DEAR MIKE: I recently moved into a new home and want to put in some miniblinds. Can you offer any advice on how to install them? -- Grace P.
DEAR GRACE: The joys of new-home ownership can be expensive. First, you walk through a beautifully decorated model home and decide that it's "the one" for you. When your home is built it looks pretty stark by comparison -- no two-tone custom paint job, no expensive furniture and no window coverings. You get white walls and views of the neighboring houses. It's all very sobering.
Miniblinds come in vinyl or aluminum and cost from $10 to about $30, depending upon the size of the window. Plan on spending about 15 minutes per window on installation. The sliding glass door will need a vertical blind covering which, if made from vinyl, will cost about $40.
The first step is to measure the actual size of the window's opening. (You want to mount the blinds inside the opening rather than above it, and they'll look much better, too.) Record the measurements, width by length, and take them to the home center. Choose the color you want and grab the nearest employee to cut the blinds to your measurements. They only cut the width, so you'll have to adjust the length.
Inside the box will be the mounting hardware. For small blinds, you'll have two mounting brackets; for larger blinds, you'll have three or four.
I usually mount a bracket two to three inches in from each end and then space any other brackets equally over the length of the rail. I mount the bracket so that the front of it is flush with the opening of the window and use two 1 1/4-inch coarse drywall screws. These screws are longer than the ones that come with the blinds, and can bite into just about anything. Make sure you sink them into the window frame just in case someone decides to give the blinds a good yank. You may have to move the brackets back a little to find the wood.
Once the brackets are in, snap the end caps into the headrail. Take the headrail and hang the lip over the hook on the bracket, making sure it is centered in the window opening, then swing it up into the bracket until it snaps into place. Use the pullcord to extend the blinds down the length of the window.
If you have an abundance of slats at the bottom of the window, you can either leave them as is or shorten the length of the blind. To do this, pop the caps off of the bottom rail and cut the knot that holds it in place. Slide out the bottom rail and the number of excess slats above it. Slide the bottom rail back into the rung that gives you the desired length. Thread the lift cords through the bottom rail and caps, tie it off, and cut off the excess cord.
Finally, stick the hook end of the wand through the hole in the tilt mechanism.
The sliding glass door's vertical blind installs much the same way, except that it is mounted above the opening. You also have to insert each slat into a clip.
As you can see, installing miniblinds is not a difficult task. And, as a bonus, you'll have privacy when you lounge around in your underwear and flip through the channels.
Trust me, I know.