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Image collage of cellular and pleated shades.

Pleated Shades vs. Cellular Shades: What’s The Difference?

When choosing shades for your home, there are some important considerations, including light control, privacy, energy efficiency, and ease of use. There are two shades that provide plentiful options in all these categories: pleated shades and cellular shades.

Pleated shades and cellular shades look very similar. Both have a clean appearance featuring evenly pleated fabric. Both are mounted on a headrail and operated by lifting the bottomrail with cords or through a cordless or motorized lift system. The main difference between the two types of shades is their structure.

Graber motorized pleated shades in a living room.

Pleated Shades: Fabrics Galore

The pleated shade is made of a single layer of fabric versus the cellular shade’s two-layer construction. The light control and privacy capabilities of a pleated shade depend on fabric you select, but can be enhanced by adding liners. But what really makes pleated shades special is the many available colors, patterns, and textures: Graber Pleated Shades come in a huge variety of beautiful and interesting colors and designs.

Graber motorized cellular shades in a living room.

Cellular Shades: Energy Efficiency & Elegance

Cellular shades are made of two layers of fabric joined to create a honeycomb-shaped structure. This structure can best be seen looking at the side of the shade. The chambers hold air, which helps the shade insulate against heat and cold. There is an elegant simplicity to a cellular shade that has helped to make them one of the most popular window treatments on the market.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Window Treatment

Choosing any window treatment is a matter of functional needs and personal tastes. Start with what type of window treatment captures your imagination. Then, see if that window treatment meets your needs.

The biggest consideration when choosing between pleated and cellular shades will be fabric selection and insulating properties. Pleated shades have a huge catalog of fabric options. Cellular shades are outstanding insulators. If energy efficiency is paramount for you, cellular shades are the obvious choice. But if you’re looking for something lively, bold, or unique, pleated shades might be your best choice.

Pleated & Cellular Shades and Their Impact on Home Aesthetics

Both pleated and cellular shades add a strong visual element to a room. The neatly pleated fabric adds both a linear element as well as texture. A room filled with matching cellular or pleated shades has a very finished look. A pleated or cellular shade can contrast nicely with curved design elements. Both types of shades look outstanding when combined with fabric drapery.

The Easiest Shades

Both pleated and cellular shades are easy to operate. Choose cordless shades for ease and a clean look. For the ultimate in convenience, choose motorized shades.

Key Characteristics of Pleated Shades

Graber motorized pleated shades in a living room.” width=

Material and Fabric Options

Pleated shades are all about fabrics. The fabric selection for Graber Pleated Shades is interesting and varied. You’ll find fresh patterns and on-trend colors, but you’ll also find some traditional patterns and richly textured fabrics. If you’re looking to make a statement, check out the Graber Pleated Shade fabric selection.

Pleated Shade Design and Style Variations

Graber Pleated Shades offer three different pleat options: a 1” Fashion Pleat, the 1” EvenPleat, and the 2” EvenPleat. While all these pleats are durable, the two EvenPleat options have back-ladder support to give greater structure to the pleats. While the 2” EvenPleat is generally used on larger windows, the size you choose is really a matter of taste. Your Graber Dealer will help you make the right choice.

Light Control Features of Pleated Shades

You can achieve any level of light control you desire with a Graber Pleated Shade. Every pleated shade fabric has its own unique light control and privacy capability. But Graber also gives you the option of adding a privacy liner or blackout liner to increase your light control.

Key Characteristics of Cellular Shades

Close up image of Graber cellular shades showing honeycomb shaped cells.

The Unique Construction of Cellular Shades

The honeycomb-shaped interior design of Graber Cellular Shades is the key to the extreme popularity of this shade. Not only does the evenness of the folds provide a sophisticated look, the air chamber formed by the design make it incredibly energy efficient. The design also imparts a sturdiness that many people find attractive.

Insulation and Energy Efficiency: Where Cellular Shades Really Shine

By capturing and holding air, the cellular shade becomes an insulating barrier blocking some of the heat and cold from entering your home through your window panes. This energy efficient design doesn’t detract from the shade’s elegant appearance—in fact, the hollow design allows sheer and light-filtering fabrics take on a beautiful glow when lit up by the sun.

Cellular Shade Design and Style Variations

Cellular shades come in both single and double cell designs. Single cell fabrics are available in 9/16” cells, ¾” cells, and 1 ¼” cells, for the largest windows. The double cells are ½” and provide an extra dose of insulation.

Fabric options are extensive for Graber Cellular Shades. Choose from delicate (but durable) sheers, dozens of light-filtering fabrics, luxury woven fabrics, and blackout fabrics for your bedroom.

Comparing Light Control

Graber blackout motorized pleated shades in a living room.

Pleated Shades: Liners Add Light Control Options

Pleated shades offer the full range of light control. Individual fabrics each have their own light control properties (and some patterned and textured shades have attractive visual qualities as light passes through them). Lighter fabrics have more light-filtering properties and heavier, darker shades offer more room darkening. When selecting pleated shade fabrics, it is helpful to order swatches so you can examine firsthand the light-control capabilities of the fabric by holding it up to your window. And, with privacy and blackout liners, pleated shades can offer the full range of light-control possibilities.

