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Roller & Solar Shades 101

white solar shades in a living room which allow to see the view clearly

Many roller and solar (or screen) shade fabrics typically have a grid-like pattern, which creates a space between the weaves as they crisscross one another. Fabric construction often governs how you perceive many of the shade’s attributes, while the amount of space left between the weaves affects the degree of view-through and light transmission.

“Openness Factor” is a term used for solar shade fabrics and refers to the amount of space between the weaves. A lower percentage means there is less space between the fabric weaves, and a higher percentage translates into more space. Stated differently, the lower the Openness Factor percentage, the better the privacy because the space between the fabric weaves is reduced. On the other hand, the increase in space between the fabric weaves with higher Openness Factors leaves more space for light filtration and makes it easier to see through the shade.

Furthermore, each fabric is assigned a level of opacity, ranging from sheer to blackout, and is designed with a specific performance characteristic that can satisfy the unique objectives of all consumers. For example, one fabric can better reflect solar heat and lower the heat gain in the home, while another fabric can provide better view-through.

Now, let’s discuss how color selection may affect the features of the shade. When more space is left between the strands, fabric color may appear lighter than expected. However, the intensity, or even just the presence, of light will undoubtedly magnify this effect. On the other hand, fabric strands that are closely crowded together may appear to accentuate the color of the fabric. Color selection will also impact the view-through quality of the shade. For example, dark-colored fabrics will have a crispier view-through compared to their lighter-colored counterparts.

Although screen shades are designed to reduce ultraviolet (UV) rays, glare, and heat, dark- and light-colored fabrics still maintain their energy absorption properties—lighter colors reflect and darker colors absorb. When light hits the weaves of lighter-colored fabric material, it is reflected back toward the eye of the observer. The reflection of this intense, visible light back to the outside reduces the ability of people on the exterior to see into the home’s interior (introducing the same effects as a mirror). Darker-colored fabrics, on the other hand, are less reflective, and therefore absorb more heat and remain relatively easier to see through.

During daylight hours, the dominant light source is the sun. As explained in the preceding paragraph, reflected sunlight obscures the view-through. In fact, even if lights in the interior of the home are on, the power of those lights is not sufficient to outshine the intensity of the sun to reveal the home’s interior. During nighttime hours, however, the sun is no longer the dominant source of light. Therefore, outside the home, there is far less exterior lighting to reflect off the exterior-facing side of the shade and obscure the view-through. The dominant light source is now inside the home, and as a result, privacy can be significantly reduced. With the absence of interference from an exterior light source, interior home lighting reflects off the shade, aiding the creation of an opaque appearance from inside the home, which may lead to a false sense of privacy.

If you would like to hear more about our roller and solar shade collection, and be guided in the selection of the fabric and design which will best achieve your window covering objectives, do not hesitate to Schedule A Free In-Home Consultation today!


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