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Wood blinds on windows in a kitchen.

Blinds vs. Curtains: Everything You Need to Know

How you cover your windows can determine the look and feel of a room. Why do window treatments have such a powerful effect a design scheme? Because windows are often the focal points in a home. The color of the window treatment, the texture, the pattern, the view to the outdoors, and the light coming in through the window all work together to capture your attention. That means how you cover your windows is fundamental to the look and feel of your room.

Two Popular Options: Blinds and Curtains

There are a dozen different ways to cover your windows. Two of the most popular ways are blinds and curtains (often referred to as drapery). Why are these methods so popular? Simplicity, durability, and versatility.

Graber faux wood blinds on a window in a home office.

Blinds Basics

The tried-and-true design of window blinds makes them an ever-popular choice for homes and workplaces around the world. They have a look that appeals to many people, and they’re quite simple to use. Blinds can stand up to years of daily use, and they are extremely versatile: people install blinds in nearly every kind of room, including bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, family rooms, offices, and utility rooms. And operating blinds is simple, requiring just a twist of the control wand to change the tilt of the slats for the full range of light control.

Graber curtains on windows in a bedroom.

Curtains Explained

Curtains—also referred to as drapery—are perhaps the oldest window treatment solution in the world. They continue to be one of the most popular choices for covering windows because they do the job so well and provide almost unlimited decorating possibilities. “Operating” a curtain is a matter of closing it by hand or using a control wand. The range of fabrics available today lets you find exactly the right level of light control land privacy. Layering two types of curtains—such as a sheer drapery with a room-darkening drapery—allows for levels of light control and visual interest that no other window treatment offers. And Graber’s modern fabrics are durable—extremely durable—standing up to daily use, year after year.

Making the Decision

We’re going to look more closely at the various options available in blinds and curtains. By the end of this article, you should have a clear idea which one is right for you. We’ll look at blinds first.

Graber aluminum blinds on windows in a laundry room.”  width=

What are Blinds?

Blinds are a stack of slats—long, flat pieces of wood, aluminum, or vinyl—connected with cords so that the slats are hung horizontally and are evenly spaced. Blinds can be lifted all the way up for a clear view to the outdoors or for cleaning the window. But most of the time, blinds are left down and sunlight and the view to the outdoors are controlled by turning a control wand or ring.

You see blinds everywhere. They are incredibly popular. Blinds come in a variety of materials, colors, textures, and sizes. And they offer options for every type of room environment possible. Here are the options.

Graber wood blinds on windows in a kitchen.

Wood Blinds: A Classic Choice

Real wood blinds can transform a room. Attractive, classic, sturdy, and versatile, wood blinds have long been the go-to option for living rooms, dining rooms, and home offices. They come in a huge range of colors and finishes and can elevate a home’s décor.

Graber faux wood blinds on windows in a kitchen.

Composite and Faux Wood Blinds Stand Up to Humidity

An alternative to real wood blinds is composite and faux wood blinds. These blinds offer some of the same visual appeal as their real-wood cousin, but have the added benefit of tolerating heat and humidity. They are excellent options for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Graber vinyl blinds on windows in a bathroom.

Cost Effective Vinyl Blinds

When most people think of blinds, think of vinyl blinds. Sometimes called “mini-blinds,” vinyl blinds have the advantage of being a cost-effective solution. They’re available in a number of different colors and can stand up to nearly any environment, including bathrooms and kitchens.

Graber aluminum blinds on windows in a laundry room.

Affordable and Durable Aluminum Blinds

Durable blinds look similar to vinyl blinds but have the advantage of being even more durable. Graber’s aluminum blinds are made with an anti-static finish that repels dirt and helps the blinds perform flawlessly. You’ll find a surprisingly large range of slat colors available.

Graber vertical blinds on a sliding door in a home office.

Vertical Blinds for Wide Windows and Doors

The most popular solution for covering sliding glass doors or patio doors of any kind is installing a set of vertical blinds. Graber has an updated, on-trend selection of colors and textures that give you a truly modern solution for your home. Vertical blinds are controlled with a wand. They’re easy to operate and highly durable.

Why Choose Blinds?

