Getting to the Cord of the Matter
What’s that you say? New regulations are now being enforced that will turn the window covering world into a whirling tizzy of confusion and despair? Nope, haven’t heard of it…
While this may be true for some, most of us have seen this coming and are now trying to deal with its impact. So what is all the fuss about? Let’s walk through the new Corded Window Coverings Regulations and then look at what window covering options we are left with.
Health Canada Regulations
Health Canada originally published its new regulations on corded blinds in 2019, with an implementation date of May 2021. After the window covering industry lobbied to delay this implementation, Health Canada stated that it would focus on awareness and dissemination of information vice enforcement for the first year. That year has now come and gone, and as of May 1, 2022 the new rules are being strictly enforced.
To put it simply, the new regulations state that any accessible cord on a window covering, whether free hanging or tethered, must not exceed 22cm. Also, any accessible cord creating a loop must not exceed 44cm.
Above are two examples that jump out to most of us, but the regulations also apply to loops created by the inner cords of Horizontal Blinds and Top-Down/Bottom-Up Shades, as well as back cords on Roman and Bamboo Shades.
For those who are brave enough to want to read through the actual Health Canada document (Warning: it includes measurements of Newton…yep, remember those from high school physics class?), you can peruse it at your leisure via this link.
Are We Putting Curtains Everywhere Then??!
This does not mean that the design world needs to renounce the use of blinds or shades and switch to solely sourcing curtains. Although you will see in the next section that curtains will play a key support role in our battle to keep spaces beautiful during this Cord-assault, they are not our last resort. Manufacturers have worked diligently to develop alternatives that comply with the new regulations.
The front runners in this space are the Cordless Lift, the Power Wand Lift, and the Motorized Lift systems. All of these keep the cords hidden away within the blinds or shades and the pull cords or chains have been removed.
As per most items decorators and designers source, many factors must be taken into consideration when selecting a lift system. Intended function, materials and fabrics used, size and location of windows, as well as budget will all impact which system is recommended to the client.
One variation to note in Horizontal Blinds is the tilt-only option. Here a wand is used to tilt the slats, yet the bottom of the blind is secured to the frame of the window using brackets. To raise the blinds, the brackets can be undone and the blinds will rise to the top automatically. This is an all-or-nothing option, which is more useful for function (e.g. washing windows) rather than aesthetics.
Another notable change comes to Top-Down/Bottom-Up Shades, where a sheer fabric is paired with the existing fabric of the shade. When lowered, the sheer fabric allows light to shine through while safely concealing the cords. IMHO this is an improvement over the original version, offering a more refined and aesthetically pleasing finish.
As a “Band-Aid” solution, some manufacturers are offering sleeves or shrouds that cover loop cord or chain systems. These sleeves are typically fastened at the top of the blinds or shades, allowing a certain degree of pivoting for ease of use. The bottom is not fastened to the wall. These are definitely not a preferred option of decorators and designers, as evidenced by the picture below (borrowed from an Instagram Story by @nightanddaydecor).
So Where’s the Rub?
The new Health Canada Regulations apply to all blinds and shades manufactured, imported and sold in Canada. It does not apply to blinds and shades already installed in clients’ homes. If you’re lucky enough to have clients that need window coverings sourced for their entire home, then you’re laughing – there are plenty of options on the market that meet the new regulations. The challenge comes when new window coverings need to align with existing blinds or shades in the client’s home.
Although some manufacturers offer remakes of existing blinds and shades, if your client has a budget that allows for this, I would think it to be a hard sell when they can purchase new (regulation-approved) versions for a similar price.
Layering curtains on top of blinds or shades will work wonders to hide those pesky sleeves, shrouds or power wands. Using curtains made from patterned or textured fabric will also offer visual relief from the minor differences in how the blinds or shades are constructed. I told you curtains were going to help us get through this!
Now armed with the good, the bad and the ugly of this Cord-ageddon, you can confidently go out decorating and designing with the confidence that you won’t be “caught with your cords down”!
Written by: Nathalie Auger