Blind Terminology: A Glossary
Tags: vertical blinds / tips / roller blinds / blackout blinds

A Definition of Terms Associated With Window Blinds

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.

What is a window recess?

A graphic showing a what a window recess isA window recess, also known as a reveal, ingo or surround, is where a window is set back into a wall, often creating a window sill. 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, generally by attaching the brackets to the top. The alternative to this is an exact fit blind installed outside of a recess, or when a recess isn’t present.

When looking to install a blind in the recess, please indicate so on our product page when you come to order. This means that we will make the relevant deductions to ensure the blind fits into the space, making room for the brackets. Do not make deductions for a recessed blind, we take care of that for you.

A graphic showing an exact fit blindWhat is an exact fit blind?

An exact fit blind is often installed outside of a recess, or when a recess is not present. An exact fit blind is usually face fixed, meaning it is installed to the wall instead of the ceiling, although our brackets allow either.

This means the blind is made exactly to the sizes given to us on the product page. 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 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 our brackets 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. Our brackets allow you to install your blind either top or face fixed and so you don’t need to indicate this to us when you come to order.

Comparison between a face fix blind and a top fix blind

What are blind brackets?

Brackets are used to hold the blind in place when you install it. Generally, they are the only component (aside from the child safety devices) that is screwed into the wall, recess or ceiling. Blind brackets allow you to install them in either location due to the optional holes in them, meaning you do not need to specify whether you need to face fix or top fix the blind. Brackets often have bracket covers which slide over the brackets and help to keep them looking discreet and clean.

Generally, bracket covers are only used for exact fit blinds where the ends of the blind and bracket will be visible, as you are often unable to see the ends of the blind when it is installed within a recess.

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. There are holes on nearly all sides of the bracket, allowing you to fix it to the top of a recess, side of a recess or face fix outside of a recess.

Pleated blinds don’t require brackets, which is one of the reasons why they’re so straight forward to install.

Roller Blind Brackets
Roller Blind Brackets
Venetian Blind Brackets
Venetian Blind Brackets
Vertical Blind Brackets
Vertical Blind Brackets

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’.

However, 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.

DotcomBlinds offers a selection of blinds that are known as Child Safe Plus, 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 electric 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 does blind mechanism mean?

A blind’s mechanism is how the blind is operated. A mechanism is the key component in raising and lowering a blind, or drawing it from side to side and is known as a sidewinder mechanism or crank mechanism, among others. These 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

What’s a crank blind?

A crank mechanism with the crank handle hooked on to itA crank blind is a roller blind that is controlled by a crank handle, instead of a chain. A crank handle is detachable and can be fixed to the wall when not in use. The handle can be folded out to create the crank and hooks on to the mechanism of the blind.

By winding the crank handle, the blind will rise or lower depending on the direction. The crank mechanism in the barrel of the blind is geared so minimal effort is required to operate the blind.

What’s a battery-operated blind?

A remote control to operate an electric blindA battery-operated blind is blind that can be controlled using a remote control to operate the battery within the 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. Battery operated blinds can be charged up with a charger connected to mains electricity, but uses so little energy to operate one charge will last a very long time.

What does a roller blind’s barrel do?

DotcomBlinds' Blind BarrelA roller blind’s barrel is the tube that holds the fabric of the roller blind, allowing it to be rolled up or down. The fabric is locked into the barrel. DotcomBlinds uses only metal roller blind barrels which are far superior to cardboard tube alternatives, providing years of service with no indication of wear and tear.

It also houses the mechanisms for the roller blind. Within a roller blind’s barrel, you’ll find the sidewinder chain, crank or battery-operated motor.

What is dimout blind fabric?

Dimout blind fabric is our way of saying that light is allowed to pass through the blind fabric, but not at strong levels. This is the opposite to a blackout blind fabric which blocks all light. Dimout blind fabrics help to lower the amount of light entering a room and reduce glare without casting the room into total darkness. Dimout fabric across nearly all of our blinds, from roller blinds to vertical blinds, pleated blinds and roman blinds.

What is a blackout blind?

A blackout blind is a blind fabric that stops all light from passing through it. This fabric is usually made up from denser weave fabric, sometimes with two layers, or perhaps backed with PVC. These blinds are great for areas where people need to sleep, among other advantages.

The difference between dimout fabric and blackout fabric

What is privacy tape on a wooden venetian blind?

Privacy tape is found on some wooden blinds. It is predominantly for display purposes, coming in a choice of colours that compliment or contrast against the wooden or faux wood slats. They do lend some privacy to the blind by obscuring any chance of someone seeing through the small holes through which the fabric runs through, however the chances of anyone being able to peek through these holes in the first place is very slim (they’d need incredibly good eye sight and nerves of steel to get that close!)

