When you can go to a local home improvement store to buy window coverings, sometimes people wonder why custom window coverings are better DIY options. After all, a shade is a shade, right? Certainly there’s no harm in buying your shades, blinds, shutters, or curtains from a store or website and installing them yourself. There are, however, significant benefits that can make your life easier, save you money, and prevent problems by having professionals do the work for you.
So, why are custom window coverings better than DIY? Read on!
Custom window coverings are designed to fit each of YOUR unique windows.
Not every window is the same. In fact, many aren’t even the same width at the top as they are at the bottom. Some windows don’t have enough space for an internally mounted shade (installed inside the window frame) so they’d require an external mount (installed outside the frame, like you would curtain rods). The measurements for hardware are different for each and every window covering, and can even vary by style and functionality. All window coverings in a box store are pre-cut to specific sizes that match the most common window sizes (and some designers call “standard sizes” an industry myth). Even if you have window the same measurements as their “standard” size, it still may not fit depending on the drywall around your window, variance in top and bottom width, or because they don’t account for the hardware size in the measurement of the shade or blind.
Not all windows are made the same
Some windows that are uneven or uniquely-shaped require a custom template to be made that the product is then designed from. That’s not likely something you want to tackle yourself.
Two windows in the same room may still require different considerations, and if they’re in a corner? That takes skill to account for hardware not interfering with each other and some serious math. You have to either butt them up together, overlap one with the other, and consider the gaps that may occur that way, like in our image of roller shades here.
If you have arches, angles, or any other specialty shapes of windows, the likelihood of finding a non-custom solution that will fit perfectly is, frankly, slim to none.
Depth of the window also will play a huge consideration into what products you can install. If you have a shallow window frame, certain products may not even be able to function without enough space. Imagine going through the entire process of installing a motorized shade, only to discover you can’t reach the battery pack to charge it or swap out batteries. This type of consideration is something a custom window treatment company is designed to anticipate and plan around to make sure your coverings not only look great, but actually work.
Ask how they finish items they cut down to size
Last but not least, things like blinds are sent to the stores in one very large size. They then cut down the width to fit your window. This can result in rough or unfinished edges. You’ll want to see if they sand and stain or paint the cut edges. They also may not adjust the length, so you could end up with something too long that bunches up, or worse, too short. If they cut it, make sure the strings and bottom hardware is cleanly done so nothing will break or look sloppy. Definitely ask to see a finished product before asking them to cut anything down.
We have an entire article on box store curtains versus custom made draperies that may interest you if you’re looking for fabric-specific information!
You may not get the results you actually need without knowing all the details.
Custom window coverings are designed fit your unique window within 1/16th of an inch. If you’re aiming for insulation or preventing light from entering a room, the likelihood of accomplishing it with a mass-produced window covering is slim, but a big part of the goal of custom-made options!
We ensure that the length of the window covering accounts for the hardware too. If you install something inside a window frame, it should fit edge-to-edge as closely as possible. If installed outside, it needs to overlap the edges so there’s no gaps even from angles. Some window coverings will always be narrower than the hardware, so knowing how that will look when it’s installed is very important.
When your goal is insulation and lower energy bills, a tight fit against the window is necessary. If you’re looking at a product that would mount outside your window frame, you’re never going to get the same level of insulation as one designed to fit tightly inside the frame with as little gap as possible between the shade and the glass. Common in bedrooms, blocking light takes some careful work. There are even more considerations to take into account for darkness, like channels on the sides of the window that help prevent any light gap whatsoever, or external overlap to prevent angled light seeping through. All of this expertise is part of why custom window coverings are better than box stores – we’re experts for a reason. The fact is window treatments are not an easy thing to learn and there’s way more to know than most people think.
materials may look very different in the store or online vs. in your home
You know when you paint a room, how it’s recommended you paint swatches on the wall and look at it over time, at different times of day, and next to your décor? The materials for window coverings are no exception. The image above is the same product – the same color and material – on the vendor’s website versus in-person in a client’s home. It doesn’t even look like the same thing, does it? Yet it is! You can purchase swatches to bring home, of course, but it’s up to you to determine if the texture, pattern, or style matches your look.
If you aren’t sure exactly what you want, you’re left to search for yourself and order swatches that may end up looking nothing like you thought they would. If you’re looking simply in the store on a shelf with bright white lighting and multiple similar shades nearby, it’s going to be impossible to guess what it will look like in your home. You’ll be limited by what they carry too, and by what they package together as a set unless you want to spend more to buy additional hardware that would be your job to make sure works with the shades you chose, and your job to make work together.
Their choices are often limited to prevent “choice overload”
Choice overload is a real thing. Studies show people with too many choices can end up feeling very negative about purchasing something. Either we end up having buyer’s remorse because we feel they couldn’t weigh all the options well. Or worse, we end up not making a choice at all because we simply can’t decide and don’t have the information needed to narrow it down.
