Monday, May 19, 2008

Blinds Installation - Ultimate Nightmare

Installing custom vertical blinds is supposed to be easy. They make it look so simple in the little online instructional video.

I guess it’s not completely your fault, Your low low prices, slick website, and fast delivery make it easy to order custom blinds. That being said, the craftsmanship is shoddy and the written instructions seem to be translated from Chinese – by a native Swahili speaker.

So I believe you’re at least partly to blame for making my past Saturday an all-out nightmare.

I should probably mention that we have 7 big-ass windows in the apartment – all around 81 inches wide and 66 inches tall. But several are slightly smaller in width. And, as I found out on Saturday, one would appear to be trapezoidal in shape – not a single right angle to be found.

I used to think that having all of these windows was a blessing and a curse.

However, the painful experience of installing all those blinds has shown me the light.

It’s just a curse. After all, I already know what it looks like outside. I don’t need to be reminded of it while I’m inside. Besides, I can just check the weather on my computer. No need to even peek outside. Black tar paper stapled to the window frames would have done the job just fine.

Really, I just don’t want to be seen parading around in nothing but a top hat and jockstrap – aka, my loungin’ around wear.

But we just had to have the option of looking outside. So vertical blinds were ordered.

Here’s a list – gleaned from hours of personal experience – of how NOT to install your custom blinds.

1) Order wrong size blinds from Also, make sure that you order the head rails in the wrong size, because those can’t be easily fixed and the mistake requires that you order entirely new ones. Money down toilet: $220.

2) Forget to ask co-worker to bring in drill for you to borrow to aid in installation.

3) Purchase new drill, because you forgot to borrow one and you need to put the blinds up before your parents come to town on Sunday. Money down the toilet: $45.

4) Forget to charge battery for drill.

5) Realize at the last moment that the blinds company didn’t send you valance coverings in the correct size. This is the crappy piece of plastic that goes at the top of the blinds and hide the head rails and open/close mechanism Luckily, you never threw away the old ones that were way too big.

6) Go to hardware store to find something that can cut through the tough yet cheap plastic of the valances. Purchase the $20 metal shears recommended by the store clerk. You will never use these shears for anything else, except to hurl at the wall, when you lose your patience about midway through blinds installation. Money down the toilet: $20.

7) Misinterpret instructions, and drill holes too close to the window. Put up the first head rail and valance, only to realize your mistake - which makes it impossible to install the vertical vanes that actually cover the window. Congratulations. You’ve installed a head rail upon which nothing can be attached.

This is sort of what I looked like while installing the blinds - except I don't have a tool belt, and this guy's face isn't perpetually snarled, and bright red with anger.

8) Watch online instructional video, which actually ends up being slightly helpful despite making the installation a hell of a lot easier than it actually is.

9) Discover a simple procedural improvement that allows you to install the head rail without having your girlfriend climb up on to the windowsill with you and hold the head rail up to the top of the window frame while you fiddle around with the drill. (Details of this step is a secret. You’ll have to figure it out yourself.)

10) Spend the next 6 hours actually installing the blinds. Allow the frustration to build.

11) Manhandle head rails into place, as drywall cracks and sputters under the strain – either a) these blinds are not quite the right size, b) you’re installing them at a slight angle, or c) you’re caught in a time vortex and The Island will not let you finish the installation of the blinds.

Sometimes, when I'm installing blinds, I feel a lot like these folks - stranded on a mysterious island where time and space are warped - with little hope of rescue.

12) Shout at the blinds when the vanes keep falling off the head rails. Or when the mechanism keeps falling apart, or getting stuck.

13) Regret your purchase of blinds.

14) Rue the day you are currently wasting while you put these fucking blinds up.

15) Calculate the amount of money it would have been worth to pay someone else to do this for you – about $20,000.

In the end, we did manage to install all of the blinds. It took about 9 hours total. Maybe a little longer.

Now I just sit back and wait for them to fall down or otherwise fail.

If you need help installing blinds – either vertical or horizontal - I can provide consulting services at a reasonable hourly rate. Or I’ll actually install them for $25,000 and a pound of flesh. If you can’t offer that much, then don’t bother asking.


Anonymous said...

Jeezus! You should have waited 'til your parents got there so that you would have had the benefit of their wise and helpful commentary.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever try to install those blinds while standing on the roof and bending over the side of the building in order to install them on the outside of the windows? Climb up on the roof and try it. Guess who knows about being up on the roof.

The Mill said...

Thanks for the suggestion "Anonymous" - if that is your real name. But it won't work. We live on the 3rd floor of a 5 story building, and my arms are less than 20 feet long...unfortunately.