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Are blinds cheaper than curtains?

When it comes to window treatments, two of the most popular options are blinds and curtains. Many homeowners wonder if blinds are cheaper than curtains or vice versa. The answer depends on several factors, including the type and quality of the blinds and curtains, as well as the number of windows you need to cover. This article will compare blinds and curtains on cost, durability, ease of use, light control, privacy, and more. We’ll also provide tips on choosing the most budget-friendly option for your home.

Are blinds cheaper than curtains?

Comparing the costs of blinds vs. curtains

Blinds and curtains come in a wide range of prices. On average, basic vinyl or plastic blinds start around $5-$10 per window, while custom curated curtains start at $20 or more per window. Higher end blinds and curtains made from woods, metals, or other premium materials can cost hundreds of dollars per window.

Some factors that affect the costs of blinds and curtains include:

  • Type of material – Plastic or vinyl blinds are cheaper than wood or faux wood blinds. For curtains, polyester and cotton are more affordable than silk, velvet, or other luxury fabrics.
  • Operating mechanism – Blinds with cords that need to be pulled by hand are generally cheaper than motorized or remote controlled blinds. Rod pocket curtains are less expensive than curtains with grommets or tabs.
  • Custom vs. standard sizes – Made-to-measure blinds and curtains that fit non-standard window sizes usually cost more. Standard window sizes allow you to use lower cost off-the-shelf options.
  • Features – Additional features like insulation, blackout lining, noise dampening, and automation add to the costs for both blinds and curtains.
  • Brand – Designer and brand name blinds and curtains tend to be pricier than generic budget options.
  • Labor costs – Hiring a professional to install custom blinds or curtains will increase your total costs versus DIY options.

Considering these factors, basic budget blinds in standard sizes may cost $100-$300 for an average sized room, while basic ready-made curtains could run you $50-$150 for the same space. High end custom options could be $500 or more.

Assessing durability

The durability and lifespan of your blinds vs. curtains will depend on the quality of materials and construction:

  • Vinyl/plastic blinds – Vinyl and plastic blinds are prone to cracking or bending over time. Average lifespan is 2-5 years.
  • Wood/faux wood blinds – Wood and faux wood blinds can last 5-10 years with proper care. Real wood is more durable than engineered wood.
  • Aluminum blinds – Aluminum blinds can last 10-15 years if treated gently. Easily bent.
  • Cotton curtains – Cotton curtains have a lifespan of 3-5 years before visible wear, fading, and shrinking occur.
  • Polyester curtains – Polyester fabric holds up well for 5-10 years. Resists shrinking and wrinkling.
  • Silk curtains – With extra care, silk curtains can maintain their beauty for 8-10 years before signs of aging.
  • Velvet curtains – Velvet has a luxurious look but is prone to crushing, so may only last 2-3 years with regular use.

Blinds tend to be more durable than curtains overall. Well made wood or aluminum blinds will outlast most budget friendly curtain fabrics like cotton and polyester. But delicate materials like silk and velvet need to be handled gently to maximize their lifespan as curtains.

Ease of use

Operation is another consideration when comparing blinds vs curtains:

  • Blinds – Blinds are very easy to open and close. Most can be pulled up with a simple cord. No additional effort needed.
  • Curtains – Curtains usually need to be fully opened and closed by hand on a rod or rings. Can be inconvenient to adjust.
  • Blinds advantages – Blinds conveniently stack out of the way and most styles allow you to easily adjust light filtering and privacy as needed.
  • Curtain advantages – Curtains offer full coverage when closed. You can easily bunch curtains to the side to open the window. Curtain rods give you the option to layer curtains and scarves.

For most people, blinds provide slightly more day-to-day convenience and easier operation than curtains. But curtains give you more flexibility in styling.

Comparing light filtering capabilities

Here’s how blinds and curtains compare when it comes to controlling natural light in a room:

  • Blinds – Made from slats or one solid piece, blinds allow you to control light and privacy. Adjust the slats to let in just the right amount of light.
  • Curtains – Most curtains are all or nothing when open or closed. Sheer under-curtains do provide some light filtering.
  • Blackout options – Both blinds and curtains come in blackout materials that block nearly all incoming light. Great for bedrooms and media rooms.
  • Light gaps – Blinds have fewer gaps around edges compared to curtains. This prevents light leakage.

Blinds are the clear winner when you want to regulate incoming daylight. The adjustable slats let you dim or filter light perfectly. Blackout versions of both window treatments effectively prevent light for sleep or A/V settings.

Privacy comparison

Here is how well blinds and curtains provide privacy:

  • Blinds – When fully closed, blinds offer full privacy from outside viewing. Slats block sight lines when closed.
  • Curtains – Likewise, fully closed curtains prevent outside viewing, especially with blackout curtain materials.
  • Light gaps – Blinds fit more flush to windows, eliminating gaps that curtains may have on sides or at top.
  • Visibility inside – Blinds still allow you to see out. Most curtains when closed block your view outside.

