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Best window shades

Which window shade is best?

Today’s window shades offer much more than just a way to lessen or block the light entering a room from a window. With the wealth of options available regarding look, style and material, window shades have become a foundational part of interior design and insulating your home.

Madison Park Galen Cordless Roman Shades, available in a variety of neutral colors, provide excellent privacy and light control in an aesthetically pleasing package. With many sizes available and a thermal backing material, these are the best window shades. For further analysis and tips regarding window shade options, check out the window shade buying guide courtesy of BestReviews.

What to know before you buy a window shade


  • Shade blinds: These look similar to traditional blinds but the slats are connected with no space between them. They block more light and are more energy efficient than regular blinds due to the design. Often made of bamboo, these shades have a natural, earthy look.
  • Roman shades: These shades feature stacks of draped or folded fabric when rolled up but have a smooth, seamless look when down. These often are thick canvas or other woven material.
  • Cellular shades: Sometimes called honeycomb shades, these shades have cells within them that hold air and create an insulating barrier between your room and the window. They are available in both single-cell and double-cell varieties.
  • Pleated shades: This type looks similar to cellular shades but does not have any insulating honeycomb spaces. The accordion design allows them to be tightly drawn up. These shades usually are made from sheer, thin material like paper that allows some light to filter through.
  • Roller shades: As the name suggests, these window shades roll up tightly into a tube shape. Pulled down, they have a smooth, even surface. They are affordable and very easy to clean but may look too industrial or utilitarian for some.


The room or area in which you will install your window shades is the most important factor when it comes to what type you should choose. Shades for a bedroom should block as much light as possible, while shades in open rooms that have more activity in them typically won’t need to be as opaque. Shades in sunrooms or outdoor areas should be made from weather-resistant materials that aren't prone to deteriorating due to moisture or direct sunlight.

What to look for in a quality window shade


Some shade types are designed to block light coming from either direction. These shades provide superior privacy and are great for bedrooms, bathrooms, home theaters or other areas where light can be a disturbance. Shades that are sheer and allow light to filter through are better suited for areas of your home that you prefer to be brighter, such as kitchens, breakfast areas or living rooms.

Raising and lowering

You pull a cord to raise and lower most shades. Some shades are constructed with motors that allow you to control their level with the push of a button. You move cordless shades up and down by pulling or pushing them to the desired height.


Window-shade manufacturers provide standard sizes for their products, but many homes require a custom fit. Some companies build shades to specific measurements while others provide cheaper options you can cut to size. Choose a shade from a company whose sizing options best suit your abilities and budget.


Window shades are available in all kinds of materials, from wooden slats connected with natural fibers to flat vinyl or laminated fabric. If you are going to place the shades outdoors or in areas exposed to weather, choose plastic or vinyl because these materials won’t get damaged or saturated if they are kept in damp conditions. The material you choose for indoor shades can be whatever you personally want.

How much you can expect to spend on a window shade

Inexpensive pleated shades are $10-$25, depending on the size. These shades provide little light blockage and are made from thin, fragile material. For quality shades made from strong, lasting materials, expect to pay $60 or more per window.

Window shade FAQ

Will window shades affect my utility bill?

A. Depending on your home, yes. Older houses that have not been updated often have drafty, single-pane windows. Leaving these windows with nothing to block drafts in the winter or hot outside temperatures in the summer can leave your thermostat working overtime to continually regulate your indoor climate. Window shades provide an added layer of protection between you and the outdoors.

Are window shade cords dangerous?

A. Long, dangling window shade cords can pose a strangulation risk to young children and pets. Cordless window shades are recommended due to these safety concerns.

Are window shades hard to install?

A. Potentially. Window shade installation usually requires screwing the necessary hardware into the window frame and ensuring everything is level and secure. You need power tools and a step ladder. Larger windows pose a greater challenge than small ones, so additional help is recommended.

Window shade tips

Stay cool

Keeping your shades pulled down over windows that receive direct sunlight helps keep indoor areas cool.

Be mindful of shadows

Shades that allow light to enter during the day also allow it to escape when it’s dark out. If privacy is a priority, look for shades that won’t show the silhouettes or shadows of indoor occupants at night.

Don’t forget to dust

Window shades are easy to overlook when it comes to cleaning, but they collect dust and odors. Depending on the material of your shade, you can use a vacuum or cloth duster to keep them tidy.

What’s the best window shade to buy?

Top window shade

Madison Park Galen Cordless Roman Shades

What you need to know: These homey fabric shades provide visual warmth and texture and are available in many colors.

What you’ll love: These cordless shades are available in multiple sizes and include mounting hardware. They feature a thermal foam backing that provides additional insulation from drafts.

What you should consider: These shades are not suitable for bathrooms or other areas that are high in humidity. Users have noted they allow light to pass through them easily, providing less privacy than they hoped for.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Top window shade for the money

Redi Shade Quick Fix Light Filtering Pleated Fabric Shade

What you need to know: Extremely economical, these sheer window shades allow filtered light through, giving your windows a pleasant glow.

What you’ll love: These window shades filter sunlight but also provide decent privacy. You don’t need tools for installation. Multiple sizes are available but you can cut these shades for a perfect fit.

What you should consider: These shades feature an adhesive mounting tape that can damage window-frame paint. The shade’s construction feels low quality even for its price point. It is best as a temporary solution.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

Windowsandgarden Custom Cordless Single-Cell Shades

What you need to know: These window shades provide great insulation and privacy because of their cellular construction and custom fit.

What you’ll love: Featuring the latest in cellular window-shade technology, these cordless shades are available in nine colors and you can choose custom sizes.

What you should consider: Some customers think these shades tear easily and are too flimsy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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