Window Treatment

Horizontal or Vertical Window Blinds

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Do you like your window blinds to go up and down or side to side?

In the home improvement game, horizontal (Venetian) and vertical window blinds are pitted against each other as competitors, much like the never-ending Elvis vs. The Beatles battle. It’s a personal thing. But, for years, vertical blinds had a bad rap, due in part to cheaply made and easily broken aluminum or PVC construction.

Venetian (Horizontal) Blinds

Venetian (Horizontal) Blinds

Today, both styles are versatile and multi-faceted enough to score big with consumers. Both horizontal and vertical blinds offer a variety of great features and functionality, so you really can’t lose. While personal taste still rules, your choice of blinds also depends on what you need from them, your home’s architecture and which type will work best with your windows.

First, the Basics

When opened, vertical blinds accordion themselves tightly on either side of the entrance or window, creating a compact vertical stack. When closed, their edges overlap, creating a solid-looking vertical wall that effectively provides privacy while blocking outside light. The slats, mounted on a sliding overhead track, feature a pull cord operation. Turning a rod allows you to adjust the blinds, controlling the level of natural light.

The slats on horizontal blinds are held in place by ladders controlled by a pull cord. When raised the slats form a horizontal stack at the top of the window. Like vertical blinds, outside light is controlled by means of a rod, which tilts, opens or closes the slats.

The Blind Difference

Just as there are blinds that complement windows, doors and interiors, others simply won’t work in a specific room. So, when choosing blinds for your home, consider some of the following features of each type.


While vertical blinds do provide excellent privacy when totally undisturbed, a good breeze through an open door or window or merely brushing against them will easily set them in motion. On the other hand, fully lowered horizontal blinds offer complete privacy because they won’t move until you adjust them.

Large Windows

Vertical blinds work well on large windows, due in large part to their being lightweight and easy to operate. Wide horizontal blinds weigh far more, making them difficult to open. Even blinds made of more lightweight materials, such as  vinyl or wood gain more weight with every additional inch of width. The weight also tends to bow the blinds in the center due to lack of support and cause difficulty in raising and lowering them evenly.

Hint: One way to work around that problem is by mounting two to three shorter sets on one head rail. In addition to solving the weight problem, you have more control over how much light to let into the room.

Vertical Blinds

Vertical Blinds

Sliding and Patio Doors

Vertical blinds have long been favored for use with patio doors, due in part to their ability of letting the outside in when they’re open. Because they open to one side, there’s no interference with the doorway itself.

Unless horizontal blinds are built into a door’s double glass panels or securely attached to the door itself, the mounting hardware commonly interferes with the door’s function. Horizontal blinds do work well on hinged French doors often used on patios, though.


This is where personal taste and the architectural style and décor of your home come in. Venetian blinds complement a variety of homes, from historical to modern. One of the earliest records of this window treatment in America was the fitting of Venetian blinds at St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia in 1761.

Today, Venetian blinds are available in a literal rainbow of colors in materials such as metal, wood, plastic and fabric. No matter when your home was constructed, the right horizontal blinds can make a wonderful visual impact.

Vertical blinds are usually more suited for contemporary and modern homes because of their sleek, minimalist look. They’re an excellent choice when you want to lighten a room or add the illusion of space and height. For a softer feel, many homeowners are drawn to the look of fabric vertical blinds. The material is easily vacuumed and is available in hundreds of weaves, prints and patterns.

Practical Considerations

Whether cost is a factor or not when choosing blinds for your home, construction materials should be considered.

  • Aluminum is popular because of its low cost, durability and its excellent light-blocking characteristics. Vinyl and other light materials are easier to lift and close and can last a very long time. Wooden blinds add a very elegant touch to a room, but they’re usually at the high end of the price range.
  • Faux wood has a couple of advantages over the real thing – it can be substantially less expensive and it’s less susceptible to moisture issues, making it a good choice for bathrooms, kitchens and humid climates. Additionally, if you intend to paint your blinds to match your décor, you might as well go faux. No one will know the difference.
  • Keep in mind that the material of your blinds not only dictates their quality, but also determines the amount of insulation they provide. For example, wooden blinds are sturdier, but they don’t offer the best insulation – they’re unlikely to keep heat or cold out of your home. Woven material, however, offers great insulation. Plastic material offers neither insulation nor quality, so be wary of that material unless you’re looking for something inexpensive.

Vertical and horizontal blinds will both add another layer of charm, functionality and personality to your home décor. Great variety in styles and colors is available – the choice is up to you.

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