Shade Systems: Choosing the Right Fabric

Living in Southern California, we love our views. We are proud to live in one of the most beautiful areas of the world, where we can experience ocean views, mountain views, and city scapes, possibly all from the same room. This means large, floor to ceiling windows. The only problem with this comes from glare and heat. Not only can the glare be hard on our eyes, but it can wreak havoc on furniture, textiles and artwork in your home. So what’s the solution? Homeowners are turning to automated roller shades to solve the problem. Automated roller shades come with many advantages for homeowners, but the task of choosing the right fabric can seem daunting. In this article we will cover the main things to consider when purchasing automated roller shades for your home.

Openness factor

This simply means how tight the weaves of the fabric are woven. The tighter the weave, the less daylight can filter through. A “3% openness factor” means that 97% of the light rays have been blocked by the fabric. A “10% openness factor” blocks 90% of the daylight, and lets 10% into the space. Blackout fabrics consist of a 0% openness factor (all light is blocked out). The question is, how do you choose the right openness factor for the space?

Latitude and Orientation

Take note of the position of the windows in the space you’re wanting to add shades. As everyone knows, the sun rises in the east, and sets in the west. Windows facing east will need considerable sun control. A tighter weave with an openness factor of 5% or less is recommended. Without the proper shading, there might not be much heat gain in the space, but the morning sun can be much too bright and can create glare. In a Western facade, the sun has a chance to heat the room, making more daylight control required, so again, a 5% openness factor or less is recommended. Northern facades are subject to indirect sun, so a homeowner can choose a fabric with a much greater openness factor, and still experience visual comfort while retaining their privacy. Southern facing facades however, endure the heaviest sun exposure throughout the day, so a tight weave with a small openness factor will be essential to living in a glare-free home.
HOMEOWNER QUESTION: What if I have a room with windows that face more than one direction? Can I have multiple openness factors in the same room, or will that look funny? POWERFULL ANSWER: As long as you choose a fabric in the same family, with the same color, the only difference you’ll notice is that one has a clearer view than the other. Other than that, they’ll look exactly the same.


Besides openness factor playing a large roll in maintaining your view to the outside, the color of the sheer fabric can also play a major roll in maintaining your million dollar view. Light colored fabrics reflect daylight, and do a great job at reducing heat in a space, the problem however, is that the homeowner will not be able to see their view through the shades as clearly as if they would have chosen a darker colored fabric. If maintaining your view is a priority, a darker colored fabric with a minimum of 5% openness factor will be required. Sheer fabrics – or any fabric, can accomplish many things, but multi-tasking really isn’t one of them… No fabric can do it all. There isn’t a magic fabric out there that can maintain your view, but also give you privacy, such as in bathrooms. In cases where you want optimum view, but maintain privacy, the only real solution, is to use landscape lighting, and aim the light directly at your window. The light would reflect off of the fabric, washing out the view that you don’t want your neighbors to see. If having a light directed at your window doesn’t seem like a feasible option for you, the only other option would be to do a “double stack.” This requires a deeper housing to hold two fabric rollers within the same housing, so that you can have sheers during the day, and blackout at night.

Battery Operated vs. Wired Shades

If in the process of building a home, wiring your shades into your home automation system is preferable. You’ll never have to change out the batteries, and your system will never encounter any interruptions. Battery powered shades are a perfect option for a homeowner who is looking to add shades to their existing home without interfering with the home’s current wiring. Typical battery life with normal use runs for an average of 1.8 years without needing to replace the batteries.


There are many ways to control your automated shades. Wireless Pico remotes on pedestals can be placed on bedside tables, kitchen islands, etc, while seeTouch keypads, and Palladiom keypads are two of the most common in-wall controls.

Daylight Sensors

Daylight sensors are the perfect addition to your home for maximum convenience and optimum lighting control. The sensor (about the size of a quarter) wirelessly sends a signal to your shades to automatically raise and lower depending on the amount of daylight. These sensors give you the freedom to never have to worry about the level of shading in your space. It’s all done for you, without ever having to press a button.

In Conclusion

We know that the many options in automated roller shades can be overwhelming.  We’ve provided this information in the hope that this has helped you understand all of your options. When designed and installed correctly, roller shades can not only enhance a space aesthetically, but make it more functional, and efficient.

About Powerfull Systems

Powerfull Systems is a window coverings installer and smart home system integrator located in Los Angeles, California. Established in 1998, at the dawn of “smart technology,” Powerful Systems is one of only 10 systems integrators in the U.S. to achieve the status of Black Diamond Dealer for the smart home technology systems. Servicing distinguished homeowners in the Los Angeles area, Powerfull Systems has built a reputation on integrity, innovation and expertise that is second to none. Plus they offer their “Peace of Mind. Every Time.” Guarantee to assure the job is done to your satisfaction. The Powerful Systems professional team can show you how to utilize your interior window shading system to save additional energy beyond routine use of shades- all at the touch of a button. If you are a general contractor, architect, interior designer, lighting designer or homeowner that needs assistance with the design and installation of window coverings, please call our office at 301-904-6767. Better yet, make an appointment to see our showroom located at 5222 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA.
Call Us Now: 310-836-9333