Shutters, Blinds and Drapes, Oh My

In the world of window coverings it doesn’t take long for the plethora of options to confuse and overwhelm some home owners. Here is a brief guide on the different kinds of window coverings, pros and cons of each and other essentials you need to know.

Traditional and Plantation Shutters

Traditional as well as plantation shutters are built out of natural woods including bass wood, alder, pine, oak, cedar etc. Generally hard woods are used for their durability in these shutters. These shutters feature lourves (the slats) which come in different sizes (common sizes are 3.5′ and 4.5′) as well as a tilt rod that adjusts the angle of the shutter. In addition to being able to adjust the lourves one can open the shutters fully to allow both sunshine and fresh air into a home. Shutters can be installed either around the frame of the window or within the frame. In addition to wood types and lourve size one can choose whatever type of trim they wish to match the shutter or existing trim within the home. Traditional or plantation shutters also come in both the interior and exterior variety. Shutters are renowned for their durability and functionality. They often add not only beauty to the home but value as well. Due to these advantages, their broad appeal and the custom craftsmanship required they tend to be the most expensive of the three options.


Blinds are viewed as the cheapest of the three options as well as the most common. This is due to the fact that “mini-blinds” are widely distributed in department stores and home improvement stores alike. These much cheaper options come in many sizes and are often the first choice for cash-strapped new homeowners. In addition to the usual plastic blinds many stores also carry faux-wood blinds which are an imitation wood that give the appearance of a more expensive and higher quality traditional shutter as discussed above. Likewise, blinds can be installed both within and without the frame of the window – though almost without fail they are installed within the window frame for the most aesthetically pleasing installation. Unlike shutters, blinds are meant only for the interior of the home as they are neither sturdy nor durable enough to shutter blind be used outside of the home. While there are custom blinds that are much more expensive and can rival traditional shutters in beauty, blinds are most often used as a short term solution to give homeowners the privacy they need.

Drapes or Curtains

Drapes or curtains are the least used of the three types of window coverings. The primary use of drapes is for much larger windows (when store bought blinds may require custom jobs or shutters which may be cost prohibitive) and doors. When selecting this option the homeowner has the choice of the entire spectrum of costs from the cheapest Wal Mart curtain to extremely expensive curtains often used in luxury homes across the United States. Likewise, drapes and curtains can come in a variety of materials and can either consist of just the curtain itself or other decorative aspects.

When choosing which type of window covering the new home owner should weigh their options carefully and decide what exactly they ultimately want in regards to coverings. In particular, one should weigh functionality, aesthetics, cost, availability and the long term implications of their choice.

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