A window blind is a type of window covering. There are many different kinds of window blinds which use a variety of control systems. A typical window blind is made up of several long horizontal or vertical slats of various types of hard material, including wood, plastic or metal which are held together by cords that run through the blind slats. Vertical blinds run along a track system which can tilt open and closed and move side-to-side. Window blinds can be manoeuvred with either a manual or remote control by rotating them from an open position, with slats spaced out, to a closed position where slats overlap and block out most of the light. There are also several types of window coverings, called shades, that use a single piece of soft material instead of slats.
The term window blinds can also be used to describe window coverings more broadly. In this context window blinds include almost every type of window covering, whether it is a hard or soft material; i.e. shutters, roller shades, cellular shades (also called honeycomb shades), wood blinds, Roman shades, standard vertical, and horizontal blinds (also called Venetians). In the United Kingdom, awnings are sometimes called blinds or shades.
Window blinds are generally sold as either ready-made or made to measure. As the names suggest, blinds that are ready-made are manufactured to set sizes based on typical window dimensions, whereas blinds that are made to a measurement are cut to a specific width and drop to match the window. The advantage of ready-made blinds is their availability and cost, whereas blinds that are made to measure will be more expensive but better fit the dimensions of a window.
Window blinds can be drawn manually using a cord, or automated through motorization. Controls for motorized blinds can be from a wall switch or keypad, remote control, or computer, eliminating the need for cords and allowing control of otherwise inaccessible windows. A number of modern homes are integrating blind control with central C-Bus solutions. This control provides ease of use and is effective for controlling blind operation to reduce heat loss during winter or minimize heat from the sun during summer.
Cellular shades or cellular blinds, sometimes referred to as honeycomb shades, are a type of window blind made of a long and continuous fabric with a cellular structure when opened and fold onto themselves when closed. The fabric is often made from soft paper or cloth-like material and is available in a variety of different structures including single cell, double cell or triple cell. Cellular blinds work by trapping air inside the cell structure once opened and create a barrier between the window surface and the room. Due to the unavailability of standardized tests, no ranking system currently exists to compare the efficacy of these blinds.
In common with all blinds, cellular shades can reduce solar gain in summer and provide room darkening or blackout for sleeping. Like most other window treatments, they are raised and lowered with a string. Cordless cellular shades are available to reduce the risk of strangulation for small children. One may also have the option of lowering the top of the shade down, and/or the bottom of the shade up; commonly referred to as a Top-Down-Bottom-Up mechanism.
Roman shades are a type of window blind used to help block out the sun. Although often called blinds, these are actually referred to as "shades" in the window covering industry. They are often referred to as Romans or Roman blinds in the UK. When opened, the Romans stack up evenly; when covering the full window height, they are smooth without overlapping.
Roman blinds can be purchased with a blackout lining on the back to fully block out sunlight. However, there will always be small light gaps on the edges of the blinds if mounted on the inside of the window frame or peeking out from behind the blind if mounted on the frame around the window.
Unlike other blinds, such as certain fabrics used for Roller Shades, Vinyl Vertical blinds, or Vinyl Horizontal blinds, Roman Shades are not an ideal option for areas with a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms or windows above the kitchen sink.
Roller blinds are a type of window blind that is typically made from a polyester fabric wrapped around a plastic or metal roller. The roller may either be exposed or enclosed inside of a frame and can be placed at the top of the window recess or outside of the recess. To control the roller blind there is typically a chain or string on either side of the blind. When the side chain is pulled one direction the roller will raise, and if pulled in the opposite direction it will lower instead.
Some manufacturers also produce a version of roller blinds with two layers of fabric, sometimes referred to as double roller blinds, for even greater control of light filtration through a window. Typically, one layer will be made of a sheer fabric that can be used to reduce glare, with a second layer that typically includes a blackout lining for even greater filtration when necessary.
