Blind Terminology: A Glossary

Blind Terminology: A Glossary Blind Terminology: A Glossary

A Definition of Terms Associated With Window Blinds

*Blog updated 21/03/2024 to reflect changes to DotcomBlinds’ product ranges*

Buying a blind can be tough enough – what with all the choice of blind types, colours and styles. What you don’t need is confusing jargon getting in your way.

Despite our best efforts to create straight-forward, no nonsense guides, jargon has a habit of filtering through. We can’t help it, but it is also the easiest way to communicate specific parts of a blind, mechanism or window. I mean, have you ever tried to explain what a recess is? It’s a lot harder than you’d think!

Today we’re going to put an end to confusion with blind terms once and for all. Consider this glossary a guiding hand through the turbulent waters of blind buying. Many of these words or phrases have been the subject of entire blog posts so there will be further opportunities to read more throughout the list, just keep your eyes peeled!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is DotcomBlinds' plain speaking blind industry glossary of definitions. Buckle up.

General Window Terms

Before you get started on your blinds buying journey, it may be helpful to be aware of a few specific pieces of window terminology.

What is a window recess?

A window recess, also known as a reveal, ingo or surround, is where a window is set back into a wall, often creating a windowsill. The blind and the window doesn’t protrude into the room, if anything it is set further back from the room. A blind can be installed within this recess (recess fit blind), the alternative to this is an exact fit blind installed outside of a recess, or directly onto a wall/ceiling when a recess isn’t present.

What is a bay window?

A bay window is used to describe the angled style of a window recess, which often protrudes from the side of the house noticeably. The window area can take on the shape of a half circle or more rectangular, depending on the design of the house. Measuring bay windows for blinds requires some specific methods which are listed in our measuring section on our website.

A bay window

What is a UPVC window?

A UPVC window, is a window which has a frame made from UPVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride un-plasticised), These windows are commonly found in conservatories, BiFold doors and other patio doors. Most UPVC windows will be compatible with our “no-drill” blinds.

Measuring Terms

Now that we’ve covered off some window basics, let’s start at the beginning of the blinds buying process and look at terms you’ll need to be familiar with when it comes to measuring your windows for your new blinds.

What does made to measure mean?

All blinds available at DotcomBlinds are made to measure. Made to measure means that we make your window blinds to measurements provided by you, ensuring that your blinds will perfectly fit your windows.

What is a blind’s width?

When ordering blinds, you will be asked for the width measurement for your blind. The width measurement is the horizontal measurement of a window from side-to-side. Please consult our measuring guides to discover how to take this measurement correctly for your blind.

What is a blind’s drop?

When ordering blinds, you will be asked for the drop measurement for your blind. The drop measurement is the vertical measurement of a window from top-to-bottom. Please consult our measuring guides to discover how to take this measurement correctly for your blind.

What is a recess fit blind?

A recess fit blind is a blind that is installed within the recessed space around a window, generally by attaching the blind’s brackets at the top of the recess. When measuring for a recess fit blind please consult the recess fit portion of our measuring guides – our factory team will make any necessary deductions to ensure the blind and all of its hardware fits within the recess space.

What is an exact fit blind?

An exact fit blind is a blind which is being installed outside of a window’s recess, or when a recess space isn’t present. Exact fit blinds can either be installed face fixed to the face of a wall, or top fixed to a ceiling above the window (most blinds brackets will allow either option, however you may need to specify for certain blinds). When measuring for an exact fit blind please consult the exact fit portion of our measuring guides.

Exact fit blinds are made exactly to the sizes given to us on the product page (total size including the blind’s fabric and hardware). We do not make deductions for an exact fit blind and recommend making the blind slightly wider and longer than the window to prevent light from leaking around the edges of the blind.

What is an install height?

The install height of a blind is the distance between the top of a blind and the floor, when ordering a blind with a cord or chain operation, we may ask for this measurement in the fine-tuning section. To get this measurement, simply measure from the floor to where the top of your blind will be.

