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In the spirit of trying to be more "inverted pyramid" in my product review posts, I'll cut to the chase here and you can read further for details and pictures.
Blindster.com has very affordably priced window treatments. The quality is as good if not better than what I've seen in Bali and Levolor products. The price of good quality roller blinds or roller shades was just a fraction of the quotes we got from Lowe's - even with sales and other discounts. I write with more detail below, but suffice it to say we got a quote for our largest window (101") from Lowe's for fabric black-out roller shades and it was over $1,000 for that one window ON SALE AND WITH DISCOUNTS for that ONE window. Thanks to Blindster.com We were able to get blinds for our entire house (all 15 of them) for $1400 which included shipping, handling, AND we bought their extended warranty on them. That is a remarkable difference in price.
Their customer service is excellent. And the quality of the product I purchased was great. I purchased 15 fabric black-out roller shades with both inside and outside mounts. I purchased the additional cassette valance with the continuous loop stainless steel chain for raising and lowering the shades. The cassette system was purchased for all the windows with the exception of our largest which is 101" wide (they don't sell a cassette valance wider than 96"). 14 of the windows used the mounts designed for the cassette valance system (they are designed for both inside and outside mounts) and the largest window was an outside mount using just the standard mounting hardware that comes with a roller blind without a valance.
The instructions were clear and easy to follow. Ken and I were not really excited to hang the blinds ourselves. We thought about paying someone else to do it, because we don't like dealing with something that needs to be so precise. However, we did the biggest ones together and I gained confidence that I could hang the remaining blinds myself, alone. And I did.
The time it took to install the window blinds averaged out to about 1 hour per window. I say average because the biggest window took us over 2 hours, but we had to do some shimming behind the mounts to get it to clear the window molding. This was not any fault of Blindster, this was just the way this particular window was built. The other big window took us about 1 hour due to the entire blind falling out of the cassette valance. LESSON LEARNED - ALWAYS CHECK THE ENDS OF THESE BLINDS TO BE SURE THEY HAVEN'T SHIFTED IN SHIPPING!!!! I go into more detail in the YouTube video links below. The smaller windows took me, working alone, about 45 minutes each. That's why I say 1 hour to be safe. Because as we all know, every house is different, every window is different, and everyone's skill level is different.
I made some videos below that show some tips I learned while installing the 15 roller shades. Hopefully, they will be helpful to some of you. The links to the YouTube videos are listed at the bottom of this post. If Wix blogs were better, I would be able to put an anchor link here, straight to the video links, but there are limitations I have discovered with the WIX blogs. But I will post about that another day. I'm stuck with them for at least a year, so I will just deal with the cards I was dealt and paid for.
It's been a few weeks since they were installed, and they are working really well. They look nice on the windows and go up and down smoothly.
ORDERING & MEASURING TIPS:
1.) Blindster.com has a great page with links to videos that are all about measuring your specific blind or shade. Take the time to watch them. The old saying, "Measure twice, cut once" is VERY true when it comes to blinds or shades or window treatments of any kind.
2.) We paid Lowe's $35 to professionally measure our windows. Of course, we had originally planned to order from Lowe's, but I found that paying the professional to measure our windows at a scheduled appointment was WELL worth $35. It made it easy to order. However, I STILL watched Blindster's videos and re-measured just to be safe.
3.) LABEL YOUR BLINDS. When you go to build your window blind or shade on Blindster's site, it suggests that you give your blind a name. If you are ordering more than 1, I HIGHLY suggest you do this. We had 15 blinds come at the same time and had to figure out what went where. Thankfully, I labeled each and every one. Please save yourself stress.....LABEL THE WINDOWS when ordering.
4.) Blindster is good about giving you tips and tricks on your particular shade or blind. Read, Read, READ. It will help you order properly. For instance, even though my windows were professionally measured, I read on the site that if you are going to do an outside mount and you want the cassette valance and blind above a window molding, add 2 - 4 inches to the length of the blind. This was very helpful. This allowed us to install the blinds a little higher above the molding than we initially had planned.
5.) If you are ordering a really large roller shade (wider than 96") and you choose NOT to order the cassette valance (since Blindster doesn't make one for your really big-ass window), AND this will be an outside window mount above window molding, keep in mind that you may need to be handier than your normal consumer. We had to shim the standard mount for that 101" blind because the rolled up shade WOULD NOT CLEAR the standard 1967 window molding. I had wood and I am very handy with my trim saw so this wasn't a problem for us. But it will add time to the install.
You see, the brackets that come with the cassette valance system hold the blind out from the window just enough to clear window moldings. But if you don't have that system and those great brackets, you are stuck with a standard universal mount that came with the blind or shade. This isn't a bad thing, but you will probably have to shim the mount when installing the roller shade. Luckily I ordered the roller shade with 4" more to the length so everything is fine.
