An Alternative to Purchasing Blinds for Tilt-Turn Windows

The tilt-turn Intus windows that we installed in our house are excellent products.  They’re robust, airtight, and extremely efficient.  Nearly everyone who visits offers positive comments on them. However, from our perspective here in the U.S., they do have two drawbacks.

The first is that they open to the inside of the house, rather than to the outside, which could cause unanticipated problems.  For instance, a tilt-turn window over the kitchen sink our counter could be problematic.  It could be blocked (from opening) by the faucet, or it could interfere with a person who is standing at the sink and trying to access to the upper cabinets that are to the left or right of the sink.  Tilt-turn windows in other rooms could also be troubling if the homeowner doesn’t consider furniture placement and natural walkways.

Fortunately, this issue hasn’t been a problem for us.  Over the kitchen sink, we almost always use the “tilt” or venting option rather than opening the windows.  But I did take great care when installing the kitchen cabinet to ensure that the faucet does not interfere with the windows if we choose to open them.

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But the other issue…one that I didn’t give as much thought to…is providing privacy shades, particularly at night.  Tilt-turn windows require unique blinds. The blinds must be attached at both the top and bottom to keep them from swaying away from the window at the bottom when the window is tilted.  In addition, the blinds must be attached to the window, rather than the wall or trim surrounding the window.  Otherwise, it would be impossible to use the “turn” function to open the window or the tilt function to vent the window, when the blinds are “down.”

To my knowledge, only one U.S. company currently makes blinds for tilt-turn windows; RS-Sylco.  So the blinds can be purchased.  But there are two problems.  First, the blinds are far from cheap; typically in the area of $300-$500 per window.  That problem can be easily solved by those with enough money.  But then there’s still the second problem.

The tilt-turn blinds attach to the windows in two ways.  Either they can be attached directly to the glass with a special double-backed tape, or they can be attached to the frame that surrounds the glass by drilling holes and using screws.

I don’t like the idea of drilling holes into the window frame, so that option was out.  But I thought that the second option would do, particularly given that I only needed blinds on two windows (the second floor bathrooms).  But the problem is that our windows have a (simulated) divided light option, with the “mullions” adhered to the face of the glass. These mullions stick out about a quarter-inch, making it impossible to adhere the blinds to the glass.

Fortunately, after giving it a bit of thought, I was able to come up with an economical solution.  What I did was make a narrow frame out of poplar.  The frame is large enough to cover two-thirds of the window and is 1″ wide by 5/8″ thick (so as not to interfere with the window lever).  I gave the frame a beveled profile with a router to lighten it up a bit, mitered the corners, and assembled it with glue and small biscuits.  I then purchased a roll of shoji paper to use as the shading material, which I cut to size and stapled to the back of the frame.  There’s a lot of different shoji material out there.  I purchased mine from esojhi.   It has a durable laminated coating and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth without damage.

The shoji frames are incredibly light.  So I was able to attach them to the window frames using four one-inch squares of velcro fasteners, one in each corner.  The frames fill the need perfectly.  They move with the window, don’t permanently affect the glass or frame, and can be removed or replaced in seconds.

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