Buying Blinds for Windows and Skylights
by: Martin Coult
Finding a blind or curtain for a normal window is easy - there are many, many stores out there waiting to help you fulfil your order.
But if you have roof windows or skylights, it is much harder to work out what type of blind to order and how to find what you are looking for at the right price.
To start with, how do I find out what make my roof window is, and how do I calculate the size?
Consider these window blind issues:
A roof window or skylight blind will not "hang" like a blind on a vertical window. This means that the blind has to be constrained either by siderails, wires, or by tension
A "normal" vertical window is placed on the inside of the window and is generally placed over the outer dimensions of the window frame. Normal windows open outwards and are usually hinged at the side or at the top (or are sliding sash windows) so they hardly ever interfere with the screening products behind them. Most roof window / skylights are pivoted in the middle, so you cannot use the same criteria. The blinds for these windows have to sit inside the opening sash to allow them to be opened at will.
Many of the options open to you in terms of curtain fabrics will not be open to you with roof windows / skylights, because it is a niche market and is not worth the bigger producers' time in producing for them.
What type of blinds are available for roof windows and skylights?
There are typically 5 types of blind available for roof windows on the market today.
As the title suggests, these blinds will shut out 100% of the daylight, some of the noise (i.e. traffic, rain) and some of the heat. They are typically made to fit a specific window and come in a cartridge format, with aluminium side rails. You should be able to move the blackout blind into any position and it stay there on a decent blind.
TIP! Don't buy a blind with plastic side rails, the (higher) heat that comes through a roof window will surely buckle it and discolour it.
These are by far the biggest selling roof window blinds in the marketplace.
Pleated Blinds (also called Plisse Blinds)
Pleated blinds are fabric blinds that are formed into folded (concertina style) pleats and which run on a string or wire. Because they work on the same principle as they do in vertical windows, these are commonly made for roof windows by small producers quite cheaply. But beware, because their flimsy construction and typically low quality cloths tend to lead to short lifetimes.
Roller Roof Blinds
Roller blinds are definitely the cheapest of all the blinds for roof windows and skylights. Made very simply around a spring loaded barrel, these blinds rely on the tension of the barrel to stay tight inside the window.
They are typically held into place in the window by either wooden lists (side pieces) or by nailed in pegs/clips which secure the blind in typically 3 static positions.
Good venetian blinds in roof windows are hard to come by, as they have to either run within a track or on a wire to function properly. Go for aluminium slats and definitely not plastic, for the roof window is typically subject to a lot more heat.
You should also be able to position the blind in any position and still manipulate the angle of the slat. Avoid a venetian blind which has a hanging down pole to adjust the slat angle - they just look stupid!
Awning blinds are very different, in that they sit outside the window and stop the heat/light/rain before it hits the window.
Generally available in a dark black mesh, they reduce the amount of heat hitting the window far more than any other blind, and are especially good where intense sunlight will overheat your attic room. Intense daylight can also discolour your carpet or flooring, so these are well worth considering in addition to any plans you may have for your blinds.
Where can I get my window and roof blinds from?
Well firstly you should consider that the purchase process for blinds for roof windows and skylights is unlike the process for buying vertical blinds, in that in general it is unnecessary to buy blinds and cut them to size or to have them made specially. This means they are an ideal internet purchase!
If you go to the local blind store and don't have the make, size and type of your roof window you almost certainly will have to come home and find it, so be prepared!!
Here is a quick link to a good reference for how to find your window type and size - http://www.itzala.net/gb/shop/!cipc4.shop?cLnk=50114. There you can also see some easy installation guides which also apply to the leading brand manufacturers windows.
How much should I pay for window or roof blinds?
Well I guess the old adage "how long is a piece of string?" applies, but you should know that the major manufacturers charge top dollar, but they discount to resellers so you have to hunt around for the one giving the most discount (often on Ebay).
There are a few smaller manufacturers making blinds for the leading brands, but make sure you pick one with a well featured website with security that you can definitely trust.
In terms of colours, you will get most choice from the brand leading window manufacturer, but it appears that even with a wide range of choices, most of us prefer to have dark blue, beige or white blinds (I know I do:) so they are the ones you will get the cheapest.
Recommended site links
http://www.itzala.net - low cost but good quality supplier
http://www.contrio.net - supplier to the trade
http://www.velux.com/shop - the market leading brand
"this page is very helpfull as I really didn't have much ideaabout any of it except I need one roof blind for my holiday cottage so thankyou very much for all your info,"
"The information provided was invaluable to me. I am very happy I found you on the internet."
"I have non standard sized roof windows made to order. The manufacturer doesn't do roof blinds. The windows are 3.8m x .65m which is causing difficulty. I would like roller blinds. Any ideas? "
"Most of your information is very good advice, the one error is that with pleated blind, the quality can be exceptional, we bought blinds from Thomas Sanderson and they are superb. They fit into our roof sections brilliantly. They weren\\\'t the cheapest but we didn\\\'t want cheap as it would spoil the rest of the conservatory but they weren\\\'t expensive either for the service we had. Really chuffed to bits with them"
"Helpful no-nonsense guide. thanks"
"This has been such a great help- thank you!!"
"Very very very useful. I found everything I needed to know."