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The Best Window Shades

kunmom/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated January 2023

Light is everything; it affects the atmosphere and temperature of your home, your moods, and your sleep quality. These window shades give you control of your home's quality of light in a stylish, modern, and functional way. 

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  Best Classic Shade Best Top-Down Design Best for the Car Best for Arched Windows Best Blackout Shade  
 
  Redi Shade
Easy Lift Pleated Fabric Shade
Windowsandgarden
Cordless Top-Down Bottom-Up Cellular Honeycomb Shades
Enovoe
Car Window Shades
Redi Shade
Original Arch Fabric Shade
ChrisDowa
Blackout Roller Shade
SHADESU
Custom Size Zebra Shade
 
Our SummaryA pleated polyester fabric shade that you can trim to best fit your window.An accordion shade that opens from the top down and bottom up to achieve the perfect amount and angle of light.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.A one-piece fabric shade with solid and sheer bands customizable to fit almost any window.
Pros✓ Several sizes
✓ Trim at home to fit your windows
✓ Privacy without blocking light
✓ Easy installation
✓ Cordless
✓ Two-in-one shade
✓ Both top and bottom open and close
✓ 100% Polyester honeycomb design
✓ Material expands and contracts
✓ Provides insulation
✓ Several colors available
✓ 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
✓ Trim at home
✓ Room-darkening
✓ Excellent size variety
✓ Several colors
✓ UV protection
✓ Thermal insulation
✓ Made from one piece of Polyester
✓ Bands alternate between sheer and solid
✓ Great look
✓ Enhances home or office decor
✓ Blackout privacy
✓ Light filtering
Cons✗ Hard to cut
✗ Poor adhesion
✗ Block too little or too much light
✗ Not as durable as desired
✗ Doesn't fully cover windows
✗ May fold or bend
✗ One size and color only✗ More expensive
✗ Not cordless
✗ Installation is a challenge
✗ Requires accurate measurements
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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 of curtains. They also assist with light control, filtering, and blocking. If you feel your curtains alone are not doing the trick, investing in a window shade may be worthwhile. 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. And since window shades don’t have cords, they’re safer for households with children or pets than blinds.

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 measure your windows before buying shades to know what size you’ll need. 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 that are only partially obscure or shades that filter light? A blackout shade may be better if you don’t have or want curtains. A lighter option might be preferable if you’re looking for a shade that’s more of an accomplice to curtains than a replacement. 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 Trim-at-Home Cordless Shades

A pleated polyester fabric shade that you can trim to best fit your window.

Pros: The Easy Lift line by Redi Shade features tool-free installation, cordless operation, and a trim-at-home fit. This white, pleated, soft polyester shade diffuses light and reduces glare; it turns a dull room into one with a nice glow. The shade comes with a patented installation kit, the Simple Stick No Tools peel-and-place application, plus a measuring scale and trimming guide.

Cons: Be sure you measure your window first because this model fits only windows 64 x 36 inches. The inside mount requires a 1.5-inch minimum depth. Some users say the adhesive doesn’t work as well as it should.

Bottom Line: We’re excited about this Redi Shade for its ease of installation and operation, high-quality fabric, and reasonable price. The cordless design also eliminates that annoying bunching that can happen with corded blinds and safeguards children and pets from injury.

 

Best Top-Down Design

Windowsandgarden Cordless Top-Down Bottom-Up Shades

An accordion shade that opens from the top down and bottom up to achieve the perfect amount and angle of light.

Pros: Imagine a shade you can move to cover the shooting sunlight through the bottom of a window while keeping the top half open. Unlike most shades, this is a two-in-one operation. Close the top and bottom shade, keep both open, or open one and close one. So many light options! The 100% polyester honeycomb shades expand and contract as you lower and raise them, trapping air and providing insulation.

Cons: This shade may block too little or too much light, according to users. It may be personal preference or product imperfection. Some say it isn’t the most durable or long-lasting shade.

Bottom Line: You can also easily roll them up anytime to allow the natural light in. This shade is available in over five colors and nearly 200 sizes to meet your interior color scheme and almost any size window.

 

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, keeping 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 backs, 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 completely cover any car’s entire window. 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 put the privacy of your home at risk 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, offer insulation as well. The non-woven polyester of this window shade comes with an additional heat-reflective layer, which can help keep heat and cold from entering or escaping through your window. 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, and 36 x 72 inches is the only size. If the dimensions are too large for your window, you can trim it at home with a knife or scissors.

Bottom Line: If you have an arched window 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 in mind to eliminate this problem.

 

Best Blackout Shade

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: These are the shades for you if you want blackout, room-darkening shades rather than the usual type that merely filters sunlight. 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. It’s also available in several 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: This shade’s blackout function comes 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 paired with blackout curtains, they’re the perfect choice if you want a dark room for sleeping or watching movies.

 

Best Zebra Shade

SHADESU Custom Size Zebra Shade

A one-piece fabric shade with solid and sheer bands customizable to fit almost any window.

Pros: These zebra shades, aka roller shades, are made from one piece of fabric (in this case, polyester). It’s a combination of alternating solid and sheer bands. Unlike corded blinds, these zebra shades always offer some degree of translucence unless you shift them to block light. The SHADESU zebra shades also enhance your home decor and color scheme without compromising the dual purpose of blackout privacy or light filtering.

Cons: The most common complaint among users has to do with installation. It’s hard to say if installation problems occur because users choose the incorrect size for their windows, installation error, or poor-quality parts. Look closely at the instructions on measuring your window before making a purchase.

Bottom Line: Zebra shades have quite an allure; they’re practical, versatile, and look great too. The SHADESU version comes in a variety of subtle colors and customizable sizes. The key to satisfaction with this product depends significantly on a proper fit, so measure and remeasure.

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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