When clients reach out about wanting to convert from drapery to roller shades one of their main concerns is light leakage. Many guests prefer a totally black room so they can have a restful night and not get woken up in the morning with a bright room. You can control light leakage using a side and bottom channel system for roller shades.
Roller shades can either be mounted inside the window frame or outside. When a roller shade is made to be inside mount, the actual shade doesn't reach the edges of the window frames because of hardware components that attach to the ends of the roller shade to the top of the window frame for installation. You will have about a 1/2'' of light coming in on each side and sometimes on the bottom too (depending on what bottom rail you are using, you can learn about bottom rails here). Even with outside mount roller shades you can have some light leakage.
These light blocker channels are called "U" or also "side channels." "H" channels are also side channels and the bottom channels go by "bottom, sill rails, or L angles."
The side and bottom channels look like this:
Let's start with "U"/Side Channels. Adding them will help block light from entering through the gap along the sides of the roller shades like the ones in the photo below:
"U" or "side" channels installed on the sides and the roller shade enters a "pocket" of the aluminum. The photo below shows a U/side channel system:
The H-Channels are also side channels but these are to install between two adjacent shades where it cuts down on light leaks between shades and provides a smooth path for shade fabric to travel as it unrolls. H channels are used for window openings like the photo below:
What is a bottom channel/L angle/sill rail used for? This is the mechanism that is installed in the bottom part of the window to block the light from entering from the end of the roller shade to where it is meant to stop (certain hem bars are thick enough where they will block the light for the bottom part of the roller so you won't need a bottom channel, here is more info on hem bars and why they are important). The bottom hem bars that are best to replace this light blockers are the external and fabric wrapped hem bars as they are more sturdy and have complete blockage of light. The photo above also shows the bottom mechanism being used alongside the "H" channels.
A window with side and bottom channels will look like the photo on the right.
Side and bottom channels are available in the following colors: White, Silver, Ivory, Bronze and Black.
We know this can create questions, get in touch so we can answer any questions you may have about roller shades and the functionality.