6.) If you order vinyl or fabric roller shades (in any density) ORDER THE CASSETTE VALANCE. These are easier to install because the brackets are easy to work with (read the directions). They also allow for a little wiggle room when you hang the blind or shade. You can move right or left just a smidge to make sure it is centered to your liking. If you order without the cassette valance, you will get the standard bracket. YOU HAVE TO BE PERFECT IN YOUR MEASUREMENTS AND INSTALLATION!!! I don't know about you, but there is absolutely NOTHING perfect about me or my window treatment installation skills. I repeat, SPEND THE EXTRA MONEY AND ODER THE CASSETTE VALANCE. In addition to all the things I mention above, they look nicer when they are hanging and are worth the extra money.
7.) Remember, the Blindster window coverings are VERY well priced. They also run sales and the interwebs are filled with Blindster coupon codes. Follow them on social media to get the latest and greatest specials. They offer free shipping, with the exception of your over-sized blinds which will have a larger package handling fee on them. That is because FedEx and UPS all have an extra fee for larger packages. That is fair to pass on the cost to us, those with big-ass windows.
8.) Take your time when building your windows on the Blindster site. Don't get frustrated or hurried. It took me several days to get the order just right. SAVE YOUR CART!!!! That way you can easily go back to the site and finish the order.
In summary, Blindster.com is a win!
PHOTOS: L-R, T-B
1) Ken working on the Blindster fabric roller shade for the breakfast nook, 2) BE SURE TO CHECK EACH BLIND BEFORE HANGING! CONTENTS WILL SHIFT IN SHIPPING! You can see that the hooks that should be in those little slots are not. Easy fix, but be aware! 3) Breakfast nook blind from Blindster on the breakfast table, 4) Blindster.com does a great job packaging their blinds for a safe arrival. Each shade came encased in individual bags with the proper mounting hardware and packing slip (with the description you are SURE to include when you are ordering them) encased in a separate pouch to prevent damaging the blind. Good job Blindster! PS...we never needed to use that level.
The History of our decision:
January of 2020 marked the last time we lived in our home without window blinds. We finally decided we were tired of being so open to the neighborhood. I'm sure our neighbors were relieved. Few people have commented on our decision since the blinds were installed, but I figure if they ever do, here is my response to our delay in covering our windows and showing the neighbors how two old people really live:
We kept waiting for the neighbors to take up a collection to pay for window coverings, but no one ever did!
Below are a couple of affiliate links going to Home Depot. I get paid a nominal fee if you click through to the product I am writing about.
We finished the remodel of the house in the summer of 2015. Believe it or not, we lived without blinds on ALL windows until May of 2018. When our friend and long time neighbor sold her house to a very nice, young single gentleman, we decided to at least cover the upstairs windows. The week he moved in, I hung Redi Shades in our upstairs windows since this is where the bedrooms and most of the bathrooms are. I thought I would protect him from any unwanted views he may accidentally stumble upon. I didn't want us to be a new version of the running "Friends" comedy bit of "The Ugly Naked Guy". No, I didn't want this for him or us!
PHOTOS: L-R, T-B
1-2) These are the paper Redi Shades we installed in our bedroom. #1 shows them clipped up and #2 shows them down. They hung there for 2 years and were still going strong. We removed them to install permanent roller shades. Great product! Not bad return for the money from some "temporary" shades!
3) As you can see from the first 3 photos, the Redi Shades can be hung in a standard way from the top down and also mounted half-way to resemble a bottom-up shade.
4-6) Redi Shades cut VERY easily with a standard box cutter and a cutting mat. Measure, cut, remove the protective strip on the adhesive. Hang. Done.
7) I hung a new Redi Shade on our back door. It is much lighter so the movement of the door won't create a lot of clatter from a heavy permanent blind. They are also SO much easier to install on a metal door than a standard blind. Looks great and works for us. The best part; if it gets torn or dirty, I'll take it down, spend another $6 and hang another one. Beats the hell out of bent up or dirty permanent blinds on the door!
Redi Shade is another product I really love. If we hadn't decided to get permanent blinds from Blindster.com, I would have kept these affordable paper shades up in all the windows. They are nice looking, durable (even though they are technically temporary shades), allow filtered light in the window and yet create great privacy. As a matter of fact, I used one on our back door because they are much easier to install in the window of a metal door than a permanent blind. Plus, they are lighter which will prevent the constant clatter even a roller blind installed on a door.
Below are a couple of affiliate links going to Home Depot. I get paid a nominal fee if you click through to the product I am writing about.
I always knew that when it came time to get permanent blinds on the windows, I wanted some type of roller shade. What I really wanted was the sleek commercial look of the blinds that hang in most offices and shops. What I didn't want was drapes on the windows. I am not one for formal fabric window treatments. I used to be, but I got over it. With 2 dogs there would be no way to protect them from dirt and damage. Plus, I like the look of open unencumbered window frames. I wanted something as unobtrusive as possible to cover the windows ONLY when we wanted them to be covered.
Over the years I did do some research as to what kind of money we were talking about. Just looking on the internet back in 2015 I was shocked at the price of a simple roller blind for the window. I didn't want to spend that kind of money. So we didn't.
