How to Measure for Solar Shades

Solar shades are perfect for rooms where you want to preserve the view of the outdoors and natural light from your windows while also maintaining your privacy and reducing the effect of the sun’s rays.

If you’re considering purchasing solar shades from Blindster, it’s important that you first know the exact measurements of the window or door where they will be installed. Without precise measurements, you may find that your shades are too long or too short or simply don’t fit.

Installation Choice: Inside Your Window Frame or Outside Your Window Frame?

 

There are two primary ways to install window treatments—inside the window frame or outside the window frame. Because both of these methods require different measurements, it’s important that you decide beforehand which installation you will use for your new shades.

To learn the major differences between the two types of installations, check out the table below:

Inside Mount

Outside Mount

·        Shades and blinds that are inside mounted are installed flush with the interior of your window frame

·        These installations provide a built-in look that minimizes the appearance of the window when the blinds or shades are closed

·        Inside mounts are ideal if you wish to leave woodwork or other wall materials exposed

·        Minimum depth required for secure inside mount: ¾”

·        Minimum depth required for flush inside mount: 3” without fascia, 4 ¼” with fascia

·        If your window frame doesn’t have the depth to support an inside mount, choose an outside mount installation instead.

·        Outside mounts are the ideal installation option if your window frames aren’t deep enough to support inside mounts

·        This option allows you to mount your blinds or shades to any surface near the window, including the ceiling, molding, or wall

·        Use this installation method to make your windows appear larger or to hide unattractive windows

·        Minimum flat surface required for secure outside mount: 1 ½”. Note the flat mounting surface area when taking your measurements and that the factory will make the fabric 7/8” to 1 3/8” narrower than the ordered width.

 

Weigh the pros and cons of both types of mounts to determine which installation is right for you and your home.

When you decide, use the instructions below to get the most accurate measurement possible before you place your order with Blindster.

Measuring Your Window or Door for Inside Mount Window Treatments

 

To get precise measurements that will provide a clean and flush look with your window frame, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Measure the inside width of the top of the window opening in the same spot where you will mount the shade. Note that the factory will make deductions of around 1/8” after you place your order.

Step 2: Measure the inside height of the window in three separate places—the far left side, the middle, and the far right side. Note the largest measurement of those three, as that’s the measurement you’ll use when you place your order.

  • Note that solar shade fabrics differ from other types of shades, as your order will be 7/8” to 1 3/8” narrower than the width you provide when placing your order. This deduction is to allow room for the mounting brackets.

Measuring Your Window or Door for Outside Mount Window Treatments

 

If your window frame doesn’t provide the minimum depth for an inside mount, or if you prefer the appearance of an outside mount, follow the instructions below to get accurate measurements:

Step 1: Measure the entire width of the area you wish to cover with your solar shade. If possible, add at least 2” to 3” of total space to help reduce light leakage. Use this measurement when placing your order.

Step 2: Measure the entire height of the area you wish to cover with your solar shade. Note that you must take into account a 1 ½” flat surface area for mounting when taking your height measurements. Adding 3” to 4” to your ordered height will give you enough fabric to mount your solar shade above your window frame to cover molding or framework if desired.

For more helpful tips and D.I.Y. projects, follow us on Pinterest.

How to Attract Birds to Your Garden

In addition to the splash of color and life it brings to your property, maintaining a garden can also turn your backyard into a self-contained ecosystem where plants and small animals thrive side-by-side. One of the most enjoyable parts of cultivating your own patch of nature is watching the life that grows from a single seed—including the flight of various birds that make their nests in and around your garden.

But simply growing a garden doesn’t always attract birds. In fact, there may be certain aspects of your garden that either aren’t conducive to birds or even repel them. To make sure your garden is bird-friendly, check out Blindster’s tips for making your outdoor space welcoming and accommodating to as many species of birds as possible.

