Best Blackout Curtains – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide
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Blackout curtains are a nighttime necessity for many because they protect sleepers from excessive light exposure, which can interfere with the circadian cycle and reduce sleep quality and duration. Unlike standard curtains, blackout curtains are constructed with thick foam and fabric layers that can prevent even traces of light from entering the bedroom. Additionally, blackout curtains can have a cooling effect, particularly in places with hotter climates, and can block outside noise.
Most of today’s blackout curtains generally fall into one of two categories. Two-pass curtains have two foam layers attached to the fabric: black foam on the interior and white foam on the exterior. Many owners use a liner with two-pass curtains. Three-pass curtains feature layers of white foam and a layer of black foam in the middle; this gives them a more uniform appearance, and a liner may not be necessary.
This guide will look at different options and considerations for blackout curtain buyers, as well as our choices for the best blackout curtains and blackout liners sold today. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Our Editor’s Pick is the Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtain from H.VERSAILTEX, a three-pass curtain with a built-in liner. The curtain is designed to block out 95% of sunlight and offers full protection from UV rays. Additionally, the curtains are highly effective at cooling bedrooms to a comfortable temperature and diminishing outside noise for sleepers.
The panels come with eight grommets and the curtains can be used with a wide range of rods. A total of 31 color options are available for the curtains, as well as four liner colors, to accommodate customers with different decor tastes. H.VERSAILTEX offers a 30-night trial and a 10-year warranty with the Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtain.
Sleepers who prefer curtains with built-in liners
Those with exceptionally warm bedrooms and/or loud neighborhoods
The Thermal Blackout Room Darkening Curtain from Utopia Bedding is widely available for $18 or less, giving it a lower price-point than many competing blackout curtains. Each set comes with two curtain panels. Both panels include seven hooks and two tie-backs; this allows owners to hang them in different ways. The curtains block light almost completely, reduce outside noise by roughly 60%, and thermal insulation that can cut owners’ energy bills.
Five different colors are available with the Thermal Blackout Room Darkening Curtain. Utopia Bedding sells this product exclusively through Amazon.com and other third-party retailers, so customers should defer to the sleep trial and return policies of the vendor they choose.
Sleepers who prefer to select their own curtain liner
Those who want their bedrooms to be almost completely dark
Many blackout curtains are available in one or two length measurements, which can be limiting for customers whose windows fall outside these dimensions. The Blackout Thermal Insulated Curtains from Deconovo are available in three lengths – 45″, 54″, 63″, 72″ 84″, and 95″ – as well as 45″ and 54″ widths. This range should accommodate most window sizes. They are constructed with one black side and one silver side and do not include liners, giving them a silky-soft feel and a longer expected lifespan. These curtains are machine washable, as well.
The Blackout Thermal Insulated Curtains are available in 18 different color options. Deconovo offers free shipping to customers in the contiguous U.S.
Sleepers who prefer to select their own curtain liner
The Ultimate Liner from Thermalogic is our standout liner for several reasons. It effectively blocks outside light and noise and provides thermal insulation, much like blackout curtains. The liner can also be paired with a wide range of curtain styles, including grommets, pleats, and tailored designs. The liner is easy to install, thanks to built-in hanging hooks and a rod opening, and can be washed and dried in conventional machines.
The Thermalogic Ultimate Liner is available in red and white colors. It is available in three lengths: 56″, 77″, and 88″.
Two-pass blackout curtain owners
Conventional curtain owners who want to block outside light and noise
Blackout curtains are used to shield bedrooms from outside light, which can interfere with the circadian cycle and negatively affect sleep quality. They are an essential component for people who need to sleep during daylight hours, including shift workers and small children, as well as people with disorders like insomnia that affect sleep onset and/or maintenance. In addition to blocking light, blackout curtains improve temperature insulation by keeping bedrooms cool during the hot months and warm when it’s cold outside. They may dampen outside noise to create a quieter sleep environment, as well.
