Shopping for new window treatments can introduce many terms you’ve never heard before, which can leave you with more questions than you started with. To make your search for the right window treatments an easier experience, here’s some common terms you’ll want to know ahead of time.
Valance – Valances run across the top portion of a window, and are popular decorative choices for concealing hardware. They’re typically a short drape of fabric that matches the rest of the curtain, or some kind of wood or metal casing. Sometimes, a valance is called a pelmet. They can be hung alone or paired with blinds or drapes.
Tip: The pole or valance should be hung a minimum of 4 inches and a maximum of 12 inches above the top of the window in most cases.
Awnings or Awning Windows: Awning windows are hinged on top and swing outward to open. Awnings can also refer to overhangs that are extensions of an exterior wall or building, which extend to provide shade.
Tip: When it comes to awnings, motorized features are the way to go. Manual awnings take forever to crank open and retract, but electric awnings are super convenient and can be adjusted using a remote or switch.
Bay Window: If you’ve heard the term “bay window” but aren’t quite sure what they are, they’re the windows that extends outward from the wall, forming an exterior protrusion. Usually, they have 3 sides in the shape of half a hexagon.
Tip: Bay windows and other unconventional window shapes benefit from custom shades. A professional can install custom motorized shades for bay windows that perfectly fit the dimensions.
Curtains or drapes? When describing long fabric window treatments, the words curtains and drapes are sometimes used interchangeably, but there’s an important distinction. Curtains can vary in length, between fitting the frame of the window or reaching nearly to the floor, while drapes usually fall all the way to the floor.
Often times, drapery is made of a thicker, heavier material and commonly lined with additional fabric. Curtains are typically thinner.
The window treatment in this photo is considered a curtain.
Tip: Hang curtains and drapes above your window frame to draw the eye upward and give your room a grander appearance. When choosing hardware, go for something substantial instead of thin to support heavy drapes and avoid to a flimsy appearance.
Break: When your curtains hang past the floor length, it disrupts or “breaks” the vertical lines of the curtain and causes a fold in the fabric.
Tip: Draperies that are three inches too long create the perfect break, which is considered the industry standard.
Roman Shades: One of the benefits of Roman shades is that they stack up evenly when opened. When lowered they offer great privacy and can be made with many kinds of fabrics.
Tip: Roman shades can be made in a variety of materials. To block out intense sunlight, you can choose shades made from wood.
Tieback: A tieback is typically some kind of cord or sewn fabric that holds curtains and drapery away to the side of the window.
Tip: Use the same fabric orse a braided cord or tassel to hold back your draperies.
Inside mount: An inside mount means the window treatment is installed inside the frame or moulding that surrounds the window.
Tip: An inside-mount installation tends to create a more contemporary look.
Outside mount: An outside mount means the window treatment is installed outside the window frame – either above the window or to the side of it.
Tip: When installing an outside mount, you can adjust the height to a higher position to make the window look longer.
Honeycomb Shade (cellular shade): Honeycomb shades look and behave like pleated shades, but are made up of diamond shaped cells between a front and back layer of fabric.
Tip: The trapped air that cellular shades have make them great for insulation. Honeycomb shades are available in double and triple cells for even greater insulation.
Hem: The hem makes up the bottom, side, or top portion of window treatment fabric that has been folded over and sewn. When selecting curtains or drapes, pay attention to the hem when judging the quality.
Tip: A 3-inch bottom hem tends to be the standard. Anything larger has a more luxurious look.
Now that you know more window treatment terminology, you can use these terms to help describe exactly what you’re looking for. If there’s ever a term you’re unfamiliar with during your search for motorized window treatments, you can contact us and we’ll be happy to explain it for you.