Blinds make controlling light and privacy a breeze. In fact, blinds are perhaps the easiest of all window treatments. With a simple turn of the wand and you can change the level of privacy and the amount of light that comes into your room. Or, lift or pull the bottom rail and your cordless blinds are raised and lowered.

Blinds aren’t just easy to use, they’re easy to clean. In most homes, a simple light vacuuming with the upholstery attachment is all you need to keep your blinds looking clean. Blinds can also be wiped clean with a cloth. Vinyl blinds, composite blinds, faux wood blinds, and aluminum blinds can all be cleaned with soap and water.

Blinds have a space-saving design that allows them to be hung inside most window casements. That provides more room for furniture and allows people to move freely about the room. It also provides a clean look.

What to Consider When Selecting Blinds?

When choosing blinds for your windows, the first thing to look at is the size of the window. In general, the size of the slat will increase with the size of the window. Most windows use 2-inch slats—available in aluminum, vinyl, real wood, faux wood, and composite. But the smallest windows might call for ½” or 1” aluminum blinds. Larger windows might be well served by real wood blinds with 2 3/8” slats.

The size of the slat has an effect on your view to the outdoors. Larger slats have a greater distance between each slat. That means less obstruction of your view. If you’re looking to preserve a view of your yard, your garden, a lake, or a mountain range, choose a larger slat size.

But those suggestions are simply a starting point. What matters most is your personal taste. Choose the slat size that you like the best. And that’s the rule when choosing any kind of décor—choose what appeals to you. You’re the one who is going to be looking at it every day!

Vinyl and aluminum blinds have a sleek, modern look. Real wood blinds, faux wood blinds, and composite blinds come in larger slat sizes and can have either a formal or casual look depending on the color or finish you choose. In fact, much of the visual impact—or lack of impact—from your blinds comes from color. Graber offers a wide range of colors that are designed to blend in with décor. But you’ll also find colors that provide a pop of visual interest.

The Cost of Blinds

In general, real wood blinds are the most expensive of the blinds options we’ve talked about. Faux wood and composite blinds cost less, followed by aluminum blinds, and vinyl blinds.

Graber curtains on living room windows

What are Curtains?

Curtains are a drapery made of woven fabric and are hung on both sides of a window. They open and close by moving along a curtain rod, either manually or guided by a control wand. The curtain can be hung from the rod in different ways, including hooks or grommets.

The function of a curtain is determined primarily by the fabric it is made from. Sheer curtains gently filter light and provide an elegant look. Often, sheer curtains are hung on a window that also has room-darkening or blackout curtains. Room-darkening curtains do just that: they reduce the light that comes in, making the room darker. And blackout shades do not let any light through their fabric (although light will seep in through the sides of the curtain).

Maintaining your curtains is easy. The simplest way to ensure your curtains stay clean is make them part of your cleaning routine. Vacuum them with the upholstery attachment and they should stay dust free and attractive. Curtains, in general, should not be put in the washing machine. Professional cleaning is the best option.

Graber custom drapery on windows in a living room.

Nearly Unlimited Options: Custom Drapery

Graber offers an amazing variety of fabrics and options to let you customize the perfect curtains for your room. Choose from countless fabrics, including colors and patterns that can transform the look of a room. Blackout and thermal liners are available to add to the functionality of your curtains. Create looks using valances, cornices, or swags. Add accent trim and custom pleats to complete the look.

Graber natural drapery on windows in a living room.

Interesting Textures and Patterns: Natural Drapes

Another curtain option is natural drapes. Made of fabric woven from wood, wild grasses, bamboo, or rattan, natural drapes bring the colors, textures, and patterns of nature into your home. Natural drapes are available in a surprising range of colors, making them an option for nearly any room.

Why Choose Curtains?

Curtains can be beautiful. They can be understated—or bold. Curtains can be the aesthetic touch that ties the whole room together. Or, they can provide a playful pop of color. Curtains can soften any décor and elevate any room. Curtains can really do anything you choose.

Curtains can also provide insulation against the heat and cold by providing insulation and cutting down on the drafts that come into your home along the sides of the window. This protection adds up to savings on your heating and cooling costs. Blinds do provide some protection against heat and cold, but curtains do a better job at this.