Blinds give you privacy along with the ability to see outside if desired. Curtains fully closed sacrifice your view. Both stop outside visibility when shut. But blinds have the edge for room darkening ability.

Noise reduction

Blinds and insulated curtains can both help reduce unwanted outside noise:

  • Blinds – Hard materials like wood, faux wood, or aluminum effectively absorb sound vibrations. Even vinyl or plastic blinds provide some noise reduction.
  • Curtains – Thick lined or insulated curtains muffle outside noise pollution when drawn closed.
  • Textiles – Curtains win when it comes to blocking noise. The layered, dense textile absorbs sound vibrations better than blinds overall.
  • Gaps – Any gaps around blinds or curtains reduces their noise dampening capability. Measure windows carefully for best sound blocking.

For maximum noise reduction, choose lined/insulated curtains that fully cover windows without gaps. But blinds can also mute sounds reasonably well compared to no window treatment.

Energy efficiency

Both blinds and curtains can provide extra insulation and prevent heat loss:

  • Dense or lined – Opt for lined curtains or those made from thicker, heat trapping fabrics. Close tightly to minimize air flow.
  • Wood or insulated – Wood blinds, shutters, and well-sealed insulated varieties add an extra barrier against temperature changes.
  • Gaps – Avoid blinds or curtains that gap away from the window since these create cold or hot air leaks.
  • Southern exposure – Block intense southern sun exposure during summer with blackout curtains to keep rooms cooler.

Depending on your climate, you may want blinds or curtains that provide warmth in winter or cooling shade in summer. Layer them for maximum insulation and energy savings.

Ambiance and aesthetics

Beyond function, choose blinds or curtains that fit your room’s decor:

  • Blinds aesthetics – Blinds offer clean lines and industrial, modern, or minimalist looks. Visible textures from materials like wood also add visual interest.
  • Curtain aesthetics – Curtains make spaces feel softer, warmer, and more inviting. Choose luxurious or vivid fabrics for an elegant focal point.
  • Light and space – Sheer curtains and adjustable blinds keep rooms light and airy. Blackout versions make spaces feel more intimate and cocooned.
  • Combinations – Layer sheer and blackout curtains or match with blinds in complementary colors and textures for a custom designer feel.

Ultimately curtains provide more decorative options for different aesthetics. But bold colored or textured blinds can also enhance your decor goals.

Other considerations

A few other factors that may sway your choice:

  • Child and pet safety – Cordless blinds eliminate risks of strangulation or entanglement. Curtains minimize hazards for kids and pets.
  • Allergens – Blinds trap less dust than fabric curtains which require frequent vacuuming and cleaning.
  • Installation – Blinds have standardized brackets for relatively easy DIY. Curtains need more careful measuring and hardware installation.
  • Cleaner look – Blinds keep their crisp lines compared to curtains which can appear rumpled and wrinkled over time.

Keep in mind your specific needs to pick the best and safest option. Evaluate your cleaning commitment since dust-prone curtains require more maintenance.

Tips for choosing affordable blinds or curtains

Here are a few ways to reduce costs when buying blinds or curtains:

  • Compare prices online and in stores. Look for sales, coupons, and discount retailers.
  • Measure window sizes carefully so you can use standard ready-made sizes that cost less.
  • For windows with standard dimensions, plastic blinds are the most budget friendly.
  • Choose basic rod pocket curtains in cotton, polyester, or polyester blends for durability and value.
  • Install them yourself following manufacturer’s instructions to avoid labor fees.
  • Add decorative touches like tiebacks, trim, or clips for custom looks without the price tag.
  • Buy coordinating curtains and blinds in the same color palette to design an expensive, layered look on a budget.

With smart shopping and DIY installation, you can find quality blinds or curtains at affordable prices to fit your budget.

Key takeaways

  • Blinds provide more flexibility in privacy, light control, and airflow but curtains add softness and decorative style.
  • Wood or faux wood blinds tend to outlast cotton or polyester curtains before showing visible wear.
  • Blinds control light filtering and privacy well. Curtains need to be fully opened or closed.
  • Both options come in blackout materials that drastically reduce incoming light and muffle sound.
  • Match styles and textures to your room’s decor and architectural needs. Mix curtains and blinds for added dimension.
  • Carefully measure windows and buy standard sizes to score quality blinds or curtains at lower price points.


The cost of blinds vs. curtains depends largely on the quality and type you choose. Overall, basic vinyl or plastic blinds start under $20, while basic ready-made curtains cost $20+ to cover an average window. So for a few windows, cheap blinds may fit your budget better. But for a whole house, standard polyester curtains can add up to less.

