Blackout curtains, as the name suggests, are curtains that have been designed and manufactured to block as much light as possible from passing through them when being used. This is accomplished by using a tightly woven fabric, sometimes multiple layers, as either the whole curtain or as a liner added to more traditional curtains. Most brands are able to successfully prevent more than 90% of the light passing through with the higher quality ones advertising a 99.9% blockage rate.
Blackout curtains will make many people think of World War II when they were used to prevent light from escaping a home during the night, helping to keep the neighborhood dark. But nowadays the goal is more likely reversed, keeping the light out. The main areas that can benefit from the use of light blocking curtains are primarily in a bedroom, either yours or your children's. This becomes even more important as summer approaches bringing with it earlier sunrises and later sunsets. It also can be important if you work an overnight shift and need to get your sleep during the day or if you have an annoying street lamp or business sign immediately outside your window.
The light blocking curtains are also helpful in a family room or living room where you watch television during daylight hours. By closing the curtains you can block the glare that makes viewing difficult leading to a more enjoyable experience.
There are other reasons as well though which may cause you to consider buying blackout curtain drapes or lined blackout curtains, the largest one being energy efficiency. Studies have shown that about one third of the heating or cooling you use in your home is lost through heat transfer and drafts at the windows. Because blackout curtains are made from a heavier material they act as a thermal barrier helping to keep the inside of your home at a more consistent temperature requiring less energy to maintain. By reducing your energy consumption you are also doing your part to help reduce greenhouse gases and shrinking your carbon footprint.
And finally, there is noise pollution and privacy to consider, especially if you live in a noisy area or along a busy street. The heavier material of the blackout window curtain once again lends itself to dampen the noises that enter your house from the outside. Even if you only place the blackout curtains on the side of your house facing the street, or the side that faces the noisy neighbors you will be able to enjoy the comfort and relaxation of a peaceful room. You will also gain an additional level of privacy, as they will prevent people from looking inside if they are properly fitted.
If you have decided that you would like to install blackout curtains there are a few things to keep in mind. Choosing the correct size is important, you will want the curtain to start high enough above the top and travel past the bottom of the window to ensure maximum benefit. Also make sure the curtain is wide enough to comfortably rest across the full width. If you are shopping for a window that will require more than one panel to cover the opening you should look for a blackout curtain that includes a magnetic closure. These consist of a pair of panels that have magnets sewn at intervals along the edges to help hold the panels together. Because of the heavier material and the specialty of their purpose you should expect to pay a little more than a more traditional option but the benefits make up for that in most people's opinion.