Picking the Perfect Curtain

There’s a drapery fabric to match every room and every mood. An elegant floral pattern set on a dark fabric can set the tone for a formal living room. Place that elegant floral pattern on a light background and you might have the right set of curtains for an airy dining room. Subdued earth tones or soft pastels can complement the existing colors of a bedroom or study. There isn’t a situation that can’t be matched with one of Graber’s many drapery fabrics.

Let’s Compare Blinds to Curtains

Now we’re going to look at how blinds compare to curtains in terms of light and privacy, style, and maintenance. You’ll find that it’s not always possible to pick a clear “winner.” Both types of window treatments do the same jobs—but they do them differently.

Light and Privacy Control

Both blinds and curtains can control light and provide privacy. When closed, blinds do an excellent job blocking light. But even closed, there is still some light that creeps in along the sides of the blinds. Curtains, on the other hand, can be ordered in a blackout fabric that can completely block out the light, with very little light filtering into the room along the sides. A curtain with a blackout fabric is hard to beat when it comes to light control.


Blinds are infinitely adjustable. That is, you can turn the wand or ring to adjust the slats to exactly the right position for optimal light and privacy. Curtains, on the other hand, allow for all the positions between the extremes of open and closed, but with full privacy only when the curtains are closed. However, pairing a sheer curtain and a room-darkening drapery on the same window can greatly increase the amount of control you have over sunlight and privacy.

Style and Aesthetics

Blinds have a more modern look than curtains. They’re an excellent option for contemporary interiors, but real wood blinds can work in a more traditional setting. There are curtain options galore, with fabrics ranging from formal to modern. Blinds have crisp lines, whereas curtains present elegant curves.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Both blinds and curtains can be maintained with regular vacuuming with the upholstery attachment. And, because they’re made of solid materials, blinds can also be wiped clean. Curtains that become too dirty to be cleaned with the vacuum will need to be dry cleaned—drapery fabrics are not made to be machine washed.

A Look at Cost

Blinds and curtains come in a vast variety of materials and designs. The most affordable of all window treatment options are aluminum and vinyl blinds. More expensive are real wood blinds and curtains made with luxurious fabrics. There’s a broad range of options—your Graber Expert can help you find a price point that fits your budget.

Making the Choice: Last Things to Consider

If you’re having trouble deciding between blinds and curtains, here are some other things to consider:

Room Usage

Bedrooms are well served by curtains as well as all types of blinds. Bathrooms are great places for composite and faux wood blinds. Blinds of every kind can be used in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, offices, and kitchens. Blackout curtains are perfect for bedrooms and entertainment rooms. Sheer curtains work well in rooms where privacy isn’t a concern.

Consider the Control

If you’re going to be using a room every day and operating the window treatments regularly, consider which type of window treatment you’d like to be operating. Both types of window treatments are easy to use. Blinds can be adjusted with a simple twist of the wrist. Curtains require a bit more effort, but not much. Which type of control are you most comfortable with?

Sunlight Exposure

Extremely sunny rooms—ones where excessive sunlight makes the room unusable for portions of the day—are well served by blinds. Composite and faux wood blinds are best for windows that really heat up. Blackout curtains can be another option—but have the downside of completely darkening the room—which might be too much light control for most situations.

Graber wood blinds layered with curtains on windows in a living room.

Consider Layering Blinds and Curtains

Combining two different types of window treatments on the same window is known as layering. Many people choose to layer curtains over their blinds. Covering the sides of the blinds with curtains reduces the light that seeps into the room. Not only do does adding curtains increase light control and privacy options, but curtains also add insulation. But the most important reason to hang curtains over your blinds is that it looks great.

Learn more about layering

Find an Expert

All window treatments do the same things—control light and privacy and insulate against heat and cold. Each different kind of window treatment performs differently at each of these jobs—which gives you a huge range of options when choosing your window treatments. As we’ve learned, blinds offer unlimited ease and range when it comes to light control. Curtains offer good light control but with the added benefit of protecting against heat and cold.

Beyond the functional elements of window treatments, there’s the visual element—which is the most important element. How do you want your room to look? What kind of window treatment helps you achieve that look?

If those still seem like difficult questions, don’t worry. Your Graber Expert can help you find exactly the right set of blinds or curtains to achieve your vision.