How to Measure for Roller Shades
Roller shades are sleek, modern and affordable window treatments that come in many different options. If you want a minimalist window treatment for your home, whether it’s living room window blinds or bedroom shades, roller blinds are an excellent option. In this ultimate guide, we break down the types of roller shades, explain when you might want to choose roller blinds and discuss how to layer roller shades with other window treatments. Then we explain how to measure for roller shades for both inside mount and outside mount window treatments.
Types of Roller Shades
Roller shades feature a flat pane of fabric that rolls up around the window mechanism as the blinds are raised and lowered. Picture a roll of wrapping paper rolling and unrolling, and you’ve basically got it. While all roller shades follow the same basic design, there are several different types you can choose from, including:
- Blackout: Blackout blinds block between 99 and 100 percent of incoming light. They are ideal for rooms where darkness is important, such as bedrooms, nurseries and home theaters.
- Room darkening: Room darkening blinds block out between 95 and 99 percent of the light. They are best for when you want something that will provide pretty good privacy and light blockage but don’t quite need the level of a blackout curtain.
- Light filtering: Light filtering refers to any window treatment that lets in more than 94 percent of light. Generally, these window treatments are used when you want to let in a decent amount of light while still maintaining your privacy.
- Woven Wooden Shades: These are technically a subcategory of roller shades; they follow the same basic design but are made of flexible wooden fibers woven together, as opposed to one sheet of solid fabric.
- Cordless: Not only are cordless window treatments sleek-looking, they’re also safer and pose less of a strangulation and choking risk to children and pets. At Factory Direct Blinds, all of our roller shades are available in cordless options.
- Chain: If you don’t like cordless designs, you can also get your roller shades in a standard continuous chain model.
- Reverse (Waterfall) Roll: The standard design for roller shades is for the fabric roll to face away from the window and toward the room. However, you can also select a reverse (waterfall) roll design, in which the fabric roll faces toward the window if you’d prefer to conceal it from sight.
If you like roller shades but want even more light control, you might want to consider top down bottom up roller shades, which allow you to move both the top and bottom shades independent of one another, thanks to a track installed in the window frame.Get Roller Shades Delivered Straight to Your Door!
Roller Shades vs. Solar Shades
You might see solar shades listed alongside roller shades, so we wanted to take a moment and explain what the difference between these two window treatments are. Solar shades are a special type of roller shade made with a particular type of fabric designed to protect against damage from the sun’s rays. Solar shades are used indoors in rooms with large windows that get a lot of sunlight exposure, as well as partially enclosed outdoor spaces, such as covered patios.
Not only do solar shades block harmful UV rays and reduce glare, but they also protect your furniture and carpet from fading and damage caused by the sun. If you have a room that gets a lot of sun exposure, solar shades might be the perfect window treatment you’ve been looking for.
Pros and Cons of Roller Shades
Roller shades have many qualities to recommend them, including their no-fuss design and affordable price tag. However, they aren’t the perfect fit in every single situation. Below, we cover some scenarios where roller shades might be a perfect fit for your needs, and some other situations where another window treatment might be better suited to the task.
Here are some scenarios where you might want to use a roller shade:
- You want a sleek, minimalist look for your window treatments.
- You’re looking for an unobtrusive window treatment to put behind curtains, roman shades or other window coverings.
- You want window treatments that are easy to wipe down or vacuum.
- You want a cordless window treatment option.
- You need solar shades to protect against UV damage.
- You want window treatments you can roll up completely during the day so children and pets cannot get to them.
- You are looking for affordable window treatment options.
- You want a window treatment that will be easy to install yourself.
And here are some scenarios where a roller shade might not be the best choice:
- Your home has a very traditional look that more modern roller shades will not complement.
- You find the minimalist design of roller shades rather plain and not to your liking.
- You want additional light control options beyond just raising and lowering the blinds — for instance, you like how wood blinds allow you to tilt the slat open and closed in addition to raising and lowering the blinds.
- You need to install the blinds in a room with a lot of moisture, such as a bathroom or humid basement. Any fabric window treatments are likely to mold in such environments, and you’re better off choosing more moisture-resistant window treatments, such as faux wood blinds — not genuine wood, which is also susceptible to mold.
Layering Roller Shades with Other Window Treatments
Roller shades are the perfect window treatment to layer underneath others due to their slim profile and affordable price. Roller shades can provide a blackout lining for more privacy and light control or offer a partly translucent light filtering layer to go beneath dark, heavy curtains.
