Blackout curtains, sometimes called room-darkening curtains, are a special type of window covering designed to block outside light from entering a room, making it very dark even during the daytime. With many advantages over regular curtains and drapes, blackout curtains are an excellent addition to bedrooms, home theaters, nurseries, and more.
Why Choose Blackout Curtains
There are several key reasons why blackout curtains can be beneficial in your home:
By preventing light from entering a bedroom, blackout curtains allow you to sleep in later and can result in a better night’s sleep. This makes them ideal for bedrooms. The dark environment helps regulate melatonin production, which is the hormone that controls sleep/wake cycles. Having high melatonin levels makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.
In addition to blocking light, thick blackout curtains also stop people on the outside from being able to see inside your home through the window. This boosted privacy can make you feel more secure. Thermal imaging tests demonstrate that blackout curtains provide more privacy than standard curtains during nighttime hours when interior lights are on inside a home.
Lower Energy Bills
Blackout curtains provide extra insulation, helping trap heat in during colder months and block heat from the sun in warmer months. This insulation can lower HVAC costs year-round. Heavy blackout drapes act as an added buffer between the window glass and the interior room environment.
Enhanced Media Experiences
Home theaters need to be as dark as possible for an immersive experience. Ambient light causes glare on screens and washes out contrast and colors. Blackout theater curtains improve projector quality and make colors appear richer by eliminating ambient light in a room. They also prevent operating projector lights from leaking outside at night, which can distract neighbors.
Types of Blackout Curtains
When shopping for blackout curtains, you’ll find several effective options:
Blackout Fabric Curtains
These feature thicker woven fabric construction with inner foam, rubber, or vinyl backing to deliver enhanced light-blocking capabilities compared to regular curtains. The back-coating prevents light infiltration from behind the curtains. These can be completely opaque or retain some level of transparency depending on the fabric(s) used.
Common fabric choices for blackout curtains include polyester, nylon, acrylic, and cotton/poly blends. More layers and tighter weaves increase opacity. Some transparent blackout fabrics like sheer organza lend a certain amount of outside visibility while still effectively blocking light entry into a room when drawn closed.
Triple Weave Blackout Curtains
As the name implies, these very dense curtains feature a triple-weave construction with three layers of fabric for maximum light blocking. Often made of polyester or a cotton/poly blend, triple-weave blackout curtains offer some of the best room darkening available.
The triple layers block light from all angles as the material structure is completely impenetrable from any direction. No light permeates triple weave blackouts when properly installed and closed. These heavy curtains also provide increased insulation for energy savings.
Thermal Blackout Curtains
In addition to room-darkening properties, thermal blackout curtains include features for better insulation as well. Some thermal blackout curtains have plastic or acrylic coatings, while others are made from naturally insulating fabrics like velvet, wool, or flannel.
For cold environments, thermal blackout curtains maintain warmer interior temperatures, reducing heating costs. Performance is enhanced by using side curtains or layering two thermal blackout panels per window. Dual curtains with an air gap in between augment the insulating effects.
Noise-Reducing Blackout Curtains
Designed for bedrooms and nurseries, these curtains incorporate dense materials and construction techniques to darken a room and reduce ambient noise by absorbing sound waves—great options for apartments in noisy areas or near busy roads.
Noise-reducing blackout curtains improve sleep quality by dampening external sounds like traffic or loud music. Curtain fabrics that actively absorb sound energy work better than those that obstruct it. Materials like felted wool, velour, velvet, and textured polyesters perform well due to their high surface area and density.
Top Blackout Curtain Tips
Follow these guidelines when selecting and installing blackout curtains for optimal effectiveness:
Take Precise Measurements
Achieving full room darkening relies on properly sized curtains. Carefully measure each window’s width and height, accounting for hardware clearance and overlap space needed based on the size of the curtains chosen. Also, factor the fabric thickness into measurements.
Utilize Side Channels
Blackout side channels fill in curtain gap space by the window edges, preventing light leakage on the sides. Side channels physically seal the sides of blackout curtains to the wall or window frame. This forces all available fabric material into position for guaranteed opacity.
Track-mounted blackout side channels work especially well to embed curtain edges into channels. Tab-top designs also help block peripheral light entry where standard rod pockets allow some escape. Side channels should extend the full window length.
Seal All Possible Light Entry Points
Outdoor light can enter living spaces through overlooked or unintended cracks and openings. Consider blackout window shades or reflective insulation for skylights: weatherstrip exterior doors and electric outlet covers.
Install door sweeps at the base of exterior doors and blackout shades on glass doors or interior door windows. Cover vent openings and electrical panels if placed on external walls. Every bit of extra light sealing helps achieve darker spaces.
Use Appearance-Enhancing Accents
Adorn blackout curtains with decorative features like embroidery, colored trim, or designer hardware for an aesthetically pleasing style. Or incorporate patterns and textures with detailed prints, faux fur, velvet, or lace overlays. Accent adornments add designer flair while maintaining blackout functionality.
Care and Maintenance Guidelines
Blackout curtains will sustain their light-blocking performance longer through proper care:
Dust curtains with a soft brush or vacuum with a brush attachment on low suction. Dust accumulation impairs visual appeal over time and can abrade light-blocking coatings. Monthly dusting maintains appearance and integrity.
Wash gently by hand or delicate cycle according to label specifications, using cold water and mild detergent. Excessive water temperature and aggressive washing shorten curtain lifespan.
Line Dry Only
Tumble drying can heat-damage blackout coatings and backing materials. Always drip dry thoroughly or dry flat before rehanging freshly washed blackouts. Line drying preserves blackout longevity through many cleaning cycles.
Spot Clean ASAP
Treat stains quickly using a damp, light-colored cloth and mild detergent, then rinse the area well. Avoid harsh cleaners or vigorous rubbing that degrades delicate coatings. Letting spills or soiled marks linger risks permanent setting after drying.
Inspect and Repair
Inspect blackout linings and hems periodically for damage. Repair minor tears immediately with iron-on fabric repair tape to prevent expansion over time from inherent curtain weight and pulling stress.
Consider periodic treatment with fabric guard spray to repel dust, pet hair, and stains if curtains are white or light colored. Reapply fabric protection every few months. Avoid contact with any rubber or vinyl curtain backings when spraying to prevent damage.
Replace bendable curtain hardware components like finials periodically to maintain smooth operation. Check draw pulls, catches, and baton supports for loosening or wear over time. Lubricate metal tracks/rods with spray as needed to prevent noisy operation or sticking.
Choose the Best Blackout for You
With knowledge of the different blackout curtain types and design tips for ideal functionality, identify the right light-blocking window coverings to transform rooms into darker, more comfortable spaces for sleep, privacy, or media viewing.
Whether improving bedroom comfort or adding visual impact to a theater, stylish and efficient blackout curtains offer advantages over standard models. Let the darkness enhance activities requiring dim environments while complementing room décor for a beautiful blackout experience.