• Hang bird feeders

Like all wild animals, birds are primarily concerned with how they’re going to get their next meal. The easiest way to attract them to your garden is to install bird feeders throughout your yard or outdoor space. However, it’s often not enough to simply hang a few bird feeders and sit back and watch the show. Make sure that they are fully stocked with seeds and that the bird food you provide is high-quality and suitable for feeding year-round.

bird feeder

• Make a safe space for them

Birds are risk-averse and will quickly move on from an area where they perceive dangers. That’s why it’s important to only hang bird feeders in areas where the birds will be left alone and away from threats. When hanging bird feeders, make sure you place them throughout your yard or garden and away from the reach of animals and predators—including your own cats and dogs. In addition, place them a good distance away from your home. When feeders are placed too close to windows, birds may accidentally fly into them and injure themselves.

safe space

• Keep them hydrated

In addition to working up a thirst, birds also appreciate a good bath every now and then. That’s why having a source of clean, fresh water in your yard or garden is essential to making it a happy home for your feathered friends. The easiest way to give birds the clean water they need is to simply add a birdbath to your outdoor space. Place it an area of your garden or yard where it’s easily accessible for both birds to get in and out and for you to clean and maintain it. While stone bird baths are the most traditional choice, bird baths made of any material work as long as they are well-maintained, clean, and kept safe from potential predators.

bird bath

• Fill your garden with plant life

Birds thrive in areas with large amounts of plant life. Not only are there more insects to feed on and activity to observe, but an abundance of trees, shrubs, and bushes also gives birds places to rest and survey the surrounding landscape. A sparse garden and outdoor area that caters more to humans than birds, will surely make your flying friends move on quickly. To truly create an ideal birdwatcher’s garden, mix and match plants to cultivate a variety of greenery that can attract a variety of birds.

A border garden running from sunny areas to shady areas.

• Provide nest-building materials

To truly make themselves at home in your outdoor space or garden, birds need to build nests. While most birds are crafty creatures and can fashion nests out of nearly any materials found in nature, they tend to hang around areas that have more privacy and have an abundance of raw materials to build with. An easy way to help birds get a head start on the nest building process is to hang birdhouses and nest boxes around your property. These provide safe enclosed spaces for birds to build nests where they can lay their eggs and raise their young. You can also set out nest-building materials, such as cloth strips, string, and ribbon to assist birds as they build their homes.

nest

What Birds Are the Easiest to Attract to Your Garden?

Now that you’ve turned your garden into a veritable bird sanctuary, you may be wondering what type of birds you’ll begin seeing around your home. While the varieties of birds you’ll find around your home depends on where you live, there are a few common types that are widespread throughout the country and that are common sights in bird-friendly gardens.

• Bluebirds

Even if you don’t maintain a fresh supply of bird food in your garden, there’s a good chance you’ll still attract a steady stream of bluebirds. Their primary diet consists of insects and other pests, which can help improve the health of the plants in your garden. Bluebirds tend to nest in sunny, open areas with easy access.

Bluebird

• Sparrows

Sparrows can include song sparrows, chipping sparrows, and field sparrows, all of which primarily eat a diet of seeds, with a few insects mixed in. Like bluebirds, the presence of sparrows in your garden can be beneficial, as they prefer to munch on weed seeds, helping to reduce the density of undesirable plants like crabgrass and ragweed from your outdoor area.

Sparrow in the Woods

• Woodpeckers

There are 21 species of woodpeckers in North America, and almost all of them are common visitors to outdoor gardens throughout the continent. Like bluebirds, woodpeckers mostly eat insects, but they’re also known to enjoy sunflower seeds, making birdfeeders stocked full of it and enticing treat for them. In addition, woodpeckers easily make their nests in bird houses and in the trunks of dead trees.

Downy Woodpecker (Male)

• Phoebes

Phoebes are small birds that are attracted to water due to their penchant for swooping in and gobbling up any unlucky insects that happen to be floating on the surface of the water. Birdbaths, small ponds, waterfalls, and water gardens are ideal for attracting this species of bird to your outdoor space and making sure they return again and again.

phoebe

How to Clean Roller Shades

Roller shades are highly versatile, look great in a variety of homes, and go well with almost any type of décor. Because of their universal appeal, roller shades are commonly chosen for both the home and office. And while roller shades can provide a sleek, elegant, and understated look to your windows, they do require regular maintenance to keep looking their best for years to come.