Installing Terms

Next, there are some terms you should be familiar with when it comes time to install your new blinds, so let’s look at some terms you should know when you install your blinds.

What is a face fixed window blind?

To face fix a window blind means to install it to a wall or perhaps the window frame (but this isn’t common). It’s an industry term which doesn’t impact the customer too much as most of our brackets will cater for both face fixing and top fixing. This type of installation is associated with exact fit blinds that are installed to the wall outside of a recess, or for blinds covering a window that is not recessed.

What is a top fixed window blind?

To top fix a window blind means that the blind is installed upwards, generally to the top of the recess or the ceiling. Most of our brackets will allow you to install your blind either top or face fixed, but for some products you may need to indicate this to us when you place your to order.

Comparison between a face fix blind and a top fix blind

What is a “no-drill” window blind?

A “no-drill” window blind is a blind which is installed directly into the frame of a window, typically secured with brackets under the rubber gasket of a window. “No-drill” blinds are typically used for shading patio doors like BiFold doors, or conservatory windows.

General Component Terms

When buying blinds, you should also be familiar with some general components which will be found on most types of window blinds.

What are blind brackets?

Brackets are used to hold a blind in place once it has been installed. Generally, brackets are the only component (aside from child safety devices) which need to be screwed into place during installation. Most blind brackets for conventional blinds can be installed either face fixing (onto the face of a wall) or top fixing (onto a ceiling or top of recess) however for some blinds you may need to specify when ordering and with “no-drill” blinds, the brackets will slide under the rubber gasket of a window.

The style and shape of a bracket changes between different types of blinds. For example, our roller blind brackets can be installed face or top fix using only two screws, a wooden venetian blind’s bracket is square and locks the headrail of the blind into the brackets, and a “no-drill” blind’s bracket is a small L-shaped metal tab which slides under the window’s rubber gasket.

What are bracket covers?

For some blinds we may supply bracket covers along with your blind. Bracket covers are plastic covers which fit over the blind’s bracket to help them look clean and discreet.

What are window blind child safety devices?

Every blind comes with a child safety device if it has a chain or cord, such as our roller blinds, blackout blinds and venetian blinds. All of our blinds are fully compliant with BS EN 13120:2009+A1:204 and are confirmed ‘safe by design’.

Child safety devices are there to ensure that the chain or cords are kept out of reach of children and prevents them from becoming entangled in them. Such devices include P-Clips, which are small, clear plastic clips in the shape of a letter p which slides over the bottom loop of the chain and is installed to the wall, holding the chain taut yet loose enough to allow the blind to operate. A P-Clip keeps the chain close to the wall which makes it hard for children to gain access to it and become entangled.

Another type of child safety device is a cleat which allows the cords of a blind to be tied around it in a figure-of-eight. This holds the cords close to the wall, prevents loops from forming and discourages children from playing with them.

We also offer a selection of cordless blinds that are known as “Child Safe+”, which sees the key component that can cause the most issues removed entirely and replaced with a cord or chainless alternative. This includes crank operated blinds, wand operated blinds and remote controlled operated blinds, which do not have any dangling chains or cords that can attract the attention of children and lead to a dangerous situation.

Child safety devices for a cleat and a p-clip

What is a roller tube?

Our roller blinds, as well as roller blind variants like double roller blinds, smart roller blinds and cassette blinds will have a roller tube. A roller tube is a long tube which will run the width of the blind, the fabric is attached to this tube and the tube rotates to raise and lower the fabric.

What is a headrail?

A headrail is a rail which will run the width of the blind and is typically at the top end of the blind. The headrail will hold the mechanism and the fabric of blinds like venetian blinds, roman blinds and vertical blinds.

What is a valance or pelmet?

We use the terms pelmet when referring to wooden blinds and roman blinds. The pelmet is a length of wood or fabric that stretches along the headrail of the blind. The purpose of a pelmet is to cover over the fittings, brackets and anything else that may look a little unsightly. A valance is pretty much the same as a pelmet, but typically associated with fabric and drapery.

