Moderating Conservatory Temperature and Lighting Levels Using Blinds
Conservatory Blinds play an important part in the look and feel of your conservatory – aesthetically and also in terms of privacy, thermal control, glare reduction and general ambiance. In order to put the importance of conservatory blinds into perspective, consider that the amount of glazing used in your conservatory may be more than the amount used in the rest of your house put together – it is therefore very important to consider the side-effects of such a large glazed surface-area.
As well as aiding you in maintaining comfortable temperature and lighting levels in your conservatory all year round, suitable conservatory blinds will also protect the rest of your conservatory furnishings from intense UV damage – the sun’s rays can cause conservatory fabrics to fade over time and can dry out and damage conservatory furniture, particularly wooden conservatory furniture.
There are many types of blinds and they can all be fitted to conservatories, though whether they are actually suitable for use in a conservatory and therefore should be used is another matter entirely. Cheaper, commonly available roller blinds or venetian blinds can be fitted to a conservatory as side blinds but they are not designed for this purpose – they will not give you the best performance or appearance and their fittings may be visible in use. It is also important that blinds be fitted as close to the glass as possible to maximise their efficiency and this is only attainable with purpose-built solutions.
Proper conservatory blinds are made from carefully chosen materials and fixing systems, have specific thermal or solar characteristics and are treated with dye pigments and coatings that will aid their longevity in a conservatory environment – remember that your conservatory will be subject to wider extremes of temperature, humidity, heat loss, solar gain and solar impact than any other area of your home! Stain-resistance is also a desirable characteristic since conservatories can be prone to condensation and higher concentrations of insects.
Blinds are generally better at aiding you in keeping heat in the conservatory and minimising heat loss than they are in reducing heat gain. In an ideal situation, blinds should be used alongside glazing with solar coatings. While blinds can reflect a certain amount of the sun’s radiant heat, it is more efficient to do have the glazing do most of the thermal work for you, leaving the blinds to modulate the amount of light being let in. Heat making it through the glass into your conservatory and hitting the surface of the blinds is effectively already inside the room and hard to reflect back out – it should be minimised at source by the glazing units in the conservatory roof and side windows rather than relying solely on blinds to do this.
Lighting a conservatory can be tricky at times, and blinds that are closed when it is dark outside will assist in reflecting the light inside the conservatory back into the room, making it easier to light – this is particularly true of lighter coloured materials. Conversely, keeping light out of a conservatory can also be tricky and poorly fitted or specified blinds will be more prone to unsightly light gaps.
Conservatory blinds can be manually or electrically operated – with electrically operated conservatory blinds the control mechanisms can be hidden and the blinds operated conveniently by remote control. Remote control conservatory blinds are also a good safety option where there are children in the home – operating cords for some types of blinds can create a strangulation hazard for small children if they become entangled in them. Typical manual operations for conservatory roof blinds require the blinds to be wound or pushed open or closed with a pole or wand inserted into the mechanism.
With some systems, electronically operated blinds can be automated, allowing you to have them open and close at predetermined times for convenience or even for security purposes.
The more complex the shape and design of your conservatory, and the greater the number of panes of glass, the more expensive it will be to add blinds to your conservatory.
The end result will always be proportional to the amount of effort and expenditure that goes into your conservatory blinds and so while good quality blinds can be expensive they will look better, perform better and last longer.
Conservatory roof blinds (fitted to the conservatory roof)and conservatory side blinds (used on side windows and conservatory doors) should be viewed as two entirely separate areas, as they will possess different characteristics, in terms of materials, fixings and operating mechanisms. Below, and on the following page we will take a look at the available options for roof blinds and side blinds.
Conservatory Side Blinds
The sides of a conservatory will not be subjected to the same extremes as the roof and therefore this, in addition to gravity working in your favour means that there are a wider range of options for conservatory side blinds.
Side blinds are a more straightforward proposition than roof blinds as the panes of glass in the sides of a conservatory tend to be rectangular. It is possible to use individual blinds (one per pane) for a high-quality finish, or for those on a budget it is possible to use several large blinds to cover a larger area.
Roller conservatory side blinds
Roller blinds are one of the easiest ways to add blinds to any area as they generally require a simple fixing at either end and can be cut to almost any size with relative ease. They are a good DIY blind option but will offer poor performance and aesthetic appeal compared to a more tailored approach.
Roller blinds have a tendency to billow and flap about in the wind if any of the windows in the conservatory are open. They may also be prone to moisture damage caused by damp and condensation unless specially treated.
Roman conservatory side blinds
Roman blinds fold up into gentle loops from the bottom up as they are lifted and are a traditional choice as a conservatory blind.
Roman blinds are available in a choice of materials although perhaps the most suitable for a conservatory is Pinoleum, or French Pinoleum. See the section on ‘pinoleum conservatory side blinds’ below for more information.
The fabric type is probably not suited to the majority of conservatories as they are susceptible to moisture damage unless specially treated – they will also have more of a tendency to billow in the wind as they lack the natural gaps of the pinoleum type.