The Differences Between the Roman Shade Cord Lock & Roller Clutch Systems

Item # X-HT-300213

Roman Shade Cord Lock System

Differences Between Roman Shade Cord Lock and Roller Clutch Systems 4

This is typically what comes to mind when people think about Roman Shades. This system uses a cord and ring system to pleat the fabric into accordion-style folds when the shade is raised using a cord lock. A pull cord hangs down freely for raising and lowering the shade. This is a great choice for people who want a traditional cord lock shade and who like the look of a braided cord instead of a plastic beaded chain. Sailrite recommends using Dacron® Leech Line for a strong lift cord that will outlast the cords from store-bought, premade Roman Shade packages.

Roman Shade Roller Clutch System

Differences Between Roman Shade Cord Lock and Roller Clutch Systems 3

This hybrid window treatment combines the high-end look and style of a Roman Shade with the functionality of a Roller Shade. The finished shade will roll up and have pleats just like a Roman Shade, but the Roller Clutch System operates via a beaded chain that raises the shade like a Roller Shade. The beaded chain makes this shade system easy to use for a smooth and continuous operation. It has a larger profile than the Cord Lock System, so if installed on the outside of the window treatment it will stick out more than the other system. So keep that in mind if you prefer the look of an outside mounted shade compared to an inside mounted shade.

Cost & Ease of Installation

The Cord Lock System is the traditional way to operate a Roman Shade. While Sailrite does not have a hardware kit for the Cord Lock System, we do sell everything you need to make this window shade—making us your one-stop shop for DIY Roman Shades. Along with all the tools and supplies you need for making your own Roman Shade with a cord lock operation, we also have multiple how-to videos on Roman Shades so you can choose the design that best suits your home and personal style. Not only do we have a video for making a traditional-style shade, "How to Make a Roman Shade Video" (X-HT-200595), but we also have videos on alternative styles including hobbled and relaxed Roman Shades. Cord Lock System Roman Shades require fewer tools and materials than the Roller Clutch System and are, therefore, the more economical choice of window treatment.

Sailrite offers complete Roller Clutch System hardware kits for your convenience. These kits come in multiple sizes (width x height) so you can find the dimensions that most closely fit your window, and then the shades can be trimmed to your exact width and height requirements. Everything you need to make a Roman Roller Shade is in these hardware kits except for the decorative fabric, lining fabric and two inexpensive hand tools, which makes placing your order easy and stress-free.

Installation is made even easier with the excellent how-to video we’ve made. “How to Make a Roman Shade With Roller Clutch System” (X-HT-300207) is a step-by-step video tutorial that shows you how to expertly install this window treatment, including some clever tricks to reduce sewing time and speed up the assembly process. Our technique in the video drastically speeds up the construction time compared to the cord lock Roman Shade videos. The Roller Clutch System is more expensive than the Cord Lock System and requires a couple of uncommon tools you may not have on hand (Hog Ring Pliers and a Micro Basting/Tacking Gun), but the convenience of having everything put together for you in the hardware kit means less time figuring out all the tools and supplies you need to order and more time planning your new shade project. The design of the Roller Clutch System does not require the beaded chain to be canted at a 45-degree angle to lock or unlock the shade as required by the cord lock, making it much easier to smoothly raise and lower the shade.

Care & Safety

There is a bit of a safety concern with Roman Shades due to the lift lines on the back of the shades; small children or animals could potentially get caught and strangled in the lift lines. Therefore, Sailrite has taken measures to make the construction of our Roman Shades safer than some store-bought shades. The design of the Roller Clutch System means that the lift lines are rolled up around the tubing as the shade is raised, and ladder safety tape is also included in the hardware kit to encase the lift cord to help eliminate cord loops on the back of the shade that pose a strangulation hazard.

If making a cord lock shade, we recommend using shroud tape or ladder safety tape to encase the lift lines on the back of the shade. We also sell cord condensers that collect the multiple lift line cords into one gathered cord at the cord lock to reduce the number of loose cords along the back of the shade. With both the Cord Lock and Roller Clutch System, you can cut the leech line and beaded chain to your preferred length, keeping it out of reach of small children.

For the Roller Clutch System, Sailrite’s Fabric Calculator was designed to fall within the standard child safety regulations for shades made with lift lines. The ribs are spaced in such a manner that it is not easy for a child’s head to fit through the loops. The Fabric Calculator for Roman Shades with a cord lock may not fall within child safety regulations unless you specifically take the spacing between ribs in mind when inputting your calculations. Therefore, the Roller Clutch System is the safer of the two when it comes to child safety.


Both the Cord Lock System and Roller Shade System will give you the beautiful, stylish look of a Roman Shade. But depending on your lifestyle and other needs, one system may be a better choice for you than the other. If you’re looking for a more economical shade system that uses common tools you probably already have on hand, the Cord Lock System is your best option. If you have small children and are worried about possible safety concerns, the Roller Clutch System is the safer of the two. The Roller Clutch System sticks out farther on an outside mount than the Cord Lock System, so we think it looks best as an inside mount shade. No matter which system best fits your home and lifestyle, Sailrite has all the tools and supplies you need to transform your plain windows into stylish Roman Shade window treatments.