Key Considerations for Blackout Shades Buyers
When shopping for blackout shades, first-time buyers should take the following factors into account.
- Price: Most blackout shades do not cost more than $30 per panel, although high-end models can much more expensive. Please note that some sellers price them per square foot; the average shade costs between $2 and $6 per square foot.
- Cord or Cordless: Shade cords can pose a strangulation hazard for small kids and pets. For this reason, most blackout shades have built-in pull-down clips instead – but buyers who prefer a cordless model should check the packaging just in case.
- Material: Blackout shades made from fabric tend to be much more durable than those made from paper – and this durability often drives up the price-point. Vinyl shades are also more durable than most paper shades, but do not cost as much as fabric shades.
- Opacity/Darkening Level: Light-filtering shades bring a pleasant dimness to most rooms, while darkening shades will block most light. Those who desire total darkness should opt for true blackout shades.
- Pre-Cut or Trim at Home: Precut shades are more convenient, but they can be a hassle to return or replace if the buyer’s measurements are not completely accurate. Precut shades also take longer to ship, in most cases. Shades that are trimmed at home may be more labor-intensive, but this may be the most suitable option for buyers with irregular window sizes.
- Installation: Rod-and-screw installation is more stable, though it requires making holes around the window surface and small parts can get lost easily. Adhesive installation does not require any small parts, but owners need to apply the shades correctly the first time to preserve adhesive strength.
- Color: Although blackout shades come in a wide range of colors, it’s no surprise that shades made from solid-black materials provide the most light blockage.
- Warranty: As noted above, many blackout shades do not come with a warranty. Those that do are usually covered for three years or less.
Other Sleep Strategies for Light-Related Issues
In addition to blackout shades, sleepers can limit light exposure and optimize their bedroom conditions through one of these other methods:
Wear a Sleep Mask
The term sleep mask refers to a lightweight barrier used to cover the eyes. Most sleep masks are made of fabric and have an elastic band that fits around the back of the head. Some models are also padded with foam for added cushioning and comfort.
Sleep masks may not prevent light from entering a bedroom (which can affect circadian rhythm if no curtains or blinds are present, but most masks mimic darkness fairly well and can significantly improve sleep onset and maintenance. They make great travel accessories, as well, due to their light and compact shape. For more information, please visit our Best Sleep Masks guide.
Try Light Therapy
People who live in areas with minimal darkness during part or all of the year are susceptible to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This condition, which occurs due to irregular circadian rhythms, can lead to depressive symptoms. Many alleviate the symptoms of this condition using a light therapy box, a device that emits high concentrations of bright, artificial light that mimics natural sunlight.
Although preferences vary, most sleepers seem to prefer 20 to 60 minutes of exposure to bright white light. To learn more about these devices, check out our Light Therapy & Best SAD Lamps guide.
Invest in a Wake-Up Light
Wake-up lights are designed to emit a soft light that gradually becomes brighter. They can be programmed as alarms, providing the brightest light levels at the owner’s preset time.
Most emit a bright white or yellow light; by mimicking the natural sunrise, the lights can improve the sleeper’s circadian rhythm. For many, wake-up lights also offer a more pleasant waking experience than audible alarms. Check out our Best Wake-Up Lights guide for more information.
For more information about blackout fixtures and other methods of optimizing bedroom light levels, please visit the following pages on Tuck.com.