Curtains serve many purposes in homes and blackout curtains have become a popular choice overall. There are many factors to explore in making the right choice of blackout curtains. It is not as simple as just choosing a curtain to cover a window.

What are Blackout Curtains?

Blackout curtains were made to block light from windows more efficiently than regular curtains. This is achieved by the process in which they are made. This specific type of curtain is made by layering foam between the fabric. As per wikipedia.org, there are two processes that can be used to manufacture the curtains. They are known as a “2-pass” and a “3-pass” process. A 2-pass only applies, as the name implies, two layers of foam on the fabric, the first is a black layer and then the second is a white layer. This type is not efficient for home use because it is a little thinner. A 3-pass process is more desirable as produces a thicker curtain with three layers of foam atop the fabric. This barrier truly creates a light blocking property. The fabrics are tightly woven together for sturdy, yet surprisingly light-weight still curtains. This, of course, adds to the quality is being higher. Generally, they are made of polyester material.

The blackout curtain phenomenon is not just about the curtains themselves. There are also blackout liners that can be placed behind traditional curtains. This leaves the door open for more color choices while still getting some of the benefits that a blackout curtain can bring to the table. However, the overall investment in a curtain over a liner is the best choice in the long run, as the blackout part is already constructed as part of the curtain.

The appeal of these types of curtains is not only helping block out light. Something to consider when purchasing or shopping around for them is what other purposes do they serve? For people in heavily populated areas, that answer is easy. Possibly the most appealing feature of blackout curtains is that they can be noise-dampening. This provides better sleep for not only people wishing for quieter environments, but for babies as well. Along with a good night’s sleep, using these in the home can be a peace of mind for those who largely enjoy quieter environments.

The benefits do not just end at light blocking and noise blocking properties. What about privacy? Traditional curtains cannot provide the level of privacy that blackout curtains do. From the outside of the house, light or activities are also blocked, truly giving the homeowner a sense of deep privacy. People’s homes are meant to be a source of sanctuary from work, the public, etc, and privacy is a key factor.

Things to Consider before buying Blackout Curtains

While the above reasons listed are crucial to finding the perfect choice of blackout curtain, there are yet still other things to consider. At the top of the list is energy efficiency. Not everyone thinks about this factor when looking for curtains, but they should! Blackout curtains offer insulation in both winter and summer. This means more protection from cold and heat. With this sort of draft protection from the elements, it means lower bills even when still using the air conditioning or furnace. Anything to help alter those costs is beneficial for everyone!

1. Delivering on the light-blocking promise and cost-effectiveness

A good quality blackout curtain is worth every penny. Investing in a range of up 98 to 100% light blocking technology more than pays for itself. As with any purchase, the initial investment is of utmost importance. While some people may think that these types of home furnishings are expensive, that is not always the case. There are some expensive curtains out there and they may not even be blackout material. But blackout material can also be pricey and that is all dependent on the size (more material equals a higher cost) and the actual material (such as silk, velvet, etc.). On the flip side, they can also be affordable. Better quality living and sleeping is available for any budget. While most panels are sold singularly, there are some places that sell them as a pair and that will usually save the customer a few bucks.

The light filtering promise is not only a practical use of the product, but also to help tie together the room in which it is being placed. For example, the bedroom is a great place to start. This is where the benefits can truly be reaped as it can lead to a better night’s sleep. No distractions from light always helps. It can also be useful for those living on main roads where traffic is a nuisance. Noise reduction also brings about better sleep.

Another room to consider is the living room. The glare from sunlight on a television set can be highly unpleasant. The noise reduction also makes for better focus on whatever is playing on the television. Keep the entertainment experience at its peak by using them in this room.

Using this product in children’s rooms is a miracle. For parents, this means babies and children will sleep better, which in turn means fewer interruptions at night. Peace of mind comes in many forms when considering the use of blackout curtains.

There are many places to put these types of curtains and those are just a few simple examples, ultimately it is up to the buyer as they will have a vision in mind! The possibilities are almost endless.

2. Sizes

Measure, measure, and measure again! To ensure that optimal coverage is met, measuring is extremely important. Most blackout curtains (and regular curtains) range in sizes to fit most needs. The most popular sizes in length are 84″ to 108″, but can be quite larger too, some up to 144″ When looking at the width of them, generally, they will be around 45″ to 50″ although there are occasions where they can be larger. Windows are generic sizes, but some are unique. Finding the perfect size is crucial to the look that is desired as well as give complete coverage of the window.

3. Colors

While some might not care about the colors, others might. Blackout curtains range in various colors, however, the most popular colors are black, grey, or white. Why? Well, put plainly, these particular colors aid in the temperature controlling aspects as well as being able to be matched with truly anything. These colors will complete any look while meeting the needs of the customer. The color of a blackout curtain will always be opaque or semi-opaque (to allow some natural light to enter). A transparent color or material would obviously defeat the purpose of them being able to deliver on their promises of light and noise blocking.

Companies like IKEA for example are offering brighter colors (like lilac) in their collections to reach every possible customer. No two rooms are alike and every customer’s taste will vary. It is companies like IKEA that realize this and bring forth a few other colors to the palette.

4. Hanging Blackout Curtains

Choosing the curtain to meet your needs is half the battle! Hanging them is just as important. Some blackout curtains are not just hung like traditional ones. For instance, blackout liners bought to accompany a curtain will come with magnetic strips that will help create a seal to deter light from coming through. Extra binding is never frowned upon and this is the upside to getting a blackout liner. If buying a solid blackout curtain, they will not have them. Here is a basic guide to hanging your new curtains!

a. Select the rod placement

Once again, measure to a T! It is a common mistake to try and get rods and curtains the exact size of a window. The rod should be slightly bigger than the window so that the curtains actually hang accordingly. The curtains should be 2 or 3 times larger than the window so everything is completely covered. Mark where the rod will be placed. If you want the window to appear larger, place the rod a bit higher than the window. It is all in user preference at this stage.

b. Install the Brackets

Brackets are the pieces that the rod will be sitting in. This makes for easy removal of the curtain for maintenance or changing out a color. Always use a leveler so you know the distance is proper and your rod will hang straight and true. Drilling starter holes for the screws is important because then they will be sturdy and go in straight. Never try to drill a screw into a wall first because it will spin around, causing damage to the wall and resulting in an uneven home for the screw.

c. Getting the Curtain ready to hang

The next step is to attach the rings that the curtain will hang by. Spread the curtain out and space the rings accordingly. Be sure there are an even amount of curtain rings attached or there will be parts of the curtain dropping. Many blackout curtains with the holes for the rings to go through. Others come with rod pockets sewn into the top of the curtain for easier hanging. IKEA brand curtains have a special feature of sewn in hooks. Examine whatever kind of top your curtain has and follow through. For example, the holes will get the rings, the rod pocket will simply house the rod inside, and the sewn-in hooks will hug the rod and provide a sturdy hold.

d. Install the magnetic strips, if applicable

If you have purchased a curtain set that comes with a blackout liner (or in some cases a heavy curtain with a blackout liner for extra light or sound blockage) there will be a slot for magnetic strips to be slid into. These
will attract to one another and offer a tight seal against outside influences. This can be a popular option as the magnets stronghold everything together and truly add to the experience. The liner will need put on the rod first and then the curtain. The liner will obviously face the window, while the curtain faces the room its being put in.

e. Hang it up!

Once prepared, the curtain is now ready to be hung. Whether it is on the rod by rings, rod pocket, or sewn in hooks, it is time to hang the curtain. Place the rod in the brackets and voila! Now stand back to inspect how it looks and make sure it is as straight as possible.

5. Maintaining Blackout Curtains

Now that you have a general idea of what blackout curtains are and what they can provide your home, as well as how to hang them, how do you maintain them? For longevity of your new curtains, taking proper action to clean them is important.

The first step in cleaning is to vacuum. This can be done once a week. Using the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner, sweep the fronts of the curtain to collect any dirt particles or possible cobwebs that may have built up. This is the easiest of the cleaning procedures and helps in protecting the color of the curtain too. Curtains that get dust build up tend to get dingy in time.

The second step in cleaning the blackout curtains is gentle washing. This step should be done when the curtains look exceptionally dirty and should be vacuumed first. Due to their size, hand-washing is not practical, but not out of the realms of possibility either. It is recommended to use a washing machine on a gentle cycle as to not overextend the fabric on a cold water setting. Cold water preserves colors in fabrics while hot water tends to drain the color out quicker. Do not add any laundry boosting chemicals. A mild scented laundry soap could be used, but a free and clear version is best as there are no harsh additives that could compromise the curtain.

After washing, do not machine dry the curtains. Hang on a clothesline or likewise to let air dry naturally. While this process is tedious, it is rewarding in that it will not rough up the curtains nor cause shrinkage in curtains that are not 100% polyester material.

Most blackout curtains will state that they can be dry-cleaned only. The dry cleaning process provides material preservation and is gentle due to its low heat drying process and the absence of water. Dry cleaned products are cleaned used organic solvents that get recycled into rinsing mechanisms after the cleaning process is complete. While this is a paid service, it can be practical for longer lasting curtains.

Which Blackout Curtains are the best?

The curtain market is saturated in companies promising to bring the ultimate blackout experience to the customer. How does one choose from all the options? Below are some choices to consider when shopping around!

1. Silvana Silk Blackout Curtains

Exclusive to the retail store, Crate&Barrel, these curtains offer a grey coloring, come in three sizes (48″ x 84″, 48″ x 96″, and 48″ x 08″) and have an overall 4-star review out of four reviews. They seem to be a quality grey color to match any room. They also come in ivory, blue, dark grey, and the abyss. They are lined 100% polyester and feature a silk front curtain. While they are an attractive piece for a casual or formal room in the house, the reviews are honest in that they are not completely blackout curtains. Instead, these beautiful curtains offer up a shade from the windows, greatly reducing the amount of light coming through.

2. Exclusive Fabrics Furnishing Bellino Line

These curtains are available Home Depot and JCPenny. They are two inches bigger than the Silvana brand at 50″ in width and are available in various lengths (84″, 96″, 108″ and even 120″). The main appeal to this brand is its promise of triple woven material, for the best light filtering results. These curtains come in solid, bold colors like bright ivory, burnt orange, and commonplace colors such as black and grey. They house grommets (the metal decorative pieces around the holes the hooks go through to hang them) in a nickel finish and claim up to 80% light blocking technology. They have a 5-star rating on Home Depot’s website with 4 customer reviews. Customer’s compliment the curtain for not being wrinkled (as some do come brand new and wrinkled). They also highlight the durable fabric. They are about the same price on both Home Depot and JCPenny’s website.

3. Sebastian Rod Pocket Insulated 100% Blackout Curtains

This is the most favorable on our curtain list! Bed, Bath, and Beyond offers this line of blackout curtains. They are blackout liner curtains that come five exclusive colors (gold, mocha, blue, natural and dark charcoal). Out of the choices so far, these are the panels offering up noise reduction, depletion of light, insulation from the elements and draft blocking. They feature a rod pocket, which is where the top of the panel is sewn to create a pocket that the curtain rod slides into, no grommets or hooks needed! Another great feature of this product is that it is machine washable, so no trips to the dry cleaners. This curtain is sized from 63″ in length all the way to 144″, which really opens up the options for people with bigger windows to cover. The width of these curtains are 50″.

With all those fantastic features, it is hard to believe they are only about $40 a panel! Cost effective and multi-beneficial? Consider it sold! This line of blackout curtains also has the highest rating yet, coming in at 4 1/2 stars out of 218 reviews! The raving reviews of this product line really highlight its room darkening aspect. Many of the reviews include pictures, which ensures that as a shopper, you are getting genuine responses. The only complaint and it was from very few, was that they came wrinkled. Unfortunately, with packaging, this can be possible. It can be resolved with ironing or dry cleaning. But that is a small fleck among the positives.

4. IKEA Marjun

IKEA is easily known for their home decor solutions and furnishings, so it is no surprise that they have their own line of specialty curtains! The IKEA Marjun blackout curtain line only comes in three shades, blue, grey, or lilac. They also only are sized at 57″ x 98″. However, they are complete blackout material, not just a liner. This means they will greatly reduce light and really deliver on the temperature and draft control. What really makes the IKEA Marjun brand rise above its competitors is its unique design for hanging. It not only offers the option for using external hooks but also gives the buyer the choice of using sewn-in hooks. These hooks are strips of fabric sewn in to provide a home for the rod, giving full support and being multi-functioning. They are priced very decently at $49.99 for a set. From a customer’s standpoint, the rating comes in at 4.8 out of 6 reviews. All the reviews reveal that the curtains provide the desired darkness.

Overall Food for Thought

From a quieter and more comfortable home to controlling the amount of natural light entering your living space, there is a lot to think about. The benefits are stacked up pretty high and out of the choices that were narrowed down, the best quality and quantity are the IKEA Marjun line as they do come as a set for the $50. However, the product that gives the best quality and multi-benefit feature would be the Sebastian Rod Pocket Insulated panels. While they are sold as a single panel, it is hard to deny what the whole package is going to provide.

With that in mind, indulge yourself and your family with the long-lasting quality of a blackout curtain. They will not only create a more luxurious living space but one that truly brings the privacy, comfort and quiet you
deserve. The choices have been laid out and now all that is left is redesign your space with color schemes and fun decorative rods. The combinations are practically limitless!

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