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What Are Blackout Curtains And What Are They Used For? – The Bedding Planet

What Are Blackout Curtains And What Are They Used For?

This post is part of the blackout curtain buyers guide.

If you are in the market for new curtains for your home, you should consider blackout curtains.

Blackout curtains are a practical and stylish option that will save you money and allow you to sleep better. Blackout curtains are usually used by people who find it difficult to sleep due to a lot of light entering the room. 

As the name suggests, they completely block out light to create a conducive environment for you to sleep. So, if you have a child who wakes up at the crack of dawn, or you find it difficult to sleep, you may want to consider these curtains. That however is only one of the many benefits of these good looking drapes.

What are Blackout Curtains?

Blackout curtains consist of a decorative fabric front and a blackout layer coated on the backside. The blackout layer is often made of a tightly woven fabric, while the best blackout curtains have foam or rubber backing to block off light completely. The back coating or lining is so dense that blackout curtains block 99% of light when installed properly.

While the concept of blackout curtains may seem futuristic, it isn’t something new at all. Blackout curtains had their dark start in World War II where Britain designed them to block off light from the windows so the enemies would not see the houses at night. Over time, British people realized other benefits of using blackout curtains and decided to keep them long after the war was over.

Fortunately, these curtains have come a long way since then in terms of appearance and style. Today, you cannot tell the difference between blackout curtains and regular ones, and it’s possible to get them in any color.

Types of Blackout Curtains

  • Blackout-lined. These are made of a heavy polyester lining that makes the drapery stiff and achieves complete blackout. If you put a flashlight on one side of these curtains and stand on the other side, you would not see the light at all.
  • Foam-backed. Foam-backed curtains keep the soft folds of the drapery which makes for beautiful curtains but they don’t guarantee complete blackout.
  • Thermal-lined curtains. With thermal-lined lining, a heat-trapping fabric like flannel is used to trap heat and keep the room warm during cold months. However, these drapes do not guarantee complete blackout either.
  • Privacy-lined. These blackout curtains use polyester and a cotton weave to retain that soft drapery and filter out the light. They also do not guarantee total darkness, but they block out most of the light.

What are Blackout Curtains Used For?

1. Filter out light

With all the benefits of installing blackout curtains, it’s a wonder they are not in every house. That said, these magnificent curtains are growing in popularity for their ability to block out light completely. Some of the places this benefit apply include;


More often than not, people use them in their bedrooms to keep light and noise out so they can sleep better. This is especially critical if you live somewhere with street lights and a lot of noise that could affect your sleep.

For those living in northern cities where the sun is out 24 hours a day during the summer months, blackout curtains are the only way to differentiate between day and night. They will block out 99% of the sunlight at night, which means you can sleep in darkness like the rest of the world does.

Blackout curtains are also a lifesaver if you regularly work night shifts. Nurses, customer care, and other people who work at night experience health problems due to insufficient sleep because daylight interferes with sleep. Blackout curtains are highly effective at confusing the body to think it’s nighttime so you can sleep soundly for many hours and wake up fresh and well-rested.

Movie home theatres

Ever tried to watch TV when light is flowing into the room? Needless to say, it wasn’t a fun experience because the light caused glare From the TV. Blackout curtains are the perfect solution if you want to watch some TV during the day.

If you have a separate theatre room, blackout curtains ensure the room is completely dark so you can have the ultimate theatre experience. Not only do they block out all the light, but some curtains even filter out noise from entering your theatre.


Blackout curtains are also used in hospitals, medical clinics, and emergency rooms to filter out light and enhance privacy. Essentially, patients need adequate sleep to recover faster, which means they may need to sleep during the day.

These curtains are the perfect way to filter out light so the patient can sleep soundly during the day without being disrupted by light.

Photography darkroom

With blackout curtains, photographers no longer have to use their basement to print the photos, they allow you to convert any room in the house to a darkroom.

Most photographers like to use a spare bathroom as the darkroom because of the easy access of water. Adding a blackout curtain on the window will fully transform that washroom into a functioning darkroom.


The slightest things including light wake up most children. If you have a child who needs to take naps during the day or sleep a little longer in the morning, installing blackout drapes on the nursery window might do the trick. Besides keeping the room completely dark, it will also muffle most of the noise that might wake the child up.