What is a headbox?

On some of our blinds, we will offer the choice of providing a headbox to go with the blind. A headbox is a decorative box which will cover the fittings, brackets and top portion of a blind to provide a cleaner and neater look for the blind.

What is a fabric privacy tape?

On our real wood and faux wood venetian blinds, we offer fabric privacy tapes. Fabric privacy tapes will cover the holes in each slat where the ladder passes through. A fabric tape will add an extra decorative flourish to the blind, while also helping to secure your privacy and minimise light leakage.

With and Without Fabric Tape on a Real Wood or Faux Wood Venetian Blind

What is a window blind’s mechanism?

A blind’s mechanism is how the blind is operated. A mechanism is the key component in raising and lowering a blind, drawing it from side to side, or rotating slats. Each type of blind will have its own mechanism. Mechanisms are key components and can vary in quality across the industry, but DotcomBlinds prides itself in the smooth-running, top-quality way in which our blinds work.

The different types of mechanisms used for blinds


Blinds Operation Terms

Different blinds will have different mechanisms and options for how they are operated, you should be familiar with how your blind will operate before making a purchase.

What is a chain/cord operation?

The standard operation method for most window blinds is a chain or cord operation. With a chain or cord operated blind, the blind is raised and lowered by moving the chain or cord in order to move the blind’s fabric up or down.

What is a crank operation?

Some of our Roller Blinds are available to be made cordless, having the blind’s chain operation replaced with a crank operation. A crank operation features a crank handle (which is detachable and can be fixed to the wall when not in use) and a crank operation (attached to mechanism end of blind).

By attaching the crank handle to the crank mechanism, you can wind the crank to raise or lower the blind.

What is a wand operation?

Our Vertical Blinds can be made with a cordless operation, called a wand operation, having the blind’s chain operation replaced with a wand control. A wand operation will feature a wand control which is a thin rod which is attached to the headrail of the vertical blind. By moving the wand along the headrail, you can open and close the Vertical Blind and the slats of the blind can be rotated by rotating the wand.

Our metal venetian blinds will also have a wand operation for rotating the slats of the blind, however the main operation for opening and closing our metal venetian blinds is still a chain operation.

What is a pull tab operation?

Our “no-drill” blinds are operated with a pull tab operation. The blind will have a pull tab at the bottom of the fabric (and at the top if it is dual control), which can be grabbed and manually moved up and down the window to open and close the blind.

What is remote control operation?

We have a range of electric blinds which are operated using a remote control (sold separately) to operate the motor within the blind’s barrel. At the touch of a button, the blind can be lowered or raised, with stop points set in between for added convenience. Programming the blind is easy and they are particularly child safe as there are no chains or cords for a child to get caught up in.

What is smart control operation?

We have a range of smart home blinds, which can be operated in a variety of ways using various smart technologies. Our smart control blinds can be operated via remote control, app control via a smartphone, voice control, smart home integration or be automated entirely, giving you a breathtaking array of options for controlling your blind.

Blind Fabric Terms

When selecting a fabric for your new blind, you will notice that there are many different options you can choose from, below are some terms that you should be familiar with.

What is screen fabric?

Screen fabric is a type of blind fabric that allows light in due to the openness of the fabric’s weave. Screen fabric is popular in rooms where people need to see screens, such as a living room or home office, as the fabric still lets in natural light, but it will prevent glare on your screens, which is ideal if you spend a lot of time in a particular room.

Screen fabric is also somewhat translucent, during the daytime you will be able to see out through the fabric, but people outside will not be able to see in, helping to secure your privacy while keeping a room naturally lit.

What is dimout fabric?

Dimout fabric is midway between a screen fabric and a blackout fabric, as it is thick enough that you cannot see through the fabric, but not thick enough to completely block out outside light. Dimout fabric will allow some outside light to pass through, providing shading whilst also keeping natural light in the space.

