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The Best Window Shades

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🕚 Updated May 2022

A good set of window shades can be a handy accomplice to a set of curtains. Depending on the shades in question, they serve many of the same functions. Below are our favorites you could add to your living space.

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  Best Classic Shade Best Top-Down Design Best for the Car Best for Arched Windows Best Blackout Choice
 
  Redi Shade
Easy Lift Pleated Fabric Shade
Achim Home Furnishings
Top-Down Honeycomb Pleated Shade
Enovoe
Car Window Shades
Redi Shade
Original Arch Fabric Shade
ChrisDowa
Blackout Roller Shade
 
Our SummaryA pleated polyester fabric shade that you can trim to best fit your window and is incredibly easy to install.A shade with two layers that allows you to better control how much light enters through your window.A set of dark mesh fabric shades meant to protect your car, rather than your home, from the sun's heat and glare.A window shade designed to fit in half-circle arch windows instead of classic rectangular ones.If you want to block outside light rather than let it gently filter into your home, this blackout shade will fit the bill nicely.
ProsSeveral sizes, can be trimmed to fit your windows, privacy without blocking light, incredibly easy installation, cordless.Several color options, great size variety, two layers, better control over natural light, all mounting hardware included.Blocks most UV rays, inexpensive, fits most cars, easy to apply and remove, two quantity options.Specialty shape, tool-free installation, heat-reflective layer, raises and lowers like a normal shade, trimmable.Room-darkening, excellent size variety, several colors, UV protection and thermal insulation.
ConsHard to cut, adhesive less effective than traditional installation.Less durable, uneven colors.Doesn't fully cover windows, may fold or bend.One size and color only.More expensive, not cordless.
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The Best Window Shades

Roll blinds to protect sunlight and lighting to decorate the coffee shop.
kunmom/Shutterstock.com

Buying Guide for Window Shades

Close-up of four window shades.
kunmom/Shutterstock.com

Why buy window shades?

A good window shade can contribute to the sense of privacy and security provided by curtains. They’re also great for assisting with light control, filtering, and blocking. If you feel as if your curtains alone are not quite doing the trick, investing in a window shade may be worth your while. Some people also prefer shades alone because they find them easier to adjust and less likely to get stuck than curtains. They’re a great way to allow some degree of natural light into a room while still shielding the inside of your home from outside eyes. Since window shades don’t have a cord, they’re safer for households with children or pets.

What should you look for in window shades?

  • Style: Even though all shades will have the same basic shape and function, there is variety in the styles and colors. Consider your interior decor style and which style and colors of shades would best suit them. Do you want something earth-toned and relaxed, dark and sleek, or bold and dramatic?
  • Size: Shades are not one-size-fits-all, so be sure to measure your windows before buying shades to know what size you’ll need to buy. Most shades are available in more than one size, but the range will depend on the make, model, and seller.
  • Opaqueness: Do you want full blackout shades, shades that only partially obscure, or shades that filter light? If you don’t have or want curtains, a blackout shade may be better. If you’re looking for a shade that’s more of an accomplice to curtains than a replacement, a lighter option might be preferable. It’s up to you and what you want for your living space.

Are window shades different from window blinds?

Some people refer to window shades and blinds interchangeably, but there is a slight yet distinct difference between the two. Though they serve the same primary function, blinds are constructed with slats or vanes generally made of more rigid materials like wood, plastic, or metal. On the other hand, shades are softer and are made of one continuous roll or swath of fabric or paper. Thus a window shade tends to have a smoother, sleeker look than a blind and softens and warms external light rather than allowing small but bright, unfiltered light to pour in.

Our Picks for the Best Window Shades

Best Classic Shade

Redi Shade Easy Lift Pleated Fabric Shade

A pleated polyester fabric shade that you can trim to best fit your window and is incredibly easy to install.

Pros: Available in two different colors and four different sizes, you’ll be amazed at how easy this shade is to put into place. Installation should take less than a minute and does not require tools of any sort. Thus, this shade is ideal for anyone in a dorm or renting and can’t drill holes for installation purposes. If any of the available sizes are too big for your window, the shades can be trimmed down once you bring them home. The soft-spun polyester fabric won’t turn yellow or crack over time, no matter how much sun it’s exposed to. The shades will gently filter sun, light, and UV rays to protect your furniture and offer you a sense of privacy and security while still allowing in some natural light. Since the shades are cordless, you can install them in your child(ren)’s room without fear for their safety. The included clips raise and lower the shades instead of a cord.

Cons: Trimming down this shade at home before installing it may be more complicated than expected; it takes more force than you might think. While the adhesive should stick fine as long as you follow the instructions correctly, it is less sturdy and effective than traditional drilled-in installed shades.

Bottom Line: If privacy and UV protection without total darkness is your goal for your shades, this light, pleated model is worth a look. It will work equally well by itself or as an extra layer behind curtains or any other window treatment already in your home.

 

Best Top-Down Design

Achim Home Furnishings Top-Down Honeycomb Pleated Shade

A shade with two layers that allows you to control better how much light enters through your window.

