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Motorised window blinds

Vertical blinds are the ubiquitous solution for sliding doors and large picture windows. Almost every house or apartment I ever rented had vertical blinds. They look fine, but they lack style and originality. A relatively new choice is available: Panel track blinds, which are also called slider panels or panel tracks. They are much more sophisticated looking and can lend a modern, designer-look to your home.

Panel tracks are essentially overlapping fabric panels that glide on a wheeled track system. The panels range in width from approximately 48” to 192” and in lengths to fit most windows and sliding doors. The panels, which are obviously wider then most vertical blind panels, are composed of fabric, woven wood or a solar screen material. If you want a warmer, natural look go with one of the woven wood materials. The choices here are very similar to bamboo shades or woven wood shades with materials like, bamboo, grasses, matchstick, or a combination. The fabric panel options are numerous. You can choose from sheer shades that let in light or darker fabrics that provide more privacy, all in a variety of colors. The solar screen material options, similar to sheer shades, are usually translucent, providing see-through as well as solar protection. This is an especially good option for large windows with views. The solar screens come in different levels of opacity from 3% to about 14%.

Panel track blinds can even be used as an affordable room divider. This is a very cool option. I have seen this done in small rooms and large rooms, even in office settings as an alternative to cubicles. This is also an excellent option for lofts which tend to have very open floor plans. You can even buy different panels for different seasons or when redecorating. It’s very easy to swap out the panels. The possibilities are numerous.

Panel tracks are more expensive the vertical blinds, so this is not a truly fair one-to-one comparison. But most vertical blinds are just vinyl, which is very cheap, whereas panel tracks are made with more expensive materials. But the finished look is much, much better. A well chosen panel track blind, in a color and material that really suits the décor, can lend a level of sophistication that traditional vertical blinds can’t match.

One additional benefit is the hardware that comes with panel tracks, a wheeled track system that glides almost effortlessly. This is a very nice high-quality touch and very different from many cheap vertical blinds which can be a bit clunky. When opening these blinds the panels simply roll back overlapping each other.

One limitation of panel track blinds, one that can be minimized, is that when you fully open the panel blinds, more of the window will be covered because of the larger width of the panels as compared to traditional vertical blinds. This is true of vertical blinds as well because of the stacking that occurs, especially on large sliding windows.

Vertical blinds will always be popular. But, if you want to try something more fashionable, and have a little more money to spend, go with panel track blinds. – David Brooks

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