When it comes to window treatments, two of the most popular options are blinds and curtains. Both blinds and curtains have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to light control, privacy, insulation, ease of use, aesthetics, and cost. Here’s an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is better for your needs.
What are the pros and cons of blinds?
Blinds come in many styles, materials, colors, and features. Some key benefits of blinds include:
- Allow precise control over the amount of light that enters a room. Most blinds can block out nearly 100% of incoming light when fully closed.
- Most blinds provide excellent privacy from those trying to peek in from the outside. The slats can be angled to allow some light in while maintaining privacy.
- Some blackout blinds feature insulation designed to reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. This can help reduce energy costs.
Easy to raise and lower
- Blinds mounted on cords, wands, or internal mechanisms make it easy to quickly adjust the amount of light entering the room.
Come in many styles
- Popular blind styles like Venetian, vertical, roller, roman, honeycomb, and more mean you can find visually appealing blinds to match any decor.
- Made from durable materials like vinyl, wood, faux wood, aluminum, etc. Properly maintained blinds can last many years.
Potential downsides of blinds include:
Can block outdoor views
- Lowered blinds can make you feel closed in and block attractive outdoor views. Fully opening blinds each time you want to see outside can be a hassle.
May not block all light
- Light often still enters around the edges of blinds. Blackout blinds work best for bedrooms when a completely dark environment for sleeping is desired.
Can’t filter light well
- While blinds easily control light amounts, they generally don’t filter or soften incoming sunshine. Curtains paired with blinds can help diffuse harsh light.
Can be noisy
- Opening and closing slatted blinds often creates clicking sounds which may not suit noise-sensitive environments like bedrooms.
Prone to dust buildup
- The slats collect dust easily and blinds require more frequent dusting compared to curtains.
What are the pros and cons of curtains?
Like blinds, curtains are available in a vast range of styles, thicknesses, lengths, colors, patterns, fabrics, and features. Benefits provided by curtains include:
Softer filtered light
- Light passing through sheer and lightly lined curtains gets gently diffused. This creates a softer quality of light that is easier on the eyes.
Warmth and sound insulation
- Thick, lined curtains with thermal insulating properties can noticeably reduce heating bills in winter and cooling bills in summer. Well-hung curtains also dampen outside noise.
- The wide range of fabrics and abundant styles available provide endless possibilities for creating beautiful window dressings to suit your personal taste.
Soften hard edges
- The soft folds of floor or sill-length curtains help soften the hard edges of walls, ceilings, and window frames for a cozy feel.
- Curtains can filter bright sunshine coming in at mid-day or shade a sleeping baby’s room in the morning or afternoon.
Easy to open and close
- Simply pulling curtains open and closed is convenient for quick light adjustments. Curtain rods also allow for opening and closing from a distance using pulley systems.
Good for odd-sized windows
- Tailored curtains can beautifully dress awkward sized windows, small windows, and unusually shaped windows.
Some potential disadvantages of curtains include:
Less ideal for room darkening
- Most curtains allow at least some light to filter through. Lined “blackout” curtains work better than blinds for blocking daylight.
Not adjustable for angled light control
- Blinds allow fine control over the direction and amount of incoming light. Once drawn, most curtains provide no adjustment.
Limit outdoor views
- Sheer curtains allow visibility outside but impact clarity of view. And opened curtains still partially obstruct views unless pulled back and tied.
Less insulation and noise dampening
- Blinds trap more cold air near windows in winter. Many blinds also have sound dampening capacities curtains generally lack.
Prone to sun damage
- Curtain fabrics fade and deteriorate faster from regular sunlight exposure compared to plastic/metal blinds. Lined curtains help protect inner curtain fabric.
More dusting and cleaning required
- Curtains tend to collect noticeably more dust than blinds which require less frequent cleaning.
Key factors when deciding between blinds vs curtains
When trying to determine whether to install blinds, curtains, or both, it helps to carefully consider your priorities:
Light control – Blinds excel at controlling light amounts. Curtains filter and soften incoming light. Layering both provides the best light modulation.
Privacy level – Blinds typically provide better privacy, especiallyvin rooms facing other buildings or busy roads. For partial outdoor visibility with some privacy, sheer curtains complement blinds.
Personality match – Blinds suit minimalist contemporary spaces well. For rooms where you want to cultivate romance, coziness, soft textures, or showcase creative style, curtains better match your goal.
Window size and positions – Large wall expanses lined with windows look best dressed in curtains. For solitary windows, blinds often work better, especially near beds or desks where adjustable light control helps create reading nooks.
Budget – Quality blinds last longer but have higher upfront costs. With some exceptions, curtains tend to cost notably less than similarly sized blinds. Home sewers also have the economy of sewing DIY curtains.
Maintenance expectations – Blinds need less frequent cleaning and hold up longer in sunlight. Curtains require more care with delicate fabrics prone to fading and dusty hems requiring frequent washing.
Existing furnishings – Match window treatments to furnishings. For example, blinds suit sleek modern or minimalist rooms. Soft curtains complement ornate traditional oak furnishings and cozy cottage styled rooms.
Key takeaways when deciding between blinds vs. curtains
- Blinds provide superior durability, light control, insulation, and privacy. Curtains excel at softening light, styling rooms, and insulating sound at a lower cost.
