Tools & Materials
Gain control of the natural light entering your home by installing cellular window shades. These readily available window treatments permit you to change the ambiance and appearance of a room –from bright and cheery to dimly lit and peaceful–in just seconds.
Cellular shades, which are also called honeycomb shades, feature two layers of pleated polyester fabric that are fused together. These easy-to-install shades are sold at home centers, lumberyards and design centers in dozens of sizes, colors and styles. For this project, we installed cordless shades that don’t have an annoying pull string. To raise or lower the shade, you simply grasp its lower rail and push up or pull down. Note that cellular shades aren’t just for windows; they can also be installed on French doors.
Cellular shades are custom-cut to size, so be careful when you measure and record the dimensions of your windows.
Window Shade Overview
To measure your windows for any shade, you first have to decide how you’re going to install them. There are two basic methods: inside mount and outside mount. The inside mount is more finished-looking. To measure for this installation, first determine the width by taking the distance between the two side jambs. Measure at the top, bottom, and middle, and use the smallest of the measurements. For the length, measure from the bottom of the head jamb to the top of the stool (sill) on both sides and at the center of the window; again, use the smallest measurement. Then, double-check the measurements one more time before ordering, since all sales on custom-cut shades are final.
Warning: Window shades with pull cords can pose a strangling hazard to small children. Although most manufacturers use safety breakaway tabs and avoid cords that form a loop, for greatest safety order cordless shades.
Mark Bracket Positions
Remove any existing curtain and drapery hardware that might interfere with installation of the cellular shade.
Check the hardware that comes with the shade to make sure all brackets and mounting screws are included.
Next, measure 2 inches in from each side jamb and make a mark on the head jamb above the window.
Mark the Screw-Hole Locations
Hold one of the metal mounting brackets up against the head jamb, keeping it aligned with the 2-inch pencil line.
To ensure that the bracket is square, line up its front lip with the front edge of the head jamb.
With the bracket held firmly in place, mark two screw-mounting holes with an awl.
Repeat this procedure for the other bracket(s).
Bore Pilot Holes
Use a drill fitted with a 1/16-inch-diameter bit to bore pilot holes at each screw location. Hold the bit perfectly straight as you bore up into the head jamb.
If drilling into a stone or concrete lintel, use a 1/4-inch-diameter masonry bit and insert a lead anchor in each hole.
Vacuum up all the sawdust you’ve created.
Tip: For windows greater than 44 inches wide, install a third, center bracket.
Attach the Mounting Brackets
Hold the bracket in place, making sure that you align it with the screw pilot holes bored into the head jamb.
Fasten the bracket with two pan-head screws.
Install the remaining mounting brackets.
Tip: If necessary, install extension brackets to project the shade past any obstructions, such as a window handle.
Check the Brackets for Level
Hold a level across the two mounting brackets to see if they’re level.
If your level isn’t long enough to span from one bracket to the next, cut a straight-edged board to fit the opening.
Hold the board firmly across the two brackets, then place the level against the bottom edge of the board and check the bubble.
Insert a Thin Wood Shim
If the brackets are out of level by 1/8 inch or less, proceed to Step 7. If the distance is greater, loosen the screws on the “higher” bracket.
Slip a wood shim or pieces of thin cardboard between the bracket and head jamb.
Tighten the screws and check the brackets for level again.
Repeat if necessary, then trim off the excess shim with a utility knife.
Clip the Shade into the Brackets
Loosen the small screws, called brace screws, on the bottom side of the mounting brackets.
Next, lift the shade up to the head jamb and hook the front edge of the shade’s head rail onto the protruding lip of the two brackets.
Swing the rear of the head rail back toward the window and tighten the brace screws to lock the shade into the brackets.
Tip: When tightening the brace screws, be careful not to catch the fabric in the bracket.
Test the Operation of the Shade
With the brace screws firmly tightened, check that the shade works properly.
Grasp the center of the bottom rail and slowly pull straight down to extend the shade all the way to the stool, or sill.
Again with your hand in the middle of the rail, push up to raise the shade. Stop at several points along the way to check that the shade remains at the desired height.
Tip: If the shade looks a bit short, leave it fully extended for a day or two until the fabric relaxes.