Shades vs. Shutters: Which Are Best for Your Home?

Shades vs. Shutters: Which Are Best for Your HomeIf you’re considering having new window treatments installed, but you’re not sure whether to go with shades or shutters, this article can help you decide which may be the better choice for your home. Below, we look at some of the most prominent features of these two types of window treatments—such as energy efficiency, decorative aesthetic, light control, cost, and more—in hopes of giving you the information you need!

Energy Efficiency

As far as energy efficiency goes, both shutters and shades provide effective insulation. Manufacturers measure how well your window treatments reduce heat transfer in terms of R-value. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation provided. Depending on what material they’re made of, shutters can have an R-value of between 2.75 (wood) to 3.25 (vinyl). The R-value for shades spans a wider range, as some shade fabrics can be light and delicate and therefore not very good insulators. Sheer shades, for instance, can have an R-value as low as 1.0, whereas multi-chambered cellular shades can have an R-value as high as 5.0, making them one of the most energy-efficient window treatments.

Decorative Aesthetic

Both shades and shutters are great decorative window treatment options. It really comes down to what kind of style you’re trying to achieve in your home. Shutters date back centuries and therefore can lend your home a classic, traditional feel. So, if you’re trying to maintain the historical charm of an older house, shutters are probably your best bet. Shades, however, offer a good amount of flexibility. While sleek fabrics look great with contemporary home décor and can create a modern vibe, fabrics that are more ornate or distressed can work with a variety of styles ranging from farmhouse to shabby chic.

Light Control

In terms of light control, window shades offer a lot of flexibility, as they come in a variety of materials and opacities. You can choose window shades that totally block out the sun or shades that diffuse the incoming light to create a soft, warm glow. Shutters are a bit more limited when it comes to light control. The louvers can be opened or closed to let in or block out light, and with some models of shutters, you can position the louvers at a midway point to let in a moderate amount of light.

Ease of Maintenance

When it comes to cleaning, shutters can be easily dusted, and, if necessary, can even be wiped down with a cloth and cleaner. However, if your shutters are made of natural wood, you’ll want to make sure they don’t stay damp for long, as this could lead to warping. Faux wood and composite shutters can likewise be wiped down, and these surfaces are often resistant to dust, which makes them even easier to maintain. Shades, in general, probably require a bit of effort to clean, as the fabric is more prone to collecting dust. However, many modern shades are made of washable fabrics, which means you can simply run them through the laundry. If so, just be sure to read the care instructions as some may require dry cleaning.

Visibility & Privacy

In terms of visibility and privacy, shutters are superior. Because the louvers on a shutter can be precisely positioned, you can adjust them so that you’re able to see outside without anyone being able to see inside. Also, because shutters are made from a thick, solid material, those on the outside won’t be able to see silhouettes of you and your family. However, with shades, especially light-colored ones, people outside will likely be able to see silhouettes through the windows.


Shutters generally cost more than shades, but once installed, shutters are considered to be a permanent part of the home. As such, you might even be able to factor this upgrade into your home’s value. Shades, on the other hand, are a much more cost-effective option. So, if you’re not in your “forever home,” and aren’t really concerned with the big picture, shades are probably the way to go.

Shades? Shutters? Maybe Both?

While both shades and shutters are excellent window treatment choices, we hope that this article has provided you with some insight as to which may be a better window treatment option for your home. Or, perhaps you’ve decided that shades would be best for one room in your home and shutters best for another.

If you’d like to learn more about having shades, shutters, or any other window treatments installed at your home, turn to the professionals at Advanced Blinds & Awnings. Since 2005, we’ve been the premier source for custom window treatments in the Inland Northwest. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.


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