All objects in your home or office eventually attract dirt and dust—and roller shades are no different. Keeping your shades in tip-top condition requires a consistent cleaning schedule, so whether you’re looking to establish one for your new shades or you need to give your old window treatments a thorough cleaning for the first time, the instructions below can help you get the job done quickly and without damaging the fabric.

Step 1: Inspect your shades

Before you begin cleaning, you should first take a moment to inspect your blinds. Are they heavily stained or soiled? If so, they may need to be cleaned professionally. However, if your blinds are only lightly stained or have no stains, but an accumulation of dust, dirt, pet hair, and other debris, cleaning them at home should be a simple process.

Step 2: Read the manufacturer’s instructions

While you may be tempted to begin cleaning your shades immediately, it’s important that you first read the manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions before you begin. These instructions will contain useful information about whether your shades, depending on the material they’re made of, can be damaged by water and common cleaners—including mild soaps and detergents. Always read these instructions before using any cleaning supplies on your shades, as improper care may do more harm than good.

Step 3: Gather the cleaning items you’ll need

Cleaning shades is a simple process that doesn’t require many tools. To make the job as easy and hassle-free as possible, gather the following items and keep them handy while you work:

• A clean feather duster
A feather duster is the easiest way to clean shades that have only a light accumulation of dirt, dust, pollen, pet hair, and other debris.

• A vacuum with soft brush attachment
Vacuums are excellent for quickly removing debris from fabric. Before using a vacuum on your shade, make sure you use a soft brush attachment to avoid damaging the fabric. In addition, adjust the suction if possible and use only as much power as needed to clean the fabric.

• A sponge or clean cloth
Using a sponge or cloth is the quickest and easiest way to gently scrub away light stains and to remove dirt and dust from the headrail.

• A clean bucket of warm water and mild soap or detergent
A bucket of warm water and mild soap or detergent can quickly and easily remove light stains from the shade’s fabric or headrail. Before using any liquids on your shades, always test them on a small inconspicuous patch to make sure the color doesn’t run or stain after exposure to water and other mild cleaning liquids.

• A sheet or towels to catch dripping water and falling dust
Cleaning a shade can get messy—especially if it has collected a large amount of dirt and dust. To ease the cleanup process afterward, place a large sheet or towels underneath the length of the window to catch liquid or dust that falls from the shade while you clean.

• Hair dryer
Wet shades can warp, stain, fade, and become discolored. To quickly dry your shade, use a hair dryer on any damp areas after cleaning.

Step 4: Begin cleaning your shades

The process for cleaning can be divided into four quick and easy steps:

• Use the feather duster to remove light accumulations of dirt and dust.
• Use your vacuum with soft brush attachment to remove any additional dirt or dust that the feather duster didn’t pick up.
• Use a damp sponge or cloth and wipe away any dirt or dust from the headrail and gently scrub away any light stains from the fabric.
• Use a hair dryer on high heat to quickly dry any wet areas to prevent damage to the fabric.

Step 5: Determine if you need additional cleaning help

Although most roller shades can be cleaned at home, your shades may be heavily stained and cleaning them properly could be beyond your capabilities. If your shades won’t come clean with traditional methods, contact a professional cleaning company. Avoid using harsh chemicals or scrubbing too hard in an effort to remove stains, as that can severely damage the fabric and make deep stains worse.

Step 6: Set a regular cleaning schedule

Once your shades are cleaned, keeping them clean is easy if you set a regular cleaning schedule. Most shades in rooms with little foot traffic, such as spare bedrooms and bathrooms, only require brief cleanings with feather dusters a few times per month. Shades in rooms with more frequent foot traffic, like those in living rooms, master bedrooms, and dining rooms, may require more hands-on cleaning once or twice per week.

Common Garden Plants That Are Toxic to Dogs

If you’re dog owner, you know that there’s nothing that your canine friend enjoys more than spending time outside. And while there’s no substitute for taking your dog on regular walks, a quick trip to your backyard is a great way for your fur baby to burn off some pent up energy.