As you should not be able to see through a dimout fabric, it is incredibly popular for ground level spaces and living rooms to secure privacy, while also keeping natural light in the space.

What is blackout fabric?

Blackout fabric is our most opaque fabric type, usually made up from denser weave fabric, sometimes with two layers, a blackout lining, or perhaps backed with PVC. Blackout fabrics will prevent outside light from passing through the fabric when the blind is closed, which is ideal for bedroom spaces and home cinema rooms.

While the blackout fabric will block external light passing through the fabric, creating a dark space, light may still pass around the edge of the blind’s fabric.

The difference between dimout fabric and blackout fabric

What is thermal fabric?

Thermal fabric is a thick, insulating fabric which will help provide additional insulation to your home’s windows, making your home more thermally efficient. In Winter these blinds will keep your home warmer by minimising heat loss through your windows, and in Summer they will keep your home cooler by minimising the amount of outside heat which enters your home through the windows.

Please note that most thermal fabrics will also provide a blackout effect, due to their thick fabric.

What is solar reflective fabric?

Solar reflective fabric is a blinds fabric which has a reflective material on the reverse side of the blind, meaning the blind has a special backing that bounces back the sun’s rays, which will help to reduce heat building up in a room beyond the abilities of a regular blind, ideal for rooms exposed to a lot of sunlight.

Please note that the backs of these fabrics will appear different to the front of the blind due to the solar reflective properties.

What is day & night fabric?

Our day & night blinds, use a special type of fabric which we call “day & night fabric”. This fabric is made up of alternating horizontal strips of screen fabric and dimout/blackout fabric to create a stunning stripey look. As day & night fabric is looped, the strips can be aligned to let light pass through the screen sections or block light with the thicker sections of fabric.

What is pleated fabric?

Pleated fabric is available for use on our “no-drill” blinds. The fabric has horizontal pleats along the blind, allowing it to easily fold up when the blind is bunched together and open. Pleated fabric will provide shade to your home’s interiors, diffusing the light much like a lampshade. Our pleated fabric is ideal for shading spaces, while still allowing some light to enter the space.

What is honeycomb fabric?

Honeycomb fabric is available for use on our “no-drill” blinds. The fabric is made up of multiple honeycomb shaped pieces of fabric which run up the blind, the honeycomb shaping of the fabric creates small pockets of air which will improve the insulation around your windows. Honeycomb fabrics will provide excellent levels of shading and an enhanced level of insulation to your windows.

What are real wood slats?

We offer Venetian blinds made from various materials, allowing you to find one which suits your needs. Our real wood venetian blinds use either 35mm or 50mm horizontal slats made from Basswood. Real wood slats are available in a variety of colour choices.

What are faux wood slats?

We offer Venetian blinds made from various materials, allowing you to find one which suits your needs. Our faux wood venetian blinds use either 35mm or 50mm horizontal slats made from plastic, these plastic slats are designed to look nearly identical to their real wood counterparts and are available in a choice of colours and textures.

What are metal slats?

We offer Venetian blinds made from various materials, allowing you to find one which suits your needs. Our metal venetian blinds use 25mm horizontal slats made from lightweight metal to provide a sleek, modern look. Our 25mm metal venetian slats are available in a choice of colours.

What is a fabric lining?

Some of our blinds, like Roman blinds will be available with a choice of linings. A lining is a material which can be placed within the fabric of the blind to provide additional benefits, such as blackout or additional thermal insulation.

What are plain fabrics?

Plain fabrics are fabrics which feature a single colour, without patterns or designs upon them. Plain fabrics are incredibly versatile and can easily be matched to the existing decor in your home or add a fresh new colour to your windows.

What are patterned fabrics?

Patterned fabrics are fabrics which feature multiple colours, a design or a pattern upon them. Patterned fabrics are ideal for turning your windows into the centrepiece of a room’s decor or helping to reinforce a room's decor theming.

