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For True Blackout – Think Window Shades, Not Blinds

First off, just what is “blackout?” When it comes to window treatments, blackout means two things, one of which is more important than the other and the focus of this article. In the most basic sense, blackout means that the material used in the construction of a window treatments is totally opaque i.e., no light is transmitted through the fabric. The second refers to what is known as “blackout experience.” It is not enough that the material/fabric blocks light, it is also how the window treatments fits within your window casing. The best blackout experience includes the combination of an opaque window treatment (more on this later) that is made to the exact specifications (made to measure) of your window casing. Furthermore, it is important that the window treatment be mounted on the inside of your window (within the window casing), not outside mounted (like drapes which are hung over the window). Having a window treatment custom made to fit your window, and mounted on the inside minimizes the light gaps between the window treatment and the window casing. This combination, inside mounted with the right blackout window treatment, will block about 99% of all incoming light – thus proving a blackout experience.

The best blackout experience is achieved with window shades, not blinds. A lot of people are searching for blackout blinds, this is because most people call all window treatments, “blinds.” Technically a window blind has slats (think mini blinds) or vanes (think vertical blinds). Window blinds do not make the best blackout window treatments. Blinds have too many light gaps between all of those slats or vanes to be good at blocking light.

The best blackout window treatments are window shades. And the best of these are, blackout cellular shades, blackout roman shades and blackout woven wood shades. Blackout cellular shades are made with opaque fabrics, the last two come with a blackout liner. These three window shades, when custom ordered, will fit tight enough within your window frame to have almost no light gaps. As an added benefit, these three window shades will also provide additional insulation to your windows which will help lower heating and cooling bills. This is especially true with cellular shades which are the best insulating window treatment, period.

A last note on cellular shades from the standpoint of energy efficiency is that they can be purchased in single cell or double cell, the latter offering more insulation. There is one manufacturer of triple cell cellular shades (Hunter Douglas) but Hunter Douglas is no longer selling their products online, so they are fairly hard to find anymore – and also a lot more expensive if you have to buy from one of their signature stores.

Having “true” blackout window shades for bedrooms is kind of a no-brainer and it is of course one of their main applications. It is really nice to be able to close the shade and it’s dark. Think of sleeping in till “whenever” and your room is still dark though the sun is high in the sky. Blackout shades are also very popular for home theaters, media rooms and nurseries.