Friend or Faux
Wood blinds and shutters are still two of the most popular window coverings sold in America. However, there's always a limit to how much people will spend on their window treatments, and these two products are among the most expensive. Further, sometimes wood is undesirable in high moisture areas or in rooms susceptible to damage by kids and pets.
Recently introduced by almost every manufacturer are quality alternatives to 2" wood blinds. All have slats which imitate wood, but there are some big differences between them. They're generally called Faux Wood Blinds, Alternative Woods, Wood-like, and a host of other names. They're made of vinyl, vinyl compounds, and even some which are made of a combination of wood and vinyl - in effect a wood/vinyl alloy. The most popular products as of this writing are Biowoods, Everwoods, Woodmates, NuWood by Levolor, and Lake Forest by Graber. Since all of these products use vinyl for at least a portion of their slats they have two inherent advantages over wood blinds: (1) they cost less, and (2) they resist moisture.
The Disadvantages. There are some disadvantages to consider: (1) most people still prefer the warmth of real wood, (2) there are limited color choices (3) there are size constraints and size limitations, (4) they are flimsier yet heavier than wood, and (5) they may yellow (but paint can yellow too).
Beware of the very cheap "foam" blinds that some companies sell. They are especially flimsy, can sag, and require many more support strings (called "ladders") not only because of their flimsiness, but also because they are heavy. Since most are made with inferior headrails and components, the weight puts a burden on the mechanism, accelerating its demise. We strongly suggest you stay away from these foam products. They are sold in Home Improvement centers, in some retail locations, and many websites.
All of the faux wood blinds, however, require more ladders than wood blinds. The sturdier the blind, the farther apart the ladders can be placed and therefore will require fewer ladders - and that's better because with fewer ladders the blinds have a cleaner, sleeker, more shutter-like appearance. The ladders run through holes in the slats, so when the blinds are closed, you'll see all those holes due to the light piercing through them. Further, if you want cloth tapes (like the older venetian blinds had) instead of the string ladders, then there will probably be too many tapes for your taste, and they obstruct your view.
Which are best? We have evaluated every vendor's products, and there's no doubt that the wood/vinyl alloys are best. They have more color choices, are sturdier, and require fewer ladders. Those products include Everwood and NuWood.