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Pleated Shades vs. Cellular Shades

4 different images of cellular and pleated shades.

Your windows are important. They provide light, a view to the outdoors, and fresh air. In homes built over the past two decades, windows are often the primary feature of a room—in fact it’s fair to say that today in modern design windows are celebrated.

How you cover them can have a big impact on your daily routine and how much you enjoy your home. But with more than a dozen different window-covering designs, the task of picking the right blinds, shades, drapery, and shutters can be daunting. If you’re having trouble knowing where to start, there’s no better place than what might be the most popular window treatment today—the cellular shade.

And while we’re talking about cellular shades, we have to look at cellular shade’s close cousin, the pleated shade. This article will take a look at both of these popular shades and compare them so that you can make a more informed buying decision.

Exploring Cellular Shades

Bali Cellular Shades are the Three-Dimensional Wonder Window Treatments. It’s no exaggeration. These simple, elegant, highly functional shades fit in almost any room and have the benefit of being outstanding insulators.

Bali cordless shades on windows in a living room

Energy Efficiency of Cellular Shades

Cellular shades are energy efficient. This insulating power comes from their honeycomb design that captures air, providing insulation against both heat and cold. And that means lower heating and cooling costs. Combine this energy efficiency with cellular shades’ good looks and you have a window treatment that really does it all.

Cellular Shade Design and Color Options

The cells that give cellular shades their name come in four sizes—a sleek 9/16” single cell, an extra insulating ½” double cell, a ¾” single cell that works well for most windows, and a 1 ¼” single cell that is made especially for large windows.

Bali cellular swatches and color options.

Colors and fabrics include elegant sheers, a range of light-filtering fabrics, luxury woven fabrics, and blackout fabrics (perfect for bedrooms and entertainment rooms). There’s a cellular shade fabric for every room.

Pros and Cons of Cellular Shades

Pros: Cellular Shades' popularity comes in part from their incredible versatility. The straight lines and clean appearance make them suitable for everything from traditional décor to modern designs to eclectic interiors.One thing to consider is durability. Bali Cellular Shades are made with extremely durable fabrics that resist crushing.

Cons: You would not want to put cellular shades in situations where they might be stained (these situations, like kitchens, are often ideal for faux wood blinds and composite shutters—materials that can be easily wiped clean).

Understanding Pleated Shades

When it comes to interesting colors and intriguing patterns, nothing beats Bali Pleated Shades. Like the Bali Cellular Shade, pleated shades display crisp, even folds of fabric. The difference is that pleated shades are made of just one layer of material. This simple design allows for a dazzling array of fabric options.

Bali pleated shades on windows in a living room.

Pleated Shade Material Options

Bali pleated swatches and color options.

This diversity of color and patterns is the main reason customers choose pleated shades. The pleated-shade design is an outstanding way to really highlight an attractive fabric. There are more reserved colors and fabrics for traditional décor. But if you’re looking for something that really pops, there are pleated-shade fabrics that can make a big statement.

Design and Style Variations of Pleated Shades

Pleated shades come in two main variations: the 1-inch pleat and the 2-inch pleat. Most windows are served well by the 1-inch pleat, and the 2-inch pleat is designed to cover larger windows.

Pros and Cons of Pleated Shades

Pros: Pleated shades offer convenient control options, with choices like cordless operation for a sleek appearance and effortless adjustment, or motorization for ultimate convenience. With two pleat sizes available, ranging from one-inch for standard windows to two-inch for larger ones, Bali ensures a perfect fit for any window, while maintaining the pleats' durability and crispness. Moreover, pleated shades excel in their selection of fabrics, boasting a diverse range of colors, textures, and patterns to complement any décor or make a bold style statement. The ability to customize pleated shades with liners enhances privacy and light control, making pleated shades a versatile and practical choice for any space.

Cons: Fabric selection must be done carefully with pleated shades. That’s because the light-filtering and privacy level of each pleated-shade fabric is different—which means that you must think about how much light or view can come through the fabric.

