Choosing between fabrics

The choice of fabric for roller blinds has many factors including aesthetics, its light, glare and heat management. Here are our top tips.

The choice of fabric for roller blinds has many factors including aesthetics, its light, glare and heat management. SHY’s Technical Manager, Richard Steel gives his top tips and also explains why the choice is also crucial to the wellbeing of the building’s users plus the structural integrity and longevity of a roller blind.

My biggest tip for recommending the right roller blind fabric is to ask customers about the room(s) in which the blinds are to be used. Sounds simple, but their answers can give all the insights we need. Firstly, whether the building is domestic or commercial. The location of the rooms is also important – south facing ones will have more glare and heat to manage. The size of the windows, whether there will be TV or computer screens, the times of day in which it will be occupied as well as the length of time people will stay there.

An east-facing domestic dining room used for just eating and socialising whilst enjoying the view of the garden will be different to a south-facing office full of computer screens that are used all day.

Fabric choice is often over-simplified by just concentrating on the density of the weave and its openness factor. However, Tv% (Visual Light Transmittance) factor is a better measure as it takes into account the colour, thickness, density of weave as well as the coatings on the fabric.

Showing customers the differences in fabric Tv% and colour really helps to manage their expectations. The bank of windows in SHY’s Customer Experience and Engagement Centre (pictured) displays 1%, 3% and 5% blinds in white, mid-grey and charcoal for this reason. It’s a visual explanation of how white can give a wall of glare whilst the darker fabrics absorb the light. It also shows how the human brain can “ignore” the grey and black colours so occupants can still see the view. This is an increasingly important factor when designing buildings for the health and well-being of their occupants, to both connect them with the outdoors as well as limiting reflections in PCs (which has been proven to be a major cause of headaches and eye strain).

The overall size and shape of a blind as well as the tension being exerted is also important when selecting its fabric. For example, the cloth for a small vertical drop blind will need less physical strength than a large 3.5m wide blind with a 10m drop both to remain working and to support its own weight. Fabric in shaped, rooflight and ZIP® blinds also needs to cope with the tension exerted onto it throughout its life span.

The levels of heat and sunlight on the fabric must also be considered to avoid heat stretch. Screen fabric rather than standard dim-outs are typically recommended for larger sized blinds, with glass fibre being preferred for rooflight blinds and situations where heat levels fluctuate. If in doubt, do talk to your manufacturer! I often discuss potential projects with architects, contractors and our Partners and give recommendations on which of our house fabrics would be best suited as well as the suitability of any fabric specified in interior design schemes.

Richard Steel, Technical Manager |SHY |