The best window blinds and shades you can buy

The best window blinds and shades you can buy

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  • When chosen properly, window blinds and shades increase your home's privacy, reduce the glare of the sunshine, and add character, too.
  • Blinds are often surprisingly expensive, costing hundreds or thousands of dollars for an entire house, but careful shopping can reduce the expense without sacrificing efficacy or style.
  • The First Rate Blinds Custom Cordless Single Cell Shades are our top pick because they open and close with minimal effort and the company has a sterling customer service record.

Ironically, as I write this article, I am using a large green piece of construction paper I grabbed from my son's playroom to cover one of my office windows through which the sun is shining. I've already purchased a fine window blind to remedy the whole blinding glare situation, I just haven't found the time to install the thing yet. Which is, admittedly, ridiculous, because installing a single blind will take me less than 10 minutes. Sigh.

Anyway, assuming you have those 10 or so minutes to spare and a window in need of some dressing, I have put in the time to find you some great options. My wife and I having selected blinds for dozens of windows in recent years, the subject is fresh on my mind, as is the sting of the cost. Because window shades can be quite expensive. But they're also no place to go cheap, because you will see them daily and, in the case of many blinds, such as those in your bedroom or any on windows facing the streets or a neighbor, you will likely use them several times a day.

Budget will no doubt be one of the largest factors concerning which blinds you choose, but form and function together should be more heavily weighted in the decision. First, consider how much light you want the blinds to let through. Light filtering blinds can cut the sun's harsh glare while still allowing in plenty of light and are great for kitchens or living rooms, but you'll want blackout blinds for your bedroom.


Also, don't forget about the windows in a bathroom, hall, or any space adjacent to your bedroom. It's amazing how much light reaches us in bed through the bathroom door because we went with a light filtering shade in there.

Next, think about the type of blinds and shades you want. There are cellular blinds, rolling blinds, Venetian blinds, solar blinds, and on the list goes. Make sure to consider the safety benefits of cordless blinds if you have kids or pets versus the lower cost of most corded options, consider the appearance of the blinds from both the inside and outside, and about the aesthetics of the room in which they'll be installed.

Then go measure the windows very ... very carefully. In fact, measure twice.

Here are the best blinds and shades you can buy:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

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The best window shades overall

The best window shades overall
Why you'll love them: The First Rate Blinds Custom Cordless Single Cell Shades are available in multiple colors and are fully customizable to any width between 24 and 48 inches.

When raised, your window blinds are essentially invisible, staying up and out of the way to allow light in and a view out through the glass. But when lowered, your window blinds play a major roll in the interior decor of your home.

The First Rate Blinds' Custom Cordless Single Cell Shades are our top pick. They come in nine different colors and that can be custom cut to fit any window wider than 24 inches and narrower than 48 inches.

These light filtering blinds allow in a decent amount of light while reducing the sun's glare and preventing fading and discoloration caused by extended exposure to UV light. They also completely block the view into the home. As for raising or lowering a Custom Cordless Single Cell Shade, that can be done with minimal effort.

Of equal note along with the quality and selection of the actual products here is the customer service reputation of First Rate Blinds. A shopper named Mark wrote, "5 stars doesn't do them justice ... I have NEVER dealt with a company like this one." He also loved the company's proactive contact, quick resolution to issues, and generally great attitude.

Shoppers love the blinds themselves, too, giving Custom Cordless Single Cell Shades a 4.8-star overall rating on Amazon. A lady named Beatriz said they "fit perfectly" and "look very clean and nice." Another reviewer called them "beautiful" and loved that "they work so well."

A design professional writing on Houzz called the blinds a "great product" that are "beautifully made" and also noted the company's customer service.

Pros: Multiple colors available, easy operation, great customer service

Cons: Shades occasionally hang unevenly when extended

Buy the First Rate Blinds Custom Cordless Single Cell Shades on Amazon for $40 to $82 — prices vary by size

The best solar window shades

The best solar window shades
Why you'll love them: CHICOLOGY Snap-N-Glide Cordless Roller Shades block enough light to reduce the sun's glare and prevent UV damage while still allowing a partial view through the windows.

It's a shame to cover a window that offers a lovely view, yet sometimes the harsh glare of the sun necessitates drawing the shades in order to make the interior of the home pleasantly habitable. However, when said shade is a CHICOLOGY Snap-N-Glide Cordless Roller Shade, you can still enjoy the view while doing without the glare.

These solar shades feature thousands of small perforations that allow you to see through them while still reducing the amount of light that gets in. Granted, the view through the Snap-N-Glide shades is reduced somewhat, but that's a fair trade for interior comfort. The shades also enhance daytime privacy as another bonus.

As for that name, it refers to the easy opening and closing of the blinds. They pull down with just a few pounds of pressure and stop at any height you want, then they slowly and steadily retract (glide, e.g.) when you give a quick tug at the bottom.

If you need nighttime privacy or blinds that will block the sun so you can sleep, look elsewhere. For reduced glare without a blocked view, you're looking in the right place.

The CHICOLOGY Snap-N-Glide Cordless Roller Shades have a 4.2-star overall rating among Amazon shoppers, with one buyer calling them "easy to install" and loving that they don't "go flying up quickly" when closing. Another said they "function beautifully" and also mentioned how easy the installation process was.

