Window Shopping: Pleated vs. Cellular Shades

Window Shopping: Pleated vs. Cellular Shades
Pleated shades and cellular shades have a lot in common. It’s easy to confuse the two when you aren’t sure exactly what it is that sets one apart from the other.

After all, both are constructed from thin, folded fabric. Thanks to their fabrication, both can bring a certain softness to a room. Both offer excellent light filtration and complete privacy when lowered. You can also find them both in corded, cordless, motorized and top-down/bottom-up variations.

Where they differ is precisely where it gets interesting.

Simplistic Cordless Pleated Shades

(Simplistic Cordless Pleated Shades)

What’s the Difference Between Pleated Shades and Cellular Shades?


You know how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares? Well, all cellular shades are pleated shades, but not all pleated shades are cellular shades.

Let us explain.

Every pleated window shade—and every cellular shade—is made from fabric that is folded. When the shade is raised, the fabric is compressed along those fold lines. When it’s lowered, the fold lines give the shade some texture.

A pleated shade features a simple fold pattern that we all mastered in elementary school. A cellular shade has a more complex construction. Also called “honeycomb shades,” cellular shades have geometric folds that resemble honeycombs.

Cellular window shades are available with both a single layer of these honeycombs and a double layer, called “single cell” and “double cell,” respectively. Both the single- and double-cell structure create small pockets that trap air. These air pockets are what give cellular shades a distinct advantage over other types of window coverings: They add a significant layer of insulation to your windows.

What does this insulation do? Well, it prevents heat transfer during cold months by as much as 40 percent. It also dramatically lowers solar gain during hotter months by up to 80 percent. This will create an energy savings you’ll notice in your monthly utility bill. Of course, double-cell window shades are more energy efficient than single-cell shades, and any treatment must be tightly fit to your window in order to effectively prevent energy transfer.

Classic Cordless Top-DownBottom-Up Pleated Shades

(Classic Cordless Top-Down/Bottom-Up Pleated Shades)

Best Places to Hang Pleated Shades


Pleated window shades are a simple design choice with a classic feel. No matter where you hang them, they’ll shower you with soft, filtered light. Choose from a variety of neutral shades as well as bold pops of color for statement-making homeowners.

Here’s where we recommend hanging them:

  • Living areas, like family rooms and dining rooms, where you don’t require absolute darkness during the daytime

  • North- or south-facing rooms that don’t get direct sunlight

  • Bathrooms, where you want natural light but need privacy

  • Bedrooms that don’t receive direct sunlight


Day and Night Cellular Shades 58in Single-Cell Cordless Shades

(Day and Night Cellular Shades 5/8” Single-Cell Cordless Shades)

Best Places to Hang Cellular Shades


Cellular shades are more flexible than standard pleated shades. Why? Because you can order cellular styles with adaptive blackout liners, top-down/bottom-up constructions and designs with differing levels of light filtration.

Where should you hang cellular window shades? Here are our top picks:

  • Older homes with poorly fitted windows

  • Drafty rooms, or rooms that don’t heat or cool evenly

  • Spaces that receive strong afternoon sun

  • Bedrooms where you require window coverings that will create blackout conditions

  • TV rooms, where you want the option of complete darkness 24 hours a day


How to Make Your Choice


For a soft and simple window covering, there’s no choice better than a pleated or cellular shade. We offer cost-effective options in both styles, which means that budget doesn’t have to be a factor in your decision between the two.

Instead, consider these two questions. First, how much do you value energy efficiency? Second, how much light filtration does your home require?

Homes in extreme environments and areas with high energy costs could benefit significantly from cellular window shades. So can wallet-conscious homeowners and renters who want to see a decrease in their utility spending.

On the other hand, homes that don’t get a lot of direct sunlight need to bring in as much natural light as possible. If you’re on a small lot, have close neighbors or are surrounded by trees that block the sunlight, pleated window shades are an excellent choice.

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