The Essential Room Divider Buying Guide

If you are in the market for a room divider then you may already know there is an tremendously wide selection of styles, sizes and colors to choose from. This room divider buying guide will attempt to cover every type of room divider imaginable and allow you to make a more informed buying decision. This guide is broken into the following sections, feel free to skip ahead to the section that answers your needs:

  1. An Overview of Popular Room Dividers Designs
  2. Japanese Style Shoji Screen Room Dividers
  3. Rattan Style Woven Plant Fiber Room Dividers
  4. Wooden Shutter Style Room Dividers
  5. Printed Canvas Room Dividers
  6. Faux Leather Room Dividers
  7. Single Panel Room Dividers & Shoji Screen Stands
  8. Wood & Fabric Room Dividers Designs
  9. Chinese Decorative Room Dividers
  10. Commercial & Institutional Room Dividers
  11. Short Height Room Dividers
  12. Special Purpose Floor Screens
  13. Hanging Roll Up Room Dividers

An Overview of Popular Room Dividers Designs

Form & Function: Practical & Decorative Considerations

Every day there are people coming to the realization that they could benefit from owning a room divider. Whether they are moving into a dorm, opening a business or professional office, or maybe just to deal with sun on a computer monitor, the need is apparent. Choosing any new piece of furniture means balancing the practical purpose with personal taste, and finding the right room divider is no exception.

Uses for Room Dividers

The ideal room divider should serve its purpose effectively and look good doing it. As a decorative background, a modesty screen, a window shade, to partition a room or define a space, direct foot traffic, or hide a work area. Sometimes, over time, all of the above.

Color & Designs

The color and design of a panel screen room divider should compliment the décor of the room, and the following is a very general decorating suggestion, subject to many exceptions.

The light weight, lighter colored, less expensive room divider designs are often most consistent with more casual, eclectic, urban interior decorating, though certainly, not always.

Conversely, darker colors, and heavier, more substantial room divider designs, tend to compliment more formal, traditional American interior design, as well as professional office décor.

The Best Design for Your Purpose

This is a brief overview of the benefits and advantages of the most popular room dividers designs to help a prospective room divider purchaser choose the best screen for his or her purpose, and to get the most value for the lowest price possible.

Most Room Dividers Are Imported

It’s a fact worth noting that most floor screen room dividers are imported from Asia. China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, as well as Korea & Japan, all have furniture making traditions that have included practical and beautiful room dividers designs for hundreds of years.

Questions to Answer When Selecting a Room Divider

When choosing a floor screen room divider for a home or business, it makes sense to consider;

  1. How tall? (3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 feet) Do you have a low or high ceiling?
  2. How many panels wide? (3, 4, 5, or 6 panels) How wide is the space?
  3. Rice paper (allows light to pass through) or solid panels? (wood, woven fiber, faux leather, canvas, lacquer).
  4. Lightweight (shoji, plant fiber, canvas) or more substantial? (wood, faux leather, lacquer).
  5. Casual (shoji, plant fiber, canvas) or formal? (solid wood, faux leather, wall paper print).
  6. Mostly decorative (printed canvas, printed shoji, printed or dyed faux leather, Chinese lacquer) or mostly functional? (shoji, plain white canvas, woven plant fiber, or wood & fabric)?

The process of answering these questions, of looking at room divider categories, looking at particular panel screen designs, and ultimately, comparing prices, will lead to “how much to spend?”, the final question when deciding on a new room divider.

Japanese Style Shoji Screen Room Dividers

Let the Sunshine In

The most popular room dividers in the American furniture market are classic Japanese style room dividers or shoji screens. They’re light-weight, portable, sturdy, inexpensive, and most important: they let sunlight through the rice paper shade, reducing glare. For most people, they’re a simple and attractive home decor accent.

Painted Wood Frames

The wood frames for the least expensive shoji screens are painted basic black, to lower costs of production. In addition, they are also offererd with Pantone colors; red, pink, purple, blue, green, and gold, as well as popular ivory and white.

Fine Wood Stained Finishes

Higher quality shoji screen designs, built with classic Japanese style joinery, seal the wood frames with durable clear coat finishes over beautiful wood stains; cherry Rosewood, honey Oak, Walnut, or natural Pine.

Classic and Unique Lattice Designs

The authentic window pane wood lattice is the most popular, although distinctive, larger window pane designs are also available. “Cross hatch” or “double cross” lattice, and contemporary lattice work, like the “Eudes” or “Botanic” designs, also offer interesting, unique variations.

Single & Double Sided

For most shoji screen room dividers, the lattice work is on the front side only, with the back of each panel an open expanse of shoji paper. From a decorative stand point, only the front is viable. “Double sided” shoji screens are available, with lattice on both sides, at a premium over single sided shojis.

Kick Plates

Extra sturdy shoji screen designs are available with a kick-plate at the bottom to reinforces the structure of each panel, and can help keep the rice paper shade from getting kicked or scuffed by foot traffic.

Rattan Style Woven Plant Fiber Room Dividers

Lightweight, Sturdy, Rattan Style Room Dividers

Rattan style room divider designs are popular, crafted from sturdy wood frames wrapped with abundant, sustainable plant fibers. Rush grass is popular, as well as plant fiber spun into a strong fiber cord, to produce beautiful, durable rattan style folding screens at surprisingly low prices.

Vibrant Colors Dyed Into the Fiber

Part of the appeal of rattan style partitions and screens are the distinctive textures and designs woven into the panels. However, actual rattan was usually painted, and the paint flaked, making it a less convenient option.

Happily, both rush grass and spun plant fiber cord absorbs colored dyes well, to create vibrant woven fiber room dividers, in white, beige, mocha, burgundy, cherry, mahogany, light green, and beautiful basic black.

Portable, Opaque, Inexpensive

Plant fiber panel folding screens share the lightness and portability of Japanese wood & paper screens. The difference is that most woven plant fiber room dividers are mostly or completely opaque, effective to block light completely. Also, the fiber panels are durable and not easily damaged.

Wooden Shutter Style Room Dividers

Substantial Look & Feel

Similar in appearance to tall window shutters, these are classic American design room dividers, crafted from solid wood, with a particularly solid and substantial look and feel.

Professional Office Decor

Crafted with fine wood finishes; honey oak, cherry rosewood, natural pine, & walnut brown, as well as classic white and black lacquer. Solid wood, stained with a fine wood finish, can convey a reliability and integrity in office décor, reassuring to clients of counseling professionals; attorneys, accountants, financial planners, family counselors, etc.

Adjustable Blinds Allow or Block Light

The most popular wooden shutter screens are designed with louvered wood slat blinds built into the panel shades. Adjustable like Venetian window blinds, they allow as much or as little light through the blinds as is comfortable for the user. Wide open, most of the daylight passes, closed tight, they become opaque.

Printed Canvas Room Dividers

Cotton Canvas on Lightweight Wood Frames

Folding screen room dividers crafted with sturdy wood frames wrapped with art quality canvas. Lightweight and portable decorative screens, offered with hundreds of distinctive and unique art print and photo images, on both front and back, offered in 3, 4, & 6 panel designs.

Ink Jet Printing on Art Quality Canvas

New ink jet print technology allows reproductions of classic European & Asian art prints and gallery quality photographs, digitally enhanced and printed on large swaths of primed artist’s canvas. The swaths are carefully wrapped around mitered wood frames, to create durable, portable art & photo print canvas room dividers.

Asian & European Art Prints on Canvas Floor Screens

The selection of art print images is extraordinary. Chinese and Japanese brush art, Monet, Van Gogh, Klimt, Renoir, vintage Art Deco & Art Nouveau poster art, vintage commercial label art, travel posters, classic story book art. From Renaissance art like da Vinci & Donatello, to abstract and modern art, beautiful art print room dividers are classic and unique.

Skyline, Architecture, Nature & Wildlife Photography

Also, a large selection of gallery quality photographs have been digitally enhanced and cropped, and turned into beautiful printed canvas decorative floor screens. Photos of ancient sculpture, classical architecture, modern cityscapes and skylines and professional nature & landscape photography.

Wall Paper Print Room Dividers

Digitally reproduced images of classic European design wall paper patterns, including fleur-de-lis, toile, and damask designs are printed on three panel canvas room dividers to make portable, practical and elegant decorative screens.

DIY Plain White Artist’s Canvas Floor Screens

Also, several room divider retailers offer plain white primed art canvas room dividers, in 4, 6, & 7 foot tall variations, providing great DIY (Do It Yourself) creative and artistic “blank slates” for oil painting, acrylics, or decoupage.

Faux Leather Room Dividers

High Quality Textured Vinyl

Usually offered in 3 or 4 panel sizes, faux leather and animal skin room dividers provide a sturdy, durable, and elegant alternative to solid wood shutter screen room dividers.

Compliments Formal & Eclectic Interior Design

The warm, beautifully textured look and feel of fine floor screens, upholstered with black, mocha, or burgundy dyed faux alligator, brown button tufted faux leather, and elegant Renaissance design printed patterns, compliment elegant, formal, and traditional interior design styles. Exotic zebra skin, wine red snake, and shiny silver faux crocodile room dividers provide unique, distinctive decorative accents for more casual, eclectic décor, in modern and urban interiors.

Solid & Substantial, Entirely Opaque

These are slighter heavier, more robust and substantial panel screens, conveying a feeling of quality, with lacquered brass two way hinges accentuating the rich dark faux animal skin screens. Entirely opaque, providing complete privacy, and more than most floor screen designs, they tend to absorb sound.

Single Panel Room Dividers & Shoji Screen Stands

Screen Stands Create Flat Panel Room Dividers

A limited number of specialty room divider websites offer unique shoji screen stands, sized to fit 3, 4, 5, or 6 panel Japanese style room dividers. The shoji screen is fitted into a channel running the length of the stand, to create a flat panel shoji screen partition; an effective temporary wall or divide. The stand’s perpendicular feet make the flat screen, whether 3, 4, 5, or 6 panels wide, quite stable.

These stands work best for shoji designs 6 foot tall and under, as some 7 foot tall room dividers may be too heavy.

Single Panel Screens with Perpendicular Feet

Although not as widely available as most folding multi-panel screen designs, single panel room dividers and partitions are available in both shoji screen styles and stitched matchstick designs, in an appealing variety of fine wood finishes. The important advantage of a single panel room divider is the greater stability provided by perpendicular feet.

Single Panel Japanese Shoji Screen Designs

Choosing a single panel shoji screen is an excellent option for a semi-permanent floor screen barrier or divide, in a home or small business setting. The flat design takes less space, is less likely to be knocked over, and the shoji paper shade lets sunlight pass through.

Single Panel Stitched Flat Stick Designs

For applications where a single panel screen must block daylight, “Taka” style single panel room dividers are constructed with stitched flat stick shades instead of shoji paper. These are large designs, and also work well as long term partitions or “portable walls” for home or business uses.

Most single panel room dividers are packed with the feet removed for safe shipping, and simple assembly is required.

Wood & Fabric Room Dividers Designs

Offered by Specialty Websites

Some room divider retailers offer sturdy solid wood frame room dividers with white or off white fabric panel shades. These floor screens combine the sturdiness and strength of slightly heavier gauge wood frames, with the lighter panel shades that white cotton fabric provides.

Quality at Affordable Prices

Note that some designs have the added advantage of removable, hence washable fabric panels, and some do not. The appealing look and feel of the classic combination of wood and white or off white cotton fabric has a dedicated following. When searching the room divider market for interesting, attractive unique floor screen designs, this category shouldn’t be overlooked.

Offered in 3, 4, & 6 Panels Designs

The quality is excellent and the prices affordable, and most designs are offered in 3, 4, and 6 panel variations, in an attractive variety of attractive wood finishes.

Chinese Decorative Room Dividers

Hand Crafted Decorative Screens Since the 10th Century

Ancient China has a tradition of beautiful, ornately decorated room dividers, including silk & mulberry paper floor screens, fine hand painted lacquered floor screens, & and classic carved coromandel screens, as early as the tenth century.

Silk Screens: Ink & Watercolors Brush Art

Beautiful reproductions of classic Song dynasty style silk screens, with ink & water color art motifs rendered on Mulberry paper or on gold leaf applique, are lightweight and portable. However, the hand painted art is easily damaged; silk screens room dividers are practical for decorative purposes only.

Black Lacquered or Gold Leaf Panel Screens

Extraordinary Ming dynasty design decorative floor screens are available in four and six panel configurations, coated with fine black lacquer, and elaborately decorated with hand carved mother of pearl. Also, exceptionally fine oriental style lacquered gold leaf screens, hand painted with Chinese court ladies or beautiful, Ming era birds & flowers art motifs, are available.

Authentic Coromandel Floor Screens

Carved coromandel floor screens are still available in the U.S., offered by a limited number of importers, in three, four, and six panel designs. Wood panels covered with a thin coat of coromandEl clay, carved and painted with distinctive, unique oriental art motifs, including landscapes, birds & flowers, and antiqued archaic Chinese calligraphy characters.

Commercial & Institutional Room Dividers

For Churches, Schools, & Commercial Office Space

For enterprises such as churches, public and private primary and secondary schools, hotel conference rooms and large commercial office space, fabric padded steel frame room dividers, with our without casters, are available.

Screenflex Portable Partitions

Built for durability and stability as well as sound reduction, these are excellent enterprise grade portable partitions. They’re offered in a variety of colors, widths, and heights to satisfy the requirements of institutional and business customers.

For Smaller Business Enterprises

However, for the wide range of small businesses and professional practices that also require room dividers, partitions, and portable walls, we suggest the range of folding panel screen designs mentioned above.

Shoji Design Floor Screens

Japanese shoji screens, with their convenient portability and unique ability to allow daylight and provide privacy, are ideal for yoga, massage, and dance studios, as well as chiropractic, dental, and medical offices.

Woven Fiber Design Floor Screens

For business with lots of foot traffic like restaurants, where the rice paper screens may be stained by food or damaged by foot traffic, rattan style woven fiber room dividers may provide the best looking and most robust choice for dividing and defining open spaces, creating a visual barrier at the entrance, or providing privacy for tables. For formal establishments, solid wood and faux leather screens also offer attractive options.

Wood & Faux Leather Design Floor Screens

For professional offices of attorney, counselors, accountants, financial planners or insurance; any practice where advice is rendered, solid wood screens, with rich, dark wood finishes, or, dark color faux leather or other dark color animal skin room dividers convey the sense of integrity and intelligence that the high quality products naturally suggest.

Short Height Room Dividers

A limited number of room divider retailers offer a surprisingly wide selection of smaller sized folding screen room dividers, to serve a range of practical and decorative purposes.

Two Foot Tall Room Dividers

Two foot tall shoji screens, in a beautiful selection of fine wood finishes, and in 3, 4, 5, & 6 panel sizes, are popular for portable window shades, when daylight is inconvenient or privacy is required. At home and in shops, small folding screens are used for ear rings and jewelry, pinning pieces to the shoji paper for a unique and interesting display. Also, in both homes and businesses, 24” tall shoji screens are effective down the center of a table, so family or employees aren’t forced to work eye to eye facing each other.

Three & Four Foot Tall Designs

Three foot shoji screens are offered in both window pane and double cross designs, also useful for window shading, as well as hearth screens to hide a messy fireplace not in use, and as modesty screens in front of a desk or table for women in skirts. 48” tall (4 ft.) tall shoji screens, woven fiber screens, and wood shutter screen designs can be used for short cubicle style partitions, as well as to hide litter boxes or dog beds.

Five Foot Folding Floor Screens

Five foot tall panel screens, including the Japanese shojis and solid wood shutter screens, can be particular useful for a divide that won’t interfere with eye contact and conversation in office settings, or for dressing screens in bedrooms or studios. Also, as a decorative room divider, five foot sizes are an advantage in rooms with unusually low ceilings.

Special Purpose Floor Screens

Picture Frame Room Dividers

Cleverly designed and crafted three and four panel room dividers, with photo frames built into the panels, are used to display photos, art, documents, or maps. Most only have frames on the front, though some display pictures on both front and back.

Picture frame room dividers usually accommodate 5” x 7” photos, though some are designed with a variety of picture frame sizes, including 8” x 10” and 10” x 12”. Loaded with family photos, they make great group gifts to parents and siblings.

Some are used for enterprise purposes, to display images and documents relating to a business or an institution, or to market real estate. Photo screens can display heart-warming and funny images of couples at weddings, as well as to commemorate a loved one at a funeral or memorial.

Cork Bulletin Board & Chalkboard Room Dividers

Also, for both business and home use, folding panel screen room dividers with cork bulletin board as well as chalkboard are available in 3 and 4 panel designs. Useful for simple communication in office and home settings, as well as for creative outlets for both children and adults.

Hanging Roll Up Room Dividers

Easy to Install

Easy to install with two hooks screwed into the ceilings, hanging a 4, 5, or 6 foot wide roll up window blind can function as an effective room divider. It’s important to find sizes that are at least six feet long, to provide privacy down to usually two feet from the floor, for an eight foot ceiling.

Designs & Colors

Offered in beautiful colors of stained bamboo, wood matchstick, shoji paper, and a variety of colors of fabric, roll up window blinds can be a convenient privacy screen in an apartment or bedroom.

Easy to Operate

These blinds are easy to operate, allowing the rolled blind to unroll to provide a barrier or partition. It is important to establish if the blind allows visibility, as some bamboo and matchstick designs aren’t stitched tight enough to provide complete privacy, if that’s the objective.

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