Different Types Of Blinds

Here at DotcomBlinds, we are proud to offer our customers numerous different types of window blinds, because of this it will be handy to have an understanding of what types of blinds we have on offer. Read on for a cursory overview on what blinds we have on offer, or read this blog for a more in depth look at all the different types of blinds DotcomBlinds can offer you.

Roller blinds

Starting off, we have the most common variety of blinds that you will see, Roller Blinds. Roller blinds are made up of a large piece of fabric, connected to a roller tube, which can be rolled to lower or raise the blind.

There are numerous ways to operate a roller blind, with chain operation, cordless crank operation, remote control operation and smart control operation options available.

Double roller blinds

Double roller blinds are an enhanced version of standard roller blinds, where two roller blinds are connected to a single bracket, allowing to use multiple types of fabric (dimout and blackout, or screen and blackout) giving you a higher level of light control in your home.

Currently double roller blinds are only available with chain operation.

Blackout cassette blinds

Blackout cassette blinds are the ultimate type of blackout roller blind. Our blackout cassette blinds, pair a bosa blackout roller blind with a comprehensive side channel and cassette system. The fabric will prevent light from passing through, then the cassette and side channel system will minimise light leakage around the edge of the fabric, providing the ultimate blackout solution.

Blackout cassette blinds are available with either a chain operation or a remote-control operation.

Vertical blinds

Vertical blinds are made up of numerous long vertical strips of fabric (known as louvres or slats) which are connected to a headrail. The slats can be moved along the headrail to open and close the blind, and the slats themselves can be rotated to provide additional light control.

Vertical blinds are available with either a chain operation or a cordless wand operation.

Venetian blinds

Venetian blinds (also known as horizontal blinds) are made up of multiple horizontal pieces of material (known as slats) which are connected by strings running from the bottom slat to the headrail of the blind. The slats can be bunched up at the top of the blind to open or lowered to close the blind with the help of a pullcord, and the slats themselves can be rotated to provide additional light control.

Venetian blinds are available with metal slats, real wood slats, or faux wood slats.

Roman blinds

Roman blinds are made up of a large piece of fabric which has strings running through it and a headrail. Once the roman blind fabric is attached to the headrail, a pullcord will allow you to loosen and tighten the strings in the fabric to raise or lower the blind.

Roman blinds are available with a choice of linings.

Day & night blinds

Day & Night blinds are made up of a looped piece of day & night fabric, connected to a roller tube. The fabric can be raised and lowered to open and close the blind with the help of a chain operation, and the fabric can be rotated around the loop to align the opaque and transparent layers of fabric to let in light, or block light out.

Day & night blinds are available with an optional headbox to cover the roller tube, fixings and the blind’s mechanism.

“No-drill” blinds

“No-drill” blinds are blinds which can be installed without the need for any drilling, screwing or power tools. Our “no-drill” blinds are secured to the window frame itself, thanks to brackets which slide under the window’s gasket to hold the blind in place. The most common types of “no-drill” blinds are BiFold door blinds & conservatory blinds, but they can be used in most modern UPVC windows.

Our “no-drill” conservatory and bifold door blinds are available with a choice of pleated fabric, honeycomb fabric or metal venetian slats.

Other Blinds Terms

While we have covered off most of the terminology you will encounter on the DotcomBlinds website, there are some other miscellaneous terms which you may want to know when ordering your blinds.

What does control location mean?

Control side is what side of the blind you would like the mechanism and operation to be on. We will ask you to specify a control location for some manually operated blinds.

What does standard roll and reverse roll mean?

This refers to which way the fabric will hang off a roller blind once it is installed, the fabric can hang over the front of the roller or over the back of the roller.

When the fabric is rolling off the front of the roller (furthest side from the window) that is called standard (or front roll).

When the fabric is rolling off the back of the roller (closest side to the window) that is called reverse roll (or back roll).

What are XL sizes?

