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Don't Self Install Venetian Blinds;

2016. Everybody knows that Venetian aluminum mini blinds are a strangulation hazard, but it's not only children at risk. Homeowners trying to follow the badly written installation instructions may end up hanging themselves too. Easy to install? I don't think so.

My example is a problem window 36 inches wide. Getting wider blinds for outside mounting wasn't practical because it would interfere with things pushed up against the wall. But does anybody offer premade inside mount blinds exactly 36 inches wide? Of course not. The closest is 35 inches. Only it isn't. The blinds that arrived were only 34.5 inches wide. But I ordered 35 inches. I check the website. Oh, vexation! Smaller print did disclose that the exact size is 34.5 inches. Why do you advertise one size and deliver a different size?

The dual-language instructions are not a model of clarity, leave many questions unanswered, and mislead one into mounting things quite incorrectly. So here is what the directions should have said for mounting when the blind is narrower than the window:

  1. You need to screw the mounting brackets to the top of the inside frame, far enough in from the edges of the window so that the brackets will securely hold the actual width of the blind. If you follow the directions and mount the brackets to the top left and right of the inside frame, the blind will slide horizontally and fall out. It would be nice if the instructions explained this. But no, you have to make your mistake and then search the web for the fix, which is obvious only if you already know it. So we have four holes in the wrong place. (See BlindsChalet.com: Mounting Wrong Size Horizontal Window Blinds.)
  2. You need to align the brackets so the lip that the hinged cover plate latches onto sticks out beyond the frame. If you follow the directions and mount the brackets so the front edge is flush with the front of the frame, you can't close the hinged cover plate. The top of the window frame will be in the way. Oh great, just great. Now we have eight holes in the wrong place.
  3. You need to know that what looks like an extra slat supplied is a set of 2 'valances'. You do need to insert them through the 2 or 3 'valance clips' and hook them over the lip of the top rail. But why? Who cares if you can see the top rail? Ah. It's because when the blinds are closed, there's a full inch of the window exposed between the bottom of the top rail and the top slat. Botheration! Remove the blinds. Retrieve the extra slat from the trash. Let's see if we can manage with the one they sent. Oh, I should have put it into the lower slat position. Frustration. Remove the blinds again. Oh, look at this. There are two slats, they're just stuck together so tightly you would never know. Mechanical aptitude is not my thing. Separate them, put them both in, put the blind up. Not too bad, but all the blood has drained out of my arms. They're tingling, and I can hardly feel my hands.
  4. You do need to move the 'inner cord stop' plastic beads so that when the blind is dropped fully they are no more than 3 inches from the headrail. The only explanation is that the inner cords can pull out to form a loop that can strangle a child. But don't the inner cords have to pull out to raise and lower the blinds? And how do these beads, which are outside the headrail, magically keep the cords inside the headrail from pulling out? Almost everybody throws the beads away because the instructions are completely inadequate and make no sense at all. You have to search the web far and wide to uncover an image using a doll to uncover the shocking truth: The inner cord means the cord that runs through the slats, not the cord inside the headrail. (See BarbarasBeat.BlogSpot.com: Death of 2 Year Old Child Prompts Recall of Window Blinds....)
  5. You need to mount the cord cleats, 6 to 12 inches apart, the lower cleat at least 63 inches above the floor. The instructions merely say that you should mount them mount 'at a height where they will be out of reach of children.' How high is that? You have to search the web to find out that it means far out of reach, a minimum of 5.25 feet high. (See Archive.org/web: WindowBlindSafety.IE/safe-blinds/metal-venetian.)
  6. The cord cleats can be mounted right on the window frame. That's another piece of data they neglect to mention. It may be a lot more secure than the sheetrock on the adjacent wall, and a lot more possible if the adjacent wall space is too tight. But no, if inspiration doesn't strike, you have to search the web for the answer that's only obvious if you already know it. (See BlindTechnique.CO.UK: Window Blinds: Child Safety Devices.)
  7. It's important to never let the cords dangle, but instead always wrap them around the cleats when you pull the blinds up. This should be emphasized in the instructions. Hundreds of children have died because of uninstalled or unused cord cleats. Go read that bit on BarbarasBeat again.
  8. You need to attach the wand for opening and closing the slats. This doesn't seem to be in the directions at all. You push up the plastic sleeve and work it in, then pull the plastic sleeve down to retain it. You'd think the instructions wouldn't simply omit this. It's the last step, after all.
  9. Uh Oh. What are these 2 extra plastic brackets? Are they safety devices? You have to research the web to discover that they're in case you need to secure the bottom rail to the windowsill or a door so that the blinds don't flap around. If you don't need them, they can go in the trash. It would be nice if the instructions said so.

In this particular case, the guilty party is the Lotus Windoware 1 inch aluminum Mini Blind; Height:36in; width:35in; UPC:7-28164-22340-9. They're very nice blinds. But it seems that almost any do-it-yourself project like this is right out of the training program for the Matrix. It's designed to teach you one thing: you should never, ever do it yourself. But if you let somebody else put them up, what are the chances that they will understand that the 'inner cord stop' beads are critical for safety and that the bottom cleat for winding the cord around must not be merely out of reach of infants but at least as high as their parents are tall?

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