To combat this, manufacturers generally limit the choices available for their products online and in stores. That way, people don’t feel so overwhelmed they end up unhappy or not buying from them at all. This means you aren’t really getting all the choices available when choosing yourself. That color, control option, unique shape, decorative detail, or other element you would love may simply not be available to you. Unless you know their full line behind the scenes, you’d never know what you’re missing out on. But it could have been the difference between loving or just being fine with your end result.
we help you narrow down your options rather than limit you
With custom design consultations, we bring samples to your home that we can hold up to your furniture, your window, and you see them in your lighting, next to your own décor. Custom window treatment designers will ALWAYS have more selection than any store, because we have a huge variety of selection at our disposal. Hardware, fabrics, materials, even hinges for shutters are things you can choose individually with a designer. We also can get a sense for the style you’re going for and make recommendations you may not have considered before! You pick ALL the details, and we show you what we know will work for YOU, not just for anyone. If you want a unique accent to add some contrast or tie in other elements of your design, we’ll help you get that done perfectly. If you’re looking to evoke emotion in a room but don’t know how, rest assured we do!
Custom design is about CUSTOM design after all. We don’t expect everyone to be a professional designer, but it can really help to make a decision with the help of one. Working with a professional window covering company means the process can be fun and easy for you! All you do is explain what you like, what you need, and we handle the rest.
Cynthia has a special talent for knowing what you are looking for. She helped me with a couple of long windows in my family room. I thought I needed to go with curtains, but she showed me wood blinds that have made the room finally look finished. From there, she showed me a different way to approach a large window in my living room. With beautiful shades to block out the sunlight to drapes that framed the shades on either side. I wanted a subtle Asian feel and she knew exactly what would look best. I am so grateful for all of her help. Cynthia is the consummate professional.
– Carolyn U. on Yelp
Functionality matters as much as looks.
One thing we’re often presented with is clients who know they want to block heat from entering a window that gets plenty of natural light, but they still want to maintain their view. Based on the style in your home, the position of the window, and your tastes, we can pull from our knowledge of R-value (insulation ratings), patterns and styles available, and what’s within your budget to come up with the best solution that meets ALL of your needs. And one that actually will WORK. Some products are marketed in a way to imply they would be perfect for what you’re looking for, but unless you invest a lot of time and research into every option, you can’t know if that claim is true. For example, a black solar shade could certainly cut down on heat, but white is much better at maintaining views. That’s not common knowledge, of course, nor labeled when choosing a color.
Design knowledge combined with knowledge of ideal functionality will always win out over guesswork.
Safety & lifestyle considerations take extra research
Did you know that some corded window coverings have been made illegal due to safety hazards for children and pets? Or that only certain materials are rated as safe for children? There are a lot of additional lifestyle factors that go into play when choosing window coverings for your home. If you have any limitations or hard-to-reach windows, there are unique solutions that can be made to make sure your window covering works specifically for you.
For homes with children, we’re going to change our recommendations based on safety for them (and the fact kids aren’t notoriously clean humans). If you’re installing something in a bathroom which has high humidity, there are products that you should stay away from and some that will last much longer due to the humidity. Pet owners too, we may change recommendations based on your pet’s behaviors and what’s best and safest for them. Rather than spending your entire day looking at style options for a nursery that later you discover aren’t safe, we’ll help you get it right the first time.
This also goes for people with mobility issues or disabilities, those who love to cook but maybe are prone to messy explosions, or those who are out-of-town traveling regularly. Seems disconnected, right? But there are different things we’d recommend based on any of those factors to help make sure you benefit fully from your window coverings. If you can’t think of any considerations off the top of your head for those very different situations, that’s likely because you’re not an expert in window coverings! We’re able to make sure you’re making the best choice for yourself and your family and life in many ways most people wouldn’t even consider for themselves.
Installation & warranty issues can be challenges with diy.
Store bought window coverings will usually come with hardware. If you don’t like the hardware it comes with, finding your own isn’t the easiest process. If you’ve ever bought ready-to-assemble anything, you also know that sometimes a screw is missing, the instructions aren’t the easiest to follow, or it requires tools you may need to borrow for a unique purpose.
Stores often offer installation at additional cost from people they’ve contracted through, but you don’t know anything about. Often their focus isn’t just window coverings either, but general work. They don’t know the product you’ve bought or what you had in mind with your design. They don’t know window coverings like the back of their hand, and aren’t responsible for the product itself if something is missing or wrong. If you installed it yourself, the only recourse you have if something is wrong is a refund or swap with a new box of the same thing. You definitely can only guess if something needs to be slightly trimmed (and how) to make the installation perfect. If you have a high window, do you have an equally tall ladder?
Some products will even void your warranty if you didn’t install it perfectly – not taking into account the lack of knowledge the average person has to do so. Others provide no warranty unless it’s installed by a professional they have a contract with. Read all details carefully before you make any decisions!
Professional installers know your window covering inside and out
When you work with a custom window covering business, our installers are part of the company. They know your designer. They can solve a problem on the spot, or talk to your designer if something comes up that wasn’t anticipated. They’re empowered with training on different products, and situations that may complicate installations, and their sole focus window coverings. It gives them the ability to be flexible and know how to overcome challenges, and know what to do if a problem arises. Not to mention, they’re going to have the right tools for the job every time.
But most importantly, they’re accountable, and won’t disappear after your installation is complete. If something needs a repair or a tweak, whether at the time of installation or years down the road, you can still get ahold of the people who designed and sold you the product for help.
Last but not least, we’re going to take care of any old window coverings and all the packaging and boxes that came with your new ones for you. No additional work after you’ve done the hard work is always a win!
We love what Galaxy did for our home. We weren’t 100% sure what we wanted, but Debbie knew exactly what we needed as soon as she spoke with us and saw our home. She saw the before and then the after. She stuck with us for 6 months while renovations happened and we were finally ready to do our window coverings. Then came Alfredo, who installed our blinds. He was friendly, efficient and committed to a quality install. Little issues we had (we’re very meticulous), Debbie and Alfredo found a solution and fixed to perfection. I cannot express enough our satisfaction/delight with Galaxy, Debbie and Alfredo.
– Steve B. on Google
lack of longevity & warranties can hurt your wallet
Like with installations, knowing that you can reach the people who installed or designed your product really does matter. If you’re three years down the road and something breaks, do you know what to do? Can you replace a single part, or does the whole thing need to go? What if the box store you purchased it from doesn’t carry that product anymore, or if warranty was only a one-year manufacturer warranty but this was an accident not covered by it? What if it WAS a manufacturer defect that resulted in you only getting a year but there’s no warranty? Some manufacturers will not replace your wood blinds if they’re warped due to high humidity. Others deny claims if the cracks or shrinking are the result of exposure to prolonged direct light. If you bought them specifically to block direct light, that’s like a punch in the gut.
Third-party stores often are little to no help. Since they don’t specialize in the product, they’re not likely to have answers for individual situations either. If the manufacturer covers it, you may be sent a part you don’t know how to install, or worse, break it in the process. Not having some kind of guarantee on what you spent money and time on matters. You may be left to contact customer support yourself too, which isn’t always a great experience. Some stores are definitely better than others at supporting their customers when a product they sell has a problem. But you may not want to find out the hard way.
Window coverings are too important for guesswork
Window coverings can save you money, give you privacy, help reduce energy bills, and add emotion to your space. They can make rooms look bigger, smaller, cozier, more formal, etc. They’re an important element in your home. Knowing that you purchased quality, custom window coverings lets you know they will last. Working with a custom window treatment company means if anything goes wrong, at any point, you already know who to call. Not only that, but we’re going to have your exact measurements and product on file already, and we know the exact terms of your warranty. We’ll also handle any warranty claims for you, and handle repairs ourselves. No calling customer service or trying to figure out the legal wording of your warranty.
Because we helped choose the perfect window coverings for each space too, you can already trust that we didn’t let you put a product in a place that will easily get ruined by something like humidity or food mess – totally avoidable issues. We also teach you how to clean your unique window covering, and can help if you’re having trouble. By the way, improper cleaning can void warranties, and if the tips given to you by the manufacturer (if any) don’t work, you’re out of luck.
Custom window coverings are better than DIY.
By now, hopefully you understand why custom window treatments are better than DIY options. Not just in quality, but in basically every way imaginable from start to finish and years down the road. We’ve replaced many a broken, ill-fitting, unattractive, or non-functional DIY treatment.
when custom window coverings are our business, you can trust we know what we’re doing
We value knowing that our clients are happy with their window coverings. We design with you and only you in mind to make sure it solves your unique problems and suits your unique tastes. Not to mention, you just have to pick from selections we help you narrow down, and we’ll take it from there! No hard work on your part other than choosing!
Hi, my name is Sandra and this is my experience. First, I highly recommend Galaxy Draperies!!!
I thought I would save money and did not call Matt at Galaxy on a couple of roller shades instead I tried to save money and purchased the shades from Home depot. Well no money was saved. In less than two month’s the shades from Home Depot were unusable. One came off the roller completely due to heat and poor adhesive on the shade. The other shade simply would no longer roll up. My husband tried his best to fix the Home Depot shades to no avail. That said we are back for the second time to Galaxy. What I thought was expensive really is not due to excellent quality materials and great customer service. Go with a custom quality shade that will last. Galaxy is great!
– Sandra M. on Yelp