2. Energy saving

blackout curtains energy efficient

Considering that 10-25% of energy escapes through the windows, it makes sense that installing dense curtains will reduce that.

Blackout curtains save your energy bill tremendously by insulating the house when it’s hot or too cold. They keep heat inside when it’s too cold and out of the house during summer, which means your HVAC unit doesn’t need to work as hard.

3. Muffling noise

The best blackout curtains are made of several layers with foam inside it. This density blocks out some of the noise coming from outside so you can enjoy some peace inside your house. Unfortunately, they only block out around 40% of the noise, and you may need something a bit stronger if it’s too noisy.

4. Protecting furniture from sun damage

As a result of blocking out sunlight from entering a room, blackout curtains protect your furniture and floors from fading and premature aging due to light. This means you won’t need to refurbish or replace your existing furniture as often, and that saves you money.

5. Privacy

Undoubtedly, blackout curtains increase the privacy of your room by ensuring no one can see or hear anything from outside.

While regular curtains do the same, they do leave some allowance of seeing shadows and movements. Blackout curtains completely block out the room such that even light cant sip through them so no one can see what is going on inside.

6. Aesthetics

On top of the many great practical benefits of blackout curtains, a lot of people also like them because they add a aesthetically pleasing look that certainly improves almost any bedroom.

They come in multiple colors and they can spice up even the most boring window or wall.

Can You Turn Regular Curtains into Blackout Curtains?

The short answer is, YES. You can add a blackout lining to your existing curtains either by hanging it on a double rod or sewing it into the curtain. If it helps, have two linings and layer the curtain, so it becomes denser and more effective.

A white blackout lining will be perfect if you are worried about aesthetics unless your curtains are dark. White also reflects light and heat away from the room instead of absorbing, making it the perfect choice.

What’s the Difference between Blackout Curtains, Room Darkening Curtains and Thermal Curtains?

While these three terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they all mean different things.

Blackout curtains are specifically designed to keep out light which they achieve through a blackout lining. Typical fabrics used to make a blackout fabric include polyester, microfiber, and cotton. The fabric can be 2-pass or 3-pass label, which simply denotes the curtain’s ability to block out light. 3-pass layers have a third layer made of foam or rubber to achieve other purposes like noise muffling and energy efficiency.

Thermal curtains, on the other hand, are designed to trap heat in and keep the cold out in winter and vice versa during summer. The curtains have a rubber or acrylic foam built between layers of fabric to insulate and keep the outside temperature from entering the room and the inside heat from escaping. Besides, thermal curtains have a reflective outer surface, so light and heat bounce off instead of being absorbed.

Lastly, Room-darkening curtains play the same role as blackout curtains to keep light away, but they allow minimal light to seep through the fabric. If you don’t want total darkness, room darkening curtains are perfect because they will block out most of the light without making the room pitch black. Most people use them for the living room where you need to reduce the TV glare but still have some light coming in.

Do Blackout Curtains Really Work?

Absolutely. Blackout drapes and curtains block out all light and some noise from entering a room as long as you have installed them properly.

It may be worth it to seek the assistance of a professional to install the curtains correctly so they can be 100% effective. While blackout curtains are definitely more expensive to buy than regular curtains, the investment is worth it in the long run considering the energy savings and all the other benefits.

Blackout Curtain Buyers Guide Parts:

1. What Are Blackout Curtains And What Are They Used For?
2. Are Blackout Curtains Worth Getting? The Pros & Cons of Having a Dark Bedroom
3. What Are Blackout Curtains Made of? The Best Fabrics to go For!
4. Are Blackout Curtains Expensive? The 7 Best Priced Curtains of 2021
5. Are Blackout Curtains Energy Efficient? Can They Lower My Energy Bill?
6. What Color Should Blackout Curtains be in?
7. Blackout Curtains vs. Blackout Blinds: Which are better?
8. How To Measure for Blackout Curtains: A step by step guide
9. How To Clean Blackout Curtains: A step by step guide
10. Best Blackout Curtains For The Bedroom: A Buyers Guide (2021)

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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