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.

Job Photo – 10/18/15

Requested Service: Installation

These window coverings were installed in the public relations area of a local power generating facility. We say “these” because, in case you didn’t notice at first glance, there are two in the opening pictured. 

Management contacted us about concerns over glare caused by afternoon sunlight streaming through this opening, and an identical opening beyond the glass doors at left. In that other space is a control room where operators must be able to see clearly through portals in the opposite wall, while maneuvering a giant cantilever crane just outside. 

Motorized screen shades with remote control capability were requested. However at 202 inches, these openings are simply too wide to cover, using just one shade. This is because, with the mounting brackets stationed at each end, and no way of supporting the middle, maximum width limits must be imposed to avoid sagging.

Even when forced to place more than one shade in a single opening, you still want them to operate in sync. To accomplish this, a special coupling system is used in conjunction with a modified bracket.

The other challenge is to align the inevitable light gap between shades with an existing structural element. In this case a vertical mullion serves to, at least partially, block sunlight from streaming right through the gap.

Unfortunately, there’s not always an easy solution to every challenge. Were it not for the mullion, someone would have had to decide whether to tolerate the naked light gap, or go with an alternative product that might be less desirable.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.


Job Photo – 09/19/15

Requested Service: Installation


Another challenging plantation shutter install. 

Pictured, is what’s known as a “double hung” configuration. There were two other shutters of identical size and configuration in the same room, which was to be used as an office.

The owner’s intention was to place desk/credenza components along the walls where each shutter was located. She wished to have the ability to open some panels without the need to move heavy furniture. 

Generally a shutter this size would feature four, full length panels. As you can see, each had eight in this case. Four large across the top, four small across the bottom. The loss of structural integrity when panels are divided in this manner requires use of horizontal supports. These can be seen intersecting the required vertical supports.

Since the horizontals must be divided into three parts, (left, center, right) they cannot always be attached in the same fashion as the verticals (two screws into each end through concealed portions of frame). Invariably what you’re left with is a couple of locations where toe-nailing into the ends from the back side of each vertical becomes necessary. This is especially exciting when the shutter is made of anything other than wood.

These were of a composite material, which is attractive and very good quality, but nowhere near as forgiving as wood. Meaning, you only get one chance to hit your mark. All the while ensuring that the horizontal remains in the exact location prescribed. If you fail, you may have to “eat” the entire shutter. Certainly, both the horizontal and vertical supports will be lost.

It pays, then, to assemble the entire shutter, including panels, before attempting such an operation. Because, guess what? Even if the “pilot holes,” sometimes used by manufacturers to designate screw locations, are placed wrong at the factory, you still get to “eat” the product. 

ADVANCED ON-SITE is certified as having completed training that focuses on complex shutter configurations, and how to foresee potential problems before they develop. It can’t be called rocket science, but you’re well advised not to entrust your shutters to just any installer.

Our specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 09/11/15

Requested Service: Installation


That’s right! We install plantation shutters!

Pictured, is one of our more elaborate installations involving four very large units at the private Alicante community in Juno Beach. Two of them could not have been more complicated, given their arched shapes and the fact that they reached as high as 14 feet in the air.

The unit at upper right qualifies as our most complicated ever, due to its modular construction and the need to hoist it into place already assembled. Boy, if that wasn’t a tricky operation.

Know what was even more tricky? The preliminary measurements and calculations that went into ensuring the best possible fit in an opening with all sorts of issues. Not only was it badly out of square, but the wall on which it was located had a big nasty bow at the point where the top of its left “ear” portion intersected the left leg of its “eyebrow” (arched) portion.

Bear in mind that a shutter’s frame must be perfectly square and plumb, on all planes, in order for the panels to function properly when installed. This requires the ability to plan in advance for adjustments that can be executed only during installation. 

Don’t trust this to just anyone. ADVANCED ON-SITE is equal to the task.

Our specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

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.

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.

Job Photo – 08/31/15

Requested Service: Repair


A local decorator ordered this Luminette® based on her own measurements, but did not understand the difference between “inside” and “outside” mounting. She ended up with a shading whose fabric was half an inch too long.

She was referred to ADVANCED ON-SITE by a mutual business associate, who informed her we were able to modify its length using a simple rotary cutter. Do not try this at home!

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 08/27/15

Requested Service: Cleaning

It’s been mentioned elsewhere on the site that we also install shades, blinds and plantation shutters. Pictured, is an install of Luminette® shadings done 6 years ago by our company.

Following that installation, the decorator had a local drapery workroom custom make and install the drapes and valances you see. This week the homeowner requested that we return to clean everything.

It was refreshing to forego “level readings,” for a change. Having installed the Luminettes, which are susceptible to permanent damage if not level during cleaning, we were confident they need not be checked, never mind re-installed.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Curious Case of the “Rush Job”

Luminette Damage

By way of expanding on an earlier post, we see in the photo just one result of a failure to observe details when placing window coverings.

The homeowner in this case purchased an $800 motorized Luminette® by Hunter Douglas. Then, after it was installed she commissioned a top treatment to conceal its track and associated hardware. The new upholstered valance covered the entire header above the opening as well. Meaning that it extended all the way up to the ceiling, which was not level.

In such cases shim material is often placed above one of the valance’s mounting brackets (pictured) in order to align it with the ceiling. Alternatively, in tight spaces the bracket’s position on the cornice can be moved. But that’s more work, so the individual installing the valance shimmed it instead. This left a mere sixteenth of an inch between the bracket and the Luminette’s traversing mechanism.

Now, though they were not touching at the time, when the shade was later drawn, torque from its motor caused just enough vertical movement to bring its plastic components into contact with the unforgiving metal bracket. Several snap tabs holding carriers in position sheared off, jamming the scissor drive and separating five or six carriers from the main body. The expensive window shading was rendered utterly useless.

Fortunately, ADVANCED ON-SITE has the parts and the know-how to correct such issues. The Luminette was repaired and the valance bracket adjusted so the shim could be eliminated. But the homeowner had already been terribly inconvenienced.

When purchasing window coverings, it’s okay to insist that the dealer’s installer be present to measure for them. In this way you can observe his or her manner before the sale. Do they seem hurried? They may place more importance on the sheer volume of installations they can perform, than on customer satisfaction with the quality of their work. Do they seem harried? Well then, maybe the dealer is putting pressure on to increase production in the interest of more profit. Either way, it can add up to heartache for you.

And by all means, have the installer demonstrate that everything functions correctly when the installation is complete. In the aforementioned case, the installer of the valance clearly did not test for freedom of movement before the Luminette’s mechanism failed on the homeowner’s very next attempt to operate it. Alas, by then the installer was long gone.

Attention to Detail is Critical

depth measure

When a shade, shutter or blind ends up functioning improperly, or not at all, it’s usually due to having been placed in an opening for which it is not suited. Avoiding such problems involves taking note of so much more than just width and height at time of measure.

As an example, but by no means the only one, an opening’s depth has a lot to tell about whether or not the desired product will enjoy unobstructed movement when installed. Will it come into contact with a protruding frame component (mullion, lifting rail, crank, etc.), preventing full functionality? The time to switch to a product that works within existing parameters is before a desired selection is ordered and custom made.

The reality is, a given product is not necessarily suited for just any opening. All openings have their own unique set of features and tolerances.

Be assured – we’re trained to make you aware of anything that may have an impact on your selection. Even if it means recommending a less profitable item, but one that will not suffer from poor functionality.

ADVANCED ON-SITE provides a full compliment of drapery and shade services, including cleaning.

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