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Blinds vs. Shades vs. Shutters

Which Is Best For Your Home?

Cellular shades in a bedroom.

Three Easy Ways to Cover Your Windows

Shades, blinds, and shutters are three easy ways to cover your windows. Each can effectively control light and provide privacy, yet there are important differences that give each its own advantages. We’re going to talk about what makes each type of window treatment special and where each works best.


Wood blinds in a bedroom.

The time-tested, dependable design of traditional blinds has made them a mainstay for interior designers and homeowners everywhere. Not only do they provide an attractive element of horizontal lines, they’re incredibly practical. Blinds can be precisely adjusted by tilting their slats. Or, they can be completely opened. And blinds are durable—a set of blinds can provide many years of flawless performance.

Blinds can be made with a number of different materials. Real-wood blinds have a sturdiness and charm only surpassed by real-wood shutters (we’ll talk about them later). Faux-wood and composite blinds have some similarities with wood blinds but with the added property of being moisture resistant—a perfect trait when choosing window treatments for your kitchen or bathroom. And aluminum blinds and vinyl blinds are reliable and easy.

When choosing blinds, you have several options. Wide slats provide the best views to the outdoors—and wood blinds offer the widest slats available. For high-moisture situations, faux-wood blinds excel. And when cost is a primary concern, vinyl and aluminum blinds are a great way to decorate a room. And any of these options in a cordless configuration creates a window treatment that is safe for any home with children and pets. Plus, a cordless set of blinds is a joy to use.


Cordless light-filtering cellular shades in a bedroom.

The simplest, easiest-to-use window treatment is the shade. Shades allow you to let in the sunshine or shut out the light with a simple lift or pull. Shades come in a huge variety of materials, from the open weave of solar shades to the opaque fabric of a blackout roller shade. Shades like tailored Roman shades are available in hundreds of fabrics, making them a great choice when you’re looking for precisely the right color for an existing décor.

Shades are the sleekest of all window treatments. When open, solar and roller shades take up very little room due to their efficient roller design. Some shades have unique characteristics that make them a bit more complex. Cellular shades, with their insulating, honeycomb-shaped cells, are raised and lowered on a headrail that encases a system of gears and hidden control cords. Layered shades (also known as zebra shades) have a different control mechanism entirely, depending on a system of two layers of fabric with wide stripes that can be aligned to control light. And sheer shades operate on a system that is easily adjustable like traditional blinds but provides soft light filtering like sheer drapery.

Shades are easily motorized. The roller design of solar and roller shades allows for hidden motors and smooth mechanisms that give them incredibly smooth operation. The Bali EasyTouch Lift system lets you open and close your cellular shades with the lightest of effort, operating so quietly that it won’t wake someone sleeping nearby. The new motorized bottom up/top down configuration delivers the ultimate in precision, convenience, and ease of use. You can control the shades directly with your phone or integrate them into your smart home system.


Wood shutters in a bathroom.

One of the oldest window-treatment designs available, shutters are in a class all their own. Whether wood or composite, shutters add a classic charm to any room. They are extremely sturdy and can be installed on nearly any window. Plus, they’re easy to operate: just adjust the louvers directly for instant light or room darkening.

Bali offers two types of shutters. DIY Shutters are constructed from composite materials that have the special property of standing up to heat and humidity and come in three colors. Bali Premium Shutters also offer some moisture-resistant, composite options as real wood. Real wood shutters come in a wide range of colors, and the same colors available for premium wood shutters are also available for the premium composite shutters, allowing you to coordinate all the shutters throughout your home.

Shutters have one very special property. Because of the way they integrate with the architecture of a room, shutters can add value to your home. The solidity and classic nature of shutters has great appeal for many homebuyers. That makes shutters as much an investment as a design element.

Which Is Right for You?

