All I want is a little clarity. I am the type of person who gets bothered by imprecise language, especially when it is within my own industry. You see, it's my job to write about window blinds and shades and the terms, window treatments and coverings are bantered about all the time with little regard to their real meaning.
I decided to do some research and get a definitive answer, which I would share with the public. I am not expecting to create some kind of revolution just want to shed some light on a couple of pretty nebulous words.
First, I went to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary and found nothing, no definition for either word. How could that be? These are fairly common terms. This is confusing to me. I use an online tool in my work that tells me how many times per day the internet searching public uses keywords. The word window treatments gets used about 2,600 per day and the word window coverings gets used about 625 per day. And yet, these words are not clearly defined. I sense a conspiracy – just kidding.
My next resource was Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia with descriptions and explanations written by everyday people. I found the following entries:
A window covering is material used to cover a window to reduce sunlight, to provide additional weatherproofing, or to ensure privacy. Window Coverings are usually on the interior side of windows, but can be on the exterior in some situations. Types of coverings include: drapes, curtains, window blinds, including: Venetian blinds, mini blinds, window shutters, various types of boarding, nailed or screwed to the window casing, can be used as temporary window covering.
In interior decorating, a window treatment may refer to any of the following items placed over or around a window: curtains or drapery, including sheers, window blinds, including Venetian blinds, a valance, tiebacks used to hold curtains. It may also include treatments applied to directly to the glass, including: frosted glass (through acid, etching, sandblasting, or plastic films or panels), distorted optics, such as wavy glass, stained glass panels or ornaments.
It seems to me, based on these two entries that there is little difference between their meanings. Both include window blinds, drapes, curtains and Venetian blinds (an old term for what is now commonly referred to as mini blinds). Where they seem to depart, at least according to these descriptions is that window coverings includes shutters (in this case plantation shutters) and window treatments can include treatments to the glass itself.
Both have the basic meaning of something to decorate or cover a window for privacy and light-control (room darkening) and to accentuate the décor of a room. So, essentially what we have here are two poorly defined words that have virtually the same meaning. So, I would like to make a personal ruling on this issue and say that window treatments should be any treatment: drapes, blinds and shades on the interior (inside) portion of a window, whereas window coverings should be any treatment: shutters, storm shutters, and awnings to the outside portion of a window. That seems clearer to me. Doesn't mean that everyone is suddenly going to jump on my definition bandwagon, but I can hope.