- Layering blinds + curtains combines their complementary benefits. Blinds offer adjustable light control and privacy while soft curtains filter harsh light.
- Consider room use, window positions, style preferences, maintenance expectations, and budget when deciding between blinds vs. curtains.
- Both blinds and curtains have pros and cons. Evaluate all factors before making a decision.
- Well-made blinds last considerably longer but have higher upfront costs. With some exceptions, quality curtains usually cost noticeably less than blinds.
Blinds and curtains both make excellent window covering options. They also have quite different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to aesthetics, light control, insulation, sound dampening, privacy, ease of use, durability, and cost.
For many windows, a combination of blinds layered with curtains provides the superior solution offering both adjustable light control and soft diffused illumination. Hung separately, curtains make better room insulators while blinds excel at blocking outside noise and views for privacy.
Ultimately when deciding between blinds vs. curtains, thoughtfully evaluate all the pros and cons in context of your home, rooms, window placements, lifestyle needs, decorating style, and budget. Take the time to carefully assess your goals and priorities before deciding. This helps ensure you select optimal window fashions providing both beauty and functionality.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are blackout blinds or curtains better at blocking light?
Quality blackout blinds are moderately better than blackout curtains at blocking daylight in rooms where a pitch dark environment is needed. But layered together, they create an optimal blackout effect.
- Do curtains or blinds insulate better?
Blinds form better insulators than most curtains. Sealing cold air near windows helps retain interior warmth in winter. Some thick, thermal lined curtains also provide very good insulation.
- How do you clean dust from blinds vs curtains?
Vacuum blinds weekly using soft brush and crevice tools. Wash removable curtains 2-3 times a year according to care instructions. Spot clean gently between washes as needed.
- Can you put blinds behind curtains?
Yes, hanging blinds directly on windows behind curtains combines the benefits of both. Blinds allow light adjustment while sheer curtains soften incoming sunshine.
- What rooms suit blinds vs curtains?
Blinds work well in bedrooms, home offices, and media rooms where adjustable light control aids daytime tasks/nighttime sleep. Flowing curtains help make formal spaces, dining rooms, kids rooms, and living areas feel cozier.
- Do blinds come in as many styles and colors as curtains?
Curtains offer a vastly larger range of fabrics and patterns creating more styling possibilities compared to blinds. But blinds now come in many materials, textures, and colors suitable for a wide range of decors.
- Which is easier to raise/lower – blinds or curtains?
Blinds conveniently roll or lift up/down with cords, wands or automated controls. Curtains must be manually pushed/pulled open or closed each time which grows tedious over time. Pulley systems on some curtain rods reduces hassle.
- Can you put curtains over blinds?
Yes, a great solution is mounting blinds directly on windows, allowing light control, while hanging room darkening curtains over the blinds for added privacy. Open the curtains anytime you want daylight.
- What window treatments work with bay windows?
For bay windows try floor length curtains gathered elegantly in the corners. Stationary panel blinds mounted behind the curtains provide adjustable light modulation.
- Which lasts longer curtains or blinds?
Made from vinyl, woods, aluminum and other durable materials, properly maintained blinds last 5-10 years or longer. Curtain longevity depends more on fabric quality and construction but most need replacing after 2-5 years.
- How much privacy do blinds vs curtains provide?
Blinds deliver superior privacy blocking visibility in/out when fully closed. Light filtering curtains offer partial privacy. Sheers provide minimal privacy and transparency. Layer sheers over blinds to softly filter incoming light while maintaining privacy.
- Which is better for sliding doors blinds or curtains?
Because sliding doors span wide spaces, combination of blinds for adjustable light/privacy with curtains for aesthetics/style works best. Consider layering vertical blinds between sheer and blackout curtains.
- Can blinds and curtains be automated?
Yes, motorized systems now automate opening and closing of many blinds/curtains operated by remote controls or voice commands. Automating window treatments adds convenience and luxury feel.
- Do curtains filter light better than blinds?
Yes, curtains made from lightweight translucent fabrics softly filter and diffuse incoming sunlight in pleasing ways solid blinds cannot replicate. Sheers gently reduce harsh midday brightness.
- Which costs more blinds or curtains?
On average, blinds carry higher price tags than similarly sized curtains. But some high end designer curtains with lush fabrics or ornate embellishments rival the cost of premium blinds. DIY curtains provide a budget-friendly option.
- Are thermal curtains or thermal blinds better insulators?
Quality thermal lined curtains and well-sealing thermal blinds both provide excellent insulation. But the thicker depth and air pockets within thermal blackout blinds make them slightly better insulators around windows prone to high heat/cold loss.
- What rooms look better with curtains or blinds?
Blinds suit bedrooms, home offices, and media spaces optimizing function over form. Soft light filtering curtains complement more stylistic spaces like formal living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, girl’s rooms, and eclectically decorated rooms.
- What length should curtains be?
Floor or sill length curtains nicely frame windows. Cafe curtains cover bottom window halves. Exact curtain lengths depend on ceiling heights, window sizes, and personal preference. Tall narrow windows look best with long curtains drawing the eye up.