Consumers get wiser every day. Not only is new information more readily available in this century, as you get older you realize that cheaper is not always the best choice. In fact, in the long run, it often costs you more to get what you want when you initially choose bargain pricing. Take a look at these simple descriptions to determine whether wood or faux wood blinds best fit your decorating needs and current budget and what costs you might face down the road if you choose the less expensive route.
There are three basic material profiles for wood and faux wood blinds. Wood blinds are just that: made from 100 percent natural wood. The other two choices, Composite Wood Blinds and Faux Wood Blinds, contain synthetic materials.
It’s hard to beat the beauty of wood. The natural diverse grain visible in each wood blind slat adds instant warmth to a room, not to mention a subtle touch of class that elevates other design elements in the room. Practically speaking, genuine wood blinds stand up best to high temperatures and exposure to direct sunlight. In addition, they provide excellent light control and increase energy efficiency.
Most quality wood blinds come from North American hardwoods or basswood. These woods hold up beautifully to gentle drying processes that prevent frail, brittle slats. However, if you install natural wood blinds in exceptionally high humidity environments such as near kitchen sinks or in bathrooms or laundry rooms, the moisture will eventually induce warping.
Faux Wood Blinds
The basis of faux wood blinds is PVC. You probably know PVC best from the plumbing in your home, where PVC pipes and fittings started replacing metal components in the 1970s. It’s a hard, nearly indestructible material that’s lightweight, fire resistant and economical. However, when you expose thermoplastic PVC material to heat above 131 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius), it softens and becomes prone to warping. Most regions in the US don’t often reach temperatures that high, so faux wood blinds typically aren’t adversely affected and have the added advantage of being impervious to high humidity and less costly than real wood blinds.
Composite Wood Blinds
While the base of these blinds is either wood or plastic, they contain other materials including polystyrene, PVC and other select components to add strength to composite wood blinds. This combination of materials in this type of blinds avoids warping – in most cases. Testing revealed that when the coloring agent added to darken composite wood blinds absorbs enough extreme heat or sunshine, significant warping occurs. If you stick with paler, non-wood grain colors like white or ivory, no warping occurs.
Now that you understand the pros and cons of real wood and faux wood blind materials, it’s time to consider appearance. After all, if you didn’t want your home to look good and reflect your excellent taste, you’d just toss a towel over a curtain rod and call it a shade. It’s important that your window shades complement your décor and make you proudly smile when you lead new guests on the “tour” of your home.
Natural wood is almost always the winner, no matter what the category. The look of wood begs touching, whether it’s a dining table, a gearshift head, or a curio box. Living or cut, finished or unfinished, the feel of wood makes us feel close to nature, a reassuring reminder we haven’t totally sold out to synthetics. Up close or from afar, wood says solid, dependable, opulent. But like many of earth’s precious gifts, it’s fragile, costly, and requires a lot of care.
Faux wood and composite wood are nearly indistinguishable from real wood from a distance. Since only you or family members typically touch the blinds in your home, they often pass as real wood. The cost is usually less, upkeep is a bit easier, and you can invest the savings in extras like trims and valances. However, if you live in an area where the sunshine is often intense or want blinds in humid rooms of your house, you might have to use a mixture of several types of wood or faux wood blinds to avoid frequent and costly replacement. Even if your blinds have an iron-clad lifetime warranty, replacing warped, yellowed, faded or cracked blinds is a time-consuming task.
Care & Maintenance
Before you decide if faux wood blinds and natural wood blinds are a better investment, consider the differences in the time and energy it takes to keep your blinds looking like new and how often you may have to replace them.
Faux Wood Blinds
Dust your blinds as part of your regular dusting routine. Use a soft duster made from feathers or micro fibers and dust both the outer and interior surfaces.
For hard to reach blinds, use the vacuum cleaner attachment with the softest brushes to prevent scratching.
Every week or so, use a damp cloth to wipe down blinds in areas that are humid or exposed to smoke or cooking oils that linger in the air. If necessary, add a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid to your cleaning solution to cut through any stubborn build-up. Wipe them clean with clear water and let them air dry.
Faux wood shades in garages, work sheds or other areas exposed to weather elements may need more frequent cleaning.
Natural Wood Blinds
As with faux wood blinds, natural wood blinds need regular dusting, preferably as part of your normal housekeeping schedule. Dust both sides of the blinds with a soft duster. Use the same trusted dusting products you use to clean your fine wooden furniture.
Use the long vacuum attachment with the soft brushes on the end to clean hard to reach blinds.
Don’t use newfangled blind cleaning gadgets that claim to clean multiple blinds at once. They’re not only typically inefficient, they can easily knock your blinds out of whack and make raising and lowering them difficult.
Don’t ever expose natural wood blinds to water. Just like any fine wood, exposure to water often causes natural wood blinds to warp, sag, bow, form bubbles on the surface, or degrade in other ways.
Cleaning Tip: Grab a clothes dryer sheet from your laundry room and use it to dust your natural wooden blinds. Dust and dirt cling to dryer sheets and leave behind an invisible film that deters dust.
When to Replace Blinds
Both faux wood blinds and natural wood blinds can last years if properly maintained. However, time takes its toll, and you should consider replacement if:
- Yellowing or discoloration occurs by material deterioration brought on by age.
- Stretched, frayed or disintegrating cords.
- Operation becomes difficult caused by tangled cords or old mechanisms.
- Slats aren’t completely blocking light.
- Visible warping.
- Color or style no longer matches your home décor needs.
As you probably know, natural wood blinds are more expensive than faux wood blinds, and prices vary according to where you live. The easiest way to estimate the cost of installed blinds is to calculate the square footage of each window you want shaded. The mathematical formula for that is to multiply the width times the link in inches and divide that number by 144 to calculate the square footage. Here’s an example:
40 inches wide X 46 inches long = 1840 sq inches
1840 sq inches divided by 144 inches = 12.8 sq feet
Simply add up the total square feet for all the windows and start submitting it to reputable blinds dealers. You can ask for both installed and DIY prices if you’re considering doing the job yourself.
Chicology prices on both ready-made and custom-made faux and natural wood blinds are highly competitive:
- $2.54/sq. ft for ready-made faux wood blinds (using a 23″ x 64″ ready-made blind price)
- $3.63 / sq. ft for custom-made faux wood blinds (using a 48″ x 48″ custom blind price)
As of September 2018, nationwide average prices for natural wood blinds and faux wood blinds ranged between $3.80 and $7.30 per square foot. Be sure to ask about additional or hidden fees for hardware, installation, etc., guarantees, and available warranties.
To Sum Things Up
The main points to consider to determine if natural wood blinds or faux wood blinds are a better investment are:
- How long do you plan to live in your current house?
If you plan on living there “forever,” the longevity of natural wood blinds is a good choice. Conversely, if you plan on moving in the next few years, the more economical faux wood blinds may be the better choice.
- Is mixing and matching different types of blinds throughout the house to save money acceptable?
Of course, it is! Many homeowners splurge on the rooms where they entertain or spend most of the time with the family and install more economical styles in less used rooms, much like different rooms in houses reflect assorted furniture styles and color schemes.
- Is financing a good option? Some blinds retailers offer low-interest rates on easy payment plans, so you can choose any style you want and pay over time so your budget remains intact.
You now have all the information you need to choose the best blinds for your needs. Contact us for fast, friendly answers to your questions and we’ll do our best to ensure your windows are as beautiful as you always imagined as quickly as possible.