How Do Roller Blinds Work?

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Roller blinds are commonly made of plastic or vinyl, but can be made of cloth, as well.
Image Credit: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Blinds are adjustable window treatments that provide privacy and regulate the amount of outdoor light entering a room. Roller blinds are one of the oldest types and operate on a simple mechanism.


Video of the Day


Roller blinds consist of solid sheets of stiff fabric and a hollow tube that houses a ratchet and spring. A pull-tab on the bottom of the fabric provides easy manipulation of the blinds without touching the fabric surface. Manually adjustable roller blinds have side winders that lock the blinds at different levels with the internal ratchet. Large roller blinds on sliding glass doors or picture windows are frequently motorized and raised up and down by remote control.


The fabric winds around the tube. The fabric is pulled up and down to regulate the light in the room. The internal ratchet allows you to lock the shade into place at different heights. The spring inside the tube adjusts the tension of the operating mechanism.



Roller blinds are typically configured with the fabric rolling behind the roller, which keeps the blinds close to the window surface and maximizes the light blockage. The blinds can also roll in front of the tube, but this creates a gap between the blinds and window that lets in light through the window.


If your blinds are stuck in the down position, remove them from the wall bracket and turn the pin on the side of the tube with pliers to adjust the tension. When you feel tightness in the blinds, rehang them and they will properly operate. To fix blinds that move up and down too slowly, fully lower the shade, take it off the wall and manually roll it up halfway. To repair blinds that move too quickly, fully retract the shade, remove the tube from the bracket and roll it down halfway. Shades that won't stay in place when pulled down can be fixed by rolling the shade up as far as possible and cleaning dust and dirt from the internal ratchet with a toothpick. After the ratchet is free of debris, spray it with a lubricant to keep it working properly.


Types of Roller Blinds

Different fabric types provide various levels of light blockage. Blackout roller blinds completely obstruct light, provide insulation and protect floors, cabinets and furniture from fading in sunlight. Translucent types let in minimal light and provide less insulation and protection from the sun. Sheer roller blinds let in substantial filtered light and provide minimal insulation and sun blockage.



Cassie Damewood

Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.