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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode Eleven / Roman Shade Lift Systems Q & A


In Episode Eleven of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech (air date March 14, 2019), Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock discuss shade lift systems; answering questions from listeners. There’s a lot to learn!  Questions ranged from how do you decide which system to use, to which headrails work best for large, tall or arched windows.

You can listen to this episode of the podcast here: Episode Eleven: Shade Lift Systems 

There are a lot of choices when it comes to shade headrails, and it takes time to research and learn new systems.  "Years ago I used two, maybe three systems.  That was it."  Susan shared. "But now there are so many more types of lift systems.  That’s not a bad thing.  We just have to do our homework".

Types of Shade Lift Systems

Before answering the questions, Susan categorized the different types of systems so listeners can have a better understanding of the basics.

  a. A basic board mounted shade with screw eyes added under the board.  The lift cords are threaded through the shade rings (with cord shroud) and the screw eyes and then exit out the side and are used to operate the shade.  Cord cleats and/or cord locks keep the shade in position.

  b. Traversing clutch: the lift cord wraps around the fiberglass drive rod and is operated with a continuous cord or bead chain loop.  The clutch unit shifts the drive rod sideways, so the cord wraps in a spiral to keep the shade lifting in a level position.

  c. Aluminum roller tube: the lift cord it tied to clips that are attached to the tube and the cord then wraps around the roller, or there are cord spools that you slide onto the tube for the lift cord. Roller tubes can have a clutch with a bead chain loop, a spring unit, or operated with motorization.  See the video below for a demonstration of roller tubes with motor and spring operation.

  d. Headrail track: the lift cord wraps around a spool inside the track.  The spools are turned by a drive rod and operated with a clutch and bead chain loop.  You can now get a track system with motorization (battery or plug and play). Common headrail track systems are EZ-Rig from Rowley Company; Roman shade headrail track from Textol Systems, Inc.; RBS from Forest Group; and AutoDescend from dofix No Sew, Inc.

Pictured below are the RBS-XL, and RBS track headrails. 

Roman shade headrail tracksystems

In addition to those four types of systems, there’s also specialty systems such as side tracks, bendable tracks for arched windows, and there is even a system with stainless steel wire guides and cross bars.

Within each of those categories there are weight and width limits, projections, and other things to consider.  It’s not one size fits all. And just when you get it all figured out, a new system will come along!  

Systems for Large Shades

Question 1. What are the best headrails for large shades? 

For wide shades, you want to be sure you can splice the system if it's over 10 feet wide, or it will need to be shipped by freight. Most systems can be spliced.

If you have a long length, then a roller tube will raise the shade faster than a system where the cord wraps around a small diameter drive rod or spool.  Roller tubes can be operated with a clutch, spring or motor.  But there are length limits for systems because of the amount of cord that the system can accept.