Solar Shades 101—Are Solar Shades Right for You?

Designer Screen Shades Designer Screen Shades
Designer Screen Shades Fabric: Chill   Color: Heathered Grey

What Are Solar Shades?

Solar window shades (also called sun 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 views. If your windows overlook gorgeous scenery and a lot of sun is coming into the room, solar shades will block the annoying glare and reduce heat without obstructing your view. They’ll also prevent sunlight from fading or deteriorating your upholstery, carpet, hardwood floors and artwork—and they may even help lower your energy bills!

Solar Shades: Openness Explained

Openness refers to how tightly the 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 it blocks the light—however, you have better visibility. Designer Screen Shades come in openness levels ranging from 0% to 14%, so you have options for filtering light.

Designer Roller Shades Designer Roller Shades
Designer Roller Shades Fabric: Giovanni   Color: Silver Dust

Unlimited Options

With hundreds of fabrics and opacities, numerous decorative options and a variety of top and bottom treatments, you can customize your solar shades to fit your personal taste. For unusually large windows, Designer Screen Shades are available in widths ranging from 12" to 192" and heights from 12" to 144". They can also fit bay and corner windows. If you have doors in the same room as your windows, you can create a cohesive look by coordinating Designer Screen Shades fabrics with vertical window treatments like Skyline® Gliding Window Panels.

Solar Shades and Color

One thing to keep in mind when choosing solar shades is the fabric color. Even if you compare fabrics with the same opacity level, lighter and darker colors work a bit differently. Lighter colors better reflect heat and illuminate a room, but the view might be a little hazy (similar to that of sheers). So, 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 overlook an amazing outdoor setting.

Do Solar Shades Offer Privacy?

Yes and no. The higher the openness level (the looser the fabric weave), the better you can see through the fabric. But during the day, you have a little more privacy—you can see outside, but others cannot see into your home. When your lights are on at night, the effect is the opposite and outsiders can see inside. You might want to consider adding a liner to your solar shades, or for a more dramatic look, layer your shades with curtains.

Since solar shades on their own don’t provide as much privacy as other shades, they work best in more public areas like kitchens, living rooms, media rooms, sunrooms and patios as opposed to bathrooms or bedrooms. You might also notice them in business offices, where they reduce glare on computer screens, or restaurants, where you can take in the surrounding views.

Designer Screen Shades Designer Screen Shades
Designer Screen Shades Fabric: Ashton/Abyss   Color: Moonlight/Volcanic Ash

UV Protection and Energy Efficiency

Besides protecting your furnishings from damaging UV rays, Designer Screen Shades provide excellent energy efficiency, reducing the amount of heat that escapes in the winter and enters in the summer, so you stay comfortable all year long. And for more light control, you can combine two Designer Screen fabrics of varying opacities on the same shade.

Minimal Light Gap

Even if you choose a low openness level, some solar shades may still let in light through a slight gap between the shade and the window frame. Designer Screen Shades and Designer Roller Shades are designed with an ultra-slim Custom Clutch which, because of its small profile, allows for the absolute thinnest light gap in the industry.


From selecting materials and colors to expert measurement and installation, our window-treatment specialists can help you find the perfect window treatments for your home. Find a specialist near you to get started today.