pleated shade

Pleated Shades 101

Pleated Shades


When we were kids making accordion-folded paper fans, one of us stashed that information away and later figured out that with a few cords running through the folds it could become an operable window covering. And the pleated shade was born. Originating from the Netherlands, these shades are one of the most popular and inexpensive window coverings out there.

A definition: A shade is a window covering made from what appears to be one piece of fabric, as opposed to a blind which is a window covering made of slats of wood or a man-made rigid composite.  Pleated shades appear to be a single piece of fabric, for example, whereas a wood blind is a series of slats held together with cords. The exception to the rule (there had to be one, didn’t there) is the Roman blind, which is actually a shade.

The addition of a reflective backing on the window side of the single-layer pleated  shade increases the heat-reflecting factor and provides additional privacy. The cord holes, however, decrease the privacy coverage. The amount of space required on each side of the shade for hardware mounting can be as much as one-third of an inch. The blinds are relatively thin and they compress into a small space when in the up position – typically a 48-inch long blind stacks up into 2 1/4 inches.

If you need day-time privacy with some heat-reflecting capabilities, and you have a limited budget, these shades are well-suited to your needs. They are available in most big box stores where they can be cut to your exact window width, or they can be ordered through our favorite catalogue department store. Or you can have them custom-made to fit your windows. A company like Hunter Douglas will make them to fit odd-shapes like octagons or arched-shaped windows as well.

Most of the custom window covering companies have many fabrics to choose from in their pleated lines. Some fabrics are opaque, some resemble lace, some look like linen.  You can have a double shade allowing you to have a sheer shade and an opaque shade on one headrail. Or you can have a shade that drops from the top and stacks at the bottom – a Top-Down shade. This option is wonderful for rooms too close to the street or a neighbor; you can cover the bottom section of the window, leaving the top section open. Downside: the vertical guide cords are visible when the window is exposed.

There, in a nutshell, is the pleated shade. Call me if you would like more information.

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