Window Products

The following questions are often asked by those who are buying a 2" blind for their window treatment. The answers come from 20 years of experience in the window treatment business including fabricating, installing and marketing and from various article and reports that have reviewed the subject over the past few years. If you have a question that is not listed, you may submit it in the form below and we will reply to it as best we can.
  1. What are the different slat materials available in the 2" horizontal blinds?
  2. What kinds of wood are used in the 2" blind?
  3. What are the differences between basswood, poplar and ramin wood?
  4. Regarding a concern for the availability of wood in the future, what is the ratio of wood harvested to wood grown each year?
  5. What are PVC and composite slats made up of?
  6. What are the aluminum and vinyl slats?
  7. What are valances on the blind used for?
  8. What are the differences in head rails?
  9. What are the differences in the components in the head rails?
  10. What is the difference between a fabricator and a distributor?
  11. What about installations of blinds?
  12. What about warranties of blinds?
  13. What are the advantages of using the 2" blind rather than a 2" shutter for a window treatment?
  14. How do you treat arched windows and doors with the horizontal blind?
  15. What are safety features required in the horizontal blinds today?
  16. Submit a question

What are the different slat materials available in the 2" horizontal blinds? 
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        Slat materials used in the 2" blind include wood, composite, PVC, vinyl or aluminum. 

What kinds of wood are used in the 2" blind?        Back to top

        A wide variety of species are available including basswood, poplar, ash, oak, maple, pine, cherry and ramin. Basswood, poplar and ramin are the species most used with the other species used in more custom work to match existing hardwood trim.

What are the differences between basswood, poplar and ramin wood?                     Back to top

       Basswood and poplar grow in northern temperate areas and ramin grows in tropical areas. Weight in basswood is 26 lb./cu.ft., poplar is 31 lb./cu.ft. and ramin is 41 lb./cu.ft. Ramin  slats can weigh from 58% to 32% more than the basswood or poplar slats. This added weight requires more effort in lifting the blind and adds more stress to the head rail. Stability of the wood to resist warping and bowing is related to the expertise used in drying the wood and how the wood is cut in relation to the grain of the tree. Ramin wood is imported and usually cost 20%-30% less than American hardwood which results in lower cost for a blind with ramin slats. It has been my experience that the ramin due to its weight and difficulty in producing a consistent stable slat is inferior to basswood or poplar and has an increased risk of needing to be repaired but does offer a lower priced wood blind on the market for those willing to take the risk.

        Basswood's annual harvest is reported to be less than 1/3 of a year's growth stock and poplar to be only 1/2 of a year's growth stock. This leaves a significant net increase in our forest growth in America with wise use of our natural resources. Wood is a renewable, recyclable  resource and is biodegradable when the life of the product is complete. 

        PVC and composite slats are part of a category of slats called "faux wood" which consist of slats made from PVC with a foam core or slats made from mixtures of wood and plastics. They have the same flat profile as the wood slat and are very resistant to any damage that might be caused by exposure to water. Faux slats are considerably less in cost than wood slats and results in a finished blind that cost less than its wood counterpart. On the negative side, these slats are typically over 50% heavier in weight than the basswood and poplar slats thus increasing the effort needed to raise and lower the blind and add more stress to the head rail. Faux wood also does not have the rigidity that wood does thus it has a maximum span from 11"-13" between the ladder supports. Wood can span up to 22" between ladder supports and will have fewer strings or wide tapes in the make up of the blind. Failure to recognize these limitation in the production of faux blinds leads to warped and sagging slats especially in areas where the blinds are exposed to high temperatures.    

What are the aluminum and vinyl slats?       Back to top

        These are slats made from aluminum or solid vinyl and also differ from the wood and faux slat in that they have a curved rather than a flat profile in the slat. This curved profile allows for thinner slat material cutting down on the weight of the slats and increases the maximum span between supports equal to or greater than that found in wood slats. The material cost is less than that of wood or faux wood and consequently a lower costing blind.

What are valances on the blind used for?       Back to top

        Valances are used on the blind to cover the head rail at the top of the blind and are usually made up of the same material as the slats in the blind. They can be attached to the head rail using Velcro strips, plastic clips or magnets. If the blind protrudes out past the window opening and the ends of the head rail are exposed than a "return" piece is added to the ends of the valance at 90 degrees to cover this exposure. These returns can be attached to the valance using a high strength hot glue giving a rigid, clean joint or by using a plastic hinge allowing for easier shipping. 

What are the differences in head rails?        Back to top

        Head rails are located at the top of the blind and are made from either plastic or metal material. They supply the support system for the blind and house the components which allow for tilting, raising and lowering the slats. The plastic head rails are very inexpensive but are highly susceptible to structural fatigue and sagging if additional support brackets are not added. The metal head rails are made from steel or aluminum and offer the highest quality support system on the market today. It is highly recommended by this writer to avoid the plastic due to its inferiorities. The metal rails come in a high profile (2"x2.25") or low profile (1.5"x2.25") dimensionally. The high profile rail has greater strength than the low profile if all other factors are equal but both rails seem to function well in the capacity that they fill.   

What are the differences in the components in the head rails?       Back to top

        Components in the head rail include tilt rods, cord locks, cord or wand tilters, drums and drum supports. All components basically function  the same way but vary in the quality and/or the effectiveness of fulfilling their particular function. Steel tilt rods transfer radial torque better than aluminum tilt rods. Cord tilters are able to with stand more abuse than wand tilters and can accommodate the greater weight in the heavier slat materials. The size and composition of the component also determines the life of the product.   

What is the difference between a fabricator and a distributor?       Back to top

        A fabricator manufactures the blind by securing the necessary components and assembling them according to the specifications of an order. A distributor sells the blind and often measures and installs the blind or sells the blind and contracts out the latter. Most blinds purchased involve two or more parties that a buyer is actually dealing with.

What about installations of blinds?      Back to top

        Installation of blinds can range from easy to very difficult but generally is money saved to have a professional installer do the job. Proper placement and attachment of installation brackets is essential for satisfactory functioning and safe use of the blind. If a buyer feels comfortable in measuring and installing their blind, Window Products offers detailed instructions on our measuring info page and will send out written details with the order.

What about warranties of blinds?         Back to top

        Warranties vary from none at all to a limited time frame. Time frames may vary from 1 year up to as long as the original retail purchaser owns the product subject to the provision/exclusions (i.e. proper installation , no water damage, no abuse, etc.) stated by the warrantor. The warranty  and time frame may apply to all or only parts of the blind. Warranty coverage may or may not include shipping cost,  taking down or installation cost.

What are the advantages of using the 2" blind rather than a 2" shutter for a window treatment?         Back to top

        The 2" blind is a close cousin to the 2" shutter and is often used in place of or in conjunction with a shutter as a window treatment in a home. It offers a better view to the outside due to the thickness of the slat being only 1/8" in a blind as opposed to a louver in a shutter being 5/16" thick and by not incorporating rails and stiles in its design as found in the shutter. The 2" blind also can be raised up to an open position thus allowing for the best unobstructive view of all. Installation wise, the shutter is rigid and must fit an opening precisely if it is to function properly whereas a blind is "free floating" and is able to accommodate better a window that is out of square or jambs that are not plumb. For a person wanting to do their own installation, the blind will be 10x as easy to install as a shutter. Cost wise, the shutter can typically run from 2.5 to 4  times the cost of a similar  size blind. This can amount to a substantial saving in cost when multiple windows are involved.

How do you treat arched windows and doors with the horizontal blind?                  Back to top

        Arched windows can have the lower square section of the window treated with a standard 2" blind and the arch left open to allow for view and light to enter as long as privacy and sun control are not an issue. If privacy or sun control is needed, a arched movable louver shutter with a sunburst design, a horizontal fixed slat arch, or a top down cellular shade can be custom made to mount above the standard 2"blind to meet the need. On doors,  the 2" blind is surfaced mounted to the door and hold down brackets are installed in the bottom rail to minimize movement of the blind when the door is opened or closed. Lever type door handles present a problem in the mounting of a blind to a door. A round or egg-shaped knob is preferable when mounting to a door. 

What are the safety features required in blinds today?     Back to top

        Safety has in recent years become a very important issue in the blind industry.  From requiring no loops in the cords to prevent children from becoming entangled in them to the elimination of lead products in the manufacturing of the faux wood, there is a continued effort to provide a functional product with as much safety features as possible to the buyer. The latest safety feature issued September 15, 2000, requires blinds to have a "safety cord stop" located 1" - 2" from the cord lock. This feature prevents a child reaching in between the slats and pulling a lift cord back through the cord lock, creating a loop. Future safety issues will be listed at this site as they become required. You may order the new safety cord stops and instruction for installing them by calling the Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636. These safety kits are presently available at no charge from this organization.