Frequently Asked Questions about Custom Window Treatments
We understand that buying custom window treatments can be a daunting task. That’s why we have put together some frequently asked questions we’ve run across throughout our many years in the window treatment industry. We hope some of these answers will help give clarity into purchasing window treatments. If you find your question hasn’t been answered below, please feel free to contact us and ask!
Where do I Begin?
A: Making proper window treatment selections is not as simple as you might think. Sure you can do your homework, but the results you end up with can range from ho-hum to stunning! Establish what you need from window coverings whether it’s for privacy, energy efficiency, aesthetics or a combination. Now more than ever, you have the ability to educate yourself in order to make the most of your investment – whether it be modest or major. You’ll need to consider your lifestyle, light issues, privacy needs, budget constraints, how long you’ll be in your home, energy needs as well as the design desired. Asking a professional Window Covering Consultant to explain details research just can’t uncover is an excellent way to help you make the best decision for you.
A: A hard treatment refers to mini blinds, verticals, horizontal blinds, cellular shades, woven wood shades, roller shades and shutters.
A: A soft treatment is a window treatment that is fabricated from fabric; a drapery, a valance, sheers, a roman shade and any other treatment involving fabric.
A: Private label is the name a retailer has given to a line of products, and these are generally lower in price than a name brand.
A: You will want to inquire about the guarantee the retailer is offering with the product. This might be a one-year or lifetime guarantee, but you will always need to deal with that retailer, so consider how long the retailer has been in business. A private label does not suggest low quality.
A: A blind generally refers to a slatted treatment that offers light control; a shade is typically a style that operates up and down, either exposing or covering, but not offering as much light control as a blind.
A: A custom window treatment is designed, fabricated and installed specific to a particular window, allowing for the proper projection, proportion, operation not to mention beauty.
A: Window coverings can offer the following: privacy, light control, insulating factors and energy efficiency, and aesthetic beauty.
A: You’ll want to consider both function and beauty. Consider your lifestyle, the look you want to achieve, your budget, how long you intend to stay in the home, light and privacy needs and special challenges, if any.
A: This varies widely and with so many window treatments options now available, you can spend from just under a hundred to cover a basic window, but you can also cover that same window and spend thousands of dollars! Being realistic though, you’ll fall somewhere between. So many variables play into covering your windows depending on how many layers you have, the products you choose, and whether you do it yourself or hire someone to help. This even varies from region to region, so it’s really not easy to say! The best way to determine your comfort level is to do your homework and investigate your options.
A: Visit your local retailers; check online, check out the ads in the newspapers. Be aware that custom soft treatments will vary greatly from retailer to retailer.
A: At the risk of being vague, this is a hard question to answer! Expect to pay from $20 a foot for an inexpensive solution to $200 a foot for a more elaborate treatment. Again, this depends on the route you take…the “do-it-yourself” path or the “do it for me” path.
A:Ready-made treatments are select sizes a manufacturer offers the retailer. You just purchase “off the rack”. With made-to-order, you are limited to select styles, fabrics and options, but this offers something better than the in stock program. You might consider that “semi-custom.” Custom window treatments are made specifically for YOUR window, taking into consideration proportion, projection, fabric selections and the overall design intent. The sky is the limit (as long as your budget holds out!)
A: When talking about hard treatments, your least expensive products will be mini blinds, although there are varying degrees of quality, even within that product. On the higher end, you’ll find custom shutters and custom drapery. Wood blinds offer a more modest price point; even faux wood blinds are available if wood is not practical!
A: This is where you will spend time determining the look you want. Study magazines and look at design books. Visit model homes (those decorated by a builder in a new housing tract.) You’ll find lots of ideas, but whether you can pull it together yourself or you hire out will depend on your level of expertise. If you don’t trust yourself, hire out before you make some costly mistakes—you may find this a wiser route.
A: Sure! Of course, you’ll want to address your privacy issues first, and then as your budget allows, continue with the next phase.
A: Determine your needs and desires by listing your privacy needs and lighting issues. Thumb through magazines and books. Keep a design file with styles you like (tear out magazine pages.) You’ll soon realize what styles are pleasing and those that you dislike. If you really feel unqualified to do this, this is the time to seek the help of your local retailer, decorator or interior designer.
A: You can purchase ready-mades from a retailer or online, made to measure from a catalog, local retailer or online, and custom treatments from a retailer, decorator or interior designer.
A: You can, however there is always that risk you take if something goes wrong—either on their part or on your end. Even if you choose to buy online, you may want to evaluate the experience by dealing with an expert on the phone. Remember you will not be able to touch and feel the fabrics and workmanship to determine quality. Also, taking your own measurements can get tricky.
A: Only you can determine that by comparing prices, guarantees, customer service, etc. You want to do your best to compare apples to apples.
