The Mechanics of Blinds – How They Work

The ancient Egyptians, who originally invented blinds, incorporated the basic function of tilting through the use of pulleys. Because of the then intricate design of the blind, which increased the price of the product, blinds were not widely used. If this story is to be believed, then this article is a must read. It is believed that blinds were invented at a later time as a way to control the sunlight, thus believed to be superior to curtains due to their increased functionality. For this reason, ancient Pharaohs can not be credited with the invention of blinds.

Blinds are a curious machine, however. The basic function of a blind is to block light and provide privacy. To do that, they need to be adjustable. Adjustability is what makes blinds different. Basic blocking of a window can be done with paper, fabric sheets or other permanent or removable coverings. However, if an occupant wishes to adjust the level of privacy or permit some of the light to enter the room, she can use a blind to cause this effect.

Blinds are generally available in horizontal and vertical designs thus accommodating the particular requirements of the window or door to be covered. Controls are built in to perform the opening and tilting functions of the modern day blind and are also available in a multitude of colors and sizes to fit all applications. All blinds, regardless of origin, must perform these functions in order to meet the consumer demand and specific requirements. In summary, similar functions are found in all blinds with disregard to their origin. Only the quality of the components will dictate the smoothness of operation and reliability of the blind.

As previously mentioned, all blinds typically have two functions – tilt and raise. In the case of vertical blinds, the raising function is replaced by the traverse/open function. The end result of these operating functions is to either adjust the incoming light, control privacy or totally exposing the covered opening. All blinds perform similar functions thus giving the consumer the preferred function at a specific time.

In the case of horizontal blinds, metal miniblinds available in horizontal slats in different sizes, wood or fauxwood slats also available in different sizes, the operating components are essentially the same, only the quality and design of said components will increase the reliability and the ease of operation of the blinds.

The same element applies to most vertical blinds. There are a few systems that work a little differently, but in the end, a vertical blind is a vertical blind.

In order to explain the functions of a vertical or a horizontal blind, it is necessary to visualize in our minds the product itself. In the case of a vertical blind, carriers which traverse in a made to measure track will vertically hold the vertical louvers, which can be ordered in either solid PVC or free-hanging fabric with a weight inserted at the bottom of each vertical louver in order to force the fabric vertical louver to hang straight. These carriers are interconnected and operate uniformly whenever rotating open to a desired angle or traversed open, either partially or fully, as desired by the end user. In the case of a horizontal blind, regardless of the material used (real wood or fauxwood), the tilt and raise functions are conducted through the use of cords and/or wands. The most popular systems are operated by the use of cords for two reasons – ease of operation and aesthetics.

The tilting function of a horizontal blind or a vertical blind is performed by the use of a tilter mechanism built into the blind. This tilting mechanism involves the use of a geared actuator which causes the blind to rotate/tilt to the desired position in order to allow the operator to control the amount of light entering a room, adjust the level of desired privacy or control the level of exterior view. The lift function of a horizontal blind is achieved through the use of a cord lock which allows the operator to lock the horizontal blind at a desired position. In the case of a vertical blind, the traverse function is achieved by either a cord which traverses the carriers to a desired point.

Although the basic functions of blinds remain basically the same, in an effort to differentiate their products, certain fabricators offer “enhancements” to their specific products such as monocommand controls, plastic or metal chains, plastic or metal weights, valance and bottom rail designs, etc. However, these enhancements usually increase production and selling costs and have little bearing on the basic operation of either the horizontal blind or vertical blind.

The basic elements of blinds are the same among various systems. If one needs to repair a blind, usually it is best to try to work with a retailer, who can determine if the blinds are reparable. In many cases, the blinds are so outdated that they may be a safety risk in the homes. However, if you will make repair to your blinds, at least you can understand how they work.