This guide will explore the functions of blackout curtains and their benefits for sleepers, as well as buying tips for first-time buyers and our picks for the best blackout curtains based on owner experiences.
What Are Blackout Curtains and Why Are They Helpful?
Let’s begin by discussing the key differences between curtains, drapes, shades, and blinds.
Curtains are single-layer fabric panels that are attached to a top rod using rings, grommets, or small openings known as ‘rod pockets’. The rod mechanism allows the curtains to be closed or opened easily. Curtains are usually made from crisp, lightweight fabrics like polyester or cotton.
Drapes are similar to curtains in terms of functionality and installation, but they feature an extra panel that acts as a liner. They are often made from heavier fabrics like velvet, wool, or canvas.
Shades are single fabric panels that can be lowered or raised using a cord or roller. The fabric bunches at the top rod when raised.
Blinds are not made from fabric, but harder materials like wood or plastic. They feature slats that can be opened or closed individually, but the blinds as a whole cannot be raised or lowered.
For the purposes of this guide, the catch-all term ‘blackout curtains’ refers to any curtains, drapes, shades, or blinds that are designed to block outside light, reduce noise, and improve insulation. ‘Blackout’ is a specific manufacturing process, during which foam layers are applied to raw fabric — usually polyester or microfiber — in order to increase the density and opacity of the material. The foam layers are known as ‘passes,’ and most blackout curtains sold today fall into one of the following two categories:
Two-pass: Features one layer of black foam applied directly to the fabric and a second white foam layer applied to the other side of the black foam. The black foam is often visible through the white foam layer, giving the curtains a shadowy, uneven look; many owners use a liner to give their curtains a more uniform appearance.
Three-pass: Features two layers of white foam with a third layer of black foam sandwiched between them. Three-pass curtains are more decorative and aesthetically-pleasing than two-pass curtains, and a liner may not be needed. These are sometimes sold as ‘three-in-one’ blackout curtains.
Blackout liners are sold separately and also widely available. They have two sides: a lighter fabric side and a darker, sleeker side. Additionally, some ‘three-pass’ liners have a middle layer of foam or fabric. Some liners are sold by the foot or yard and cut to order. Others are sold in large sections, and require owners to cut the material to length themselves. Most can be installed on existing curtains using drapery hooks or grommets, and they may be hemmed to the curtain as well. In addition to blackout liners, blackout window covers are installed over the window opening using clips or hook-and-loop fasteners.
Blackout curtains are useful for sleep because our natural sleep cycle depends on exposure to natural light. Our internal alarm clock — known as the circadian rhythm — is programmed to make us feel tired at night when the sun goes down, and to wake up in the morning after the sun reappears. People tend to have healthy circadian rhythms in ideal sleep settings, but many have jobs or commitments that require them to be awake when they should be asleep and vice versa. These individuals include:
Shift workers, defined as anyone who works outside the standard schedule of 9am to 5pm. These employees often sleep during the day in order to prepare for their shift ahead, and may choose to follow the same routine on their days off for a smoother transition when their work week begins again.
Newborns, infants, toddlers, and other children who nap during the daylight hours.
People with sleep-onset insomnia, which causes difficulty falling asleep, and/or sleep-maintenance insomnia, which affects how long the individual remains asleep without waking up. Insomnia is closely linked to circadian disruptions.
People who live on streets that are particularly bright or busy at night.
The most effective blackout curtains can block up to 99% of outside light. Blackout curtains also provide the following uses when installed properly:
Light and UV ray protection: Exposure to sunlight can damage furniture and appliances over time. Blackout curtains can mitigate this damage and extend the lifespan of your home furnishings.
Noise reduction: Due to the foam layers, blackout curtains can significantly lower the amount of outside noise that enters your bedroom — up to 60%, in some cases.
Temperature insulation: The foam components of blackout curtains can also trap in heat during the winter and keep your bedroom cool in the summer. This ensures not only year-round comfort, but also savings on energy costs.
