Fixing conservatory blinds, or fixing blinds to PVCu or plastic windows is a hugely popular topic on DIY Doctor. We have answered the question so many times on how to fix the brackets for window blinds to double glazed window that it really is time to produce a project containing the answer.
If you are wanting to add blinds to your conservatory there are really two different routes you can go down:
- Installed by a specialist: Normally this will start with you contacting a specialist blind fitting company. They will then send out one of their reps to discuss colours, styles and measure up. Once this has been done they will either manufacture the blinds for you or create some to the correct sizes. A member of their installation team is then dispatched on an agreed date to fit them. This may be the ideal choice for some but it costs!
- DIY with a kit aka Self Measure and Install: This is the ideal choice for the avid DIY’er. You will measure up the sizes of the blinds you require, purchase the blinds themselves and cut them to size if needed. Once prepared you will then install them yourself. Most DIY kits will come with all the fittings required and if you take your time you can get as good a finish as any professional
For the purposes of this project we will be looking at DIY conservatory blind kits as when it comes to manufacturer installed conservatory blinds and those installed by a specialist blind fitter they will have their own installation methods.
Am I Allowed to Drill into my PVC Window Frames?
This is also quite a common question we get asked. Some window installation and conservatory construction companies will issue you with a guarantee for your windows or conservatory once fitting or construction is completed.
The answer to this question will very much depend on who constructed your conservatory, the terms listed in your contract (if you have one), the guarantees that you have and if they are a member of FENSA (Fenestration Self-Assessment scheme set up by the Glass and Glazing Federation and backed by the government).
On the whole this is quite a "shady" area and due to the levels of competition in the replacement window market on the whole, some companies have been known to offer guarantees and warranties that, shall we say, are rather unrealistic just to get the sales in.
Can you think of any other industry that offers up to 10 years as a warranty? We certainly can’t! When thinking along these lines it all starts to sound a bit unrealistic.
If you read through the small print of your contract you will probably find that the item with the longest cover-term are the pvc shells themselves and the terms will probably only cover discolouration or manufacturing defects.
In light of this you can imagine that in the event of a claim your pvc units will be examined in fine detail and if it is found that they have been drilled this may be used as an ideal excuse to wiggle out of any payments.
Another fact is that due to the competition in this market and the money involved, the chances are that a given window or conservatory company won’t even be around in 10 years time to honour any warranties!
This is not to say that you are not allowed point-blank to fix to your shell units. Just contact the company that fitted your windows or built your conservatory and even any insurance companies that are involved (insurance backed guarantees) and ask them to clarify whether you can. Then get this in writing from all parties involved!
Further help and advice, if you need it, can be obtained by contacting FENSA. Visit their website on the above link.
The ideal alternative to drilling your shell units is to use Perfect Fit blinds, more about this is mentioned later in this project.
How to Measure Conservatory Windows for Blinds
The next potential problem is measuring for your blinds. As we have mentioned, if an engineer or fitter comes out to your home it costs money.
Regardless of any "Free Measuring" offers, this engineer has to be paid for and his or her wages are built into the cost of your blinds.
If you are going for "made to measure" blinds and you are supplying the measurements then make sure they are accurate. Any errors in dimensions you supply to the manufacture will be down to you. Check with your supplier exactly what you need to measure.
The measurements you take will depend on how much of each window or dorr pane or indeed wall you want each blind to cover. When viewing the images below, the inside recess area will be taken from the edges of each bead across the width and height (or drop).
In most cases the outside recess will cover a "wall" or pvc shell unit containing 3 or maybe 4 panes of glass.
If you want the blind to cover just the window pane or glass itself, measure the inside recess in 3 positions – top, middle and bottom for the height (or drop as it’s known) and the left, middle and right on the width. This is wall to wall, or bead to bead (if dealing with single panes) – write down the dimensions on a piece of paper and take the smallest measurement for both width and drop as the ones to use.
