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Window Blinds And Shades Cost Guide

We put together a window blinds and shades cost guide which includes cost break downs for each type of blinds and shades.

Every home needs to be able to close itself off from the outside world now and again. Whether it is for privacy, protection, isolation from unwanted light, sound insulation or heat insulation, the purpose is always the same to stop something from either entering or leaving the house. Now, if that was all that was required then a black blanket would be the ideal solution, but it isn’t. We also want the barrier to look good, match our existing décor, be easy to install aw well as being simple to maintain and repair if things go wrong. A window treatment can be:

  • A curtain
  • A blind
  • A shade
  • A shutter

Today we are going to talk about blinds and shades and discuss how the cost of fitting and repairing these can vary depending on the type of material and style of window covering.

Blinds vs. shades

The previous section listed ways by which we can cover our windows. The similarities and differences can be summed up in one sentence.

Shades are soft window covers while blinds are hard window covers.

Blinds have slats which can either be tilted or kept stationary while shades are made from a continuous roll of material. Often the names of either shades or blinds can give a clue as to its category but sometimes the name is misleading as both the words ‘blinds’ and ‘shades’ are commonly used interchangeably. If we list the various type of window cover, its definition and place it into its correct category we can see how the name can mislead.

NameDescriptionCategory
Venetian blindsMade from horizontal slats of metal or plastic. They can be pivoted to change the amount of light passing through. Light passing can range from totally open to totally closed depending on the angle of pivot. They can be lifted by means of a cord to allow access to the window.Blinds
Wood blindsSame as Venetian blinds except that they are made from horizontal slats of wood. Blinds
Bamboo blindsThe same as Venetian blinds except they are made from horizontal slats of split bambooBlinds
American blindsThese are a rigid vertical blinds often made from PVC. They are not weighted and the bottom ends are not chained together as with normal vertical blinds.Blinds
Shutters or louvresThis is a window blind with fixed horizontal slats angled to prevent direct sunlight and rain from entering yet admitting fresh air and light. These can be permanently fixed into the window recess in place of glass or they can be hinged on the outside of the window to protect the glass. Common materials are aluminium, steel, wood and glassBlinds
JalousiesSame as a louvre blind but with the facility to adjust the angle of the slats.Blinds
Faux wood blindsMade from either a wood composite or a PVC/vinyl type material. These can be disguised to look like the real thing and provide a cheaper alternative to real hardwood slatted blinds.Blinds
Custom blindsBlinds, purpose made to the dimensions of a specific window. Custom blinds are especially popular with top range quality blinds as well as being supplied for oversize, undersize or unusual shaped windows.Blinds
Shoji Japanese blindsThese are based on the traditional Shoji screens and slide on a track so that the panels slide behind each other. They can be slid to one side or both sides of the window and can be inside or outside the recess. Often used as wardrobe doors or room dividers as well as window coverings.Blinds
Vertical blindsThese generally use a wider slat than normal with each slat being positioned vertically across the window.Blinds
Outdoor blindsThese can be made from metal and designed to provide security, fire and bad weather protection. These can be fitted over windows and doors or around patios and decking to provide privacy and shelter. They can be manually opened and closed or more commonly motorised.Blinds
AwningsIn USA these are called blinds or shades. They are retractable shades fitted to the outside wall above a window. They are designed to shield the window from direct sunlight.Blinds
Cellular shades or honeycomb shadesThese are made from horizontal tubes, often from paper or fabric fused together to provide a layer of trapped air within two outside walls. This method of construction helps provide heat insulation. They can be raised or lowered. Like a normal shade.Shades
Pleated blinds or concertina blindsThese are made from fabric and fold into pleats when opened. Usually the pleats are horizontal however sometimes they can be vertical.Shades
Roman blindsUsed to block out the sun and provide shade along with diffused sunlight. When opened they stack up evenly. Can be made from fabric, wood or bamboo.Shades
Roller blindsMade from fabric, often starched, with a weighted rod horizontally across the bottom edge to keep the fabric taut. The roller mechanism is at the top of the blind.Shades
Pinoleum blindsMade from narrow horizontal twigs joined together by vertical threads. This is flexible vertically and can be drawn up and down like a roller blind. This type is often made in Asia as traditional handicrafts and imported to the West. Shades

We have now defined the various type of window covering and said whether it can be categorised as a blind or a shade. As you can see you cannot always rely on the name being an indication of the type of window covering. It is better to ask yourself whether the materials are flexible or rigid.

