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Outdoor Shades: Why Do You Need Them

Patios and decks offer additional living space that can be enjoyed by everyone from young professionals, to families, to retirees. They make great spaces for enjoying a morning coffee, hosting guests during a cookout or unwinding at the end of long day with book or beverage. There is only one problem. What do we do about those blazing rays that turn our respite into an uncomfortable or unbearable environment. I would suggest that roller shades are the answer. Let’s take a look at the options.

What are they?

Exterior roller shades are not surprisingly very similar to interior roller shades. The major difference is that the components used in the construction of the shade are rated for exterior use. This prevents the metal components from rusting or breaking down over time. In addition, the components are heavy duty and robust compared to their internal roller shade counterparts. This is done to support the typically larger size and weight of exterior shades.

What AREN’T they?

The vast majority of exterior roller shades are not meant to combat high winds. When purchasing exterior shade, be sure to inquire about the care and use instructions. Most vendors will advise rolling your shades up (and out of the elements) during high winds. There are a few vendors who do produce products meant to handle extreme weather (up to and including hurricane level winds), but they come at a premium. In either scenario, be sure to check the specifications of the product you are purchasing and have a clear understanding of what the product is designed to do.

What are they used for?

This one might be obvious to most readers. Exterior roller shades are predominantly meant to cut down on harmful solar rays. This achieves multiple desirable outcomes for the customer. First, they eliminate the sun glare that would otherwise have you reaching for a pair of sunglasses or a visor. Second, they contribute to cooler ambient temperatures in your outdoor space which ultimately provides a more comfortable lounging experience. Lastly, exterior shades from vendors like Universal Screens ( also provide protection from rain and snow fall as well as annoying insects. All enhance the comfortability of your outdoor space.

What are the different systems?

Most exterior shades are offered in two different, distinct systems. The first is called a cable guided system (sometimes additionally offered as a rod guided system). A cable guided system runs a cable (or thin rod) from the top of the shade, through a hole on both ends of the bottom bar of the shade, and affixes to the floor or wall at the bottom position of the shade using a metal anchor. This cable keeps the bottom bar in vertical alignment as the shade is raised and lowered. In addition, it prevents the shade from swaying in light breezes. Remember, most exterior shades are meant to withstand strong winds. Be sure to check the specifications of the product you are considering as most will have a rating of what wind level they can withstand.

The second is commonly referred to as a zipper track system. Zipper track systems remove the cable guides (or rod guides) in favor of two channels on either side of the shade. The edge of the fabric on either side of the shade sits inside of these channels creating a more robust and sealed design. In addition, zipper track shades typically employ a solid metal bottom bar that lowers all the way to the ground. The combination of these pieces gives customers not just solar control, but also bug control (critical according to my wife!)

What are the lift options?

Exterior shades typically come with two different lift system options. The first is a crank handle system. It is dependable and robust. However, some customers may find it cumbersome and slower than they desire. Those customers should consider the second option, a motorized lift system. In my opinion, motorizing exterior shades is the cherry on top of a customer’s newly designed exterior space. The click of a button can raise or lower the shade entirely. You can even set a “favorite” position if you like the shade somewhere between the top or bottom setting.

Exterior roller shades can transform an outdoor space. Due to their unique construction, they simultaneously hold up against outdoor elements and provide protection against solar rays, inclement weather, and annoying insects. They can be manually operated but also come with an “easy” button option, motorization.

Are you ready to transform your outdoor space? Your local and trusted Bumble Bee Blinds professional can assist you. To find a Bumble Bee Blinds location in your local area, click here.

Luke Schwartz is the Brand President of Bumble Bee Blinds. His family has more than 60 years of experience in the window covering industry. Each month, Luke shares this experience and perspective through informative blogs about the window covering industry to educate our customers about products, features, and questions to consider when buying window treatments. Regular readers hopefully won’t have to ask, “Where do I start?” when in the market for window coverings.