Room Darkening vs Blackout Blinds [Ultimate Guide]

Room Darkening vs Blackout Blinds [Ultimate Guide]


If you’re in the market for new blinds or shades, there are many options available to you. From natural wood blinds and cellular shades to roller shades, cordless blinds, and Roman shades, there are hundreds of different types of blinds and shades for you to choose from.

Choosing the right one often depends on how you plan on using them and what you’re trying to accomplish. If your goal is to prevent light from getting into a room, then we suggest trying blackout shades or room-darkening shades. These window treatments effectively block or reduce the amount of light that enters a room, creating the perfect ambiance of night while also keeping rooms more comfortable and blocking out noise.

Unlike light filtering shades, room darkening shades and blackout shades are specifically designed to block out at least 95 percent of light. They’re a great option for people who work at night and need to sleep during the day when the sun is out, and they work well for a variety of other purposes.

With so many options on the market today, shopping for window treatments is more fun than ever. Before you decide on a new set of light-blocking shades for your home, it’s helpful to understand the difference between blackout shades and the room-darkening types. Explore our ultimate guide to choosing the ideal window treatment for you.

What Are Blackout Shades?

A blackout shade is a type of window treatment made from an opaque fabric that is used to create complete darkness in a room. They’re commonly found in hotel rooms, offices, and schools, but are also an ideal choice for bedrooms and nurseries.

If you’re interested in adding blackout shades to your home, this guide will explain the types of blackout shades available, their advantages over other window treatments, how to use them, and whether they’re the right option for you.

While sometimes used interchangeably to mean the same thing, blackout shades are not the same as room-darkening shades. Room-darkening shades reduce approximately 95-99 percent of light that enters a room.

On the other hand, blackout styles can eliminate brightness by up to 100 percent in some cases. They may not make your space pitch black, but they will effectively darken it at any time of day.

Benefits of Blackout Shades

Most window treatments provide some level of light control and privacy. However, blackout shades are specifically designed to block all light from entering a room. Studies show that exposure to light while sleeping dramatically affects one’s quality of sleep.

For people who work the night shift—such as nurses, police officers, and firefighters—blackout shades are a game changer. They’re also useful in nurseries to help keep babies asleep during nap time and bedtime.

If you’re looking to reduce your energy costs, using blackout shades will keep your rooms cool and comfortable by preventing heat gain during warm summer months. During the winter months, the insulative properties of blackout shades can also reduce heat loss. Simply by adding blackout window treatments to your home, you can reduce your energy consumption by up to 25 percent.

Another benefit of blackout shades is that they provide considerable noise reduction and enhanced privacy so that no one can see inside your home, especially at night.

Types of Blackout Shades

Blackout shades haven’t always been a top choice for window treatments, but modern innovations make it possible to enjoy them more than ever. You can select from a variety of styles, such as cellular, roman, and roller shades, as well as control options, including cordless options, which are ideal for homes with small children and pets.

Blackout shades can also be customized to suit your unique style and preferences. Choose from a full spectrum of popular colors and prints, different types of fabrics, and inside and outside mounts in various shades that complement the aesthetics of your home.

Where to Use Blackout Shades

We’ve already discussed how you can use blackout shades to block sunlight in bedrooms and nurseries. They’re a great solution for creating a dark and sleep-appropriate space at night and even during daylight hours. If you have a baby or a young child, then blackout window treatments can help create the perfect environment for sleeping, whether it’s nap time or bedtime.

However, there are many other ways you can use blackout shades around your home. If you have a home theater, blackout shades can help create the perfect space for watching movies in your home no matter what time of day it is. They allow you to block out sunlight and prevent any glare that might interfere with your ability to see your projector screen or television.

If you’re a photographer or happen to have a hobby in photographic film and making prints, you can use blackout shades to turn any room in your home into a darkroom or photography studio.

Another area in your home where you can use blackout shades is your office or computer workspace. While you may not feel like this is necessary, blackout shades can help prevent glare that would otherwise make it difficult to see what you’re working on.

Room-Darkening Shades: What’s the Difference?

Room-darkening shades and blackout shades are often confused for being the same thing. While they’re similar in the fact that they prevent light from entering a room, there is still a decided difference between the two.

We’ve already mentioned that blackout shades are designed to eliminate light, while room-darkening shades reduce the amount of light coming into a room, making it darker but not pitch-black.

Benefits of Room-Darkening Shades

The benefits of room-darkening shades are similar to those of blackout types. The most obvious benefit is that they keep sunlight out during the day and any exterior lights at night—such as porch lights, street lights, and lights coming from nearby businesses, which create a cozy and comfortable environment for sleeping.

