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