The Difference Between Room Darkening And Blackout Shades

Shades composed of light blocking fabrics are available in two distinct grades: room darkening and blackout.

Room Darkening Shades

Allow some light through the fabric.  Although most light will not be allowed into the room, some light will penetrate the fabric and illuminate the area.  Room darkening shades are perfect for people who typically sleep throughout the night and awaken early in the morning.  They also work well for people whose sleep isn’t bothered by some light in the room.  Composed of a thin fabric that typically blocks 95% of outside light, room darkening shades are usually cheaper than their blackout counterparts.

Blackout Shades

Are composed of several layers of fabric and will not allow any light to penetrate.  Usually used by people who need to sleep during the day, such as shift workers or those who are sensitive to light and suffer from broken sleep patterns, blackout shades are a more expensive option when compared with room darkening shades.

One drawback of blackout shades is that although the fabric doesn’t let any outside light penetrate its surface, the tops and edges of the shades may allow light to creep in.  To remediate these light emitting spaces, a new type of shade has been introduced that includes a light blocking sidetrack which eliminates the gaps.  Known as “Ultimate Blackout” shades, they’re also constructed of a cellular material which acts as an insulation against extreme heat or cold outside the window.  The sidetracking includes magnetic strips which attach the shade directly to the wall.  There is also a bar to place on the top of the shade to block any light from entering there.

Whether you need room darkening or blackout shades will depend on your budget and how well you sleep with ambient light entering your bedroom.  For those who need complete darkness for a sound sleep, blackout shades will be the best option.  For those who are able to sleep soundly with some ambient light, room darkening shades may be sufficient.  If your budget allows it, blackout shades may give you the best of both worlds while also adding an insulation component.


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