What Are Top Down Bottom Up Shades? [Complete Guide 2022]

What Are Top Down Bottom Up Shades? [Complete Guide 2022]


When you’ve worked in one industry for years on end, the jargon becomes second nature. Your workplace probably has a bunch of words and phrases that would make us scratch our heads, and vis versa!

In the world of window blinds, you may have heard the term 'top-down bottom-up' being thrown around; if you're a little confused, don't worry – we're here to help. Our team of experts are here to break down exactly what top-down bottom-up shades are, and how they can benefit your home.

What are top-down bottom-up shades?

Believe it or not, top-down bottom-up shades (or TDBU shades for short) are exactly what they sound like – shades that can be lowered from the top of the window frame, or raised from the bottom. Gone are the days of having to choose between one or the other; with TDBU shades, you can have the best of both worlds.

The main benefit of TDBU shades is that they give you complete light control in every room. Whether you want a little bit of sunlight peeking through, or you want to block it out completely, TDBU shades can be adjusted to suit your needs.

You can find TDBU shades in a variety of styles, from traditional cellular shades that filter out the light to basic pleated shades to elegant roman shades.

How do they work?

Top-down bottom-up shades work almost identically to other corded window coverings, the key difference being that TDBU shades have different cords that are attached to two different rails.

(Note: A “rail” is the horizontal bar that you attach to the top of your window. It holds the window treatment up.)

One rail is the mounting rail, the same as any other window treatment. Said rail has its own cord; when you pull on that cord, it raises the bottom portion of the shade. This is the “bottom-up” portion of the treatment.

The second rail is the floating rail, which has another cord that controls it. When you pull that cord, the floating rail detaches itself from the mounting rail and lowers the top of the shade. This is the “top-down” portion of the treatment.

Types of Top-Down Bottom-Up Shades

As with any style of window treatment, there are different types of top-down bottom-up shades. Let's explore a few of the most popular:

Cellular honeycomb shades

These are made of two or more layers of fabric, and there are cells in between them that trap air. This helps with insulation, making these shades ideal for both summer and winter.

Roman shades

Roman shades are made of a single piece of fabric that folds up accordion-style when you raise them. They're generally preferred for a softer look.

Light filtering shades

As the name suggests, these shades filter light rather than block it out entirely. They're made of a semi-opaque fabric, so they're ideal for bedrooms or living rooms where you want some natural light but not too much.

Blackout shades

Need total darkness in a room? Blackout shades are the way to go. They're made of a thick, opaque fabric that blocks out all light.

Bamboo shades

Bamboo shades are made of, you guessed it, bamboo! They add a natural element to any room and can be either light-filtering or blackout.

Solar shades

Solar shades are designed to reflect sunlight away from the window, which helps keep a room cooler in the summer. They're usually made of a mesh fabric so you can still see out, but they block out most of the UV rays that cause sun damage.

Compatible with a Multitude of Controls & Functionality

Did you know that TDBU shades are some of the most versatile and multi-functional window treatments available? They can be controlled with a variety of methods, including:

  • A standard cord lock: This is the most common type of control for TDBU shades. The cord locks into place when you raise or lower the shade to your desired position.
  • A continuous cord loop lift: This is a cord that runs through a series of rings, allowing you to raise and lower the shade with one continuous motion. It's especially handy if you have large windows or multiple shades in a room.
  • A motorized lift: Motorized lifts are becoming increasingly popular because they're so convenient. Just push a button to raise or lower the shade! They're also great for hard-to-reach windows.

Is there such a thing as a cordless top-down bottom-up shade?

Our window treatment experts are asked this question a lot. The answer is yes... and no.

There are cordless TDBU shades available, but they're not technically "cordless." Here's why: The shade still has a cord, it's just hidden inside the fabric. So while you can't see it, it's still there.

The usual dangling cords will typically be replaced with tabs that release the top-down portion of the shade. You’ll be able to raise and lower the sections by hand, as you normally would a cordless blind or shade.

When should you use top-down bottom-up shades?

What we love most about TDBU shades is their incredible versatility. They can be used in a variety of situations, and aren't limited to any one type of window or space. Here are a few of the most popular instances in which our customers choose TDBU shades:

First-floor rooms and ground-level apartments

Struggling to find a balance between privacy from passersby and letting light into your home? Top-down bottom-up blinds let you keep the bottom half closed, where pedestrians could peer in, and open the top half, letting unfiltered light pour in.

We like:


  • Cordless and motorized options available
  • Room darkening and light filtering fabrics
  • A variety of colors, patterns, and textures
  • Free light filtering liner included


  • Great for bedrooms, living rooms, and nurseries on the first-floor
  • Keeps rooms private, yet bright and cheerful

Rooms that get full morning or afternoon sun

Direct sunlight can be harsh, and too much of it can make a room feel hot and stuffy. But you don't want to block out all the light, either – that would make the space feel small, dark, and depressing.

The solution? TDBU window shades, which let you control exactly how much sunlight enters the room. Open them up halfway to enjoy a soft, filtered light, or keep them closed to block out the sun completely.

We like:


  • Solid enough for privacy and light limitation, but with a natural, organic look
  • Cordless for ease of raising and lowering
  • Still lets airflow into the room


  • Perfect for living rooms, sunrooms, and home offices that get a lot of sunlight
  • Also great for kitchens to help control temperature and prevent fading of countertops and cabinets

Bathroom windows

Bathrooms are another space where privacy is key. No one wants to be on full display while they're in the shower or getting ready for the day.

Top-down bottom-up shades give you the privacy you need, while still letting in natural light and ventilation. And since they're available in moisture-resistant fabrics, you don't have to worry about them warping or mildewing over time.

We like:


  • Single cell makes the shade easy to pull down and push up
  • Light filtering fabric still lets in a soft, natural light
  • Single cell zebra shades make it easy to control light and privacy


  • Bathrooms, of course!
  • Also great for laundry rooms and mudrooms

Regardless of where you decide to use them, top-down bottom-up shades are a versatile and stylish solution for any window.

Top-Down Bottom-Up Installation Guidelines

Are you ready to install your new top-down bottom-up shades? Follow these simple guidelines and you'll be enjoying your new window treatments in no time!

1. Before you begin, gather all of the tools and materials you'll need: a measuring tape, a level, a drill, screws, brackets, and your shades.

2. Determine whether you want to install inside-mount or outside-mount shades. The main difference here is aesthetics; outside-mount shades will extend past the window frame, while inside-mount shades will be flush with the frame for a more custom look. Outside mounting allows for better light and privacy control.

3. Next, measure your windows. For inside mount shades, be sure to measure your window frame depth to make sure the shades will fit the brackets. Check that the window is square by measuring diagonally from corner to corner; if it isn't square, you're best to use outside mount shades.

4. Once you've ordered the shades in the right size and they have arrived ready to install, you should have no issues putting them up! Note that TDBU shades have pleats hanging from the headrail (called a 'bumper' where the headrail meets the floating rail. Ensure this doesn't get trapped by the bracket.

5. Cleats are small, plastic pieces that come with the hardware. Use these to tie up the cords when not in use – this will help keep small children and pets safe from strangulation hazards.

Top-down bottom-up shades are a versatile window treatment option, perfect for homes with young children or pets. By following these simple guidelines, you can install your new shades with ease!

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