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5 Things To Know About Blackout Shades

Bali blackout cellular shades on windows in a bedroom.
Maybe you already have blackout shades in your home. Maybe you never put any thought into blackout shades whatsoever. Or maybe you know about blackout shades, but you just don’t think they’re worth going in and overhauling your current window treatments for—just to catch a few extra zzzzz’s.

Let’s do this. Forget everything you thought you knew about blackout shades and let us help you start over. We’ll tackle the science, history, benefits, and even myths about blackout shades you never knew existed. By the end of this article, every question or doubt you had about these magical products should be erased. And hopefully, better sleep will be in your future soon. Let’s begin.

Bali blackout cellular shades on a window in a bedroom.

¾" Single Cell Blackout Cellular Shades with Cordless Lift: Impresario Blackout, Pale Graphite 0599

1. What are blackout shades and how do they work?

The material used to make blackout shades is simply tightly woven fabric that prevents light from passing through. This weave is so dense that it blocks out as much light as possible—in this case, just about 100%.

Here’s a myth: Contrary to popular belief, blackout shades are not just thick, dark, stiff, and heavy black sheets of fabric. They’re actually available in soft, beautiful light neutrals too. And while darker colors may be more effective at blocking light, any color blackout material will do the trick. Whatever color fabric you choose, the street side will always be white, so you don’t have to worry about what it looks like from the outside.

What products are blackout shades available in?

Like what you hear? Try Bali Blackout Shades in our most popular products like cellular shades, solar shades, and roller shades—or choose custom drapery or tailored Roman shades in regular, non-blackout fabric and add a blackout liner. 

Keep in mind, you won’t be swathed in utter, total darkness. There will always be small slivers of light slipping through the edges (sometimes called the halo effect) of your shade. Want to block it all out? Add on side channels or layer your window treatments with drapery.

2. A “Dark” Origin Story

Little known fact: original blackout fabrics were first used in WWII—not to help civilians get more rest, but to actually protect them from nighttime air raids. Allied leaders believed that man-made light coming from cities helped bomber planes reach their targets easier. As a result, the British government began enforcing blackout regulations in 1939, requiring homeowners to cover up their windows at night to prevent light from getting out. They ensured black cotton fabric was available and affordable for every household. Streetlights and automobile headlights were also covered up in the war effort. After the war ended, these blackout materials were evolved into curtains that began being used for what we know them for today.

Bali blackout natural shades on windows in a bedroom.

Old Style Roman Natural Shades: Rugged Flax, Graphite Seaglass 73311 & Blackout Liner

3. What else can blackout shades do?

Blackout shades have a number of other surprising—and perhaps logical—benefits.

Besides blocking out light, blackout shades can also block out harmful UV rays, protecting your floors and furniture inside. Additionally, blackout shades offer added privacy benefits and can also help increase energy efficiency in your home—especially if you opt for cellular shades, which feature honeycomb-shaped cells that trap air inside to help prevent either heat or air conditioning from escaping out your windows. Blackout shades can also help dampen any exterior noise. Can your non-blackout shades do all that?

Bali blackout roller shades on windows in a living room.

Blackout Roller Shades with Cordless Lift: Plush Blackout, Silver Blue 17101

4. Beyond the bedroom

Everyone knows blackout shades help darken rooms, logically making them the most useful shades for bedrooms and nurseries. They can also come in handy for theater rooms. And while most of us don’t have dark rooms in our homes for developing printed photographs, an argument could be made for installing blackout shades in just about any other room where glare or light is an issue—like your office.

Bali blackout roller shades on windows in a bedroom.

Blackout Roller Shades with Motorized Lift: Fiji Blackout, Midnight Mist 16304

5. Better sleep, better health.

Obviously, sleep matters. Getting 7-9 hours a night as an adult can lead to improved productivity and concentration, less stress, better digestion, less weight gain, and better moods overall. And while we are interior design experts (not doctors), it’d be pretty difficult to find any reason not to promote good sleep.

For more ideas on how to fall asleep faster, check out this article on Bali Cellular Blackout Shades.

So what do you say? Ready to go total blackout? Start by ordering some free swatches and find out for yourself.