It is up to you whether you prefer a blind or a shade. They each have their applications and most suitable uses. Your choice will depend a lot on the available styles, colours and types as well as your budget and whether you are going to fit them yourself as a DIY project or whether you are going to hire a contractor to do the job for you. You will also have to consider whether the type you choose will match your existing décor and style of house.

How to choose whether horizontal or vertical is suitable

After you have chosen whether you want a blind rather than a shade, the next choice is whether you want horizontal or vertical coverings. The choice once again is a matter of personal preference but it is also determined depending on the space you have to cover, the shape of the window and room and what other visible lines you have in your house. Remember that even though each window will be viewed independently from the others from the interior of the house, all windows on a certain elevation will be viewed simultaneously from the outside. It is very important therefore to impart a sense of continuity and coherence in the design of your window coverings. You should either have all horizontal or all vertical slats as well as having a consistent choice of blinds or shades. Bear in mind also that it will be more acceptable for some rooms, such as kitchen and bathroom, to have different coverings than the rest of the house. It is very common in those rooms to have wipe clean and waterproof flexible PVC roller shades rather than fabric.

If the primary factor deciding your choice is the size of your budget then you should always go for horizontal slats as these are usually cheaper. If your home is aiming for a period or vintage look then often horizontal coverings are best to use anyway. Horizontal blinds, like their name implies, have slats which run horizontally across the window and are able to be opened and closed vertically. Similarly vertical blinds have slats running vertically down the window and are able to be opened and closed from side to side. Sometimes all the vertical hangers being pulled to one side and sometimes the hangers are pulled to both sides like curtains. It is more difficult to have shades in vertical designs but they are available and often you will have this style custom made.

Materials

Blinds

As stated earlier, blinds are usually made from rigid materials while shades are made from flexible materials like fabric or paper (there are exceptions). Examples of rigid materials are:

  • Aluminium
  • Vinyl
  • Wood
  • Faux wood
  • Steel
  • Bamboo

The cheapest blinds tend to be made in aluminium and vinyl, faux wood being slightly more expensive while real wood is most expensive.

The advantages and disadvantages of different materials used in blinds are compared in the table below.

MaterialAdvantagesDisadvantages
AluminiumCheap, very durable, easily cleaned, different styles, different colours.Might look low budget.
VinylCheap, very durable, easily cleaned, different styles, different colours.Might look low budget, can look flimsy.
Faux woodCheaper than real hardwood, easier to maintain than real wood, looks like real hardwood.Moderately expensive. Often these are not suitable for damp environments
Real woodAttractive and warm colours.Expensive, difficult to maintain. May warp under excessive damp.

Shades

Shades can be made from any fabric, woven grasses or split bamboo such as found with Pinoleum blinds. For a waterproof and wipeable shade they can be made from PVC flexible sheet finished in many bright and attractive colours and patterns. These are ideal for kitchens, bathrooms and shower rooms.

Factors affecting costs

There are many factors affecting the cost of installing blinds and shades and we will discuss these now. First of all we must consider the question of whether you will be installing them as a DIY project or by a professional. If you are going to have them fitted by a professional then we must ask whether the window coverings are going to be bought from a home improvement centre as a kit or are they going to be bought from a manufacturer who will use their own installation technicians.

In general the factors that may affect costs include:

Style. The style and type of window coverings will greatly influence the total cost of the job. While simple curtains may be the cheapest option to install, needing only a curtain rail to provide the effect, blinds, shades and shutters may cost much more.

DIY build & installation of kit. All home improvement stores sell shade and blind kits. These are aimed at the DIY market and include the components, fittings and complete instructions needed to construct, cut to size and install shades and blinds. They can be purchased in standard widths and drops and are able to be cut to size by the user. This is obviously the cheapest option and includes just the cost of the kit.

Contractor build & installation of kit. Rather than the user constructing and installing the DIY kit, you would hire an appropriate professional to do the job for you. The kit would still be intended for the DIY market but the quality of the installation would be correspondingly more professional. The total cost of this job would include the purchase price of the kit and the cost to hire the contractor.

Manufacturer build & installation of custom coverings. High class coverings, both shades and blinds are made to order by the manufacturer and installed by their technicians. Initially a salesman visits you in your home and assists you in deciding which style and model would be suitable for your application. Measurements of each window are taken and a quotation produced which would be an ‘all in’ cost for manufacture and installation. If the quotation is acceptable, then contract terms are agreed. Usually a deposit is requested before manufacture begins, with the balance paid before installation. The manufacturer’s installation crew visit and install the premade coverings. This is the most expensive of the installation options but you will have a quality, custom made product installed by well trained technicians. There will be a full warranty given because the manufacturer has control of the installation process at all times.

Non-standard sized & unusually shaped windows. These will be found mainly in older houses where the windows were custom built by a local joiner. Problems with windows such as these are usually better solved by using custom built coverings.

Removal of existing coverings. Usually, unless you have recently moved into a new house, there will be existing fixtures to remove, holes to fill and redecoration of the walls to do. All this extra work takes time and unless it is a DIY project you will end up paying more to either the privately hired contractor or the manufacturer if they use their installers to do the job. In practice however the manufacturer will usually include this task as part of their quotation.

Indoor or outdoor coverings. Window coverings may be for outside the building as well as inside, especially if the coverings are intended for weather or security protection. If the coverings are for inside then furniture may need to be moved and possibly the room may not be able to be used for a few hours. If the coverings are for the outside then scaffolding may be required to allow access to the higher levels. Outside coverings may also require additional construction alterations such as masonry work.

Multiple storey buildings access (inside & out). If the coverings are on multiple storeys and are to be fitted on the inside of the house then the coverings will need to be carried upstairs and through many doors. The coverings for oversize windows may be difficult to be carried through the house and depending on the age and size of the building may cause accessibility issues which will need to be overcome. If exterior window coverings are to be fitted on more than just ground floor, then access will have to be provided. Methods of access will vary depending on the safety laws and regulations in your country. In the UK, up until a few years ago, it was perfectly acceptable to work on multiple storeys using a ladder. It then became law for work to only be done from stationary scaffolding platforms or mobile access platforms. All additional access methods and time spent carrying materials will have to be priced into the quotation.

Bulk purchases. You can often gain considerable discounts from manufacturers if you decide to buy many window coverings at the same time. Large manufacturing companies will often have sales promotions which you may be lucky enough to be part of. Sometimes manufacturers offer not only cash discounts but also free window coverings if you buy more than a set amount. Discounts are not only available on bulk materials but also with the cost of installation. Savings can be made by the manufacturer if you increasing the volume of your purchase as the technicians and their tools are already on site. Usually (however not always) the manufacturer will pass on these savings to the customer. For example let us assume that the cost to install one custom built window blind is about $50. The cost to install two blinds will be less than double that amount, say $85 and the cost to install three would be, say $120. And so on.

Accessories. Not only the window coverings themselves but also the cost of any accessories must be taken into account when budgeting for new window coverings. Accessories can further enhance the look and feel of your home if you have chosen correctly. Although most accessories are designed specifically for curtains, some of them will also enhance your blinds or shades. Some popular accessory options include:

  • Valances
  • Pelmets
  • Tie-backs
  • Finials

Shopping outlets. Where you buy your window coverings will also greatly influence the amount of money you spend. Forget about buying from the manufacturer for the moment, I mean buying for self-installation. The various places from where you can purchase window coverings will target different customer demographics. For example which category from the following list do you think sells the cheapest window coverings and which are the most expensive?