Glare prevention: Lastly, many people utilize blackout curtains for family rooms, rec rooms, and other areas where people tend to watch TV. The curtains are quite effective at keeping glare out of the room.
Most blackout curtains sold today are machine washable. However, depending on their material composition, some may require hand washing, spot cleaning, or professional cleaning.
Important Considerations for Blackout Curtain Shoppers
When shopping for new blackout curtains and comparing different brands and models, here are a few important factors to take into account:
What is your blackout curtain budget? Some blackout curtains cost more than $100, but cheaper models can be found for $30 or less. Be sure to factor in the costs of a new liner or window panel if you plan to buy two-pass blackout curtains.
Do you prefer two- or three-pass blackout fabric? Two-pass blackout fabric usually requires a liner, but it may be more suitable for people who do not want complete darkness. Three-pass blackout fabric is highly effective at blocking most outside light — too effective for some people, particularly those who like a small amount of light in their room.
What are the dimensions of your window? The best blackout curtains are available in multiple sizes to accommodate purchasers with different room dimensions. Measure your window’s width and length carefully before buying curtains. You may be able to refer to your existing curtains if product tags are still attached.
What are the dimensions of your existing curtains? A cheaper workaround to buying new blackout curtains is to modify existing curtains using a blackout liner. The liner should measure slightly smaller than the curtains; the general rule of thumb is one inch shorter/narrower on each of its four sides.
What materials are used to make the curtains? Material composition often determines the overall weight of the curtains, which can affect how easily they move across the rod. Lighter fabrics include tulle and lace, while heavier options include velvet and canvas.
How do the curtains attach to the rod? Curtains may use rings, grommets, rod pockets, or other fastening mechanisms. All are comparably effective, and this consideration usually comes down to personal preference.
How should the curtains be cleaned? Blackout curtains are usually machine washable, which can save you time and money in the long run compared to curtains that can only spot and/or dry cleaned.
What are your color preferences? Color is purely aesthetic, but an important consideration for many. Some blackout curtains are available in a wide assortment of colors and designs, while others have a more limited selection.
Do the blackout curtains come with a return policy or warranty? Blackout curtain manufacturers may offer a trial period, during which purchasers can return the curtains for a full refund if they are not satisfied, as well as warranties that cover defects for up to 10 years. However, many blackout curtains do not come with either a trial nor a warranty.
Do you have the implements to make your own blackout curtains? Homemade blackout curtains require extra time, but they can be an inexpensive option compared to buying new models.
How to Make Homemade Blackout Curtains
In addition to store-bought blackout curtains, many modify their existing curtains to block outside light using this simple DIY process:
Purchase blackout lining. This material is available at most large fabric/craft stores, and is usually sold by the yard at inexpensive price-points (usually $7 to $10 per yard). Buy more than you’ll need to allow for cutting errors.
Iron the lining. This will prevent bunching. Make sure to place the iron on the fabric side only.
Cut the lining to slightly smaller dimensions than the curtains themselves (roughly one inch shorter and narrower on each side should do the trick).
Attach the lining near the top of the curtain fabric. In most cases, you’ll need to detach the curtain from its grommets or hooks. Make sure not to block the holes; cut around them if needed.
If successful, the blackout lining should adhere to the curtains and block outside light. You can also follow the same process if you plan to make new curtains as well. Simply hem both sides and the bottom of the curtain panel, and then fold over the top by one inch or less (however much room is needed to use the rod). Slide the lining beneath the top fold and pin in place, and then you will be able to sew the lining inside the curtain.
Blackout window panels are an alternative to curtain linings that do not require any sewing or ironing. Blackout window panels attach to the edges of the interior window frame using clips, hook-and-loop closures, or other fasteners; adhesives can rip paint off the wall. Make sure the panel is flush with the window; otherwise outside light may enter the room.
Additional Tuck Resources
For more information about methods of reducing light and noise in your bedroom and maintaining a comfortable temperature, please visit the following Tuck pages: