Drapes vs Curtains vs Blinds vs Shades: What You Need to Know About Each of Them


Windows are a crucial element to a home aesthetic, yet they often get overlooked when it comes to decor. Window treatments can make a room’s design pop, and it gives you the power to adjust how much or how little light comes into that room. But what is the difference between drapes, curtains, blinds, and shades? Unfortunately, they are used interchangeably, and this causes confusion and irritation among homeowners. So to clear the air, here is everything you need to know about these four fantastic window treatment options. 

What to Know About Curtains

Curtains and drapes are very similar and often get confused with each other. Curtains come in all lengths, widths, colors, patterns, and fabrics, making them versatile and able to adapt to almost any design style. They hang from a rod that can either be hidden or decorative, and they hang on this rod by metal grommets, metal or fabric rings, or sleeves that scrunch up when pushed aside.

Most often, curtains are sold in pairs and hang on either side of a window when they are open. This frames the window and has a lovely symmetrical feel. Curtains are often made with sheer fabric that will filter but not block out the light coming in a window. Because of this, they are usually paired with shades or blinds in a bedroom to ensure all light is blocked for more comfortable sleeping. 

What to Know About Drapes

Drapes and curtains are very similar, but drapes are always lined and are made with heavier fabrics. While you can find them in many different materials, they are often made with rich and stiff fabrics like velvet or silk. These fabric panels are also sold in pairs and come in just as many widths and colors as curtains, but they will likely suit more traditional styles. You might be able to find them with a pattern, but more often, they are simple and solid colors.

Like curtains, they hang from a rod with grommets, hooks, rings, or a fabric sleeve. Unlike curtains, drapes are always long enough to reach from the top of the window down to the floor and sometimes even pool on the floor a bit. Because of the lining, they can block out more light and are perfect for people on the night shift who need to sleep during the bright hours of the day. 

What to Know About Blinds

Blinds are a very popular window covering that can fit almost any budget. Blinds can be made with vinyl, wood, bamboo, and aluminum. These slats can tilt to let in more or less light or close completely to block it out and create a more private space.

The slats on blinds are typically half an inch to an inch wide but can also be found in two-inch wide options, and these are called Venetian blinds.

The width and length of the blind are customized to suit the window dimensions, so it’s essential to measure the window correctly when ordering these. It’s popular to pair them with drapes or curtains because they can look a bit boring on their own. But if you want something to block light without drawing attention, blinds are a fantastic option. 

What to Know About Shades

Blinds and shades often get confused and talked about interchangeably. However, shades are soft fabric panel attached to a rod or frame at the top of the shade. They are sold individually and need to be customized to the size of the inside of the window frame, just like blinds. Using either a cord, a roller, or newer lifting mechanisms, shades can be moved up and out of the way to let in light or see outside. The shade might roll, fold, or bunch at the top, depending on the mechanism.

Shades come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, patterns, and opacity and can be used in almost any design style. They are an excellent choice for those looking for affordable window treatments; since curtains and drapes need a lot of fabric, they are often expensive. You can either use them independently or pair them with a sheer curtain to bring depth to a space. 

Now you can go shopping for window treatments, knowing precisely what drapes, curtains, blinds, and shades are and the difference between them all. This will allow you to communicate more clearly with designers and those who might help you find the perfect fit for you.

Ready to get started?