  • Home improvement warehouses
  • Online retailers
  • Small independent hardware stores
  • Designer home décor boutiques
  • Discount stores

Energy efficiency. Although not as important as having the correct windows fitted in the first place, window coverings still have an effect on the heat loss through your windows. Energy efficient blinds can do many jobs to help keep your home warm in the winter and cool during the summer such as:

  • Filter out light and heat from the sun
  • Keep hot and cold air in the house during the winter and summer

Energy efficient blinds and shades cost much more than standard ones and can be anywhere between $50 to $250 each. Cellular or honeycomb shades are a typical example of these.

Custom built installation: You can be sure that custom built from the manufacturer and fitted by the in-house technicians will give you a quality product. You can guarantee that the coverings will be made to fit your windows exactly and the installation will be first class. You will have a warranty on all parts and labour and the job will be done properly.

You will also pay top price for this service.

DIY

There are many good kits available from home improvement stores for all types of window blinds and shades. They come in a range of standard widths and drops (distance from top to bottom) and are cut on site to fit your windows by yourself or your contractor. They are designed for ease of assembly and installation and come with full instructions on how to cut them to size and how to install them. All that is required to do the job correctly are a few basic tools such as:

Installation by contractor

If you haven’t the time or ability to fit them yourself then there are plenty of contractors available to do the job for you. Probably the contractor with the most applicable skills (apart from a specialist technician) would be a carpenter but you would be lucky to find a carpentry contractor who would look at a small job like this unless you were having the whole house fitted out. The next best would be a handyman who would have the necessary skills and tools and would not charge as much as a carpenter.

Material cost & installation cost

The cost to have your window blinds or shades repaired or replaced, will vary depending on the part of the country in which you live. Always ask for quotations from at least three different companies before committing and be sure whether you require replacement or repair. If you have motorised blinds then understand that even though a reconditioned motor replacement will be cheaper than a brand new one, the warranty will not be as comprehensive as that supplied with a new part and the warranty may just be for a few months.

The following costs show average figures for having your blinds or shades installed from new or having existing coverings repaired and cleaned.

ItemLow endHigh endNational averageTypical range
Installation of new blinds or shades. (Labour only)$60$2000$700$220 to $1,150
Repair blinds or shades$50$270$120$75 to $180
Clean blinds or shades$75$580$240$140 to $340

The cost of DIY kits and spare slats from a popular online retail company are as follows. All prices are approximate and intended only as a guide. Confirm the price, measurements and shipping costs before ordering anything online.

ItemSpecificationsCost
Pleated fabric roller shade36” x 72”$10
2” Corded Faux Wood blinds23” x 64”$30
Light filtering cellular blinds34” x 64”$35
PVC Venetian blinds24” x 72”$20
Cordless, top down & bottom up cellular shades24” x 66”$55
Vertical blinds78” x 84”$55
Adjustable sliding panels80” x 96”$110
Natural reed woven, roll up blind72” x 72”$40
Motorised horizontal & vertical blind kitRadio controlled. Battery or solar powered. Replaces manual wand$85
Bamboo Roman shades35” x 54”$35
Replacement vertical blind slatsDepending on manufacturer$85 for 10

How about repair rather than replacement

Blinds and shades can become damaged over time from accidental wear and tear. Blinds, especially as they are made up from a series of slats, may be able to be repaired if only a few of the slats need replacing. Not only slats can be replaced but also restringing, clip replacement and if you have motorised blinds then the motor may need replacing. All these replacements and repairs can work out a lot cheaper than replacing the complete blind, especially if you had them custom made or if the model you require has since gone out of production. Irrespective of the reason why you may need repairs or part replacements done, you must always have the work done sooner rather than later. Timely repair can often prevent the damage becoming worse.

To find out whether it is more cost effective to have repair and parts replacement done or to have the blind completely replaced, it is always worth contacting a company that specialises in shade or blind repairs.