By blocking out sunlight, room darkening shades also prevent rooms from getting uncomfortable and warm because of heat gain. They can help your home maintain a comfortable temperature so you aren’t required to run your HVAC system as often, reducing your energy consumption and helping to lower your utility costs.

What’s more, they also help reduce glare on your TV or computer screen. Light often leaks around the edges of standard shades, which creates glare and makes it difficult for you to see. Whether you’re working, writing a paper, playing a game, or simply surfing the web, room-darkening shades can reduce glare from sunlight so you can see what you’re doing.

Finally, just like blackout options, room-darkening shades help enhance the privacy and security of your home.

Types of Room-Darkening Shades

When it comes to room-darkening shades, there are many options to choose from. They come in many different styles, from elegant roman shades to roller and sheer shades and more. They can also be custom tailored to your specific design preferences.

Choose from a wide range of colors, fabrics, vibrant prints, designer patterns, and whether you want inside or outside mounts. You’ll also be able to select from a variety of control mechanisms, including the standard pull cord, wand, or top-down bottom-up options, as well as cordless operation.

Using Room-Darkening Shades

Like blackout types, room-darkening shades can be used in bedrooms and nurseries to create the perfect environment for a restful sleep no matter what time of day it is. They can also be used in home offices and workspaces to prevent glare on a computer screen and to darken a living room or home theater enough to watch a movie.

How and where you use room-darkening shades depends entirely on your specific needs and requirements.

How to Choose

Now that we’ve explained the differences between room-darkening shades and blackout shades, it’s time to decide which type is most ideal for you. The easiest way to choose is to ask yourself this question: “How dark should this room be?”

If you are someone who works the night shift and you want your space to be as dark as possible so you can sleep soundly during the day, opt for blackout shades. If all you’re looking to accomplish is to darken the room but not create a completely blacked-out space, then choose room-darkening shades.

From there, you can decide which kind best fits your budget and choose a style you like in colors, fabrics, and patterns that match your home’s decor.

Next, select from corded or cordless options. Again, if you have small children or pets living in your home, then cordless shades are ideal for their safety and for your peace of mind. Not only that, but they also create a sleek and minimalist look void of lines and hanging cord strings.

If you’re not sure or need help deciding between room-darkening and blackout shades, ask your custom shade manufacturer, who will be able to further explain the differences between each type of shade and help you choose one that will work for you.

Enjoying Your New Shades

Summer is just around the corner, and with it come longer and brighter days–which means now is a great time to invest in blackout shades or room-darkening shades. They’ll not only darken or eliminate light from your room, but they’ll also provide you with better energy efficiency.

When summer comes along, these shades will keep your rooms comfortable, allowing you to save on your monthly cooling bills. What’s more, they’ll give you enhanced privacy and security, preventing anyone from looking inside your home whether you’re there or away on vacation.

When it’s time to purchase new blackout shades or room-darkening shades for your home, be sure to take everything we mentioned above into consideration. First, ask yourself how dark you want a room to be and from there decide which type makes sense from you.

Then, take your design ideas—from the style of shade to the colors and fabrics—and work with an experienced manufacturer who will be able to help you create custom shades that are perfect for your home.

There are so many different reasons to choose room-darkening or blackout shades for your home. If you think you and your family will benefit from the restful sleep, comfort, energy savings, and security that these light-blocking window treatments provide, then it’s time to start shopping for a new set of coverings.

Room Darkening vs Blackout FAQs

Is room darkening the same as blackout?

No, room darkening blinds are not the same as blackout blinds. Room darkening shades are designed to block most, but not all, of the light that comes into the room (95-99 percent). Blackout shades are designed to completely block all light from entering the room.

Which is darker, blackout or room darkening?

Blackout curtains are the darkest option, as they block all light from entering the room. Room darkening curtains are still dark, but blackout curtains tend to use thicker materials and/or coatings that block more light.

What is the difference between blackout and room darkening curtains?

The main difference between blackout and room darkening curtains is the level of light blocking. Blackout curtains are designed to completely block all light from entering the room, while room darkening curtains are designed to block most, but not all, of the light that comes into the room.

Do room darkening curtains really work?

Yes, room darkening curtains work to block most of the light that comes into the room. However, they are not as effective as blackout curtains at blocking all light.

What is the difference between light filtering and room darkening?

The most common window treatments – like Venetian blinds, honeycomb shades, and sheer curtains – are light filtering. This means they allow some natural light to come into the room while also blocking the sun's heat and glare. Room darkening shades are designed to block most of the light that comes into the room (95-99 percent), making them ideal for rooms that need to be dark, like bedrooms and home theaters.

How does room darkening help you sleep?

When a room is dark, the body's natural sleep hormone, melatonin, is released. Melatonin helps to regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle and promote better sleep. By blocking most of the light that comes into the room, room darkening shades help to create a darker environment that can encourage better sleep.

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