will block 97% of the UV energy from entering a room, while a 5% open solar screen will block 95% of the UV energy. Less open material also provides (generally) for a greater level of privacy.

Valance, like fascia, is designed to hide / cover the top of a window treatment, as well as dress it up or finish it out more completely.  Valances come in a variety of options.

Inside mount is where the window treatment is designed to be mounted inside the window frame.  In order to be inside mounted, the shade has to be smaller than the opening on width.  For an inside mount, there needs to be a certain minimum amount of mounting surface available (varies by product) so that the window treatment can be attached securely. Inside mounts provide a more streamlined look, but also increase “light leakage” (see definition below).

Outside mount is where the window treatment is designed to be mounted (typically) above the opening, and beyond the opening on the sides.  Outside mounts are good for rooms requiring room darkening, as the window treatment covers the entire opening (reducing light leakage), or in situations where the window treatment is unable to be inside mounted. When going outside mount, the top treatment of a window covering can be a bit more important due to the increased visibility.

Light leakage refers to the light that can “seep” into a room through a window / opening even when a window treatment is in the fully closed position.  Light leakage is greater on blinds vs. shades, due to light coming through the cracks between the vanes.  Also, light leakage is greater for inside mounted vs. outside mounted window treatments given to the need to maintain a gap between the window frame and window treatment (as well as the material on that window treatment) in order to fit the shade inside the frame.

Usually refers to the components necessary to install the window covering, such as brackets.

A clutch is a geared mechanism used in roller shades to raise and lower the shade.  The clutch is controlled via a loop of chain (fixed in length), and are designed to be able to stop the shade at any desired position. Due to the clutch mechanisms, there is a gap between the outside edge of the shade and the outside edge of the fabric on the shade.

Top down / bottom up (or “TDBU” when abbreviated), refers to a shade that can be either raised from the bottom (standard operation), or lowered from the top when opening the shade.  Lowering from the top allows the bottom part of the shade to remain covering the lower half of the opening, while allowing light in from the top part of the opening. TDBU configuration is great for bedrooms or bathrooms, where a combination of privacy and light is desired.

A motorized shade actually has a small motor that is built into the shade.  Motors are either AC-powered, or DC-powered.  AC-powered shades require a connection to a 110-volt power source, with that connection being either hardwired, or via a standard 3-prong plug.  A DC-powered shade requires the use of a transformer (connected to a 110-volt power source – think phone charger), or a low-voltage circuit.  DC-powered motors can also be powered via battery wands, which typically use lithium batteries for longer life. Due to the limited amount of power, battery powered shades are limited in size.

Typically, motors are controlled by handheld or wall mounted switches.  Most controls on newer motors/shades are “RF” (radio-frequency) based – which means they operate wirelessly, with no need for direct line of sight (vs. “IR”, or infra-red controls).  For advanced systems, where shades/motors may be integrated into a home automation system, a wired network, consisting of typically Cat 5 or Cat 6 wiring, may be required.

Refers to the top part of the window treatment where the fabric is attached and where the controls are located.

A control option which involves a spring-loaded mechanism that provides the needed tension to raise and lower the shades without the need for cords or chains.

A control option which involves a fixed loop of cord (or a loop of chain) used to operate the shade.  Often used in cellular or Roman shades to minimize issues with the long lengths of cords which are present after opening shades with standard cord controls.

Is the bottom part of the window covering; usually it’s weighted to help minimize the shade material from blowing around.

The typical application is for shades mounted on doors – the “hold downs” are usually brackets mounted on the doors near the bottom of the window covering, which, used in conjunction with a specially designed hembar, allow a user to connect the hembar to the brackets in order to prevent the window treatment from moving/blowing when the door is open.

Primarily used for outdoor shades, cable guides help reduce the movement of the shade.  Hembars for outdoor shades typically have holes for the cables to pass through.  Cables are then affixed to the top of the shade (one either end) and run the length of the shade.  They are typically mounted to the wall and use a turnbuckle to maintain tension on the cable.

This refers to the style of mechanism used to operate the shade. The standard varies by product – in all cases the standard is the lowest cost option, with other options, such as cordless or cord loop, being adders to the base shade costs.

Refers to the various options, such as fascia, valances or cornices, that can be used to help hide the top portion of the shade as well as increase the beauty and style of the window treatment.

Refers to a drapery rod that is designed to operate via a cord control – as the cord is pulled, the drapery will either open or close; ideal for reducing the handling of the drapery material, which can lead to damage over time.

Used for draperies, fullness refers to the amount of material used to create the drape.  Typical fullness for drapes is usually 150% or 200%.  A fullness of 200% means the drape contains approximately 2 times the amount of material needed to cover the final width of the drape.  The prominence and number of pleats on a drape are a function of its fullness.

For soft treatments, like draperies and Roman shades, they can be ordered as “lined” or “un-lined”.  Lining is another layer of material, usually either a “light-filtering” or “room-darkening” fabric, typically white/off-white in color, that is put on the back (the part facing the opening) of the fabric in order to increase the longevity of the material (decreases the damage from the sun and elements) and/or to help improve the light-blocking capability of the window treatment.  Lining is recommended for high-end materials as these tend to suffer greater degradation from the sun.

Is material that is designed to inhibit both the visual and UV light entering a room. Solar screen comes in a variety of “openness” factors, and is designed to maintain a level of visibility to the outside world even when the shade is fully down.  It is ideal for windows where a view is desired, but the need exists to reduce the heat gain in a room.  Solar screens often are referred to as the “kind of shades you can see out, but people can’t see in…” – unfortunately, this isn’t quite accurate.  While, during the daytime, this statement may be true, at night, if the ambient light is stronger inside the house or place of business then outside, some level of visibility into the space is possible.