Roller shades can also be called solar shades, outdoor shades, zebra shades, and banded shades. These are fairly easy to repair. Common repairs include replacing clutch mechanisms, replacing broken chain loops and installing tension devices.

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Identification and Background

Roller shades are flat shades that roll up on a metal or cardboard tube or wooden dowel. They are typically made of a fabric, vinyl, or screen material. Roller shades can operate with a clutch by pulling on a continuous chain or cord loop, or with a spring-loaded mechanism inside the tube and have no cords at all. Roller shades can also be motorized and may operate with a remote, wall switch or smart device app. Roller shades can be used both indoor and outdoor. Some outdoor roller shades operate with a crank or wand.

Zebra shades are a type of roller shade that have gained great popularity in recent years. They are made up of one piece of material that has alternating stripes of sheer and opaque sections. Instead of having just one tube at the top that the shade material rolls onto, they also have a tube at the bottom of the shade that the material travels around. By pulling on the continuous control chain, the shade can be set on the opaque stripes to block light or on the sheer sections to let light in. Zebra shades also go by the names transitional shades, layered shades, double roller blinds/shades, day-night roller blinds, vision blinds, illusion shades, duo-shades and banded shades. The operational systems and parts for zebra shades are often the same as standard roller shades.

Roller shades date back to the early 1700’s in Scotland. James Louis Robertson used Holland fabric, a very heavy and durable type of white linen originally from the Netherlands, to create window shades. In 1772, Robertson created a unique finishing process for Holland fabric to make it even more durable. The ten-day finishing process consisted of beating both sides of the fabric with massive wooden logs. This beating treatment caused the fibers of the fabric to spread out, creating a smooth, polished, durable material. This process and the shades produced from it are called Scottish Holland, Scotch Holland or Holland shades. Around this same time in America, people were hanging up hand painted paper or translucent cloth shades often depicting landscapes or romantic scenes.

In the mid 1800’s, a spring-loaded mechanism for lifting and lowering roller shades was invented. Previously, these shades had been lifted with cords and secured with cleats. In 1855, there were ten patents for spring mechanisms on record. Then, in 1864, Stewart Hartshorn created an improved design and introduced the ratchet and gravity pawl. His design remained the standard for decades to follow.

These creative and useful inventions were the inspiration used to produce the roller shades we see in windows today. Decorators and consumers alike value roller shades for their minimalistic look and simple design.