Usually small repairs such as slat replacement or clip replacement are worth doing because the cost to get this done is often less than $20. If the replacement part needed is minor and you are happy to do the repair yourself then it may even be worthwhile contacting the manufacturer and ask to buy the required part direct. Usually they will gladly send you the part by post and if you are lucky they may not even charge you for it especially if you can show the problem was caused by a fault in design or manufacture.

The repair may be more expensive if the slats are made from a more expensive material such as hardwood. These slats can cost around $40 each if they are made from an expensive hardwood in which case it may be worth considering whether the repair is more cost effective than total blind replacement.

Those homes with motorised blinds should expect to pay anything around $70 to $100 for a new motor. If you think you may have problems with a faulty motor it is often worth calling out a blind repair specialist first because:

  • The problem may not be the motor, it may be something else
  • The specialist may be able to repair the motor
  • It may be possible to buy a reconditioned motor from the specialist
  • The cost of labour for replacing the motor in addition to the cost of the part may make the repair prohibitive

The cost of a repair technician’s time can vary considerably between companies and most technicians charge by the hour. However most repairs to blinds and shades do not take very long to carry out by a professional, usually just an hour or two, so labour costs should work out quite reasonable if you can shop around.

If you have decided to have the window covering repaired rather than replaced then there are a few steps you can take to get the most favourable price from the technician.

Contact a few different companies and request a quotation form them all. This will give you an idea of who is the most reasonably priced technician.

Read online reviews about the company you are thinking of choosing to find out if anyone has had a bad experience. When reading these always remember that no-one is perfect and disgruntled customers usually shout louder than happy customers so you must be aware that the reviews may be negatively biased. If you can get references from happy customers as well and actually speak to them and see the finished work in the context of their home you may get a more evenly biased review.

Ask friends and family if they have ever heard any feedback about the prospective company.

How about cleaning rather than repair?

Let us imagine a scenario. You have just inherited your grandmother’s house that she has lived in for at least thirty years. The dear old soul just couldn’t get up on a ladder to clean her window blinds as much as she had wanted so when she finally passed away the house looked and felt very tired and shabby. The first time you walked into the house after inheriting it you noticed how old and shabby the window blinds looked. At first you intended to rip them all out and buy new, but then, on closer inspection you noticed that the blinds were top of the range back in the day. Today they would be extremely expensive to buy. Do you rip them out and buy cheaper or can you get these old blinds cleaned?

The type of material from which they are made will determine how well and how easily they can be cleaned. The type of material will also affect the cost of cleaning. In fact, some of the types can be DIY cleaned. For example,

Metal blinds can be removed from their brackets and pressure washed or soaked in a detergent solution to remove the grease and grime.

Silk Roman blinds will have to be removed from the window and dry cleaned by a specialist upholstery cleaner.

Non- fabric coverings such as PVC blinds or plastic shades can often be just soaked in a cleaning solution to remove the dirt. You can try a solution of laundry powder and hot water or bleach and hot water. Check to see if the colour is affected by bleach before you use this substance.

Other fabric coverings, which are not shape specific such as hessian, linen or similar may be able to be machine washed or dry cleaned, depending on the fabric.

There are some specialist cleaning companies that will come to your home and clean your window coverings in-situ. They are often the same companies that come and clean your carpets and upholstery so it is worth giving them a ring to find out what service they can offer. If you want a complete spring clean you may be able to get a discount by having your rugs, soft furnishings and window coverings all cleaned at the same time.

Warranties

When you hire a company to do work for you, it is normal practice to expect a ‘parts and labour’ warranty from the contractor and manufacturer. Most countries have ‘Sale of Goods’ laws in force to protect the consumer from products that are not fit for purpose. All reputable manufacturers will provide at least a money back guarantee or a replacement, if the materials you buy are found to be faulty. The length of a normal parts warranty can be anything between one and five years depending on the quality of the product. You can expect reconditioned motorised parts to have a warranty of from three months to one year.

The most important thing to remember is that manufacturers will only provide the warranty if their product has been installed and used in accordance with their instructions. This means that if the product was not installed correctly then the warranty is invalid and if you use the product in a way in which it was not intended to be used, the warranty is invalid. For instance if you decide to let the children climb up the Venetian blinds, the fixings become loose and the child falls and is injured then the manufacturer is not liable.