However, when intruding your dog to a new yard you should be cautious, as many common plants that seem harmless are actually toxic to dogs and can cause symptoms ranging from minor intestinal discomfort to serious medical emergencies.

To make sure your garden is safe for your furry friend, check out Blindster’s list of toxic plants that may be growing right under your feet.

aloe vera

Aloe vera

A plant widely regarded for its healing properties in countless cultures throughout the world, aloe vera is actually highly toxic to cats and dogs. If you grow aloe vera either indoors or in your garden, make sure it is kept in an area where your dogs can’t reach it. Symptoms of aloe vera ingestion in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, and change in urine color.

Azaleas

Azaleas add beauty and rich colors to any garden or landscaping project, but they’re also highly toxic to dogs and most animals. Dogs that consume even just a small amount of an azalea plant can suffer serious medical problems, and symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling require immediate treatment by a veterinarian. To stay on the safe side, it’s best to remove any azaleas from areas where your dog may venture in your yard or garden.

azaleas

tulips

Tulips

While the actual flowering part of tulips aren’t excessively toxic, the bulbs of the plants are. That’s particularly bad news for gardeners with dogs that love to dig, as ingestion of a tulip bulb can cause dogs to suffer extreme irritation in their mouths and throats. Depending on how much of the plant is consumed, dogs may require nothing more than a rinsing of the mouth and anti-vomiting medication, while others may require more intensive treatments to flush the toxins from their intestinal tracts.

Daffodils

Like tulips and azaleas, daffodils are beautiful flowering plants that add dimension to any garden. But daffodils contain an alkaloid chemical called lycorine, which can strongly irritate the intestines of dogs that consume the plant. As with tulips, the strongest concentration of the chemical is inside the bulbs of the plant, which means dogs that like to dig are the most at-risk of ingestion. Symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea to cardiac arrhythmias and labored breathing; any dogs that consume this plant should receive immediate veterinary attention.

daffodils

oleander

Oleander

Popular in gardens throughout the world and in all climates, oleander is an evergreen shrub that thrives in a wide variety of conditions. It’s also one of the most toxic plants commonly found in home gardens and cause significant health issues to animals when ingested. The plant contains a chemicals known as cardiac glycosides, which means they can disrupt the function of the heart of any animal that consumes the plant. Dogs that ingest oleander always require immediate veterinary attention, as even small amounts of the plant can be fatal.

Sago Palm

A plant that’s more common and popular in warm climates, sago palms are cultivated both indoors and in outdoor gardens. Unfortunately, sago palms are both highly toxic and highly appealing to animals, especially dogs. Symptoms of poisoning may not show up until nearly 12 hours after the initial ingestion of the plant and can range from unexplained bruising and nose bleeds to damage to the stomach lining and even liver failure. While the seeds are the most toxic part of the sago palm plant, all parts of it are harmful to dogs, making it a plant that simply has no place in dog owners’ homes or garden.

sago palm

poinsetta

Poinsettia

Poinsettias are most widely associated with Christmas decorations and displays, but they’re robust plants that can survive year-round, even during the winter, provided they don’t receive excess exposure to frost. Over the years, poinsettias have been singled out as being one of the most toxic common plants to animals—especially dogs—but they’re actually much less harmful than many of the other plants on this list. However, animals that ingest poinsettias still certainly experience discomfort, as symptoms can include irritation of the mouth and throat as well as mild vomiting and diarrhea.

