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Motorized zebra shades in a living room.

Your Essential Guide to Zebra Shades: What to Know Before Buying

Zebra shades, also known as layered shades or zebra blinds, are in a class all their own. They don't just have a bold appearance, they’re also highly functional. Just a quick adjustment of the alternating bands of opaque and sheer fabrics gives you complete privacy or a view to the outdoors.

The unique banded design and excellent functionality has become more and more popular with eclectic and modern interior designers.

In this article, we’ll talk about the mechanics of zebra shades, their excellent functionality, and how to use them to make a real design statement.

Graber UltraLite cordless layered and zebra shades in a bedroom.

Exploring Zebra Shades

Zebra shades are all about options. They come in a huge range of fabrics—from traditional to contemporary. They also offer a range of lift options. There really is a color, fabric, and control combination for every home.

How Do Zebra Shades Work?

Each layer of fabric has alternating bands of opaque and sheer fabric. By adjusting the shade, you can control how the bands of opaque and sheer fabric overlap. It’s incredibly simple—and effective.

When the sheer fabric of one layer is aligned with the sheer fabric of the other layer, light is allowed into the room. When the layers are adjusted so that the opaque bands cover the sheer bands, you shut out the light and the view.

Graber motorized layered and zebra shades in a living room.

The Dual Roller Mechanism

Layered or zebra shades are also sometimes called roller blinds due to their dual roller mechanism. The overlapping layers of fabric are moved by these two rollers to control the alignment of the colored bands. The whole mechanism might sound complicated, but it is actually simple—and this simplicity means the fabrics can be adjusted quickly and precisely.

Graber UltraLite cordless layered and zebra shades in a bedroom.

The roller-based movement of the layered shade fabrics means light and privacy can be adjusted in an instant. That means the you can adjust the light coming in and the view to the outdoors easily with minimal effort. Let the light in—or shut out the sun—all in a simple adjustment.

Benefits of Zebra Shades

Versatile Privacy and Light Control

Zebra shades control light in a visually interesting way. The bands of darker fabric reduce the light while at the same time creating shadows. As the sun’s position in the sky changes, the shadows and bands of light change. This everchanging pattern is one of the reasons why people choose layered and zebra shades.

Another reason why people choose zebra shades is the control these shades allow. At first, looking at the big bands of fabric, it would look like the only options were to be opened or closed. But the roller mechanism allows you to perfectly adjust the light and view through the shade—and quite quickly.

A Frequently Asked Question: Can you see through zebra blinds at night?

The amount of privacy you can achieve depends entirely on the fabrics you choose for the darker stripes of the shade. While you will not find blackout fabrics in the layered shade fabric selection, you’ll find numerous room-darkening fabrics. When they are in the closed position—when the darker fabric bands are covering the sheer bands—you get a huge amount of privacy. At night, only some shadows can be seen through the shades. For most people, this is acceptable. But if this is unacceptable to you, choose a roller shade, cellular shade, or Roman shade in a full blackout fabric—these options will give you maximum privacy.

Graber UltraLite cordless layered and zebra shades in a living room.

Energy Efficiency

The double layer of fabric that constitutes a zebra shade helps to provide some insulation against heat and cold. You’ll notice this insulating effect most in the winter.

And by being easily adjusted, zebra shades let you quickly control the sun coming into your home. Because of this ease, you’ll be more likely to adjust your shades to create the optimal environment (like reducing sun glare).

When a window treatment is difficult to adjust, people are less likely to make the adjustments necessary to create the most comfortable environment in terms of light and temperature.

Graber UltraLite cordless layered and zebra shades in a living room.

Modern, and Stylish

Zebra stripes capture attention. That’s why the zebra shade works so well as an amplifier of color and pattern. That striped design can really shout a design idea. If you’re looking to set the tone of a room, start with a zebra shade.

But zebra shades can also be subtle. Designers take advantage of Graber’s many neutral fabrics that resonate with traditional décor. Take a look at our many fabrics and find one that makes the statement you’re looking to create.

Close up picture of Graber layered and zebra shades.

Easy to Maintain and Clean

Whatever fabric you choose, layered shades are highly durable. Your layered shade should provide you with many years of reliable service. An occasional light vacuuming with your upholstery attachment is all you need to maintain these beautiful shades.

 Close up picture of Graber layered and zebra shades.

Popular Color and Design Choices

The abundance of fabric choices makes Zebra Shades an outstanding way to transform the look of a room to perfectly suit your style.