If you want the blind to cover the entire window or door, measure the outside recess. This is essentially the inside recess measurements with around 12 – 14cms added to each dimension as this will give you 6 – 7cms either side of the blind. Again, measure in 3 positions across both width and height (drop) – write down the dimensions on a piece of paper.
Depending on how your conservatory has been constructed you may find that each unit is butted up to each other with no wall space in-between, this is pretty much how most conservatories are constructed, by fixing UPVC units together.
Some conservatories are constructed from brick and block and in this case you will probably have a traditional recess area.
When dealing with just UPVC units the recess area is basically the surrounding shell outside of the glass area and, as mentioned, the inside recess is just the glass area measured from bead to bead.
If you are going for roller blinds you will also have to factor in the width of the roller mechanism and the brackets which will be 38 – 40mm wider than the actual material of the bind. This is not necessarily too important when mounting outside the recess but certainly comes into play when mounting inside a recess.
Types of Conservatory Blinds
There are quite a few different types and styles of conservatory blind available and their fixing and installation can vary slightly depending on manufacturer but in essence the principles of installation are pretty similar when it comes to DIY kits.
There are also numerous different types of conservatory ranging from the Lean-To type to Elizabethan and Victorian styles and each manufacturer may also have a slightly different take on each style but in essence a conservatory is a conservatory and they are all constructed from similar materials and erected in the same manner.
To these ends, most conservatory blinds are based on size and the area of glass they need to cover. Some will span an entire "wall area" whereas the more modern types are made to cover individual panes of glass so that you have the choice as to which panes are covered and which aren’t. In respect to this pretty much all styles and types of blind are universal and can be installed in pretty much any conservatory.
It’s also a good point to note that blinds are also available for the roof windows and not just the walls!
The main styles of conservatory blind can be summarised as follows:
Venetian Conservatory Blinds
There are several types materials used in the construction of these sorts of blind, typical aluminium, wood and pvc.
Due to the nature of a conservatory it is subject to vast changes in temperature and pvc and wood are not suitable. Pvc are often prone to melting whereas wooden blinds simply cannot cope with the rapid temperature changes. In respect to this, aluminium is the way to go.
Overall they are a great choice, they can provide good levels of privacy even when open and still allow a decent view outwards, they are able to create a great light balance, do not discolour due to sun exposure and offer reasonable levels of heat retention. They are also very reasonably priced.
Vertical Conservatory Blinds
A very common choice when it comes to conservatory blinds! They offer a great range of lighting options due to the numerous combinations of draw strings and controls that also provide great levels of privacy.
One drawback is that because of their material construction, they are quite prone to fading over time due to sun exposure but a plus here is that you can purchase replacement verticals very cheaply!
Roller Conservatory Blinds
These are also quite a popular choice. They can be installed in several different ways, either one blind spanning a wall or several windows or one blind per pane section with the latter option giving you much more control over light.
They are also quite light in weight so they won’t put too much strain on the fixings or on the pvc itself.
The one major drawback is, similar to the above, they will be prone to fading, but as you will probably only have them part way down or even retracted during summer months, they will fade unevenly and look quite unsightly. Additionally they also attract insects and if you have ever rolled up a fly in a roller blind you will be well aware of the mess they make!
Roman Conservatory Blinds
These blinds tend to be quite expensive, especially when they are made to your specific measurements. However, it is possible for you to buy the "header" section that includes the controls so that you can make your own.
Again as with the other choices there are drawbacks – When retracted they still have quite a presence over a pane of glass so vision is restricted somewhat and due to this they will be prone to fading over large areas.
If purchased with a blackout lining they will also be very heavy, putting a lot of strain on fixings and also the areas of the pvc frame they are screwed into.
Perfect Fit Conservatory Blinds
At DIY Doctor we are always on the lookout for great products and great ideas that make DIY and home improvement fun and enjoyable and when we came across the Perfect Fit blind we were very impressed.
This is possibly the best way we have seen of fitting blinds to plastic frames without the need for the traditional drilling or screwing of the frames themselves avoiding all the hassle of trying to confirm if drilling the frames will invalidate the affore mentioned guarantees etc….
