What are Blackout Shades?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Blackout shades and blackout curtains are window treatments used to prevent light from getting into a room. The more expensive of these, and they can be quite expensive depending on extra features, can run over $100 US Dollars (USD) for a small window. They can completely block light from a room, and might be used in professional applications, such as in businesses that need darkness for audio/visual presentations. For home use, blackout shades or even room darkening shades may by ideal to reduce light energy to a room, and thus reduce the room’s temperature.

Someone who sleeps during the day may benefit from blackout shades to prevent natural light from disrupting their sleep.
Someone who sleeps during the day may benefit from blackout shades to prevent natural light from disrupting their sleep.

Another use of blackout shades, which is now considered potentially very important, is for those people who work night shifts. Studies show that exposure to light when you must sleep during the day can create health problems and disrupt natural sleep patterns. Purchasing blackout shades for the room you sleep in may be an excellent idea if you work unusual shifts, even only some of the time.

The simplest blackout shades generally look like the standard roll up window shade, and they can usually be ordered in custom sizes to fit whatever size window/s you need to cover. These aren’t particularly attractive as window treatments, and many people prefer shades with a better look. If you do like a particular shade style, like bamboo or honeycomb shades, you can often buy blackout liners to use with these. Alternately, some people prefer blackout curtains, which also come in the form of liners to be used with more esthetically pleasing curtains.

Material for blackout shade types varies. The more expensive ones may contain about 50% fiberglass, but most are a combination of various vinyl and plastics materials. Virtually all are treated with flame resistant coating, which is an important feature in any home. Those blackout shades made for professional use, often have the most features. Some may have electronic means of lifting or lowering the shades, often controlled by remote. For a business, this time saver may be ideal especially if the shades cover large windows.

Unless your home has very large windows, which make retractable shades difficult to reach, it isn’t necessary to go to the extra expense of power controlled black out curtains or shades. On the other hand, if your home contains a home theater and you want to save time, this extra feature can be useful. Power controlled shades can simply be an added feature in any home if you prefer them.

You’ll find many varieties of these shades on the Internet, and you can find a few varieties in retail stores like Home Depot®, Target®, JCPennys®, or in any store devoted solely to window treatments. In most cases you do need to order the sizes you need, since window width and length can be so variable. Most stores that carry them may have a couple of sizes, but won’t feature a great deal of variety in the store. It’s a good idea to get out and look so you get a sense of the look and feel of the shades you choose prior to custom ordering them on the Internet, which may make them more difficult to return.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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