About Roman Shades Pt. 3: Lifting Mechanisms

Many people prefer Roman shades to standard types of blinds and drapery for their simple and attractive aesthetic. Roman shades hang over a window, providing a complete cover or a gentle accent, depending upon the transparency, color and thickness of the material used. Unlike other types of blinds, which may draw together at the top of the window or on the sides, Roman shades open by folding over onto themselves multiple times. In most cases, the shades draw toward a headrail at the top of the window, and the folds of the shades hang below the headrail and partially over the top of the window. However, there are a variety of lifting mechanisms commonly used in Roman shades. Read on to learn more about these lifting tools.

Standard Roman shades are operated with a cord drop that hangs to the side of the shade.  This cord is strung through a pulley system at the headrail and fed down the vertical length of the shade in several different places. The cords extend to the bottom of the shade material and are attached through lift rings that are spaced out evenly in horizontal lines across the shade. As the cord drop is pulled, the cords that run through the lift rings pull the rings upward, gathering them together. When the rings bunch together, the sections of material in between the rings fold over and hang down. The higher that the shades are drawn, the more folds will form and hang below the shade.

Standard Pulley System

The most common lifting mechanism for a standard style Roman shade is a pulley system. There may either be one pulley at the end of the shade, with multiple cords strung through it, or a pulley mechanism along the headrail where each vertical cord feeds. The second option is more secure, although the cost of the additional pulley systems increases the overall cost of the installation and materials slightly. The benefit of a pulley system is that the cord drop will pull smoothly and evenly. You will need a hook or cleat in order to secure the cord at any level.

Screw Eyes

Screw eyes may also be used in much the same capacity as pulleys. These may even be the same material as the lift rings, but are attached at the top of the shade where the headrail is. Although screw eyes are a cheaper alternative to pulleys, they tend to create friction as the cord drop is pulled. This may make it difficult to raise the shades, and it may deteriorate or even break the cord itself over time. Like a standard pulley system, screw eyes also require a hook to secure the cord.

Pulley System with Cord Lock

A third option for a lifting mechanism for your Roman shades is a pulley system with a cord locking mechanism attached. The cord locking mechanism can be installed on the outside of the last pulley, and serves to clamp the cord in place. With a cord lock, you will not need to secure the cord on a hook or cleat in order to keep the shades in place. While this option adds minimal expense to the cost of the shades, many people find it much more convenient to use.

For more information about Roman shades lifting mechanisms, please visit your local hardware or drapery store.