Do prepare for the potential need to request replacements, though, as several customers reported receiving blinds with scratches, pinholes, and other minor defects.

Pros: Reduce glare while preserving some view, smooth glide during closing, easy to install

Cons: Some hardware arrives damaged

Buy the CHICOLOGY Snap-N-Glide Cordless Roller Shades on Amazon for $40 to $110 — prices vary by size

The best motorized window shades

The best motorized window shades
Why you'll love them: At the push of a button, your room can be filled with light, darkened fully, or partially exposed to the world beyond thanks to the Springblinds Motorized Roller Shades.

As it turns out, you can put a price on convenience. And though it's a pretty hefty price, the ability to raise or lower your window shade with remote control is a luxury you won't want to be without once you've had it. The Springblinds Motorized Roller Shade installs easily, features a battery that only requires charging four or five times a year, and is operated by remote control.

Thus from the comfort of your bed, the couch, or your office chair, you can raise the shade to let in the light and enjoy the view, lower it for darkness or privacy, or set the shade at any custom height you'd like.

Add to that convenience the fact that the Springblinds Motorized Roller Shade is available in nearly two dozen colors and can be custom cut to fit windows as narrow as 20 inches and as wide as 84 inches.

While you might expect the installation process to be more complicated with electric blinds, it's really quite a simple process. You just need to affix a pair of brackets to the window frame then pop the shade in place. Its battery can be charged using an included cord, and the motor is quiet and reliable.

A shopper named Jay called the Springblinds Motorized Roller Shade "a very high-quality product" that is "quiet and smooth" and quite effective at blocking light. Another reported them "easy to clean" and said she was "able to hang them with no trouble."

Just keep in mind that for the convenience of motorized blinds, you'll pay a pretty penny. Or a few thousands pennies, that is.

Pros: Smooth and quiet remote operation, good light blocking ability, available in many colors

Cons: Very expensive

Buy the Springblinds Motorized Roller Shade on Amazon for $185 to $400 — prices vary by size

The best blackout window blinds

The best blackout window blinds
Why you'll love it: With the DEZ Furnishings Cordless Blackout Cellular Shade lowered, your room will be as dark as night even at midday, letting you rest, watch movies, or enjoy total privacy.

If you have a job that necessitates working nights and sleeping during the day, you know that one of the hardest things to do is create a good daytime sleep space. Sunshine penetrates thin blinds or curtains and seems to sneak around most blackout blinds as well.

With a DEZ Furnishings Cordless Blackout Cellular Shade, you can mount your blinds either inside or outside the window frame, creating the snuggest possible fit and ensuring the most light blocked.

These full blackout blinds let no light pass through their cellular pleats, which have a crisp finish in any of the available nine colors. The blinds will not only look good in the room but they also reflect solar energy, reducing your cooling costs during the summer. Raising or lowering these blinds is easy, while their cordless design makes them kid and pet safe.

With nearly 200 reviews posted at the time of this writing, the DEZ Furnishings Cordless Blackout Cellular Shade enjoy a solid 4.5-star rating among Amazon shoppers. A buyer named Matthew called them a "real blackout shade" that "exceeded [his] expectations." And a mom named Lauren who used them in her home said they "are great and really darken the nursery," noting that they were "very easy to install."

Some shoppers did find hardware missing from their orders, but the company is responsive in replacing missing pieces.

Pros: Fully blocks light, good price point, easy installation

Cons: Installation hardware occasionally missing

Buy the DEZ Furnishings Cordless Blackout Cellular Shades on Amazon for $48 to $182 — prices vary by size

The best low-cost window shades

The best low-cost window shades
Why you'll love it: Matched size for size, an Arlo Blinds Roman Bamboo Shade costs nearly 50% less than most other blinds out there, and without a sacrifice in quality.

So-called Roman style blinds are not for everyone and not for every space. These blinds, made of thin slats of bamboo, might look out of place in a country themed home or in an ultra-modern abode, but for many homes, they are subtle enough to blend right in. And they will certainly work with any home's budget.

When compared to shades of comparable size, an Arlo Blinds Roman Bamboo Shade usually costs about half as much as a competitor's blinds. Yet the shades feature an easy cordless lift mechanism, they come in several different finishes, and they provide excellent privacy against unwanted views into the home. These are light filtering blinds and won't create total darkness by day, but they do cut the glare of the sunshine and block much of the spectrum's UV light.

The Arlo Blinds Roman Bamboo Shades can be mounted outside a window frame or flush mounted within, and they are available in sizes as narrow as 19 inches or as wide as 45 inches. Just note that you have to add 0.25 inches for flush in-frame installation, so, for example, a 34-inch blind would fit well into a 34.25-inch-wide window.

Dozens of Amazon shoppers have reviewed the Arlo Blinds Roman Bamboo Shades, giving them a fine 4.2-star averaged rating. A reviewer named Mary called them "perfect in every way," saying they were "super easy to install and added "warmth and texture" to her home. Another buyer loved how they provide "privacy and light filtering" and called them "well made."

A few people did report issues with the blinds not hanging level, but these issues were rare.

Pros: Great low price, cordless operation, made from sustainable material

Cons: Some shades hang unevenly

Buy the Arlo Blinds Roman Bamboo Shades on Amazon for $38 to $68 — prices vary by size