Blackout shades: Do they really block out the light?

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Within the entire window treatment industry, Blackout style shades have one purpose. To block out as much light as possible, thereby darkening a room. There’s no fancy history behind the product. And most of what you see and hear about this type of shade is all marketing. In this article we’re going to try to cover the reality of blackout shades vs the myth that’s often marketed to the masses. As always, if you want to skip ahead:

Blackout vs Room Darkening Shades

Are blackout shades roller shades?
Do these shades make the room 100% dark?
Do shutters darken a room as well as blackout shades?
For the purpose of this article and to simplify the entire post. We’re going to refer to blackout shades as B/O shades.

B/O vs Room Darkening Shades.

You’ll often hear the term “Room Darkening Shades” being used interchangeably when people talk about B/O shades. Don’t be fooled however, they’re both more different than you think. B/O shades are called such, because they block 100% of the light, allowing nothing to filter through the fabric. Room darkening shades on the other hand, only block 90-95% of the light filtering through the fabric. So, while it might sound like the same thing, these two shades are miles apart in term of function. Keep in mind that when choosing roller shades for a room, if you choose blackout fabric; then you have to visualize how it blocks the light when lowered. Simple light darkening fabric will still allow some light to pass through, giving a glowing effect and highlighting the texture of the shade. B/O fabric does not have this effect, instead, it forces the light to bend around the fabric. All of this will have an impact on your personal design goals and how you want the light to enter your living space.

Are Blackout Shades Roller Shades?

Simple answer… Yes!
All B/O style shades are roller shades made with a blackout liner added to the fabric. That’s it. In nearly all cases, if you like the color and texture of a roller shade fabric, but want the blackout effect in the room, you can order the B/O material in the same fabric you want. As mentioned in the previous answer, the only difference between blackout and regular material is the ability to block 100% of the light hitting the fabric. You may be asking yourself at this point “Does it block ALL of the light entering a room?”

Do B/O shades make the room 100% dark?

If installed properly with strips of light blocking material along the edges of the window, B/O style shades will block 98% of the light entering through a window. It will never block 100% of the light entering a room because shades, like all window treatments are constructed to be functional. This means that there will be a gap between the shade and the window casing, allowing light to bleed through. Even when proper light-blocking strips are placed along the edges of the shades. Light will continue to bend and lightly leak around the edges. So even though your blackout style shades block 100% of the light hitting the fabric, it will likely block only 98% of the light entering a room.

Do shutters blackout a room as well as Blackout shades?

Shutters do not block the light entering a room as well as blackout style shades because they’re not made to. Even when fully closed, shutters will always have a little light coming through. There is a way to create a blackout shutter, however. By mounting a blackout style shade within the frame of the window casing, you’ll be able to combine the two window treatments to create something that looks entirely like shutter, with the capability of a blackout shade when extended. All of this depends on the depth of the window, which will determine if both shutter and shade can be mounted together.

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William G.

A passionate window design expert with years of experience enhancing interiors with creative treatments. William G. specializes in elevating spaces through stylish and functional window solutions.

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