Most reputable installers and appropriate contractors are covered by insurance for work done in accordance with their skillset. For example a carpenter, window installer, handyman or window blind fitter will be insured to fit window coverings however a masonry, gardening or HVAC contractor will not be insured. It is up to you to ensure that the contractor you hire is properly qualified, certified and insured to do the job you require.

The terms of the warranty and any guaranties will be detailed in the contract between you and your contractor. Remember that if you agree to hire someone and allow them to start work then you have agreed to their terms of contract.

Tips for fitting the window coverings yourself

You have decided to buy a DIY kit. You need to be aware of some simple guidelines to be able to do the job efficiently with the minimum of problems.

Check the parts. Before starting any cutting or installing, inspect all the components found in the pack for scratches and other visible damage. If there is any damage whatsoever then notify the retailer as soon as you can.

Follow instructions. Find the instruction sheet and compare the list of components found on the sheet with the components actually present in the pack. If any are missing, notify the retailer as soon as possible.

Unpacking the blind. Unpack and carefully lay all the parts on a soft surface big enough to hold the entire collection. A suitable surface would be a carpeted floor or a large sheet of cardboard.

Read the instructions. Find the instruction leaflet and read carefully. Familiarise yourself with all the components and how they fit together.

Cutting. If you have to cut any part of the blind or shade, make sure you measure the distance carefully and mark the cut line with a soft pencil. Remember the adage “Measure twice, cut once”.

Keep things level. Always use a tape measure and a spirit level to keep everything level or vertical when attaching to the wall.

Fixing to surfaces. If the windows are made from wood then you can easily fix the brackets or head rail using the screws supplied. If the window frame is metal or plastic then the fixing brackets will need to be fitted to the wall or ceiling using an appropriate method.

Clean before use. After you have installed the window covering, wipe any dust from the surfaces with a soft duster or vacuum cleaner. Clear up after yourself.

Safety practices

If you are intending to cut, assemble and install a blind or shade yourself, you will need to follow some simple safety rules to be able to fit your window coverings safely.

Ladders. Always use an appropriate access method to work above the window. If using a stepladder, always ensure the feet are on a dry level surface. Do not stand on a chair or table to reach the high bits.

Using drills. If you need to use a drill to make fixing holes in the wall then always make sure you are aware of the locations of any hidden pipes or electrical cables.

Sharp knives. When using sharp knives, saws or scissors, take care not to cut yourself or anything other than the item you wish to cut.

Screwdrivers. Always use the correct sized screwdriver for the screw you are using.

Using electricity. Do not use mains electrical tools outside unless the weather is dry.

Extension cables. Keep electrical extension cables safely out of the way especially when working from a ladder.

Protective clothing. Use safety spectacles and a dust mask when drilling into metal, masonry or wood.

What have we found out today?

Today we have talked about window blinds and shades, what they are and how much they cost to install, repair and clean.

We talked about the differences and similarities between window blinds and shades and how the names by which they are commonly known can sometimes be misleading.

We talked about whether to choose a shade or a blind and if a blind, whether it should have vertical or horizontal slats. We talked about the different materials that window coverings are commonly made from and how the materials impact on the cost of buying and installation.

We talked about other factors affecting the cost of purchasing the product and the cost of a contractor’s labour to install the product.

Sometimes the window coverings may only need slight repairs or sometimes even just a good clean rather than being replaced and we talked about the pros and cons of each option. We discussed how to clean various materials yourself and also how to find a company that can clean the coverings for you.

We talked about how to go about finding someone with the correct skills and reputation to repair your window covering.

We talked a bit about both the manufacturer’s and installer’s responsibility when it comes to supplying a warranty for parts and labour and how the manufacturer cannot be held responsible for how their product reacts when misused contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions.

We then talked about some DIY tips to ensure the window coverings were installed with the minimum of fuss and went on to discuss some simple safety instructions.

I hope you have found this article interesting and useful for you.

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