Graber blackout cordless cellular shades in a bedroom.

Cellular Shades: Every Level of Light Control

Like pleated shades, the Graber Cellular Shades fabric selection spans the full range of light control possibilities. You’ll find sheer, semi-sheer, light filtering, and blackout options. Adding room-darkening side rails further increases the light-blocking power of cellular shades.

Deciding on Your Preferences and Important Considerations

When choosing your pleated or cellular shade, your first consideration should be how the shade will look in your window. Choose the fabric that you’ll want to see day after day. The pleated shade fabric collection is quite varied, the cellular selection less so. But the cellular shade’s insulating properties and elegant looks have made it one of the most popular window treatments in the world.

You can’t go wrong with either type of shade. Adding a liner to your pleated shade can help boost the shade’s ability to insulate. And both types of shades can be configured to deliver the light control and privacy you need. You really can’t go wrong with either of these versatile and practical shades.

Your local Graber Dealer can help you decide and can also present you with many more options for your windows.

Insulation and Energy Efficiency

Graber cordless pleated shades with a privacy liner in a bedroom.

Pleated Shades Boosts Insulating Power with Liners

While cellular shades offer the most insulation of any window treatment, pleated shades can also reduce the amount of heat and cold that enters your home. Adding a liner to your pleated shade can have a positive impact on energy efficiency. Choose from a privacy liner or a blackout liner.

Graber cellular shades on a window during the winter.

Cellular Shades Are Top-notch Insulators

Insulating power is built into the cellular shade. The honeycomb-shaped design creates air pockets that capture air, and this air serves to insulate your room against heat and cold. And that means you save on your heating and air-conditioning bills—and enjoy more comfort year-round.

Style and Aesthetics

Graber cordless pleated shades on living room windows.

Pleated Shades Can Make a Style Statement

There’s a pleated shade fabric for every room. Not only will you find traditional fabrics in the Graber Pleated Shades fabric selection, you’ll find even more playful and interesting fabrics that allow you to make a distinct style statement. The variety of fabrics also gives you more options for coordinating your shades with your existing décor. You’ll find options that let your shades really stand out, as well as options that put the shades in a supporting roll.

Graber bottom up/top down cellular shades in a living room.

Cellular Shades Are Elegant

Cellular shades have a simple design that works in nearly any room. But these elegant shades can also fit with a modern aesthetic. This versatility makes them popular with designers—few window treatments work in as many situations.

Another reason why Graber Cellular Shades are so popular is the thoughtful selection of colors and fabrics. You’ll find a wide range of neutral colors and whites—options that work in a variety of situations and complement the most on-trend décor for seamless integration. There’s a freshness to the fabric collection that makes cellular shades the go-to category.

Installation and Maintenance

Worry-Free Installation Process

Your Graber Dealer will have the expertise to help you select the right window treatments based on each window’s size and location. Wide windows need special treatment, your Graber Dealer knows the right choices to make to ensure your shade fits the proportions of the window and allows for easy opening and closing.

Installing a pleated or cellular shade is straightforward and can be done on any window. Your Graber Design Expert will measure and install your shades with thoughtful precision so that it operates flawlessly from day one. It’s a great feeling to know that your shades are being installed properly and that the fit will be perfect.

Cleaning and Maintaining Cellular and Pleated Shades

Cleaning cellular and pleated shades is easy. Simply vacuum with your upholstery attachment every month or so and you should have shades that last for many years. These shades may have a delicate look, but they’re actually very durable and stand up well to regular use.

Making the Decision: Summarizing the Options

Pleated and cellular shades work well almost anywhere. They are arguably the most practical shades available. That said, there are some important differences between the two. When making your decision, you should take into account a few things:

  • Cellular shades are the best insulating shades on the market
  • Pleated shades can be turned into better insulators by adding liners
  • Both pleated and cellular shades offer options ranging from sheer to blackout
  • Cellular shades come in a range of elegant, on-trend fabrics
  • Pleated shades are all about fabric—with colors and patterns ranging from subdued to bold
  • Appearance should generally be your first consideration when selecting your shades
  • If energy efficiency is of utmost importance to you, choose cellular shades

Knowing what you want is the key to finding the right shades. Your local Graber Design Expert will be able to quickly navigate the above considerations and find you a shade solution that works perfectly in your home. That expertise is one of the reasons why choosing Graber is a smart choice.

The Bottom Line

Cellular and pleated shades have a similar appearance and operate in the same way. Their main differences are their key attributes: the single-layer pleated shade offers a dazzling assortment of fabrics, and the double-walled cellular shade has superior insulating properties. If energy efficiency is your primary concern, the cellular shade is the right choice for you. But, if you’re looking to add some pizzaz to a living room or guest room, a pleated shade, with its delightful selection of fabric options, might be the right choice for you.