How to Choose the Perfect Commercial Window Treatments
Commercial window treatments create the ambiance for any business environment. Whether you are decorating a corporate office, a retail store or a high-end restaurant, the way your windows are dressed will set the tone for the décor and help you provide a comfortable atmosphere for your employees and customers.
You can create the perfect atmosphere that enhances your company’s image and reinforces your branding with the help of a few basic design tips. Read on to discover how to choose the ideal commercial window treatments.
Safety and Commercial Building Codes
Your priority as a business owner or decorating manager is the safety and security of your staff and guests. Talking with a building contractor is a great place to start as you figure out what type of window treatment is appropriate for your commercial interior. There are two factors you should consider:
- Safety: The design of your window treatment and how you install it will determine how safe it is. For instance, in the event of an emergency, will the shades or blinds allow occupants to escape the building through the doors or windows easily? You’ll also want to consider the flammability of the materials you are considering for the window coverings.
- Building Codes: Each state outlines building codes for every architectural component of your building. Check with your state's codes to find out what regulations will govern your decision making. Violations could result in stiff penalties and fines.
No one wants to stay very long in a room that is uncomfortable. If it is common for your customers or employees to reach up and pull down the shades when it gets too bright or hot in a room, they are telling you they are not comfortable in that space. Overall room comfort is basically the entire idea behind window treatments, so of course it should be a high priority when choosing how to approach them.
Room comfort involves three elements:
- Light Control: What is the maximum amount of light that you want to allow in the room? Do you want to completely shut out the sun when you close blinds or draw the shades?
- Window Position: For windows that face east or west where there is a lot of sunlight, you may want to go with window treatments that block the sun and insulate the room from heat.
- Room Environment: Room comfort is often almost entirely determined by how much light is needed for the tasks to be performed in the space. Some rooms feel better when they’re darker while others require more light (more on that later).
For your window treatment to complement the room, it needs to offer a cohesive design that more than matches the colors and patterns of the rest of the space. The window coverings need to feel like they are a natural part of the overall scheme. This is why most businesses opt for custom window treatments.
If you are in charge of building design and branding in your company, you may want to explore current trends in window decor. Both clients and employees appreciate modern, fresh room concepts, and window treatments play an integral role in completing the overall look.
Think about these basic design elements:
- Colors: Businesses often define their brand by adopting a color scheme that reinforces their image. Window coverings need to match the colors exactly or offset them color with a complementary hue. Whichever way you go, it has to be a tone that naturally feels like part of the company’s image.
- Patterns: Do you like a clean look, or are you going for a little complexity in your interior design? If the wallpaper includes vertical stripes, for example, or there are other strong verticals in your furnishings, you may want to follow suit with vertical blinds. The patterns you choose will either reinforce the larger pattern scheme or contrast it in a way that adds character to the room.
- Fabric: Commercial window treatment fabric can make a strong statement, so you might want to be careful if you’re considering soft finishes, which tend to be less versatile than other types of window coverings. They can help absorb sound, which might be helpful with a very high ceiling, but they also can be difficult to keep clean. Like anything else, fabric coverings should naturally fit into the room environment.
As we’ve already established, one of the most important factors you’ll consider when choosing commercial window treatments is deciding how much light an area needs. There are two sides to this process.
On the one hand, lighting is a key element in creating the overall aesthetic of the room. A bright room with lots of light creates a sense of energy and movement. A darker room, however, may set the tone for a meditative, quiet and more focused mood.
On the other hand, lighting may function in other ways, creating adequate light while reducing energy costs, for example. Sunlight will also warm a room, which may be great during the winter but could cause you to crank up the a/c in the summer.
Regardless of your purpose for controlling how much light enters the room, you’ll want commercial blinds or commercial shades that allow you the flexibility to meet that objective while fitting in with the rest of the aesthetics of the space. Which window treatment products offer the most light control?
Cellular (Honeycomb) Shades
A current hot trend in window décor, cellular shades perform two functions. First, they are excellent insulators. The double wall created by the honeycomb shape reduces heat transference from the window to the room. Second, the same double-wall design also darkens the room when you need to block sunlight.
Although you may think that roller shades are a bit old-fashioned, they’ve never really gone out of style. They are a practical and inexpensive option that fits into almost any application. They come in a wide range of styles and dimensions. However, the best thing about roller shades is that they block out the light while providing complete privacy. You can use them for windows that connect rooms as well as exterior windows.
Aluminum blinds have enjoyed consistent popularity since the 1930s. Once referred to as “basic mini blinds,” commercial aluminum blinds can darken any room with a simple pull of the cord. You can also find them in an endless array of colors, patterns and textures. They’re great for conference rooms when you need to quickly create a day-to-night transition in for viewing videos or other media.