Tomato plants

One of the few edible entries on this list, tomato plants are a staple of many outdoor gardens, as they’re not only fun to grow and cultivate, but they also produce delicious fruits. While the fruit can be safely consumed by dogs and other animals, the plant itself—the leaves, stems, and other green parts of the plant—are mildly toxic, although large amounts are often needed to produce adverse effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and lethargy. To be stay on the safe side, keep dogs away from tomato plants and supervise them if you grow tomatoes in your garden.

tomatoes

lily of the valley

Lily of the Valley

Prized by gardeners for its fragrance, attractive appearance, and ease of growth, lily of the valley does well in a variety of conditions, including shady areas and gardens in both dry and wet climates. However, this plant comes with a significant drawback for dog owners, as it’s highly toxic and, like oleander, contains cardiac glycosides that are known for causing heart arrhythmias in animals that ingest the plant. Even small amounts of the plant are known to cause symptoms ranging from abdominal pain and vomiting to drowsiness and reduced heart rate.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms can quickly and easily grown in your garden whether you want them there or not, but if you notice any sprouting up among your plants, it’s best to remove them immediately. Because there are so many different varieties of mushrooms, it’s nearly impossible to determine what type of mushrooms may be growing in your garden, as well as their overall toxicity level. Many mushrooms are known to range from irritating, to highly poisonous, for dogs and other animals, it’s best to err on the side of caution and remove mushrooms from your garden right away.

mushroom

How to Clean Sheer Shades

Sheer shades are the ideal solution for homeowners who want to let in as much warmth and sunlight as possible, but also increase privacy and security in their homes.

While their design can add an elegant and beautiful touch to any room in your home, sheer shades attract dust and dirt just like other shades—and that means they require regular cleaning to look their best at all times.

To safely clean your sheer shades, check out Blindster’s tips below.

 

Step 1: Inspect your shades to determine how much cleaning they need.

The cleaning approach you take with your sheer shades depends on how thoroughly they need to be cleaned. Shades with a light coating of dust, pollen, dirt, or other debris may only need a superficial cleaning, while shades that are stained or covered in a heavy accumulation of debris will need more intensive cleaning.

Step 2: Read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and warnings.

Because the fabric on sheer shades is so delicate, it’s important to follow all cleaning and care instructions to avoid possibly damaging it. Certain types of fabric may easily rip or become frayed due to normal cleaning motions and even light rubbing, so always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations before manually spot-cleaning.

In addition, pay close attention to any warnings about using soaps and detergents—even mild ones—before putting them on the fabric. Certain fabrics may become permanently stained with exposure to even small amounts of water and soap.

To find the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, check the original packing for the shades, consult the manufacturer’s website, check for a tag on the fabric, or contact Blindster.

Step 3: Gather the cleaning items you’ll need.

To save time, gather all of the cleaning items you’ll need during the cleaning process ahead of time. Cleaning sheer shades requires only a few tools and cleaning products, such as:

  • Feather duster

A feather duster is the quickest and easiest way to remove light accumulations of dirt, dust, and pet hair from your shades. It’s also extremely gentle on the fabric and should be your first choice when you begin cleaning.

  • Vacuum with soft brush attachment

For heavier filth or to remove dirt and dust without worrying about it falling on the floor, use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum’s extension handle. If the suction from your vacuum is too strong, adjust it to a lower setting if possible or place panty hose over the vacuum’s opening to attract dust without pulling on the fabric.

  • Bucket of warm water and mild soap or detergent

If the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions indicate that it’s okay to use water and soap when cleaning your shade, mix the two together in a bucket or large bowl. Dilute the mixture with more water as necessary. For heavily soiled shades, you may want to add a second bucket or bowl to rinse your sponge or cloth to avoid contaminating the soapy water in the first bucket.

Step 4:Begin cleaning your shades.

The first step when cleaning your shades is to remove any light accumulations of dirt and dust. Begin by gently running the feather duster along every exposed surface of the shade, starting at the top and working your way down to the bottom. You may want to place a sheet or towels underneath your window or door to catch any falling dust at this point of the cleaning process.

Next, use your vacuum with its soft brush attachment to remove any additional dirt, dust, or pollen from your shades. As mentioned above, change the suction settings if the vacuum is ineffective at removing dust or the suction is too strong and could possibly damage the fabric.

Finally, immerse your sponge or soft cloth in the warm water and soap mixture and wring it thoroughly to avoid causing water damage to your shades. Starting at the headrail, gently wipe along every exposed surface of the shades to remove light stains or dirt and dust accumulations.

