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Blind Terminology

Select from our list of window coverings terminology for a definition and examples.


Aluminum Blinds (mini blinds, macro blinds, micro blinds) - Horizontal aluminum blinds are comprised of aluminum slates from 0.4 to 0.9 gauge aluminum. The gauge determines the sturdiness of the slate, with 0.9 being the sturdiest and most expensive. They create a sleek modern look at a low expense with clean lines and colors.

Balloon Shade - Large round puffs of fabric form 'balloon' shaped inverted pleats. Operation is similar to roman shade but is also available in roller shades styles.

Basswood - Hardwood derived from North American or Chinese Bass Trees. The highest quality wood used in modern wood blinds, it resists splitting and cracking in adverse conditions.

Blackout (opaque, block out, eclipse) - Refers to a blind that typically blocks 99% of outside light. For maximum light control an outside mount is required to remove gaps between blind and window casing. Recommended for bedrooms, media rooms, and other areas were total light blockage is necessary.

Brackets - Used to secure the window covering to the window frame.

Bay Window - A window or series of windows with at least three sides that projects from the exterior wall of a house.

Casement Window - A hinged window that opens either in or out, like a door, operated by a crank mechanism or by hand.

Cloth Tapes - Cotton tapes from 1" to 2-1/2" wide that extend down the length of blind. Replace standard braided ladder used to hold slates together.

Controls - Mechanisms that operate blind. Controls are used to raise, lower, and tilt the blind. Controls can be a wand or a cord. Special control mechanisms are available on blinds such as continuous cord loops.

Cornice - A decorative board, often molded or painted, that is attached to the top of a window to create an architectural finish. It can be used with or without a curtain.

Extension Brackets - For installations requiring additional space between the blind and the mounting surface

Groovers - Used in fabric verticals. Fabric sits in plastic sleeve providing a solid backing for fabric veins. Increases the level of privacy and insulation.

Headrail - The hardware at the top of the blind that holds the mechanisms such as tracks and controls which operate the blind.

Hold-Down Brackets - Prevent bind from swaying by latching bottom rail to wall or door frame. Recommended for door blinds.

Honeycomb Shade (cellular shade) - Fabric shade resembling a pleated shade, but comprised of diamond shaped cells between the front and back sections of fabric. Air trapped in cells provide great insulation. Honeycomb shades are available in double and triple cells as well as 3/8", 1/2", 3/4", 1-1/4" cell sizes.

Faux Wood Blinds (alternative wood, wood alloy) - Horizontal blinds that mimic wood blinds. Made from a variety of plastics and composite materials. Great alternative to wood blinds in areas with high humidity, moisture, or rapid temperature changes.

French Door - A casement window that extends from the ceiling to the floor and features glass panes that run its entire height. Introduced at Versailles in the seventeenth century. Also called French windows.

Inside Mount (IB) - Shade fits within window frame.

Lift - Control that raises and lowers the blind. Most often a cord. Other special controls are available such as continuous cord loops.

Jamb - A side jamb is the vertical molding of a window; the head jamb is the horizontal molding at the top.

Mount - Way in which blind is mounted to the window frame. Can be inside mount or outside mount.

Multiple Blinds on a Headrail - A single headrail which holds more then one blind. Each blind uses independent controls. Used for very large windows were one blind may not fit or may otherwise be to heavy for smooth function. Can also be used on windows with multiple panes allowing for independent access of each window pane.

Outside Mount (OB) - Shade overlaps window opening when mounted on window frame.

Return - The part of a valance that wraps around the sides of the window.

Roller Shades - A simple cylinder containing a spring or clutch mechanism, around which the shade coils when raised up by means of a pull cord or continuous cord loop.

Roman Shades - A fabric shade with narrow horizontal rods at the back so that the shade forms a series of softly tailored, neatly flat folds when it is raised.

Spacer Blocks - Used in mounting the blind. Blocks add an extra 1/2" of depth to headrail to avoid obstructions around a window. Can be used only with outside mounted blinds.

Stack - This is the area were the blind 'stacks' when drawn open. Horizontal blinds stack at the top of the window at the headrail. Verticals may stack to the right, left, or to both as a split stack. It may also refer to the amount of width the blind requires to stack when drawn open.

Tieback - A sash, tasseled cord, or separate length of straight, decorated, or shaped fabric that holds back a curtain panel.

Total Linear Footage (TLF) - The sum, in feet, of the total width of all vertical treatments needing installation. For Example: The TLF for Verticals measuring 72”, 84”, and 108” wide, would be 22 ft.: 72" + 84" + 108" = 264" ÷ 12" = 22 feet.

Top-Down - Shade opens from the top to the bottom.

Top-Down/Bottom-Up - Open the shade from the top-down, bottom-up, or both.

Tilt - The control, either a cord or wand, that tilts the blind slats to an open or closed position.

Valance - A finishing touch that runs across the top of a window. It can be either a short drape of fabric or a facing of wood or metal. The English often refer to a fabric valance as a pelmet.

Venetian Blind - The classic design of aluminum, plastic, or wooden slats joined by braided ladders and operated by cords.

Vertical Blinds - Blind in which slates or fabric run vertical. Made of PVC, fabric, or aluminum, vertical blinds stack to the left, right, or split between both. Very popular window covering most often used for large windows or sliding glass doors.

Window Wall - An expanse of glass running from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, sometimes opening by means of sliding metal or wood frames.

Wood Blinds - Horizontal blinds with wooden slats. Typically made of hardwoods such as bass wood. Slat sized range from 1" to 2-5/8" and come in painted white tones or natural wood stains. High levels of humidity, moisture and rapid temperature changes can cause warping or splitting.

Woven Shades - Roman shades made of wood, fibers, bamboo, or a combination.