Today we are going to start with a picture study called ‘What do you notice?’ Take a look at the picture below. Do you notice anything irregular at each of the windows?


That was exactly our reaction, except for the fact that we knew they were hem bars!

Hem Bars are how the bottom edge of a roller shade is finished. Seems like a rather innocuous part of a hotel design. In the midst of all those factors across an entire property, who in the world is going to think about how the roller shade hem bars are going to look from the outside of the building? If your answer is ‘I wouldn’t think about that’ then welcome to the 99.9% of people also at the same party! We also would like to welcome you to 100% of us who after reading this blog and seeing this picture will be forever indebted to the mistake of this hotel and will pay very close attention to the aforementioned ‘bottom edge of a roller shade’.

Simply put we would like to offer up today’s blog title as a title for this picture. This encapsulates ‘Why Hem Bars Matter?’

Most roller shade manufacturers have at least 2-3 styles of hem bars, and they are very important to pay attention to. We will cover the construction of the 3 most common types of hem bars below and offer some points as to when and why each would be used.

Heat Sealed Hem Bar

Often called a ‘pocket’ hem bar. This type of hem bar is created out of the same roller shade fabric being wrapped around an aluminum weight and sealed via a heat application. This hem bar is the lowest profile and because it maintains nearly the same thickness as the roller shade, when it is retracted it cannot be seen. This is the most common type of hem bar. 

External Hem Bar

An external hem bar is made with a squared aluminum tubing clamped onto the bottom of the roller shade. The ends are capped with plastic pieces and the entire bar is typically finished in the same color as the the fascia. This hem bar is required with all external roller shades, when hold-downs are specified and also provides a much more substantial finished edge.

Fabric Wrapped Hem Bar

Fabric wrapped hem bars are almost identical to external hem bars except they are completed by the roller shade fabric being wrapped around the aluminum bar. This option allows for the more substantial bottom yet continues with the exact color of the roller shade fabric minimizing visual impact. This option can also be used with hold downs. Note that the entire extruded bar is not wrapped with the roller shade fabric, only the front portion that faces the guestroom, while the back is still exposed aluminum.

All of the hem bars offer their own unique aesthetic and functionality. As we covered above there are also a few situations in which a certain hem bar must be used. Depending on your window design there is definitely a hem bar that meets the need. You just have to make sure you think of all ‘sides’ of the situation.


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