A: Try to ignore the discount pricing. Instead, find out the bottom line price—and do calculate the installation aspect of the deal. Also, you want to consider the guarantee and customer service the retailer will offer.
Custom is not an assembly line type of treatment. Attention to details must be considered whether in the design and fabrication stages. Proper proportion, projection and placement of fabric are carefully specified to achieve stunning results. No one else has the same treatment as you – they’re fabricated to your home’s specifications only!
A: By all means, NO! Linings serve a purpose; they protect your face fabric, add body and enhance the overall look of your draperies. Not to mention, viewing a neutral or white lining from the street looks much better. (Some HOA’s now require you to have a white or cream color facing the street). Of course, some draperies (such as sheers) are not intended to be lined.
A: Hard treatment companies will offer different guarantees, some one-year, others lifetime, or limited lifetime. (Kitty chewing on the cord does not qualify!) You’ll want to get your guarantee or warranty in writing. As far as soft treatments are concerned, this will vary, and to varying extents. Workmanship is generally a given, however, fabric durability usually isn’t guaranteed. You’ll want to address this with your retailer, decorator or designer.
A: Your best bet is to call the retailer, decorator or designer to discuss your options. It may or may not be under warranty. You may be on your own for this one if you opted to do-it-yourself.
A: Typically the 3-day cancellation rule applies, however you may want to clarify this with the salesperson you placed the order with. Custom orders are usually not able to be canceled, but exceptions may apply.
Protecting your investment/Caring for your window treatments
A: With proper care, they can last for years. Usually you will opt to change them before they “wear out.”
A: Window treatments can protect your floors, furniture and upholstery from fading, however, you’ll find the drapery fabrics will fade as well, even if the sun isn’t hitting the fabric directly. Lining your draperies will certainly help. You may find a good solution is to professionally tint your windows.
A: Professionally tinted windows reduce the harmful UV rays that cause fading, your home stays cooler; and your outside view is enhanced, as if you were wearing sunglasses. This will certainly protect your window treatment investment.
A:Gentle vacuuming (with proper attachment) and feather dusting will prolong the life of your treatments. Typically, designer fabrics are dry clean only, but not all treatments can be removed. You may want to consider a company that can clean in your home without the need to remove your treatments. Any time you have your draperies treated, you can expect some change, for example shrinkage or even a slight color variance.
A: It varies from treatment to treatment. With some it may be 2-3 weeks, others such as shutters expect 8-10 weeks. In regard to draperies, once a fabric arrives to the workroom, expect a minimum of 2 weeks to 8 weeks. Some workrooms may have longer lead times, but custom requires extra care, and typically workrooms have many jobs lined up. Remember to ask your Window Covering Consultant about American Made treatments – these usually have a much shorter lead time.
A: Hanging sheets doesn’t have to be an option! Consider the temporary pleated shades that simply stick to your windows. They look better in the meantime and are easily removable. They are intended to last until your permanent window treatments are installed. Temporary shades are available through your retailer, decorator or interior designer – just ask!
A: You can consult your local retailer with professional and knowledgeable Window Covering Consultants, a decorator or an interior designer.
A: Do your homework first. Ask questions and inquire about their background. When it comes to a retailer that sells custom window treatments, be sure to ask if they have a showroom. It’s your best bet to avoid those “fly by night” sales people.
A: You’ll find a myriad of styles in magazines, design books, catalogs and TV shows such as HGTV. Visit retail stores and model homes. Check online for the latest trends. Our Window Covering Consultants also come with portfolios of great ideas to help the creative process.
A: Select neutral hard treatments. Your fabrics and related accessories can change with your mood or the season.
A: If you don’t feel capable of carrying out the project, call in a designer, but do your homework first to give the designer enough information to help you achieve the look that will be right for YOU. To avoid making expensive, time-consuming mistakes, a designer or a custom retailer can be the right choice. Most Window Covering Consultants are skilled in the design of custom window treatments and will be less cost prohibitive than a designer.
A: Ask your friends for referrals. Contact a retailer in the area that might be able to recommend someone. A local upholsterer may know someone. Check online for someone in your area and be sure to look at their portfolio!
A: Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Expect to pay for consulting if you do not purchase; sometimes the consultation is free with a purchase. Be respectful of a professional’s knowledge and time. Most time with decorators or designers a consultation fee is a given. With custom retailers, a Window Covering Consultant will come to you and provide a free in-home consultation.
A: The specialist will need to know your lifestyle, your privacy needs, your light control issues, the style you hope to achieve, your likes and dislikes. Have that design file ready to show to the decorator or designer. The more information, the better your chances are you will be able to communicate your desires.