Comparing the Key Features of Pleated Shades and Cellular Shades

Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of cellular and pleated shades and how they compare.

A Quick Peek at Privacy

Both cellular and pleated shades provide light control and privacy. Cellular shades are available in sheer, light-filtering, and blackout fabrics—each with its own level of privacy, roughly proportional to the fabric’s light control abilities. Cellular shades with blackout fabrics are ideal for bedrooms.

Bali pleated shades on windows in a bathroom.

Pleated shades are available in a full range of fabrics, each with its own level of opacity. When selecting a pleated shade, it is important to find a fabric that provides a level of privacy you are comfortable with. However, you can also boost the level of light control and privacy of a pleated shade by adding a liner: a day liner allows in some diffused light while a midnight liner provides maximum privacy and light control.

Energy Efficiency of Cellular Shades and Pleated Shades

One of the big advantages of any window treatment is the energy savings you get. That’s because every window treatment provides some level of insulation against heat and cold. Bali pleated shades on windows in a living room.Pleated shades, with their single layer of fabric, do offer some insulation. Add a liner to your pleated shade and that insulating capability increases. Opting for a liner for your shade has the added benefit of increasing your privacy and light control.

Bali bottom up/top down cellular shades on windows in a living room.Cellular shades surpass the insulating power of pleated shades—and all other shades, for that matter. Protecting against heat and cold are one of the reasons why so many people choose these elegant shades. If energy efficiency is your absolute top priority, choose cellular shades.

Pleated and Cellular Shades Offer the Full Range of Light Control

Cellular shades built with blackout fabrics and pleated shades with midnight liners provide the most light control. Sheer cellular shades and unlined, sheer pleated shades let in the most light. You’ll get the highest light control with a blackout cellular shade (add side channels to truly maximize your light control). Conversely, for gently diffused light, choose a sheer pleated shade or sheer cellular shade—the effects can be quite dramatic.

Practical Considerations

Pleated Shades vs Cellular Shades: Comparing Costs

There are so many factors and choices that go into picking the right window treatment that it is difficult to definitively compare the cost differences between two different types of window treatments. However, we can make some very generally statements to help you in your buying decision.

Bali pleated shades on a window in a bedroom.

Cellular shades generally cost more than pleated shades. This is because of the honeycomb-shaped design of cellular shades that requires a three-dimensional construction. Choosing certain fabrics or adding a liner to a pleated shade can increase its cost. Both Bali Cellular Shades and Bali Pleated Shades are constructed to be strong and durable, so you can be assured that your investment will last.

Installation Process

Bali Cellular Shades and Bali Pleated Shades, like all Bali products, are easy to install. One big advantage of these shades is they are extremely lightweight—making them perhaps the easiest window treatments of all to install.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Taking care of your cellular and pleated shades is simple. Monthly dusting and vacuuming is recommended. Should your shades get a dirt spot or small stain, spot clean them with mild soap.

So, What should you choose for your home?

Cellular and pleated shades are among the most practical of all window treatments. Their simplicity, light weight, and durability make them ideal for almost any room. And the range of fabrics lets you select precisely the level of privacy and light control your room demands. While there are some luxurious fabrics and a number of enhancements you can request when you order your shades, there are a number of configurations that can make cellular and pleated shades fit your budget. The real determiner of your shade’s cost is your household’s needs and your personal style.

The Bottom Line

Cellular & pleated shades are similar in many ways, including their simplicity and even pleats. The biggest differences are fabric and function. Pleated shades come in a huge variety of fabrics—something to fit nearly any room or design scheme. Cellular shades have fewer fabric options, but they excel in insulating against heat and cold. If you fall in love with a pleated fabric but still want protection against heat and cold, simply add a dayliner or midnight liner and you’ll improve the insulating capabilities of your pleated shade.

One thing both cellular and pleated shades have in common is that they are just plain easy. Their light weight and simplicity make them a cinch to use. And, if you choose cordless or motorized cellular or pleated shades, you might find that these window treatments become the favorite feature of your home.