Window shades are such an important part of interior design that it is easy to forget there are two sides to the story. In fact, what is happening on the outer side of the shade is at least as important as what happens inside.

Solar heat gain
Window shades are an excellent way to stop sunlight from hitting interior surfaces and creating solar heat gain. But how successfully a shade combats heat gain is mostly down to the exterior fabric color. Generally, fabrics with a lighter exterior color reflect more solar energy than darker colors, so they keep out the heat better. There is an exception to this rule. Mermet USA fabrics with KOOLBLACK® technology have been treated so that even darker colors reflect more of the sun’s rays.

More privacy
Darker colors provide better view through than lighter fabrics. For more privacy, ensure that the exterior of the shade is a light color. In addition, fabrics with smaller openness factors provide more privacy. For the best of both worlds, a duplex fabric that is light on the outside and dark on the inside lets you see out better than people can see in.

Light pollution
Glare control and cutting solar heat gain are two big factors in window shade use. But shades can be just as important when the sun goes down. Light pollution can disrupt ecosystems and have adverse health effects on people, animals, and plants. Research indicates problems may include headaches, fatigue, stress, and anxiety. The best way to drastically reduce light pollution is with opaque fabrics. Fabric weaves with small openness factors, such as 1 percent, will reduce light pollution, but only opaque fabrics can completely block light from flooding out into the night.

A tale of two buildings: correct visual organization from proper fabric color and automation is demonstrated on the right.

Visual Organization
A shade fabric that looks great on the inside may not be so aesthetically pleasing from the outside. Fabric color has an impact on glass color and tint and having shades across a facade at different stages of deployment looks disorganized and can reflect badly on a building’s image. Choosing the right exterior color and automating shades will ensure a uniform and positive appearance.

To explore our many fabric options, including solutions from trusted domestic weavers Mermet USA and Phifer, click here.