A: Most often, yes. The industry term is COM (Customer’s Own Fabric). However, it’s not uncommon for the designer to charge more for this service, only because they have less control in this situation if fabric has to be replaced. Check with your specialist before making purchases. Note that is your fabric has a pattern, you will need to buy extra to accommodate for repeats.
A: Make sure you hire someone you connect with—this is no time to be intimidated by someone you don’t like! During the design process, make sure everything is explained to you so there are no misunderstandings. The specialist should be able to provide you with enough visuals and information so you won’t be surprised. If it’s a matter of workmanship, that’s one thing, but to sign off on the order and then realize you don’t like the results—is a whole different issue. A word of caution: never sign off on a design if you feel pressured into buying. Don’t be scared to ask for a sketch!
A: Generally this is not necessary, except for treatments fabricated for public areas. Some fabrics are inherently fire resistant, while others need to be specially treated, and require special care when fabricating.
A: This is best left to the professional. Contact your local custom retailer, decorator, or designer, who can guide you through the entire process. Sometimes this requires a visit to observe the window and space and take measurements in order to come up with the best solution.
A: To achieve a proportional, unified look, turn to the professional to achieve stunning results. With certain manufacturers there are counterpart programs where different fabrics and treatment styles have been selected that will create a cohesive look throughout multiple areas with alternating window orientations.
A: Many treatments can be retrofitted with a motor. We have both hard wired and batter operated motors. If the treatments you select require hard wiring, plan in advance with an electrician when building or remodeling.
A: Hard treatments, roller and solar shades, gliding panels, roman shades and draperies are some of the major styles that can be motorized.
A: Not only do draperies add to the beauty of your home, they can enhance the acoustics by absorbing sounds, and eliminating that “hollow” feel.
A: If you need privacy at times, but not during the day for instance, consider a cellular shade or solar shade that raises completely out of the way. Draperies that open completely off the window are another option, as long as you have additional wall space on either side of the window. Contact your local Window Covering Consultant for the best solutions.
A: While you may enjoy the open view during the day, having a window treatment over the window at night can provide a more complete look to a room at night, while offering insulation from heat and cold.
A: A semi-opaque treatment will be the solution—light will filter in, and all someone can see from outside might be shadows, but no details.
A: Safety is a major concern within the window covering industry. Always keep cords up and out of the way from little hands and pets, and never position a crib near a window with a cord. Cordless blinds are an option. Window treatments with cords should always include the child safety tag for you to read. The tag isn’t meant to be left on, but be sure to be aware of the dangers cords pose and be safe!
A: Not necessarily, however, sticking with a consistent neutral color is much better. A blue cell shade just doesn’t make a positive curbside statement!
A: Consider a black out drapery, black out roller shade or room darkening hard treatment. You will always have some light leakage around the edges, but that can be solved with over treatments such as side panels or making sure your shade is built for an outside mount. The room darkening treatments are not completely opaque like black out treatments are. Consult your Window Covering Consultant for best solutions.
A: Usually the room darkening or black out treatments will do the trick. Contact your Window Covering Consultant for solutions.
A: You can, however measuring by a professional will yield the best results, and the responsibility will be on their shoulders. Even if they charge for a measure, consider it insurance–a small price to pay for a job done right.
A: Usually not. The designer will probably measure but the installer will do the final measure. There are too many variables that need to be accounted for.
A: Leave installations to the professionals. If you want to install the treatments yourself, you will most likely void your warranty. Ask you custom retailer for details.
A: You can, but most likely you’ll end up with disappointing results. Having the right tools, hardware and the know-how makes the difference. A professional installer can make a so-so drapery look great, and the do-it-yourself installer can make the beautifully fabricated draperies look like disasters!
A: Window treatments can offer excellent insulation properties. Interlining draperies offers even more protection and adds to the beauty of the treatment.
A: Steer clear of treatments that “puddle” on the floor—you may find your cat has found a new favorite spot! Dark fabrics will show lighter pet hairs and some fabrics will naturally attract hair more readily than others. Inform your specialist that you have pets, so you can be advised of your options. As with children, please make sure your cords do not pose a hazard to your beloved 4 legged friends.
A: If you have the talent and confidence, yes. It is not recommended because many warranties will be negated if a professional does not install them.
A: If you have the talent, time and perseverance.
A: You can solicit help from a local fabric shop, or by following the directions in a book or on a pattern. Typically, fabric comes in 54″ widths. You’ll also want to consider the repeat of the pattern.
A: You can find decorator fabrics at a retailer, online, through a catalog, a designer/decorator or upholsterer. You may come across seconds, which have flaws, but for some projects these are just fine. Ordering cut yardage is often more expensive than off-the-bolt fabrics.
Still have questions that weren’t addressed here? Please fill out our “Contact Us” form and we would be happy to try and answer any questions you may have!