Back in the '70s, if you asked a retail associate about roller shades, they would point you in the direction of one single type. These plasticky, vinyl-like sheet roller shades were the only kind you could buy. However, as time went on, the roller shade industry got more creative and more intuitive to consumer's needs when it came to window treatments. Now you can buy six different kinds of roller shades, and each one has its own unique benefits for your windows.

The Modern Vinyl Roller Shade With Added Features

The modern vinyl roller shade still has a pull-down tab edge and a spring-mounted, self-roll-up feature. The modern version also has textures, colors, and room-darkening abilities, and you can custom-cut the shades to fit nearly every width and length of window. They cost more than really cheap blinds, but they are much safer around children and pets because there are no pull cords involved. In addition to these features, the modern vinyl roller shade is very easy to fix; you will never need a repair technician for these shades.

Room-Darkening Roller Shades

These shades are made from thick cloth that is opaque and backed with another kind of fabric. They are ideal for those who want maximum privacy and for those who work the graveyard shift and need to sleep during the day. Because they are cloth, they are also easy to spot clean. If you need to clean most of the shade because of a larger stain covering the rolled-down shade, they can be dry cleaned, too.

Light-Diffusing Shades

Light-diffusing shades should not be confused with room-darkening shades. Room-darkening shades block almost all light from a room, while the light-diffusing shades significantly soften the light and prevent UV light from bleaching furniture, art, and fabrics. Additionally, light-diffusing shades can help keep rooms cool, which is an ideal feature if you install these shades in a sun room.

Sheer Shades

Sheer roller shades are made from sheer fabrics. They do not provide much in the way of privacy, but they are often made from very pretty and decorative fabrics. If all you want to do is have decorative window coverings, then sheer shades are the right choice.

Banded Shades

Banded shades combine strips of opaque or sheer cloth with completely see-through strips of lightweight plastic or vinyl. These shades provide a very unique look for your windows. They also give you a means of seeing out the windows without really being seen yourself, which is a useful feature if you want to keep an eye on the kids playing in the yard without the kids knowing that you are watching them.

Designer Shades

Top name-brand designers of household goods have tiptoed into the roller shade industry. This is exciting new territory because it means that you can purchase high-end home designer goods at a lower price than expected, all with hundreds of colors, patterns, and styles of cloth. When you own a home that is already decorated "to the nines," your window treatments should compliment everything else. The shades should also enhance your windows, which might otherwise seem a little drab and dreary in such a well-decorated abode.

What Will You Choose?

With this many options, it is difficult to choose what you will buy. Thankfully, most retailers that sell any and all of the above have interior decorator services to help you decide. These extra services make a big difference in choosing the roller shades that are just right for your home and your windows. Plus, the designers will take all of the necessary measurements to ensure that your shades are the perfect size.