XL sizes means that the blind is available in extra-large sizes which most other blinds retailers will not offer. All XL sized blinds will be made with premium, rugged components, and hardware to ensure the blind can hold the extra weight of the fabric.

What does fabric join mean?

A fabric join is where two pieces of fabric have been joined to create the fabric for a blind. This is uncommon and is typically only seen with XL roller blinds, which are made to large sizes.

What is a vertical blind louvre?

A vertical blind louvre is the vertical strip of fabric that attaches to the headrail of the blind and can be adjusted to block light. Vertical blinds are different to roller blinds for this reason, as instead of having a single piece of fabric cover the whole window, a vertical blind has many individual louvres. Louvres are tilted by chain or wand, making it easy to block exterior light.

What does stack option mean?

Stack option is a choice for vertical blinds, this selects where you would like the blind’s slats to stack up when the blind is opened. You can choose to have the blinds stack on the left-hand side, right hand side or evenly split from the middle, with half the louvres stacked at either side of the blind.

What is a venetian blind slat?

A venetian blind is made up of slats, which run horizontally between the ladders. The slats block the light and can be tilted either by pull cords or a wand. Venetian blind slats come in a range of widths and materials, including 25mm, 35mm and 50mm and real wood, faux wood or aluminium.

What are designer blinds?

We have a range of designer blinds available; these are blinds featuring prints, patterns and designs from well know designers, like Cath Kidston, Sara Miller and Orla Kiely.

What are commercial blinds?

We have a range of commercial blinds available; these blinds have been designed with commercial customers in mind. Our commercial blinds are ideal for offices, schools, landlords and medical facilities – Meeting all regulations that such spaces have for window shades.

What does moisture resistant mean?

Moisture resistant means that a blind’s material is rot-proof and Biosafe®. This is because it will not absorb and retain any water under normal circumstances, which is key to preventing the build-up of bacteria or Mold in these humid or damp spaces.

What does wipe clean mean?

“Wipe Clean” means that a fabric is super easy to clean and can be cleaned by simply wiping the fabric with a dry cloth to remove dust and any debris or use a damp cloth to remove stains.

What does fire retardant mean?

Fire retardant means that the fabric of a blind will not catch fire if presented with a flame, instead only smouldering and then self-extinguishing once the source of heat has been removed.

What does child safe+ mean?

While each and every blind made by DotcomBlinds is Child Safe, thanks to various safety features and accessories we supply (like P Clips). Our cordless blinds are what we’d call “Child Safe +” as there is no chain or cord on the blind, completely removing any risk from the blind.

What is Same Day Priority Dispatch?

The Same Day Priority Dispatch is an expedited service we offer for a select range of our blinds. By selecting the Same Day Priority Dispatch option at checkout, your blind will jump to the front of our production queue to be made and dispatched that same day. Please be aware orders placed after 11 am on working days or on weekends/bank holidays will be prioritised for the next working day.

What is the Right Size Guarantee?

When you add our ‘Right Size Guarantee”, if you have mis-measured a blind, we will be able to replace it with a new blind made to the correct size of your window. See Right Size Guarantee Ts&Cs here.

What is a FREE fabric sample?

As we don’t have a storefront for you to visit, we can send out free samples of all the fabrics available on our site so that you can see how they look and feel in person. These samples are made from off-cuts of the blinds fabric and are sent via Royal Mail.

What is Feefo and why am I getting emails from them?

DotcomBlinds uses Feefo to independently collect reviews from our customers, allowing us to gather feedback. Your thoughts on our service and products is greatly welcomed and can be given anonymously if you wish. Reviews give us the opportunity to continue striving for perfection. If you don’t wish to leave a review, then simply ignore these emails from Feefo and they will cease. To see our current collection of reviews, take a look at this page!


There you have it, a complete glossary of all the blinds terminology you could need to know when shopping for a new set of blinds! If you think we have missed anything from this list, have a question you’d like to ask our team, or need a helping hand placing your order, get in touch with us today by calling our team at 0800 1422 417 or emailing us at [email protected].