Natural views are one of the top wish list items for aspiring homeowners. But big windows can also big glare and heat issues. A great benefit of Draper@Home window shades is being able to see through them to the outside while they protect you from glare, UV, and heat gain. But not all shades allow the same level of view-through the fabric. Did you know what factors determine view-through, and how to make sure you are balancing visual comfort with other needs?
Two main factors determine a fabric’s view through characteristics. They are openness factor and color.
The openness factor is the percentage of space between threads of yarn. The smaller the percentage, the tighter the weave and the less light gets through. The larger the percentage, the easier it is to see through to the outside. Openness factors typically range from 1% to around 13%, although there are fabrics with higher percentages.
Using an online simulator, we can compare how different openness factors impact your view-through. This image represents a dark fabric with 1% openness.
With 5% openness the view is even more clear.
When thinking about which openness factor is best, consider the type and size of widow, and your home’s exposure—that is the geographical location and its orientation. Also consider how the different areas of your home will be used.
This chart provides some general examples of which openness factors may work best depending on your home’s location and orientation.
Lighter colors are generally more efficient at reflecting energy, providing privacy, and reducing the need for artificial light. However, their view through performance is reduced.
Darker colors absorb more light so you can see through the mesh more easily. The human eye focuses on the first and most dominant source of light it sees, so darker colors cause the eye to look through the fabric and focus on the brighter light source outside.
As an example, let’s use a fabric with a 3% openness factor. White restricts the view through because our eyes are focusing on the light color.
A darker fabric allows more view-through.
The type of weave also contributes to view-through. A twill weave provides excellent view through because it can have a darker color on the inside and a lighter color on the outer side. A basketweave’s excellent view through is enhanced by the uniform size and shape of the square openings.
Dominant lighting also plays a role. When you enter a space, your eyes are naturally drawn to the dominant light source. On a sunny day the eye focuses on the light outside, not the dark fabric strands. On a cloudy day or darker evening, you focus more on internal lighting, and the view through the fabric is not as clear.
Still have questions? Use our online view-through simulator to see more examples of how color and openness factor affect view-through.
You can also find and compare colors and openness factors on our online fabric selection tool.