Availabel in a great range of styles and colours, there is pretty much a Perfect Fit blind that will suit all situations and styles.
Fitting the blind when it arrives is literally done in minutes. Using an ordinary credit card as a measure you simply slide special brackets (usually 4) into the existing window beads.
Your new blind clips straight in and its done. No drilling, no screwing, no sticking it really is that easy.
With their Perfect Fit system there are no gaps down the side of the blinds. Strings do not get knotted and pleats do not get tangled together leaving the blind at a ridiculous angle to the window sill. As we said at the top, we have been asked many times for "The easiest way to fit window blinds to PVCu or double glazed frames". This product is the answer.
How to Fit Conservatory Blinds
Fitting methods may vary depending on the manufacturer of your chosen blind, how your conservatory has been constructed, the type of blind you have chosen and what brackets are supplied with your kit but regardless of this the fitting principles are pretty similar across the board.
The one major point to ensure when you are fitting conservatory blinds and any type of blind for that matter is to ensure that it is fixed straight so that the drop of the blind is totally level.
You will also need to decide whether you are going to face fix (fixed to window frame) or top fix (fixed to lintel) the brackets. This may be dictated to you by the type of blind you have or who manufactured it. Check the instructions included with your kit, they should suggest the best fixing method and also how to assemble your blind.
Fixing Conservatory Blinds to a Solid Surface
If you are top fixing to an inside recess or indeed fixing to an outside recess close to edge of the opening you may need to drill into a lintel. These are very tough to drill so ensure you have a decent drill and some sharp drill bits.
A full breakdown of this process can be found in our fitting Venetian, Roman and Vertical blinds project.
Fixing Conservatory Blinds to UPVC Shells
The idea of drilling into your UPVC frames might sound terrifying but if you take care in doing so there’s nothing to worry about.
The main thing to avoid is the glass itself as if you can imagine. Drilling into this would be a nightmare as it most cases it will crack requiring the entire pane to be replaced, an expensive mistake!
Generally, the glass itself only extends into the frame just past the outside edge of the bead (the black plastic strip running round the outside of the glass). The beading effectively holds the glass in the frame and allows for ease of removing panes if needed.
In the image below you can see a cross section of a upvc unit. Although this is an opening unit (you will be fixing to a fixed unit) their makeup will be similar.
You can see in the image above that we have indicated the location to drill and fix into. By fixing here you will not only be securing your blind through three sections of the unit but also into the metal reinforcing section in the centre of the unit.
With the correct position established for your first bracket, position it on the frame and mark the top fixing hole on the frame with a pen or pencil.
Using a 3mm drill bit, drill directly into the mark you have created on the frame. Don’t push the drill, let the drill itself do the work. Forcing the bit through may cause the frame to crack.
Now, work through each of the following steps:
- Position the bracket back over the hole and insert a screw and screw it up but not all the way
- Use a spirit level to level up the bracket and ensure that it is dead straight and mark the bottom fixing hole
- Remove the bracket, drill the second hole and then put the bracket back, inserting and screwing up both screws
A few things to remember – when top fixing:
- Ensure that the blind will drop far enough away from the window to avoid catching on any handles or catches
- Ensure that you use the correct sized screws for the hole you have drilled. Trying to force screws that are too big into a drilled hole could cause the frame to crack or split
Now for the bracket on the opposing side:
- Using a spirit level, place this on top of the bracket you have just fixed and using the second bracket, position this under the level on the other side, wiggling it around until it’s level and in the correct position for drilling and screwing. Mark the top hole on the frame with a pencil or pen.
- Remove the level and bracket and as above, drill your hole, put the bracket back in position and screw in a screw. Mark the below hole, move the bracket out the way, drill the second hole and position the bracket back, inserting and screwing up both screws.
The final task is to clip your blind in place and open and close it, using all the available controls to check that it operates correctly. If you have more blinds to fit, follow the above steps until all are in place at which point your job is done!
All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards