How NOT to Handle Luminette Privacy Sheers

Bane of Luminette Privacy Sheers

Contact. That’s it! Luminette Privacy Sheers by Hunter Douglas must hang freely, from the moment they’re installed to the end of time. Never coming into contact, and especially sustained contact with furniture, pets, other window treatments, or anything else. They should be regarded as delicate accessories.

It’s positively alarming how many times we’ve seen these expensive window coverings trashed through carelessness, or just plain ignorance.

(Fig. 1) Damaged vanes

Trouble often begins at the point of sale. In their haste to close a deal salespeople rarely educate consumers on a product’s limitations. For example, the fabric constituting Luminette’s vanes must be understood for the semi-rigid material it is. As such, it has a keen “memory.” Meaning that when bent, twisted, or otherwise misshapen it will at least to some degree retain that condition (see figure 1). The result is that misshapen vanes interfere with the smooth, uniform flow of Luminette’s sheer face fabric, thereby completely ruining its appearance.

Other problems can develop in the wake of a property sale. A woman we visited in 2014 inherited her Luminette Privacy Sheers from the home’s previous owner. One set covered the sliding glass pass-through to an outdoor kitchen and swimming area. Having noticed they were becoming sullied from heavy traffic, she called on us for a cleaning quote. I remember how sick I felt when I saw she’d tied them back to prevent further soiling – in the manner drapery panels are often tied back! I then had the unenviable task of informing her that they had been irreparably damaged.

The Floor Is For Furniture

Sure, for various reasons privacy sheers may need to be taken down at some point. Many residential high rises in hurricane prone areas have been retrofitted with impact resistant windows and doors in recent years. Clearly, anything near those openings had to be moved out of harm’s way. However, when it comes to Luminette Privacy Sheers there are only two ways to do it. The right way, and the deleterious way.

(Fig. 2)

In figure 2 we see three Luminette Privacy Sheers with a combined worth of at least $2200. These were preexisting features when the resident bought the home one year earlier. Never having purchased high end privacy sheers, she understandably was not aware of what she had. Nor, evidently, was the contractor entrusted to renovate the home.

He ordered they be removed from their openings and carefully lain in an already finished upstairs room. Recognizing the complicated manner in which the fabric is attached to its carriers, the decision was made to remove all three units in their entirety. A bad situation was then made worse by laying them across one another. Even though there was enough floor space to keep them separated.

(Fig. 3)

Several vanes sustained bends and creases as a result, forcing puckers across the face of all three when rehung. Again, the condition was irreversible.

Still more gut-wrenching images can be seen in the accompanying bisected photo (figure 3). In this case, no care at all had been exercised in removing three Luminette Privacy Sheers during a painting project. Interestingly, paint was found to have transferred onto two of them anyway! Such disregard by tradesmen is so common we’re thinking about making it the topic of a future article.

The One True Solution

Window coverings are meant to hang vertically at all times. That goes doubly for Luminette Privacy Sheers. Without exception they are permanently damaged when thrown across a bed, or on the floor.

(Fig 4) Lower portion Luminette, as seen from above

Figure 4 shows a view of Luminette’s graceful folds, a characteristic made possible by the precise bonding of its sheer face fabric to its non-woven fabric vanes (behind the sheer). You may wish to click the photo in order to see more clearly how the sheer’s bottom edge flows.

(Fig 5) Luminette shown properly prepared for storage

To preserve this distinctive look when removed from an opening, a privacy sheer must be gradually released from its carriers even as it is being carefully rolled onto a cylindrical cardboard tube (figure 5). That’s how Luminette is shipped new from the factory, and that’s how it should always be stored when taken down. If it too must be removed, the SofTrak headrail (traverse rod) is typically placed inside the same tube.

Whatever you do, never permit anyone who is not intimately familiar with Luminette Privacy Sheers to remove them from their originally installed locations. If someone tells you they’ve done it before, request a detailed description of their method to be sure it agrees with the description above. Better still, call ADVANCED ON-SITE for guaranteed safe removal when preparing for renovation projects.

Luminette®: What You Should Know

Luminette - wide shot

Luminette® Deconstructed

In 1996 the Hunter Douglas corporation unveiled its latest in a series of innovative window fashions. Luminette® privacy sheers combined the soft look of traditional sheer draperies with the function of a vertical blind, and its ability to control light and privacy. This proved to be nothing short of groundbreaking.

Drapery-like Folds of a Luminette
Graceful drapery-like folds of Luminette

It was not the first attempt at such a marriage, but it was the first to employ “solid state” characteristics. Whereas other products consisted of a vertical blind with sheer fabric attached to, or interwoven among its PVC vanes, this new product utilized semi-rigid fabric vanes permanently affixed to machined creases in the sheer.

There was no stitching! Through a process involving heat activated adhesives the sheer and its vanes effectively became individual components of a larger whole.