Make your decision based on decor preferences, noise reduction needs, and the number of windows you need to furnish. Combine affordable curtains and blinds for the best of both options. With some clever shopping and DIY skills, you can outfit your home in style on a budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Are blackout curtains or blinds cheaper?
Both blackout curtains and blinds are similarly priced on average. Budget blackout blinds start around $25 per window while blackout curtains start around $30. Opt for standard ready-made sizes and install them yourself to save on costs.

Q2: Should I get blinds or curtains for noise reduction?
For maximum noise reduction, choose thick lined or insulated curtains that fully cover windows without gaps. The dense layers of fabric absorb sound better than most blinds. But blinds with a tight window fit also help dampen noise.

Q3: Do blinds save money on cooling bills?
Energy efficient blinds can help reduce cooling costs in hot climates. Reflective aluminum blinds and special insulating cellular shades block heat gain and keep rooms cooler. Close them during the day to minimize air conditioning costs.

Q4: Why are some blinds so expensive?
High end designer blinds made from real woods like maple or oak, specialty metals, or motorized systems can cost into the thousands. These are luxury upgrades beyond basic vinyl or plastic blinds costing $20 or less. Pay for quality materials and natural aesthetics.

Q5: Should I get blackout blinds for bedroom windows?
Blackout blinds are an excellent choice for bedrooms since they drastically reduce incoming light. This creates a dark, sleep-friendly environment. Make sure to get blinds that seal tightly with no light gaps.

Q6: How do I choose the right curtains for my living room?
Consider the living room’s functions and interior design style. Light filtering sheer curtains maintain views and daylight. Bold colored patterned curtains create an accent wall. Energy efficient insulated curtains trap heat and cold.

Q7: Why are made-to-measure blinds so expensive?
For windows with non-standard measurements, made-to-measure custom blinds cost more than pre-cut sizes. Take extremely accurate measurements and find retailers that offer custom blinds at reasonable prices. Expect to pay at least double.

Q8: Should I mount curtain rods high or low?
Mount rods few inches above the window height for hanging above the frame. For a luxurious floor-to-ceiling look, extend rods past the edges of the window trim. Place low for more privacy.

Q9: How do I make cheap blinds look expensive?
Upgrade plastic bargain blinds with decorator touches. Add trim, decorative finials, or ornate tieback hooks. Paint vinyl slats an elegant color. Use frosted film on windows to diffuse light beautifully.

Q10: Why are Ikea blinds so cheap?
As a budget retailer, Ikea sells vinyl and plastic blinds for as low as $5 per window. They save costs by manufacturing with inexpensive materials and selling high volumes at low markups. Quality matches the price point.

Q11: Should blinds match curtains?
Match blinds and curtains in complimentary colors and fabrics for a designer look. Or intentionally contrast textures like sleek wood blinds against lush velvet curtains. Mixing styles adds visual interest.

Q12: How much privacy do blinds provide?
When completely closed, most quality blinds provide full privacy and light blocking. Plastic blinds have some gaps but wood, aluminum and insulated varieties seal tightly. Adjust slats for outward visibility.

Q13: Will curtains or blinds reduce outside noise more?
Curtains are better sound absorbers, especially lined, weighted curtains with full coverage. But blinds also provide noise reduction by sealing the window tightly. For maximum quiet, install both curtains and blinds.

Q14: Why are blinds bad for cats?
Kitties can get caught in blind cords posing a strangulation risk. Also, cats may accidentally swallow pieces of plastic vertical blinds while batting at them. Opt for cordless blinds or easy-to-operate curtains.

Q15: How often should you clean blinds?
Clean plastic or vinyl blinds every 2-3 months. Wood and aluminum blinds only need a yearly deep cleaning. Wipe down curtains every 1-2 months or if visibly dusty. Vacuum blinds regularly with a brush attachment.

Q16: Which rooms should get blackout curtains?
Bedrooms, home theaters, and nurseries benefit most from blackout curtains to block light for sleep and clear TV/projection viewing. North facing rooms may need them in summer too.

Q17: Why are curtain rods so expensive?
Premium decorative rods made from metals, woods, or ornate materials understandably cost more. But basic adjustable tension rods start around $10. Check discount retailers for deals.

Q18: Should I buy energy efficient window treatments?
In cold climates especially, energy efficient insulated blinds and curtains can greatly reduce heat loss in winter. This saves significantly on energy bills so higher initial costs pay off long term.

Q19: Are custom curtains worth the price?
For hard-to-fit windows, made to measure curtains look more upscale and offer better light blocking. But equivalent ready-made panels with tiny hems may suit your needs for much less.

Q20: Can I make my own curtains and blinds?
With some DIY skills, you can make your own curtains by cutting fabric panels and adding rod pockets. Faux wood blinds are also possible by cutting and gluing together slats. Get creative!


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