Window shades have evolved from being simply utilitarian objects that offer privacy and control the amount of natural light that comes in through the window to being part of the decor of a room. They come in such an amazing array of sizes, colors, patterns and fabrics that it is easy to find one that fits a specific room in the house.

Window shades in the living room control the intensity of light and keep carpets, upholstery and hardwood floors from fading, while a more opaque shade in a bedroom is used both for privacy and to keep sunlight from glaring into the room. It is even possible for a homeowner to install their own custom blinds and window shades. By installing window shades yourself, you have the ability to save in costs and fit them exactly the way you prefer.

Getting the Right Fit

The challenge with a window shade is that it must be cut to the exact measurements of every window. Even if the homeowner thinks that every window in their home is the same size, there may be tiny variations that need to be taken into account. If the shade is even slightly too wide for the roller, they can’t furl the right way. If they are too narrow, they’ll allow light to leak in at the edges. Because of this, it is a good idea to have the shades and rollers cut to precisely the right size.

Most shades are hung with brackets found on the jamb just above the window. These should be measured from one jamb to the other with a metal tape measure. When the dimensions are sent to the manufacturer, they will allow for the bracket clearance. If the shades are going to be hung from the ceiling or from the outside of the window frame, the homeowner should mark where the brackets will go, measure accurately and send these dimensions to the manufacturer under the listing outside bracket mounting, or OBM. Make sure that the marks are not erased so that you’ll know the brackets need to be installed there. The shade should be 12 inches longer than the window, measured from the windowsill to the brackets. This allows for roll-over.

Rollers and shades can be made to fit by the homeowner if they’re too large for the window. Simply use a saw to cut the roller to the right length, which would be the distance from one bracket to the other. Take the metal cap off the end of the roller, insert the pin, and use a hammer to tap it carefully in place. The homeowner should make sure to only work with the correct end of the roller and not cut off the spring by accident.

Shades can also be cut to measure as long as the homeowner has a steady hand and access to a large surface. If the shades are laminated with fabric the homeowner buys themselves, they will need to be trimmed anyway.

How to Hang Rollers

Once everything has been measured and ordered, installing roller shades is an easy task. First, take down all other draperies and blinds. Then, make sure that all hardware, including screws and brackets, are at hand.

With a metal tape, re-measure the shade width provided and compare that to the opening. The measurement provided at time of order is the exact width of the shade – outside edge of bracket to outside edge of the other bracket.  With a pencil, mark the total width of the shade as shown on the order form onto the mounting area – these marks are where the outside edges of the brackets will align. With a screw gun, install your first bracket and make sure that it’s square. Then, install the other bracket aligning the outside edge to the other pencil mark. If a bracket isn’t level, install a shim between the head jamb and the bracket, then check to make sure everything’s level again. Use a utility knife to trim the excess shim.

With the brackets are level and fully installed, push in the spring loaded pivot end of the shade into the center hole of the bracket. While keeping tension on the pivot side, lower down the clutch or motor side into the other bracket – you will see that there are two teeth that will drop into the bracket

By following these tips, you are set for success in installing your window shades on your own.