Roman Shades vs. Roller Shades: Breaking Down the Key Differences for Buyers

Table of Contents

Roman Shades vs. Roller Shades

Two of the popular shade options are Roman and Roller shades. Both offer unique benefits in terms of style, functionality, and ease of use. But what exactly sets them apart? This comprehensive guide examines Roman and roller shades in-depth, breaking down the key differences to help buyers select the best option for their needs and home décor.

Roman Shades

roman shades in the kitchen

Roman shades get their name from their distinctive stacked, folded construction when lifted. Rather than rolling up, the fabric gathers into soft, cascading folds when raised using cords or a chain mechanism. When lowered, the shades hang in straight, elegant lines.


  • Sophisticated, tailored aesthetic perfect for formal spaces
  • Variety of fabrics like linen, cotton, and faux silk; many colors and patterns
  • Provide insulation and light filtering for increased privacy
  • Cordless and motorized options are available for ease of use
  • Can handle larger windows, arched windows, and sliding doors
  • Filter light beautifully, especially in bedrooms


  • More expensive than basic roller shades
  • Fabric stacks when raised, leaving windows partially covered
  • Installation can be tricky to get perfectly straight and aligned
  • Cords may pose safety hazards for pets and children

Roller Shades

roller shades in the living room

As the name suggests, roller shades roll onto a tube mounted near the top of the window frame. This allows the shade to be lifted fully up and down with minimal effort using a chain, cord, or spring mechanism.


  • Budget-friendly window treatment option
  • Sleek, streamlined, contemporary look
  • Provide full light blocking when lowered
  • Easy to install and operate on all window sizes
  • Wide selection of opaque and sheer fabrics and colors
  • Offer room darkening and blackout fabrics


  • Less effective at insulation compared to Roman shades
  • Limited fashion-forward style options
  • It can be noisy when raising and lowering quickly
  • Don’t provide privacy when raised

Appearance and Style

One of the biggest differences comes down to aesthetics. Roman shades offer a more tailored, decorative style with soft gathered folds when lifted. Their range of fabrics and patterns, from elegant linens to playful prints, complement home décor.

Roller shades have a very sleek, streamlined, contemporary look. When raised, the shade virtually disappears into the slim hardware. This fits minimalist and casual spaces well. Roller shades come in limited colors and prints, favoring solids and sheer fabrics.

Window Coverage and Light Control

Roman shades always maintain some fabric coverage over the window, even when fully raised. The folds stack up, filtering incoming light.

Roller shades can be pulled all the way up into their hardware, uncovering the entire window area. This allows complete control over incoming light. Fully lowered, lightweight opaque or blackout roller shade fabrics will block all outside light.

Roman shades provide excellent light filtering thanks to their layered, folded fabric construction. Depending on the fabric density, they can also nearly black out a room when fully lowered

Installation and Ease of Use

Roman shades are more difficult to install perfectly. Getting the folds to hang evenly and keeping the shade aligned straight can be tricky. Roller shades simply mount on a tube and roll neatly up and down.

Roller shades win for sheer ease of use, too. Their tube mechanism allows them to roll up and down smoothly with minimal effort. Roman shades require pulling cords or chains to lift the fabric, creating stacks. Motors can automate either shade, but roller shades are still simpler to operate manually.

Noise Levels

Roller shades can be noisy, with a “zipping” or “clacking” sound when raised or lowered quickly. Roman shades move very quietly along their cord system with barely a whisper. This makes them well-suited for bedrooms or other spaces with undesirable excess noise.

Insulation Properties

Roman shade fabrics’ layered, honeycomb-like structure helps trap heat and cool air. This provides increased insulation, which is especially important for large windows. When fully lowered, roller shades can form an air pocket for some insulation. Overall, though, Roman shades have superior insulating properties


On average, Roman shades are two to three times more expensive than basic roller shades. But pricing for both styles varies widely. Budget roller shades can be very affordable. High-end roller shades with custom fabrics, blackout linings, and top-of-the-line mechanisms rival the cost of Roman shades. Labor for professional measuring and installation also impacts the final cost.

Child and Pet Safety

Exposed cords on either style of shade pose risks to children and pets. Fortunately, cordless or motorized options are available in both Roman and roller shades for improved safety. Roller shades minimize hazards by placing cords and operating mechanisms up high when mounted properly. Overall, cordless is the safest choice for homes with kids and pets.

Frequently Asked Questions on Roman vs. Roller Shades

1. What are the best window shade options for bedrooms?

Roller shades and Roman shades both work well in bedrooms. Key factors are light-blocking capabilities and noise levels. Roller shades eliminate all incoming light when lowered. Roman shades move quietly and provide a softer, filtered light. Light-blocking Roman shades or quiet roller shades are ideal bedroom options.

Roman shades are ideal for living rooms and other public spaces that you want to look polished. Their elegant draped folds and variety of fabrics complement home décor. Roller shades also work but are more suitable for simple, casual spaces.

Roller shades win for sheer ease of use. Their tube mechanism allows them to roll up and down smoothly with minimal effort. Roman shades require pulling cords or chains and fabric stacks when raised. Motors can automate either shade, but roller shades are still simpler to operate manually.

Making The Choice: Roman or Roller Shades

In summary, Roman and roller shades both have their merits. Roman shades offer better insulation, an upscale aesthetic, and quieter operation. Roller shades are budget-friendly, easy to use, and provide full light blocking. Evaluate your priorities in terms of style, functionality and budget when selecting between these excellent shades.

Ready to choose custom shades for your home? Contact our Shutters and Blinds By Design experts for personalized recommendations and installation. With top brands and fabrics, we help create the perfect window treatments to meet your needs.

Picture of Laura Eckersley

Laura Eckersley

Experienced window covering professional with over 17 years in the industry. Passionate about interior design and committed to delivering quality solutions for customers.