A Venetian blind is a type of window blind made from overlapping horizontal slats that are typically lowered and drawn together by pulling a cord. The slats are typically manufactured using a rigid material such as aluminium, plastic, or wood and move in unison through a series of wires that run through the blinds.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Venetian blinds were widely adopted in office buildings to regulate light and air. A large modern complex in the US that adopted Venetian blinds was Rockefeller Center's RCA Building (better known as the Radio City building) in New York City, completed in the 1930s. One of the largest orders for Venetian blinds ever placed was to the Burlington Venetian Blind Co., of Burlington, Vermont, which supplied blinds for the windows of the Empire State Building in New York City.
Unlike horizontal blinds, vertical blinds are less likely to collect dust because they stand vertically. Since they draw to the side rather than lifting and lowering, they are easier and faster to operate. They operate best on patio doors and sliding windows that slide from side to side. In the 1970s there were few choices of fabric- usually beige or white, which had to have stiffener embedded to prevent fraying, rather like on roller blinds fabric but using a thicker textile.
Stationary vertical blinds are hung in the doorways of some homes and businesses which generally leave the door open. Movement of the blind may signal a change in airflow, or someone entering the doorway. More commonly, however, these vertical blinds are made of thick plastic. In the cold rooms of food businesses, this slows the heat leakage into the cold room. In warmer climates, vertical blinds discourage flies and some other insects from entering the building.In certain areas of the UK window blinds are used to disguise the fact that offices have PCs in them and are used as a burglary deterrent.
Faux wood blinds are an alternative to real wood blinds. Faux wood is also known in some countries as Plaswood (Plastic & Wood). Made of a composite of man-made materials and natural wood particles, faux wood can be a less expensive choice than natural wood. These blinds have become more popular as the products have matured, becoming cheaper and more versatile at the same time offering more of a natural wood look. Current faux wood blinds are warp resistant, have UV ratings as high as 500 and come in colors that would be hard to find in natural wood blinds.Because of their resistance to warping, faux wood window blinds are suitable for areas with extreme temperature swings or high moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Venetian blinds, both horizontal and vertical, are available in a number of man-made materials (either resembling wood or metal or simply plastic). These are better suited to areas where moisture or direct contact with water is likely to cause a problem, such as bathrooms and kitchens. These blinds are often available with micro slats (as small as 16 mm or less). The result of smaller slats is that more have to be used to obscure the window completely. Conservatory blinds (i.e. ceiling fixed via a number of horizontal pulleys) are often made of man-made materials.
Corded window blinds present a strangulation hazard to children, causing 184 deaths in the United States between 1996 and 2012. Recalls of window covering products have not significantly reduced the number of deaths since 1980. Retrofit kits have been used since 1995 to "reduce" the strangulation hazard; however, children have strangled on retrofit kits since 1995. The US CPSC recommends using cordless or cord-free window coverings where children live or visit. For window coverings that use continuous-loop cord systems, like vertical blinds, a wall cord cleat can be used to anchor the cord tightly to the wall and prevent children from having access to the dangling cord loop. Window blinds slats are held together with cords that allow for tilting slats, raising or lowering, and these are potentially dangerous if loose. As an added precaution, cord stops should be installed correctly and adjusted to restrict the movement of inner lift cords.
Solid fabric and slat car blinds have given way to cheaper and more flexible, folding, wire-framed "dark-stocking" synthetic blinds. These are used where the car owner has not dark-tinted the glass of the car windows enough, or during the day, by drivers or passengers seeking more privacy.
WindowBlinds started in 1998 when lead developer Neil Banfield teamed up with Stardock. Stardock was looking for a developer to create a window skinning application, and Banfield had already created an application that he called "Window Blinds" in 1997. Previous attempts by Stardock had included "Object Look", a minimal skinning application, and "WindowFX", an application written in Delphi. That name would later be reused for WindowFX, also created by Banfield. For a short time there was also a scaled-back version of the original Window Blinds called "WBLiteFX", a name which was still present in WindowBlinds registry settings as of May 2006. 2b1af7f3a8