As the years went by we had a few incidents that scared us and made us feel uncomfortable. We had a stranger at the door on New Year's Eve 2019 at 10:30 pm at night making an odd request. We called 9-1-1 on that one. We've had neighbors on their porches wave hello during the day while we are sitting at the kitchen table. While we are friendly, that reminded us that everyone can see everything we do all day and night long. We've had strangers walking down the street who will tell us how much they love this or that inside our house. But they have never been invited inside our house. Normally all of this would not be a big deal. Actually it wasn't a big deal for almost 5 years. Then Ken and I started to feel vulnerable. I don't know if it was age or it was all the stories of crime we have heard and read about. I think it was a combination of everything. So, we decided to get window coverings.
After the research I had already done, we headed to Lowe's. We knew they were having a good sale on both Bali and Levolor blinds so we just kept it simple and went there for a quote. I told the representative what I thought I wanted and she directed me to SOLAR SHADES. Granted, what I was describing was a solar shade. That is the type of material used in a commercial setting. You can order these shades in different weaves. So we got a quote on 1% solar shades. We had folks come out and measure. We almost ordered these 1% Bali shades, but after doing further research we realized that this was NOT what we actually wanted. The one thing I didn't realize is that even a 1% Solar Shade does NOT give you much privacy AT ALL. So I switched to roller shades.
The preliminary quote for the vinyl solar shades WITH the sale and the further discount from the Lowe's credit card was close to $5,000 dollars! We were both shaking our heads. We were shell shocked. I just figured that I guess it just is what it is and we were going to have to pony up. I'm so glad neither of us was excited about the prospect of having to spend this kind of money just to cover our windows. The window Gods were on our side because we ALMOST bought the solar shades. We were both overwhelmed by the whole thing and I for one was rushing because I just didn't want to deal with it anymore. We came SO close to making a huge mistake. I'm also glad that out of frustration and the fact that our Lowe's store did not have the proper sample book when we went back to actually pay for the blinds. THAT forced us NOT to spend the money that day and we went home and did more searching. Thank you baby Jesus.....Tom Cruise and his witchcraft!
After reading how solar shades were not what we needed, I returned to Lowe's and got a quote on our biggest window for fabric blackout window roller shades. After all the frustration, I just figured it we are going to have blinds on our windows we will use the blinds when we need privacy, mainly at night. But during the day, most of our blinds would be up. So we might as well make sure that they provide privacy. Yes, I realize that going from solar shades to black-out roller blinds is going from one extreme to the other, but hey....that fits my personality. The quote from Lowe's WITH the sale price and the discount from the credit card was over $1000 for ONE WINDOW!!!!! For roller shades! No...not silk drapes....FREAKING FABRIC AND VINYL ROLLER SHADES!!! Granted this window was 101" x 82" (or biggest window) but still, this is fucking ridiculous. I left Lowe's thinking that I was just going to sew curtains and be done with it. I was NOT spending that kind of money.....FOR FUCKING ROLLER SHADES!!!!!!!!!
I did more online reading. I came upon a nice blog I found through Pinterest that did a write up about a solar shade she hung and she got it from Blindster.com. Now, I have to apologize to this nice blogger that after I saw her helpful post, I immediately couldn't find it again weeks after I read it. Therefore, I didn't go through her links to buy the blinds which cut her out of a commission. This is not fair, since I did find Blindster through her, and if guilt was currency, she would be sitting pretty. However, it is the truth and it is what happened. By the time we actually made the purchase, I simply couldn't remember the name of the blog. Life is like that.
I figured out who she was today. I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy. But I took the time to find the original post. Again, I apologize and THANK YOU for your helpful post.
Anyone who happens to read this blog, please visit this nice blog and read all about her experience with Blindster:
Here are some photos of the roller shades after installation:
PHOTOS: L-R, T-B
1 - 3) This is my office window. The shade up, mid-way and completely closed.
4 - 5) The big front window (101" wide) with the outside mounted shade sans cassette valance (Blindster doesn't make them that wide) showing it fully open and partially closed.
6) The kitchen sink window. Outside mount between 2 cabinets. Please see the videos to hear about the details of why I removed the tensioner from the continuous loop chain for the shades between cabinets. Hint...to prevent the chain from scratching the cabinet.
7) 80" double window between 2 cabinets. Outside mount WITH cassette valance. This is the shade that fell out of the cassette valance. That was fun. Lesson learned!!!
8) Breakfast nook window. Outside mount between 2 cabinets.
9) One of the 2 light gray shades that were installed in the den.
I have to say that the entire Blindster experience was a good one. If you would like details on the installation and tips and tricks we learned along the way, please visit my YouTube channel or use the links below.
I'm sure my neighbors are breathing a sigh of relief that we are no longer on stage - several shows nightly! We are now trying to adjust to life in a cave, which is what we call it now. Every time I open and close the multitude of window roller shades I think of my mother-in-law, Dorothy. That was her daily routine. Every morning she walked around the house letting the light in and every day at sundown she walked around blocking the dark outside. It's a good memory, it is just that my new routine is taking some getting used to.
I'll get there.
That is all.
YOUTUBE ROLLER SHADE INSTALLATION VIDEOS: