FAQ Blinds and Shades

For Sheerweave and Graber solar shades do you need a professional installer due to warranty issues?
No. The most important thing when installing any type of roller shade is to be sure it is installed level. If it is not level your roller shade with roll up crooked, more on one side than the other and it will fray the fabric on the shade. Never count on the window frame being level. Use a bubble level to assure your installation is truly level.
I have a boat that needs window shades to keep the cabin cool. They should block as much sun as possible and have as much transparency looking out as possible. How does Phifer Sheerweave stack up for this purpose? Can you recommend a better alternative?
I have been selling window coverings for 33 years now. For a marine application - needing to lower heat - and still see out, the solar shades are your best option. All the components are aluminum except the chain which is nylon and plastic. The gear mechanism is plastic with a STEEL spring which is the only rustable part, however; the spring is totally enclosed and hidden. The fabric is vinyl coated fiberglass and polyester and was designed in Europe, originally for outdoor use. I would suggest a 3% to 5% openness style, which includes the 2000, 4000, 4400 and some of the 5000 series.Any openness more than a 5% won't be adequate for the heat in a marine environment. While some of the above mentioned styles may have the same openness, weaves type varies by style and makes it a personal preference as to which weave you like best and has your desired color need. Having done some marine installations, sometimes the primary problem is determining where a solid place is at the window for the mounting brackets, which should be determined when measuring.
Is there any center support bracket available for the 1" vinyl blinds? We are experiencing a significant amount of center sagging on the blinds in our 30 apartments and I would like to see if we can further support the top rail of the blinds to avoid the sag. The sag is especially pronounced on windows in excess of about 36". I thought perhaps a center support help alleviate this problem.
Center support brackets come with all the blinds that require one. Having personally installed several hundred thousand apartment blinds of the vinyl type, what I have always used is a # 6 hex headed screw that is 2 1/2" long. If you will put it through the right hand side of the slot that is in the middle of the headrail it will prevent the sagging and keep tenants from removing the blinds. The slot in the middle of the headrail is intended for the center support bracket, which I personally never used as it greatly increased my install time. The screws we're much easier and faster. If this will do it for you, great !! If not, the center supports will cost .25 cents each plus shipping. Screws as described above are about .05 cents each at your local lumber/hardware store.
How do I cut down blinds without a window blind cutter?
For a homeowner who does not have expensive saws, the easiest way to cut down the type of blind you mentioned is to use a pair of tin snips on the metal head rail and metal bottom rail. The cut on the head rail will be hidden by the brackets so a perfect cut there is not important, but the bottom rail cut will be seen, so take extra care when cutting it for cosmetic reasons. For the vinyl slats of a mini blind, use a pair of scissors. To achieve a professional look you will need to go back after the initial cut and carefully round the edges of the slat, While a previous respondent mentioned that it was advisable to cut both sides down evenly, one can only cut down one side if it is 1/2" or so and not have the symmetry visually noticed unless one tends to be obsessive compulsive. I would also warn that before cutting down the head rail to mark where one intends to make the cut, then hold the bracket up to the head rail where cut will be and make sure that when cut the bracket is not going to be jammed up into the tilt or locking mechanism. I would also recommend that when cutting just one side that it is the right side of the blind. Most people are right handed and thus it makes it easier to do, but more importantly so as to not interfere with the factory spacing on the left side because when raising or lowering the blind with the lift cord, it will tend to gravitate to the left and jam up into the window casing, causing problems. If the jamming up to the left side is a problem when cutting down or installing blinds that fit appropriately, most blinds have a piece on the end of the head rail that has small tabs that can be bent out to create appropriate spacing.
Why do blinds come with hold down brackets?
Blind hold-down bracketThese are typically used when blinds are installed on doors to keep the blind from moving all over the place (and getting bent up) when you open and close the door. They used to be used on every window years ago before air conditioning as people kept their windows open and it would keep the blinds from flopping around in a breeze or from the inward rushing air of whole house attic fans, used in older homes to get air circulation. Today hold down brackets are typically only used on doors. An interesting aside of this is that homeowners would have to clean their screens which acted like a filter and trapped the dust and dirt, but also have to their blinds as well. When I first started selling window blinds in the latter 1970's, women we're resistant to them as they remembered having to clean them every year as kids and what a pain it was. They weren't taking into account that today they have air conditioning so it's no longer the problem it was.
Should I repair my window blinds or buy new ones?
By windows blinds we are referring to mini blinds, wood blinds or faux wood blinds, they all operate the same so that is what I will address. If your blinds we're ready made off the shelf from a big box store, trash them and buy new. Those types don't offer replacement parts. Yes, one could do a simple restring, provided you have the exact diameter polyester cord. Different manufacturers lift locking mechanisms only lock properly with certain size cord and they vary.

If the blinds we're custom ordered and are of a top manufacturer, like; Hunter - Douglas, Bali (custom)-Graber Springs Industries or Levolor then you should be able to call any dealer who handles your brand and they should be able to get parts for you. Those manufacturers all have a *Limited Lifetime Warranty (only to original purchaser and in original window), it boils down that the warranty is for the locking mechanism and the tilt mechanisms. The rest of the blind: the slats, headrail and bottomrail, if they get bent - its on you , the ladder and cords will deteriorate from sun and friction of being used, which is normal wear and tear and is not covered.

So if you have a quality brand blind, a flat blade screwdriver is the only tool you would ever need to repair a blind. It's all so basic anyone can do it. Two primary parts that I have seen go out are the tilt and locking mechanism. Mostly the tilt, especially wand tilts. One can take down their blinds every several years and put some drops of lubricant into a Wand tilt mechanism to help it last, or if having problems with a tilt mechanism that is getting hard to turn do the same thing. The newer old school Cord tilts don't have a problem.

Of all mini blind problems the main thing that does go out is the lift cord from raising and lowering the blind. Beside just everyday use, the other contributing factors for lift cord failure is that when raising or lowering the blind one needs to make sure the slats are in a completely open position. It helps eliminate cord friction and allows the blind to be raised up and down much easier. Also by keeping your hand with the cord in it up next to the blind when you are raising or lowering this eliminates cord friction. I have seen many stand away from the window several feet and open or lower the blind with the cord at angles that you can see rubbing at the metal headrail. This is what causes cord failure. It's funny that the ladder which holds the slats and is made of the same polyester material and is much smaller than the lift cord, and faces the sun more directly, never has a problem.

With a good quality mini blind and proper operation, a blind should last for 25 plus years easily. Many blinds I installed over 35 years ago are still up and operating perfectly.
What is a projection spacer?
Blind projection spacerThey are used behind the bracket when installing on a door with a window in it when the trim that holds the window sticks out further than the face of the door where you are mounting the bracket. If you don't use it on these on this type of install the first two slats will jam into the window trim and cause the blind to not operate properly. They are typically only included when you order a blind outside mount/cut exact. They can also be used under your hold down brackets on the same type of door. You can also use them beside and behind your mounting bracket for a variety of other unusual mounting situations. They are pretty easy to cut with a pair of tin snips or hacksaw if you only need a portion of it.