Handling Do’s and Don’ts

Fabric vanes put less stress on supporting track components than their much heavier PVC counterparts. That’s a distinct advantage when you consider the fact that sunlight and heat weaken plastic carrier assemblies over time.

 Never drape Luminette fabric over a table or bed
Never drape Luminette fabric over a table or bed

However, semi-rigid vanes fused to a supple sheer can just as easily become a disadvantage when certain product requirements go unheeded. Chief among these is proper handling.

A common mistake is when Luminette® is taken down and lain across a bed or table. Rather than flowing uniformly, as the sheer is intended to do when hanging vertically, the rigidity of the vanes forces it to rumple in places. The fabric’s “memory” then retains this characteristic after re-installation. Steaming cannot be guaranteed to return it to its original condition.

Worse still are creases the vanes can easily sustain during take down, or when the fabric is stored improperly. They’re considered permanent damage, and will also result in unsightly rumpling and drawing of the sheer.

Luminette rolled onto shipping tube, for proper storage
Luminette rolled onto shipping tube, for proper storage

There is only one way to prevent such condition issues. In the process of removing Luminette® from an opening, one must roll the fabric back onto its original shipping core – a cardboard tube similar to the type carpets are rolled onto, only larger in diameter. Painter’s tape is used to hold the last vane in place.

The additional step of placing the rolled fabric inside something known as “drapery tubing” is commonly taken. It’s a lightweight plastic covering capable of being sealed at each end. This protects the fabric from construction dust and other contaminants.

Freedom of Movement

It is important to remember that Luminette® protrudes significantly farther into a room than a vertical blind does. From 4½ inches farther in it’s “Classic” incarnation, to 6½ inches when ordered with the larger “Quintette” vane size.

Therefore any top treatment or side panel must be mounted far enough from the opening to leave ample room for Luminette® to traverse, and for its vanes to tilt without coming into contact with one of those other treatments. Likewise, if Luminette® is to be mounted inside a vertically recessed header, that recess must provide ample room. This may all seem obvious at the outset, but it’s shocking how often these rules go unobserved.

 Luminette forced to interact with other treatment
Luminette forced to interact with other treatment

For example, enthusiastic decorators sometimes try to pull off layered treatments where there is simply not enough space. Depending on the treatment types, as well as how they are mounted, a four layer configuration can protrude as much as 15 inches into a room! Taking up that much floor space in a 2,000 square foot room is one thing. In an 800 square foot room it can look like an elephant.

Aware of this, decorators will often instruct the installer to “make it all happen within 10 inches of the opening.” The experienced and principled installer will decline such a directive. He or she understands the implications. Any resistance met by a drape or shade as it moves through a confined area means additional force must be exerted on control cords. In turn, components like tensioners and brackets are stressed beyond their limits. Not to mention the wear and tear that occurs when fabrics repeatedly drag across each other’s surfaces.

Luminette® is an Island

Luminette® can develop condition issues stemming from anything which prevents its fabric from hanging freely. For instance, its semi-rigid vanes will bend if they touch the floor. Or anything on it. As discussed, this influences the appearance of the sheer fabric. And remember, Luminette® fabrics retain bad memories.

lumifishmouth3
So-called “fish mouth buckles” prevent folds from stacking uniformly

To illustrate just how important it is for Luminette® to enjoy complete separation from anything in close proximity, consider the visual at left. What you’re seeing is a snapshot of a section of Luminette®, drawn across the opening so all its vanes stack to one side. Next to it, the same section is shown partially inverted so as to highlight the circled condition issues.

This Luminette® was custom made and installed to clear the floor. Not the interior door mat the homeowner later placed just inside and near the center of the sliding glass array it was meant to cover. The thickness of the mat brought it into contact with the Luminette’s vanes, pushing them up slightly. Not enough to alarm the homeowner, but enough to buckle the folds of the sheer.

Note that only the folds left spanning the mat, when the fabric was drawn closed across the opening, were affected. The rest were stacked neatly and proportionally as they should be. It’s the buckles that prevent this.

For safe and effective cleaning of a Luminette, call: 561-644-4091
For safe and effective cleaning of Luminette, call: 561-644-4091

The Conclusion of the Matter

A Luminette® retaining its fresh from the factory appearance after many years of use, is one that has come into contact with only three things,

  1. its original shipping core
  2. the carriers it hangs from when installed
  3. a cleaning head in the hands of a professional who knows how to use it

In addition to cleaning, ADVANCED ON-SITE is specially trained and equipped to take down Luminette® should painting, or other modifications to its surroundings become necessary.

Avoiding Damage to Vertical Blinds

To avoid damage to carriers, as well as the traversing mechanism itself, always be sure the vanes of a vertical blind are tilted to the open position before traversing them.

The photo indicates when a vertical blind is ready to be drawn to the side on which it stacks, and when it is not.

The same applies to privacy sheers.

For long life, correct operation of functional window coverings is the most important factor. But they will eventually fail. When they do, ADVANCED ON-SITE provides a full compliment of drapery and shade services, including repair.