Woods 101

So the big hint I can give you about wood blinds is this. Imitation wood blinds are heavier, typically, than real wood blinds. The heavier the blind, the more lift cords — or ladders — you need to lift the blind.  Lots of lift ladders also gives you an indication of the warp-ability of the slats.  Lots of lift ladders also means higher possibilities of damage to cords and lifting mechanisms.

Most wood blinds do a terrific job of protecting your privacy but don’t rely on them for high insulation. Consider their R-value to be equivalent to a single-thickness curtain. The edge gap in these blinds can be as much as 1/2-inch or more.  Check the stile width on your window. You may want to consider adding an additional stile to accommodate this light gap.  (The stile is the vertical portion of the window sash.)

Some companies will warranty their real wood products against warping and fading, and the warranty will also tell you about possible moisture damage. The higher-end woods are suitable for use in bathrooms and kitchens, the off-the shelf woods will probably not be. If you want the look of wood, or need the wood stained to match other wood in the room, the top of the line woods will fit the bill nicely. But expect to pay up to $40.00 to $50.00 per square foot.

Faux-woods are made of a composite product, usually polymer and sawdust. Some can be stained to resemble a wood finish but these blinds look their best when painted white. The 3-inch slat can create the look of a shutter at a fraction of the price. Off-gassing is to be expected; if you can smell the ‘new’ smell, they are still off-gassing. The higher quality faux-wood blinds can go anywhere, and this suitability is stipulated in the product warranty.  Once again, the price variance for these is from very inexpensive off the shelf to custom made that will last a lifetime. Expect to pay $20.00  to $35.00 per square foot for quality faux-woods.

And then there are the extruded foam faux-woods. You can spot these on the shelves of the big-box stores. These can be amazingly light in weight and also amazing unstable – check the warranty fine print for suitable usage. They are inexpensive – that is their best feature, but plan on replacing them in a few years.

The design guideline: three different woods per room. Think floor, cabinets and table. Or floor, window trim and coffee table. That’s three. Don’t overdo the wood.

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