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Solar Shades 101

Block sun and glare with these “sun screens” for windows

Want the shade trifecta of UV-protection, daytime privacy and a view?

Solar shades are your answer. 

Solar window shades are roller shades crafted with a specially designed fabric that’s woven just tight enough to protect against UV rays while still optimizing your view. If your windows overlook gorgeous scenery, but you also get a lot of sun, solar shades will block glare and reduce heat gain without obstructing your view. They’ll also prevent sunlight from damaging your upholstery, carpet, hardwood floors and artwork. 

Today’s solar shades are available in a range of designs, colors and opacities, giving you lots of choices to complement your décor. As you consider your options, keep the following in mind. 


  • Openness: Openness refers to how tightly solar shade fabric is woven. The lower the openness level and the tighter the fabric weave, the better it blocks the sun—but the less you can see through the shades. The higher the openness level, the looser the weave—and the less the fabric blocks the light. However, a higher openness level gives you better visibility to the outdoors. 

  • Privacy: The higher the openness level (the looser the fabric weave), the better you can see through the fabric, while maintaining your privacy. At night, however, fabrics with a high openness level do not offer much privacy. 

    If you prefer a fabric with a high openness level, you might consider layering your shades with drapery. That way, you can have nighttime privacy by simply closing the drapes. 

  • Color: When it comes to solar shades and fabric color, you’ll find that lighter colors better reflect heat and illuminate a room, but your view might be a little hazy (similar to that of sheers). If you have small windows or want to brighten a space, a lighter color may work best. 

    Dark colors, on the other hand, are excellent at reducing glare and providing better view-through. A darker fabric is a great choice for larger windows that frame an amazing landscape.


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