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Sheer Shades vs. Layered Shades: What's Best For You?

Motorized layered shades in a kitchen.

Sheer Shades

Motorized sheer shades in a living room.

We know what you’re thinking. How can something sheer block out light? Isn’t that, like, oh I don’t know, the whole purpose of a window treatment?

Well, you’re not wrong. But there is something to be said about judging a book by its cover. Or in this case, a shade by its name.

First, let’s cover the obvious. Sheer shades are clean, airy, and soft. When open, they let in softly filtered light. When closed, the light coming in is a bit more diffused. The best part of all? When open, sheer shades, (thanks to their sheer material!), provide a clear view to the outdoors.

All these benefits, have, in fact, led some to refer to sheer shades as “soft blinds.” Meaning, they look, act, and function like aluminum or wood blinds–just soft ones.

Motorized sheer shades in a living room.

Now let’s talk specifically about Bali Sheer Shades.

One custom-crafted difference is that the vanes that hold the two layers of sheer fabric together are woven, resulting in invisible seams that won’t yellow or fade over time (which can happen with other brands, whose sheer vanes are often glued in. Yuck.) Additionally, all Bali Sheer Shades come with a matching, fabric-wrapped cassette valance at no extra cost, as well as free vane alignment across bay, corner, and multiple windows, so you get the sleek, consistent look we all strive for. The absence of any ladders also allows you to enjoy the clearest possible view, while a 14 mm vane overlap offers increased privacy at all angles when closed.

Last, but not least, Bali Sheer Shades meet top safety guidelines in that they feature fire-retardant and OEKO-TEX® certified fabrics. Don’t forget to check out our newest release of exclusive, digitally printed fabrics for ideas, inspiration, and more.

Layered Shades

Motorized layered shades in a living room.

We know what you’re thinking. With everything we just told you about sheer shades, how could layered shades even possibly compare?

Frequently paired together and often confused with one another, layered shades feature one continuous layer of alternating stripes of sheer and non-sheer (or opaque) fabric. These bands can be maneuvered to either alternate (sheer, opaque, sheer, opaque) or not alternate (opaque, opaque, opaque, you get the idea). When they alternate, light gets in through the sheer parts (yes, a lot like regular blinds!). When they don’t, it’s like having a regular, solid shade. Can’t see out, no one can see in.

Like our sheer shades, Bali Layered Shades also feature OEKO-TEX® certified fabrics, as well as a cordless lift system with fabric-wrapped hem bar for a clean, coordinated look. The absence of ladders again allows for maximum design appeal and view, while the smallest minimum inside depth mount in the industry (1 3/8”) means our layered shades fit more windows than any of our competitors.

Learn more about layered & zebra shades with our comprehensive guide →

Sheer Shades or Layered Shades?

So how do you choose? Here’s how we’d simplify it:

Motorized sheer shades in a living room.

Sheer Shades are ideal if you want a more structured look that still feels lightweight, modern, yet traditional. When closed, it diffuses light coming in, casting a soft, ethereal look all over your room.

Motorized layered shades in a bathroom.

Layered Shades are like two shades in one. You get more light filtering and blocking capabilities with layered shades versus sheer shades. And lastly, they are definitely more of a “statement” shade than their sheer counterpart.

That said, you really can’t go wrong either way. If you’re still having trouble deciding, why not check out some of our free swatch samples to help you choose?