Curtains, drapes, blinds and shades: What’s the difference?

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Drapes give the room a grand and elegant feel.

It’s a common misconception that curtains and drapes are one and the same since both hang from a rod, have similar patterns, and are made of fabric.

The same assumptions are usually made about blinds and shades as well. As it turns out, there are many differences between these four and this article clears the air once and for all.

Curtains and drapes – how they are different

  • Length: Curtains vary by the length of the window and what area in the house they are being used. Drapes are typically floor length only, usually touching the floor.
  • Material: Curtains use materials such as cotton, linen, silk or acetates but are usually not lined. Drapes use heavy fabrics to make them flow and give a touch of luxury. These are often lined with light-blocking material.
  • Filtering: While curtains generally filter out light, drapes limit the entry of light and sound. Drapes are a better option for privacy.
  • Visual appeal: Drapes are more appealing to the eye than curtains because of the intricate designs and luxurious fabric.

Blinds and shades – how they are different

  • Functionality: The slats of blinds can be tilted to any angle to regulate light. Shades either let in natural light or they don’t. Shades are more suitable for rooms that need plenty of sunlight or none, such as the kitchen.
  • Material: Blinds use solid materials such as wood, PVC and aluminium. Shades use various fabrics, weighted or light, to be pulled up or folded.
  • Durability: Blinds are more durable since they are made of hard materials. Shades are made of soft materials which can be torn, dirtied or wear out from continued exposure to sunlight.
  • Flexibility: Blinds are more versatile in terms of privacy and light entry by changing the angle of the slats. Shades are more rigid in that they either allow all light entry or block it out completely, sacrificing privacy if the shades are open.
For a balance of privacy and light adjustability, blinds are a good option (Source: Vaika Window Dressing)

How to choose the right window covering

To choose the most suitable window treatments, it is necessary to break down the requirements.

1. How much light flexibility is needed

Blinds are more flexible while curtains filter out light without completely blacking out the room.

Shades and drapes can completely block out light when fully closed to keep the room cool and dark.

2. Your budget

Blinds are the best way to go for those on a tight budget. They are efficient, practical and cost-friendly.

Curtains are also reasonably priced these days with stylish patterns.

For a more lavish, luxurious look, drapes are worth investing in for those with a bigger budget.

3. The window covering most suitable for each room

It depends on the interior design choices. Any window treatment can be used in any room.

As a general rule, curtains suit areas like the living room or hall. Drapes are more formal, so appropriate for a formal living or dining room or bedroom.

Blinds are useful in workspaces such as the office or study and they provide more privacy in a bathroom.

Shades are good in the kitchen or bathroom, especially for windows with not much space to fit a curtain rod.

4. Degree of privacy desired

Shades or drapes are perfect for those who want complete privacy.

Blinds work just as well and let in enough light without sacrificing privacy. They are the most economical.

What is included in curtain installation?

Once the decision on the window treatment is made, there are many more things to consider:

  • What colours and patterns match the room?
  • How long should curtains and drapes be?
  • What is the best way to hang the window coverings?
  • Are curtains worth spending more money on?
  • What hardware is needed? Eyelet curtains require rods to slide on while pleated curtains with header tapes need tracks for metal hooks to hang on.
  • How much does the installation cost? For curtain mounting, expect to pay anywhere from RM10 to RM20 per foot of hardware, which includes curtain tracks or rods and hooks.

This article originally appeared on – Malaysia’s No 1 Home Improvement Services Platform. offers a safer and more convenient way to hire the best home improvement and home maintenance professionals. From flooring to interior design to air conditioner servicing, get access to thousands of the best local contractors and professionals at your fingertips.