There are eight factors to consider when choosing between shades, blinds, and shutters. The most important is style. Since every type of window treatment made by Bali can do the basic tasks that every window treatment must do, style is really the biggest difference between shades, blinds, and shutters. We’ll also cover the different ways that these three categories rate in terms of privacy and light control, durability, functionality, cleaning, energy efficiency, safety, and installation.


Personal style and your design goals are what’s most important when selecting a window treatment. Every window treatment can block out the light—some do it better than others, but all can do the job well. What differs most about the basic types of window treatments is their appearance. And that’s where you should start your decision-making process.

  • Solar and roller shades offer a minimalist look that works in many modern homes.
  • Roller shades can also work well in other types of interior design schemes, such as a farmhouse or even eclectic, because they’re available in a huge range of fabrics, from bold to traditional.
  • Blinds are suitable in most settings but really excel in modern or contemporary rooms.
  • Shutters, because they’re almost part of the architecture, work well in almost any design scheme.
  • Wood blinds or wood shutters finished in white can work with both transitional and modern designs as well as cottage and coastal styles—basically, white shades, blinds, and shutters of any kind are highly versatile.

Other Considerations

While style is the most important factor in selecting your window treatment, there are some other things to consider. You want your shades, blinds, and shutters to look the way you want it to, but you also need them work hard.

Privacy and Light Control

These are the two practical reasons why we have window treatments. Here are some things to remember when choosing between shades, blinds, and shutters:

Learn more about privacy and light control.


Bali makes some of the most durable window treatments available today. You can expect many years of reliable performance from your Bali shades, blinds, and shutters. That said, there are a few things to remember:

  • Shades can be raised and lowered thousands of times—they’re made for this, but they can be damaged by mishandling and stained by dirty hands.
  • Blinds are tough—particularly wood and composite blinds.
  • Vinyl blinds and aluminum blinds are also tough but can be bent or dented if mishandled.
  • Shutters are the epitome of strength and durability.


Basic utility is an important consideration when selecting window treatments. All Bali shades, blinds, and shutters have been carefully engineered and tested to make them easy to use and efficient. Your decision making in this area should focus on what types of controls you’d like to operate daily:

  • Shades are the easiest-to-use of all window treatments—just lift or pull and you have instant light or darkness.
  • Blinds offer precise control of light and privacy through the slight adjustments you can make to the angle of the slats—one of the reasons why blinds continue to be so popular.
  • Shutters offer less light control adjustments than shades and blinds, but still are quite effective.
  • Motorized blinds and shades offer the ultimate in control and are hands-down the easiest way to control light and privacy.


Window treatments don’t take much maintenance, but it is a good idea to do some cleaning occasionally. Shades, blinds, and shutters of all kinds benefit from occasional light cleaning with a feather duster or the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner. Wood blinds, wood shutters, and fabric shades of any kind shouldn’t be cleaned with water. Vinyl, aluminum, and composite blinds and composite shutters can all be cleaned with mild soap and water when necessary.

Find complete details on cleaning window treatments.

Energy Efficiency

All window treatments insulate against heat and cold to some extent, but there are some types of window treatments that really excel at protecting against the elements:

Learn more about how window treatments can improve the energy efficiency of your home.


When it comes to safety, shutters are outstanding. They are firmly connected to the structure of the home and have a very simple mechanism for operating the louvers (just move the louvers directly with your hand—that’s it).

Cordless and motorized blinds and shades are the ultimate in safety. The absence of cords not only makes the window treatments safer, they look better, too. If you live with children and pets, cordless and motorized shades and blinds are the ideal choice.


Bali window treatments are made so that anyone can install them. Shades and blinds come with mounting brackets or other mounting hardware that make it simple to install your window treatments. Bali’s online How To Center has everything you need to measure for and install your shades, blinds, and shutters.

Remember, Style Comes First

Picking out the right window treatment is easy if you first start with style. Your first question should always be, “What do I like?” The other factors come next. You’ll never be happy with a window treatment if you don’t like its appearance.