If you are considering layering your window treatments, we highly recommend you consider inside mounting roller shades beneath a different window treatment. Because of their versatile, simple design, roller shades go great with many different styles of window treatments, including roman shades, roman shades, curtains, valances, window swags and more. Check out our guide that explains how to layer blinds with curtains for more inspiration.
Should You Inside Mount or Outside Mount Your Roller Shades?
Before you measure for roller blinds, you need to decide whether you are inside mounting or outside mounting your blinds, as the dimensions will be different for either one. There’s no right or wrong answer; it’s all about your preference. Below, we explore different scenarios where you might want to inside mount vs. outside your blinds.
When to inside mount your window treatments:
- You have deep windows with strong frames that can support the mounting hardware.
- You live in a newer house with windows close to perfect rectangles.
- You want a cleaner, more minimalist look.
- You have nice window trim you want to show off instead of covering it up with a window treatment.
- You don’t want your window treatment to stick out from the wall.
- You have a sill that protrudes at the bottom that could make it awkward to outside mount a window treatment.
- You already have one window treatment outside mounted and want to install another one beneath it.
When to outside mount your window treatments:
- Your window frame is too shallow or too fragile to support an inside mount.
- You have unsightly window trim you want to cover up.
- The window is uneven, and a perfectly rectangular inside mount window treatment will not fit inside the frame.
- You want to block out more light when the shades are drawn.
- You want more privacy when the shades are drawn.
- You already have one window treatment inside mounted and want to install another one on top of it.
- You want to make your windows appear taller and bigger.
- You don’t want the window treatment to block the window when it is rolled up.
How to Measure for Inside Mount Roller Shades
Now that you’ve considered the reasons above and decided to inside mount your window treatments, it’s time to learn how to measure roller shades for inside mounting. First, grab a tape measure and look up the specifications for your desired roller shade. Measure the depth and length of the top of the window frame and compare it against the window specification to confirm your window is deep enough to support an inside mount. You should also examine the window casing or frame to make sure it’s strong enough to drill into directly.
Once you have confirmed each of your windows can support an inside mount, it’s time to measure the window. Get the tape measure and measure the window’s width at three locations: the top, middle and bottom. Use the narrowest of these measurements as your width and report it to the nearest ⅛ of an inch.
Repeat the process to determine the window’s height. Using the tape measure, measure the height of the window at three locations: the left, center and right. Use the tallest of these measurements as your width and report it to the nearest ⅛ of an inch.
When reporting measurements for inside mount blinds, do not take deductions preemptively. The manufacturers will take deductions as needed, so, if you make them beforehand, you run the risk of ending up with a roller shade too narrow or too short. Report the true dimensions of the window when ordering inside mount roller shades.Layer Your Window Treatments by Hanging Blinds with Curtains
How to Measure for Outside Mount Roller Shades
Now that you’ve considered the reasons above and decided to outside mount your window treatments, it’s time to learn how to measure roller shades for outside mounting. First, decide whether you plan to mount the blinds on top of the window trim or above it, and then grab a tape measure and look up the specifications for your desired roller shade. Measure the depth of the window trim or the area above the window and compare it against the window specifications to confirm you have enough room to support an outside mount.
Once you have confirmed each of your windows can support an outside mount, it’s time to measure the window. Get the tape measure and measure the desired width of the blinds at three locations: the top, middle and bottom. Use the widest of these measurements as your width and report it to the nearest ⅛ of an inch.
Repeat the process to determine the window’s height. Using the tape measure, measure the desired height of the blinds at three locations at three locations: the left, center and right. Use the tallest of these measurements as your width and report it to the nearest ⅛ of an inch.
If you’re not sure how much overlap to add to your outside mount roller shades, we recommend enough extra width to completely cover the trim; or if the window does not have trim, add a minimum of two inches on each side to the width, for a total of four extra inches.
Vertically speaking, we recommend placing your hardware a minimum of three inches above a window without trim and adding that to the height measurement. You should also add an additional two inches so the blinds can come down below the bottom of the window, unless there is a protruding sill that keeps you from fully extending the blinds.
If you’re not sure which roller shades you want, we highly recommend taking advantage of Factory Direct Blinds free sample program. We’ll ship you samples straight to your home, free of charge, so you can choose the perfect window treatments for your home.
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