Be careful to not get any water inside the openings of the headrail and don’t soak the fabric, as excess moisture could damage it.

Step 5: Dry your shades.

To quickly dry your shades and prevent possible water spots from forming on the fabric, use a hair dryer on any areas with excess moisture.

Step 6: Set a regular cleaning schedule.

To keep your shades looking their best all year long, make cleaning them a part of your weekly cleaning routine. In most cases, sheer shades require just a quick spot cleaning with a feather duster on a weekly basis to avoid heavy dirt and dust accumulation that can lead to stains and discoloration after several weeks, months, or years between cleanings.

Step 7: Consult a professional cleaning service for heavily stained shades.

If your shades have stains that are deep inside the fabric, you may be unable to clean them at home. If that’s the case, you may have to consult with a professional cleaning service that has the equipment to remove the stains with damaging the fabric of the shades.

For more cleaning tips, follow Blindster.com on Pinterest!

4th of July DIY Flag from Recycled Bamboo Blind

The summers have a way of making me feel crafty. As a kid, it was the time of year I went to camp and spent weeks amongst Popsicle sticks, colorful pipe cleaners and glitter glue. Now as an adult, I can feel myself get the creative itch whenever it starts to heat up outside. It was because of that itch, and the rising amounts of left over fabrics and bamboo in the Blindster.com storage room, that I began thinking up ways to make them useful (or at least decorative).

Spending money on holiday decorations is frustrating because they are always exorbitantly overpriced and I never seem to find exactly what I want. So if I have the chance to make something instead, I will jump on it. The upcoming 4th of July celebration inspired me to create an American flag wall decoration from an old bamboo blind we had sitting in the office storage room. This renewed flag turned out perfect for an Independence day party or an everyday patio decoration! Check out our tutorial below:

IMG_2842

What you will need:
• Old bamboo blinds
• Red, white and blue paint
• Paint brushes (1 small, 1 medium)
• Paper plates or bowls (for the paint)
• Star stencil (or you can free-hand)
• Pencil
• Twine
• Scissors

IMG_2835

Start by removing the headrail of the shade by cutting the strings holding it together.

IMG_2838

Tie off each string to prevent the shade from unraveling.

After making sure the shade was free of dust and dirt, I laid it on a flat clean surface over some cardboard that I had already put down. For the particular shade I used, no sanding or other prep was necessary. Since my particular shade already had strings running down it, I used those as a guide for my red and white stripes. I had to cut one section off the side to have 13 stripes, but bamboo blinds are easy to trim with a good pair of scissors.

IMG_2839

Mark off the section for the blue square of the flag with a pen. Because I planned to hang this flag downward, I made sure to put the blue square to the top left of the shade (proper American flag hanging technique).

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Using the medium brush, paint the blue part of the flag first, so that it can dry before painting on the 50 stars.

IMG_2848

Paint on red stripes, make sure the two outside stripes were painted red.

You could also use tape along the edges of each stripe for a guaranteed clean line, but you would have let each color dry completely before attempting to tape them. I let that dry for about two hours just to be safe. Don’t want to end up with a pink flag!

IMG_2855

Cut out 5 star stencils and place them evenly spaced out on the blue square. The top of the star should be pointing towards where you are going to hang it. Using the smaller brush to paint, create 11 rows, alternating between 5 and 4 stars per row, to end up with 50.

Tip: Wipe off the bottom of your stencil before moving on to your next star so you don’t end up with rogue white paint!

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Switch back to the medium paint brush to add the white stripes and use the small brush to touch up any details. I ended up only doing one layer of paint because I liked the rustic look of brown bamboo peeking through.

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To create the handle for the flag, string a two foot-long piece of rope through the third from the top bamboo stick on the right and left sides, then tie the rope in a knot at the back at each side. Make sure your knots are tight by tugged on them. You don’t want your flag on your floor!

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Cut off any excess rope at the back to make sure it hangs flat. Then hang your DIY flag on your front door, wall, or behind your appetizer table and enjoy your family’s admiring looks!

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For more DIY ideas, follow Blindster.com on Pinterest!