How to Shorten Blinds: A DIY Guide for Beginners

If you’ve limited yourself to a set of off-the-shelf window coverings, finding the perfect fit can be a challenge. The kind of pre-built cutdowns offered by big box stores never quite look right. That’s why we do everything custom at Blindsgalore. The biggest issue you’ll see with stock blinds is that they’re often too long, leading to heavy, oversized stacks at the bottom of your window. Not only are these larger stacks obstructive, but they also leave your windows blinds too heavy to lift. This may leave you wondering how to shorten the blinds or adjust them yourself.

Well, yes. It is technically possible to shorten your blinds using a DIY approach. However, before you break out the tools and start trimming away, it’s essential to consider whether this is the best solution for your situation. While shortening your blinds might seem like a quick fix, it can come with risks and challenges that may make replacing them a more attractive option in the long run. Let us be clear: your
first and only step should be ordering a custom replacement.
If you’re determined to shorten the window blinds yourself, let’s discuss when it might be necessary and which types of blinds can be shortened. You’ll also find a step-by-step guide on how to shorten your blinds length.

Can You Shorten Blinds at Home Using a DIY Approach?

It seems like the DIY spirit is alive and well. We understand that, obviously. It makes sense to take matters into your own hands. Why hire a professional if all it takes is a little bit of elbow grease? Well, that, a few basic tools and a willingness to learn. Please remember it is crucial to approach this project with a healthy dose of caution. Shortening blinds isn’t as simple as it might seem and there are several risks and challenges to keep in mind.

  • ● Blinds are delicate. Inside the headrail, you’ll find fragile mechanisms that require precise measurements and careful handling. One wrong move could lead to a set of blinds that no longer function properly.
  • ● Shortening blinds varies depending on the type of blinds you have. Some styles, such as vertical or mini blinds, may be more forgiving than others, like real wood blinds. Again, this has the potential to cause a costly mistake.
  • ● Your blinds may need special care. Research your specific type of blinds and follow the instructions that were included with the product first. Don’t forget, you can always contact our in-house team of design and service experts if you need assistance or advice.

A collage of a woman removing her horizontal blinds from a headrail and a preview of what it looks like to shorten your wood, faux wood, or mini blinds
Source: IFIXIT

When is it Necessary to Shorten Blinds?

In addition to providing light control and privacy, window blinds are meant to frame your window. They should not obstruct your window. We don’t want another wall; we want a gateway for sunlight and fresh air. If your blinds obstruct your view when fully extended, there is a problem. Blinds that are larger than necessary will make an unsightly, impenetrable pile of unnecessary slats at the bottom of the window. Not only does that look bad, but it’s also a potential fire hazard. Not to mention, more slats mean more weight. That’s going to put extra strain on them every time you lift and lower. When fully drawn, your blinds should stop perfectly at the bottom of your window for the best look and the best performance. Your home, and everyone in it, will appreciate it. Trust us.

A large, unsightly stack of slats at the bottom of some off-the-shelf window blinds
Source: Home Staging in Bloomington, IL

What Types of Blinds Can be Shortened?

The short answer, no pun intended, is that you can adjust window blinds with slats. Shades aren’t so easy, but it is possible to shorten vertical and horizontal blinds. Determine if your blinds match either of the descriptions below.

Vertical Blinds

Typically covering sliding glass doors or patios, vertical window blinds are made up of vertical slats that hang down from a track at the top of the window frame. They are often violently thrown to the side during barbeques and get-togethers as someone barges out the door. Sound familiar? This often leads to twisting or missing slats. While they can’t necessarily be shortened, you check out our checklist for vertical blind repair if they are giving you trouble.

Horizontal Blinds

Quite possibly the most popular way to cover your windows. Wood blinds, faux wood blinds, venetian blinds, and mini blinds are all types of horizontal blinds. Anything with traditional slats falls under this category. When purchased off the shelf, they are usually cut-to-size. If they were too wide, you’re usually left with an odd number of hanging strings. Too long? You’re stuck with an unsightly stack sitting like a large weight at the bottom of your window. We’ll address how to handle shortening these blinds below.

While the DIY approach can be tempting, weighing the potential benefits against the risks is important. Shortening your blinds at home might save you money upfront, but if the process goes awry, you may end up needing to replace them anyway. Plus, there’s the value of your time and effort to consider. Is it worth the hassle of tackling this project yourself, or would it be more efficient to invest in a quality replacement from the start?

How to Shorten Window Blinds: Step-by-Step

If you’ve decided to take on the challenge of shortening your blinds yourself, it’s essential to approach the process with patience and precision. This is a delicate operation that requires careful attention to detail. Our tips for vertical blinds can be found above. These tips are applicable to horizontal window blinds only.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before you begin, make sure you have the following tools on hand:
● Measuring tape
● Pencil or marker
● Scissors or a sharp utility knife
● Flathead screwdriver
● Pliers
● Ladder or step stool (if necessary)

Step 2: Measure and Mark

Remove the blinds from the window brackets and start by measuring the desired length. Use a measuring tape to determine how much excess length you need to remove and mark the spot with a pencil or marker. Double-check your measurements for accuracy.

Step 3: Remove the Bottom Rail

Using a flathead screwdriver, carefully remove the caps or plugs covering the strings on the bottom rail of your blinds. Once exposed, untie or release the knots holding the strings in place. This will allow you to slide the bottom rail off the strings and remove it from the blinds. Don’t lose any small pieces!

Step 4: Cut the Strings

Find the mark you made for the desired length. Carefully cut the strings at this mark using scissors or a sharp utility knife. Sharp is important to avoid any frayed edges. Take your time and ensure each string is cut evenly to maintain the balance and functionality of your blinds.

Step 5: Remove Excess Slats (if necessary)

If you’re shortening your blinds significantly, you may need to remove some of the excess slats. This will avoid leaving you with a massive stack in your window. Simply slide the slats off the strings until you reach the desired length. Proceed with caution. Remember that removing slats will affect the fullness and appearance.

Step 6: Reattach the Bottom Rail

Once you’ve cut the strings and removed any excess slats, slide the rail back onto the strings Make sure it is evenly positioned. Tie a knot to secure the strings. We recommend using pliers to pull them as tight as possible. Trim any excess string and replace the caps or plugs to conceal the knots.

Step 7: Test and Adjust

With the bottom rail reattached, carefully test your blinds to ensure they function properly. Be careful with your first use. Try them out several times to check for smoothness. If you notice any issues, such as difficulty lifting or unevenness, you may need to make minor adjustments to the string tension or bottom rail position.

Precautions to Keep In Mind When Shortening Blinds

While shortening your blinds may seem appealing at first, remember that a DIY approach has risks and drawbacks. From uneven cuts and damaged slats to the sheer time and effort required, shortening your blinds can quickly become a frustrating. If you’re losing your cool, we recommend stopping and evaluating before continuing. Learning how to remove slats from blinds by hand is a complex and potentially risky undertaking. There is a reason there are professionals that do this. Minor errors or missteps can lead to damaged or malfunctioning window treatments. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Really, though. Why struggle? Invest in a quality, custom replacement. Upgrade. Make it motorized. Why not? With a wide selection of styles, materials, and customization options, we make it easy to find the perfect blinds to fit your windows and enhance your décor. No stress, no hassle, just beautiful new window coverings.

Sun shining through window behind perfectly-sized blinds in morning light

Don’t settle for the challenges and potential disappointment of shortening your blinds yourself. Choose the reliability, beauty, and convenience of quality custom window coverings. You’ll enjoy them for years to come.

Looking for more solutions? Read our Five Easy Fixes for Your Window Treatments