Manual vs. Motorized Commercial Window Treatments
In today’s business world, efficiency is highly valued. Doing things faster and easier has become the catalyst for automation and technological advances in room decor. So it should be no surprise that you can now automate commercial window treatments.
Motorized blind, shade, and shutter systems in commercial settings allow you to open, close or adjust the position of your window coverings in seconds using an app or remote control device.
Whether you are sitting at your desk, giving a presentation in a conference room or standing in front of a cash register, you can have full access to one or more window coverings at the click of a button.
Before you jump into motorized systems, however, you may want to consult with a window treatment specialist to find out what type of system will work best in your work setting. Since motorized units offer lots of options, you can customize them to suit your company’s needs.
You may also find that you do not need motorized window treatments. If manual shades meet your needs adequately and complete a more organic feel, then opt for a more basic setup.
Cleaning and Maintenance
You could waste time and money investing in commercial window treatments that are hard to clean and even harder to maintain. If no one among your staff is willing or able to clean the window coverings, you’ll have to hire an outside company to do it for you. This could turn into an expense that you weren’t budgeting for.
If cleaning and maintenance are going to be an issue, then go with window treatments that are more durable and easier to take care of.
Some examples of low-maintenance window coverings include:
Faux Wood Blinds
Faux wood doesn’t need to be polished or specially treated. You can dust the slats effortlessly with a light brush or a vacuum cleaner. You’ll also find that it is easy to clean both sides.
Vertical blinds do not allow dust to build up as quickly as horizontal blinds. If you have fabric blinds in your office, you can clean them using a lint roller or a vacuum cleaner. You only need to deep clean vertical blinds if the fabric becomes stained.
Roller shades have a smooth, vertical surface, so they collect less dust than fabric or textured shades. Roller shades are ideal for people who suffer from allergies. You can easily clean roller shades with a brush every few months.
One of the best features of cellular shades is that they don’t contain slats like other window treatments. The honeycomb shape allows dust to simply fall to the ground. The only part of the shade that you will need to dust occasionally is the crease between the sections. Use a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer on the no-heat setting to keep them pristine.
An important issue in investing in commercial window treatments is how much money it will cost you after the initial purchase. Something that many business owners do not think about is how well blinds or curtains will help insulate your building.
Up to 35 percent of the heat that invades your building enters through the windows. This can create an inefficient environment and cause your energy consumption to skyrocket, draining money into your heating and cooling costs.
The solution is to install window treatments that create a thermal barrier around your windows. Some commercial blinds or shades will do this better than others.
What should you look for in an energy-efficient product?
- A High R-Value: R-Value measures the amount of heat that passes through a shade, shutter or blind. The higher the R-Value, the better the insulative properties. For example, cellular shades have an R-Value of 2.0 to 5.0. Plantation shutters have an R-Value of 4.0. Roller shades don’t fare so well, with an R-Value of 1.0 to 2.0.
- Material Composition: Vinyl shutters have a slightly higher R-Value than wood shutters. Fabric window treatment provides higher R-Values depending on the thickness of the fabric and how it is designed in the unit. Cellular shades usually come in some kind of insulated fabric. However, you’ll get more for your money by going with a double-wall cell than a single-wall cell.
- Construction and Design: If you’re concerned about solar transmittance, a good bet is roller shades. They completely block out the sun to reduce both glare and heat transference. Cellular shades and plantation shades, however, still win out in this category due to their higher overall R-Value. Cellular shades have single strips of seamed fabric that span the entire window, making their design superior to wood slats that allow some light and heat to come into the room.
Durability and Sustainability
One of the most common questions that potential window treatment buyers ask is “How long is this product going to last?” Millennials and earth-conscious consumers ask another question: “What is going to happen after I discard this product once it is no longer usable?” Let’s address both of them.
The current trend with manufacturers is shifting toward engineering commercial window treatments using materials that are both durable and sustainable. In other words, you won’t need to replace them as often, and you can recycle them once you are done with them.
You can now purchase green window treatments that are made from natural, biodegradable materials. Also, you don’t have to sacrifice energy-efficiency to make this switch. There are lots of alternative eco-fibers on the market today that hold up just as well as their synthetic counterparts. Many of the organic materials include recycled cotton, hemp, flax and wool repurposed into beautiful, eco-friendly window treatments.
Choosing the right commercial window treatments can have a big impact on the appearance of your business’s interior. The right window treatments enhance the style of an office while providing adequate insulation and complete privacy. By using our guide and speaking with a window treatment specialist, you will be well on your way to refining your window treatment design.