Pros: If you’re uncertain whether you want a shade that completely obstructs light or one that only partially does so, this shade may be the one for you, as it allows you to have the best of both worlds. Unlike most shades, this comes in two parts, a top and bottom half. You can leave one shade open at a time or close both at once, allowing you greater control over the level of light, privacy, and insulation you want from this shade, whether you mount it indoors or outdoors. You can also easily roll them up at any time to allow the natural light in. This shade is available in five different light and neutral colors, and even better, size variety is available; there are 11 possible sizes to fit more windows better. All the hardware you’ll require for installation comes included with your purchase.

Cons: This isn’t the most durable or long-lasting shade. Also, note that if you pick a color besides white, the color only appears on one side of the shades.

Bottom Line: On warm, sunny days, you may want to leave your shades or blinds and curtains open to enjoy the bright natural light, but doing so means that anyone outside will be able to see into your home. This top-down, bottom-up shade allows you to take advantage of direct sunlight without sacrificing privacy.

 

Best for the Car

Enovoe Car Window Shades

A set of dark mesh fabric shades meant to protect your car, rather than your home, from the sun's heat and glare.

Pros: Cars and trucks can benefit from window shades just as houses and apartments can, especially if you have young kids or live in a hot climate; they’ll help keep the sun out of their eyes and prevent your car from growing too hot. Even if you don’t live in a hot area, these car window shades block up to 97% of UV rays, so they will also work to keep your car’s interior from fading in the sun. They’re compatible with most car windows, and you can even put them on your windshield to protect your eyes while driving; despite the dark color, the mesh ensures the shades won’t obstruct your view. They’re also incredibly easy to stick to and remove from your windows. No adhesives or suction cups are required; they attach via static cling back, so you never have to worry about losing their stickiness or leaving residue behind. You can buy these shades in sets of two or four, and both quantities are pretty inexpensive.

Cons: These shades, however handy, are too small to cover any car’s entire window completely. They may also bend or fold depending on the dimensions of your car windows, so be sure to measure the windows ahead of time to ensure the shades will fit them properly.

Bottom Line: Window shades aren’t just for home use, as this set of car-specific models aptly proves. They’ll help protect you, your passengers, and your car’s interior from heat and sunlight without obstructing the driver’s view.

 

Best for Arched Windows

Redi Shade Original Arch Fabric Shade

A window shade designed to fit in half-circle arch windows instead of classic rectangular ones.

Pros: Arched windows let in light and prying eyes the same way regular windows do. This specialty shade was built specifically to fit such windows, so you can still filter out sunlight and protect your privacy despite the window’s less conventional shape. It even raises and lowers like a standard window shade, with built-in clips rather than a cord, so you can leave it open to let in light whenever you want. Unknown to some, a window shade can have purposes beyond these two well-known ones. Some shades, including this one, can offer insulation as well. The non-woven polyester of this window shade comes with an additional heat reflective layer. This can help keep heat and cold from entering or escaping through your window, which may save you some money with your heating and cooling bill. This shade can be trimmed at home and then quickly installed; this is the rare occasion you won’t need any tools to complete the job.

Cons: White is the only color option for this shade, nor is it available in alternate sizes. If the dimensions are too large for your window, you do have the option to trim it at home with a knife or scissors.

Bottom Line: If you have an arched window above your front door or another window or anywhere else in your home, you likely know how hard it is to find curtains or shades that fit it correctly without looking awkward. Fortunately, this shade was designed with such windows to eliminate this particular problem.

 

Best Blackout Choice

ChrisDowa Blackout Roller Shade

If you want to block outside light rather than let it gently filter into your home, this blackout shade will fit the bill nicely.

Pros: If you want blackout, room-darkening shades rather than the usual type that merely filters sunlight, these are the shades for you. It’s designed to block all sunlight and UV rays, so as long as it’s properly sized to your window, it should make your room completely dark even at the brightest time of day. Finding the right size shouldn’t be an issue—this shade is available in 33 different sizes, so the odds are good you’ll be able to find one that fits your window(s) ideally. It’s also available in several different colors besides white, and the color you choose shouldn’t impact the effectiveness of the blackout properties. In addition to being room-darkening and light-blocking, this fabric shade is also equipped with thermal insulation to keep heat out and prevent drafts in colder temperatures.

Cons: The blackout function of this shade does come at a literal price, as it is more expensive than most regular paper or fabric shades. You may want to reconsider this shade if you have young children at home since it’s not cordless; it requires a metal chain to raise and lower.

Bottom Line: Most shades filter outside light, dimming or reducing it but not completely blocking it. These shades, however, are designed to be room-darkening rather than light-filtering. Whether used alone or pair with blackout curtains, they’re the perfect choice if you want a dark room for sleeping or watching movies.

Final Thoughts

Window shades are one of those household decor items that serve both a functional and decorative purpose in your home. If you want extra protection against light and noise, a set of window shades will be a perfect addition to your living space.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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