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What are Zebra Shades & How Do They Work?

What are layered & zebra shades?

Layered shades go by many different names: zebra shades, zebra blinds, and banded shades. All those names describe a type of roller blind that utilizes the alignment of stripes to control light.

Layered and zebra shades have horizontal lines like traditional blinds—but the similarity stops there. Layered shades are extremely modern, highly distinctive, and offer a very different feel than other types of shades.

How are layered & zebra shades made?

Bali motorized zebra shades in a bedroom.

A zebra shade is made with one continuous loop of fabric that has alternating dark and light stripes. This loop is adjusted with a headrail, and the fabric moves through a roller in the bottom hem bar. Adjusting the amount of light that comes through the shade is a matter of changing the alignment of the stripes.

Zebra and Layered Shades are made of fabric composed of natural and manmade fibers. The materials are highly safe—OEKO-TEX® certified fabrics meet top safety guidelines.

How do layered & zebra shades work?

Bali motorized zebra shades in a living room.

Bali Zebra and Layered Shades are easy to operate. By controlling the alignment of the dark and light (opaque and sheer) stripes, you can adjust the amount of light that streams into a room. And because all it takes to block out the light is aligning these stripes, closing and opening a layered shade can be done in an instant.

Can you adjust the amount of light that comes through a layered (zebra) shade?

Bali motorized zebra shades in a kitchen.

When in the open position—when the dark stripes on the front are aligned with the dark stripes on the opposite side—you get partial sunlight into the room (and you get that zebra-stripe look that gives these shades their name). When the shades are adjusted so that the dark stripes only partially cover the light stripes, you have less light coming into the room. When the dark stripes overlap the light stripes entirely, you’ve blocked out the sunlight.

Bali motorized zebra shades in a living room.

What are the benefits of layered & zebra shades?

Light Control

With a variety of opacities available for both the light stripes and the dark stripes, you can select a layered shade that provides just the right amount of light control you need—from light filtering to blackout.

Energy Efficiency

Installing layered shades will help to insulate your room from heat and cold.


When closed, layered shades can provide excellent privacy. Fabrics are available that maximize privacy.


Layered shades can be used in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens—nearly every room in your home.


The state-of-the-art fabrics used to make layered shades will stand up to many years of daily use.


With an array of colors and opacities, layered shades can be made to match any design scheme you can conceive.

Motorization & Automation

Adding motorization to your layered shade turns it into a window-treatment masterpiece, as easy to use as it is visually distinct.


Layered shades do not have ladders or cords to interfere with the view.

Easy Installation

Once your custom shades arrive from the factory, it’s simply a matter of mounting metal hangers and attaching the headrail. It’s that simple.

Fits Nearly Any Window

Bali Layered Shades offer the smallest minimum inside depth mount in the industry (1 3/8"), which means they will fit more windows than any other layered shade.

The Bottom Line on Layered and Zebra Shades

Bali motorized zebra shades in a home office.

Layered and zebra shades really are in a category all their own. They make a big statement. They’re easy to use, easy to install, and will stand up to years of daily use. Add a motorized control system and you have a truly elegant window-treatment solution. If you’re looking for a home décor upgrade that will make an impression, you really should be considering a layered shade for your next window-treatment project.

Get the creative juices flowing by checking out some of the available fabrics for Bali Layered and Zebra Shades.

Common Questions About Layered Shades

Can you see through layered shades at night?

This depends on the fabrics you choose when you purchase your layered shade. For maximum privacy, choose a high opacity fabric for your dark stripes. With the right high-opacity stripe, a closed layer shade can provide excellent privacy.

What is the difference between layered shades and sheer shades?

Layered shades are one continuous roll of fabric. The stripes on the two opposing faces of that roll can be adjusted to control light.

Sheer shades, on the other hand, operate in much the same way horizontal blinds do: the horizontal fabric louvers of a sheer shade can be tilted to open or close the shade. In general, sheer shades have a softer appearance than layered shades.

Learn more about the differences between layered shades and sheer shades →

What are the cons of zebra shades?

The same thing that makes zebra shades special is also, for some people, a drawback: the distinct zebra pattern is not loved by all. Other than that, layered or zebra shades are some of the simplest, easiest-to-use window treatments available.

Are zebra shades durable?

Yes. They are manufactured with high-tech fabrics that are made to last.