We offer wooden and faux wooden blinds with or without tape, so please browse through the collection using the filters on the left-hand side of the page.

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

The type of slat you choose has different capabilities and requirements. For example, real wood slats shouldn’t really be exposed to moisture, but faux wood slats can be. Cleaning venetian blind slats is easy enough, and best done regularly to keep the job quick and easy.

Real wood slats are made from basswood, a straight, easy-to-work with sustainable timber. Did you know that Basswood is found in a number of items, including canoes, guitars, wood carvings and, of course, window blinds.

Faux wood slats are made to look like wood but is actually made from a PVC/vinyl material. As a result, this slat is water resistant and less susceptible to extreme changes in temperature, so they are ideal for kitchens or bathrooms.

Shop for Venetian Blinds here...

Brushed Silver Venetian Blind
Brushed Silver Venetian Blind
From £15.60
35mm Cream Wood Slat Venetian Blind With Cream Tape
35mm Cream Wood Slat Venetian Blind With Cream Tape
From £24.00
50mm Opal Faux Wood Slat Venetian Blind With Stone Tape
50mm Opal Faux Wood Slat Venetian Blind With Stone Tape
From £12.00

What’s 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.

The bottom of the louvres is connected to each other by a length of chain that clips on to each louvre. This ensures all louvres hang neatly and move at the same time, and it can help reduce the swaying after movement has occurred.

Looking for a Vertical Blind? Shop here...

Bosa Denim Vertical Blind
Bosa Denim Vertical Blind
From £18.00
Bosa Plum Vertical Blind
Bosa Plum Vertical Blind
From £18.00
Palermo Pine Green Vertical Blind
Palermo Pine Green Vertical Blind
From £9.60

What’s Feefo and why do I keep 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!

What is a wand in the context of a blind?

Venetian Blind WandA venetian blind’s slats can be titled by twisting a wand, on selected ranges. This is the case for our aluminium venetian blinds. The slats are lowered by a cord, and once they’re in place, the wand can be twisted to either block out all or some of the exterior light. This wand is detachable and can be replaced easily if it is damaged.

Some vertical blinds can be controlled by a wand. Instead of using cords to draw the louvres across the window, a wand is used to drag the louvres to the desired spot. The wand is then twisted to open or close the louvres, shading the room. This is somewhat of a more child safe option when it comes to vertical blinds.

What’s screen fabric?

If you’re a regular reader of our blog you’ll most likely have encountered this term. Screen fabric is a type of blind fabric that allows light in due to the openness of the fabric’s weave. We call it screen fabric for a couple of reasons – this fabric is popular in rooms where people need to see screens, such as a living room or home office. The fabric still lets in natural light, which is ideal if you spend a lot of time in a particular room, but it will prevent glare on your screens.

The second reason we call it screen fabric is because it acts as a kind of screen between you and the outside world. You are able to see outside but nobody outside can see it. This adds a little more privacy to your home whilst still keeping it naturally lit and airy.

Shop For Screen Fabric Roller Blinds:

Bologna Vanilla Dimout Roller Blind
Bologna Vanilla Dimout Roller Blind
From £27.60
Verona Crimson Dimout Roller Blind
Verona Crimson Dimout Roller Blind
From £27.60
Teramo White Dimout Roller Blind
Teramo White Dimout Roller Blind
From £18.00

What is PVC blackout fabric?

Roller blind (and vertical blinds in some sense too), generally have two main fabric choices – dimout or blackout. After that you have a multitude of options and combinations, but to get started you need to know which of those two fabric types you wish to have in your window.

PVC blackout fabric is an ideal type of blackout fabric in some people’s eyes. Made from two layers of densely woven PVC with a fibreglass layer in the middle, no light can get through this fabric. Being PVC too, the fabric is easily cleaned and is quite resilient in the face of wear-and-tear. Parents prefer them as they are difficult for toddlers to destroy, and when it comes to nap time, it’s light’s out in a blink of an eye.

We provide a filter option on our roller blind and blackout blind section to help people find the blinds they’re looking for quickly.

What is fabric fronted blackout fabric?

Sounds a little confusing, right? Don’t worry it makes perfect sense. When it comes to blackout blinds you’ve got a choice of fabric, and so we’ve created filters to help you narrow down your selection. Fabric front blackout fabric is essentially a piece of fabric, with a colour or pattern turned into blackout fabric by having an acrylic or flexible plastic backing added to it.

Having the backing means that no light comes through, leaving your room nice and dark, but you can also enjoy great looking blinds thanks to the pattern or colour.

What is a blind’s drop?

The drop of a blind is the vertical measurement of a window. Having measured the width (the measurement going across the window), we then take the measurement of the length of the window. If you’re stuck for remembering what drop mean when it comes to blinds, picture this: you drop a ball, which way does it fall? Down, so that’s the direction of measurements you need to take.

Diagram shwoing what part of a window to measure for a blind's drop

What is a valance and 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. They are softer looking than cornices which are shaped blocks added to the window area for a grander effect

What’s under roll, back roll, front roll, over roll and reverse roll in context of window blinds?

This refers to which way the fabric hangs off of the barrel of the blind once it is installed. The fabric ultimately can hang behind the barrel or in front of it. If the fabric is in front it can be called front roll or over roll as it looks as though it is coming straight over the barrel.

If the fabric is hanging behind the barrel, which puts the fabric closer to the window, it can be called under roll and back roll as it looks as thought the fabric is coming from under the barrel.

It is really easy to change the way the blind is rolled, therefore changing the way it unrolls when you use it. Our blind fabric is locked into the barrel of the blind. So, you can simply unroll the blind until you see the barrel and then re-roll the blind but in the opposite direction to how you unrolled it. This is called reverse rolling as you are reversing the way the fabric is rolled.

What is a roller blind?

A roller blind is a window treatment that consists of a length of fabric rolled up on a barrel, which is fixed to the top of the window. Operated by a chain, crank or by remote control, the fabric can be unrolled off of the barrel and cover the window to the desired length. The type of fabric also changes the blind, meaning it can become known as a blackout roller blind, due to the opaque fabric, or a dimout roller blind, due to slightly more open weave of a dimout fabric.

Shop Roller Blinds:

Bari Bluebell Dimout Roller Blind
Bari Bluebell Dimout Roller Blind
From £27.60
Florence Sand Dimout Roller Blind
Florence Sand Dimout Roller Blind
From £27.60
Parma Spring Blackout Roller Blind
Parma Spring Blackout Roller Blind
From £27.60

What is a vertical blind?

A vertical blind is a type of window treatment that consists of a head rail that runs the length of the window with louvres fastened to it. The louvres hang down in individual strips, often connected together with a chain along the bottom to keep them evenly spaced and kept looking neat with weights stitched into the bottom of each louvre. The louvres are drawn across the window and rotated to block light by pulling cords.

Looking for a Vertical Blind?

Palermo Grey Vertical Blind
Palermo Grey Vertical Blind
From £9.60
Palermo Pink Vertical Blind
Palermo Pink Vertical Blind
From £9.60
Venice Sand Vertical Blind
Venice Sand Vertical Blind
From £28.80

What is a venetian blind?

A venetian blind is a type of window treatment that consists of a headrail running the length of the window with horizontal slats attached below it. The slats are often made of aluminium or real wood or faux wood and can be rotated up or down to block light or let more in. This is controlled by cords or a chain, along with the ability to raise or lower the slats entirely.

Browse our range of Venetian Blinds...

50mm Slat Fossil Faux Wood Venetian Blind
50mm Slat Fossil Faux Wood Venetian Blind
From £9.60
50mm Ebony Real Wood Slat With White Tape Venetian Blind
50mm Ebony Real Wood Slat With White Tape Venetian Blind
From £21.60
50mm White Wood With Ebony Tape Venetian Blind
50mm White Wood With Ebony Tape Venetian Blind
From £21.60

What is a pleated blind?

A pleated blind is type of blind that has a length of fabric that run the length of the window which can be bought up to the headrail, and the fabric gathers neatly in a pleat. Our pleated blinds don’t require any complicated fittings, it simply slots into the rubber gasket around your uPVC window. The headrail and bottom bar use tabs that slide under the gasket and hold it in place. This means you don’t need to drill into your walls or recess.

Shop for Pleated Blinds now!

Aubergine Pleated Blackout Blind
Aubergine Pleated Blackout Blind
From £15.60
Iron Pleated Blind
Iron Pleated Blind
From £14.40
Primrose Pleated Blind
Primrose Pleated Blind
From £14.40

What is a Roman blind?

A Roman blind is a type of window treatment that involves a length of fabric running the length of a window, with the headrail often concealed. When the fabric is raised it gathers attractively at the top, often folding under itself.

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’s a perforated slat?

A perforated venetian blind slat means that the slats have small holes cut through them. This lets in just a little bit of sunlight, which helps to maintain the natural light level in a room. The benefit of having such small holes is that not enough sunlight can get through the holes to be piercing or blinding, meaning the perforated slat venetian blind reduces glare but helps to keep a room looking airy. It is also possible to have some view through the slats too.

A perforated venetian blind slat

Got a term or piece of jargon we missed? Get in touch with us and we’ll be sure to add it to the list!