There are a lot of fairly confusing terms when it comes to window treatments. Like, what’s the difference between a shade and a blind? Or, what is the difference between sheer shades and cellular shades? If you walked into a window blinds store today, you would probably be overwhelmed and forced to take the advice of a salesman who just wants a bigger commission. While I will not try to clear up all the window treatments mysteries, I will enumerate the differences between pleated shades and cellular shades, also called honeycomb shades, so that when and if you become interested in purchasing them, you will be armed with the information you need to make an informed decision.
First, it is fair to say that pleated shades and cellular shades are like cousins. They both have similar looks with crisp pleats, kind of like the bellows of an accordion. Both come with the usual upgrades like Top down, Bottom up, cordless, continuous cord loop, and even motorization. Just to be clear the cordless option allows you to raise or lower the shade by pulling on the bottom rail, a good option if you have children. A continuous cord loop is basically a clutch mechanism that keeps the cord at the same length when you raise or lower the blind so that the cord isn’t either way up high or all the way to the floor. The Top down, Bottom up option is just like it sounds, you can lower the top half of the shade or the bottom half of the shade, or both. Additional options for both shade types include a wide variety of colors and fabrics, as well as light filtering or privacy liners.
One of the main differences between cellular and pleated shades is their inner construction – the stuff between the pleated fabric. As I mentioned both can come with liners of varying opacity, but cellular shades have a honeycomb structure between the pleats that act as an efficient insulator for hot or cold conditions. When I lived in the Northeast, cellular shades were a common window treatments feature because of the cold, cold winters. But, they work just as well for hot climates. Pleated shades will help insulate too, just not nearly as well.
Other differences between cellular and pleated shades are that cellular shades come in a variety of pleat sizes. In fact they come in six varieties: 3/8″, 7/16″, ½”, 9/16″, ¾” and 1 ¼”. The size pleat you choose really only depends on the look you want, the most common being the ¾” and the 3/8″. Cellular shades are also available in single, double and triple cells; the more cells, the greater the cost but also the greater the insulation. So, if you really want an energy efficient home keep this in mind as you shop.
The difference in cost between pleated and cellular shades is dependent on how many cells you choose. The difference in cost between a single cell cellular shade and a pleated shade, assuming you went with the same options, is fairly minimal, approximately 20%. As you move into the double and triple cell varieties the cost difference gets quite large. But, if you consider the long term energy savings attribute and can afford the cash outlay, double and triple cell cellular shades are the better choices, even if you don’t live in a place with huge temperature extremes.