Graber’s interior design experts have hand selected on-trend fabrics that complement the décor found in today’s most popular design styles, from modern and contemporary to traditional and eclectic.

Neutral Tones

Today’s interior design is dominated by neutral tones. From living rooms to bedrooms to relaxation rooms, homeowners are seeking colors that complement the décor—not overpower it—and create a sense of calm. You’ll find dozens of neutral-toned fabrics in Graber's fabric collections.

Bold Colors

A zebra shade can be a very strong design element when configured with bold colors. The zebra-striped pattern amplifies any color and broadcasts it to the room as a dominant element. If you’re looking to create a design scheme that really makes a statement, these shades are a great place to start.

Patterns and Textures

One of the best way build visual richness is to utilize patterned and textured fabrics. Choose intriguing fabrics for your layered shades to add some variety and detail to a room. You’ll find many options.

Easy Installation and Operation

Graber Zebra Shades are professionally measured and installed by a Graber Design Expert. Like all Graber products, they are custom manufactured for a perfect fit. You’ll enjoy years of durability and flawless operation.

Mounting Options

Inside Mount

An inside mount has a trim look that integrates seamlessly into your room design. It has the advantage of setting the window treatment back from the room and leaves the area around the window free to have furniture placed closer to the window and provides a bit more room for artwork and other décor. But, ultimately, it is a simple matter of preference—whether you like the look of a window treatment set back into the window casement or not.

One potential downside of an inside mount shade is that it allows more light to enter the room from around the edges of the shade. This is because inside mount shades always have a slight amount of space allotted on each side of the shade for seamless operation. For most people, this minimal light gap is not an issue, especially when choosing a zebra shade, which by its nature allows some light through even when closed.

Outside Mount

As mentioned above, whether you choose inside or outside mount is a matter of taste. An outside mounted shades is placed into the room and is wider than the window opening. An advantage of this design is that you can increase the width and even length of the shade to make the window look wider and longer or taller—which might help make some rooms look less cramped.

One advantage of an outside mount shade is that it covers the light gaps along the edges of the shade. This leads to better light control and privacy. But when it comes zebra shades, for most interior designers, choosing between inside and outside mount is really about look.

If you’d like to see what a layered and zebra shade looks like on your window, try the Graber visualizer—it allows you to see your shades in dozens of colors and configurations.

Control Options: Corded, Cordless, and Automatic

Corded Zebra Shades

The corded option is a continuous-loop cord lift system, which includes a tensioner to eliminate dangling cords and to keep the cord out of reach of kids and pets. You can raise and lower the shade without changing the length of the cord—a real convenience that makes this an easy-to-use system.

Graber UltraLite cordless layered and zebra shades in a living room.

Cordless Zebra Shades

The cordless lift eliminates all visible control cords. That means a cleaner look as well as a safer shade for homes with children and pets. Plus, raising, lowering, and adjusting a cordless layered and zebra shade is a breeze. And the UltraLite cordless lift system turns Graber Zebra Shades into marvels of ease and convenience.

The UltraLite cordless lift lets you raise and lower the shade with the lightest of touches. And it’s whisper quiet—you can draw the shades without waking a sleeping baby. Plus the system is precise: you’ll move the shade exactly where you want it the first time.

Graber motorized layered and zebra shades in a kitchen.

Motorized & Automatic Zebra Shades

There really is only one thing better than an EasyTouch cordless lift zebra shade: a motorized zebra shade.

A zebra shade is a very modern-looking piece of décor. Its presence in a room adds sophistication and a fresh look. These modern shades are perfectly suited for the most modern of lift options—motorization.

Graber offers outstanding motorized options for blinds and shades. Automatic Zebra Shades can be operated with a remote control or from an iPad using an app and hub. You can control your shades from anywhere in the world, and integrate them into your smart home system. Motorization isn't just convenient—it's a lifestyle changer.

Learn more about motorization and how it can transform your home.

The Bottom Line

Zebra shades are popular with designers looking for something with a fresh and unique look. The bold striped design adds a modern touch. The simple, easy design of the roller mechanism makes layered shades a cinch to open, close, and adjust.

Picking the right zebra shade is simply a matter of determining your light and privacy requirements and finding fabrics that suit your tastes. Whether you choose inside or outside mount is, for the most part, a matter of preference.

Once installed, the straight lines of the zebra pattern and the sheer bands of fabric create endless combinations of shadows and light. Quite simply, a layered and zebra shade is in a category all its own.