Blackout curtains can be a priceless investment for anyone trying to get some uninterrupted sleep in the morning. Instead of allowing the sun to shine through, these window treatments can block up to 99 percent of light, keeping the room dark and protected from daytime brightness and allowing you to snooze.
In general, blackout curtains are an ideal choice for bedrooms, nurseries, home theaters or any room in the house where you want to limit exposure to natural light. The term blackout curtain often refers to drapes made of a double-lined, tightly woven fabric designed to block out light completely, explained Beth Halpern Brown of Beth Brown Interiors, an interior designer and home decor expert in Atlanta. However, there are other benefits besides keeping the morning sun out of your eyes, including :
- Absorbing outside noises
- Insulating the room from drafts or heat
- Protecting furniture and decor throughout the room from ultraviolet rays, which cause fading
How to shop for blackout curtains
Brown explained that what makes for the “perfect” blackout curtains for your room depends on various elements, including their fabric, required maintenance, style and your price point. “It’s important to think about how these curtains are being used and where they’ll be located in the home to evaluate what works best and what makes sense for your long-term lifestyle needs,” she said.
But it’s also important to read the fine print before making your final purchase to avoid potential disappointment. “Be sure that you see the word ‘blackout’ in the description as opposed to room darkening or light filtering,” said Susan Peters, owner and interior designer for 9108 Designs. “These other two options may not block as much of the light from your room.”
Best drapery style
Blackout curtains come in a variety of drapery styles, including:
- Grommet: rings or holes in the fabric that the curtain rod goes through
- Ring: Fabric panels that hang from rings at the top attached either by clips or smaller grommets.
- Single-rod pocket: A channel is sewn into the fabric that allows the curtain rod to slide through.
- Fabric loop: As the name suggests, small loops of fabric are sewn to the top of the panel for the curtain rod.
“Using draperies with rings is much more user-friendly, and if you want blackout lined drapes, you will likely open and close them every day,” said Pamela O’Brien, principal interior designer at Pamela Hope Designs. “Rod pockets and grommets are more difficult to open and close while rings glide along a rod easily.” She also notes that with blackout lining, drapery can be rather heavy so sewn-in or at least pinned-in rings are best.
Blackout curtains function best when they minimize light leaks, obviously, explained Lesley Myrick, owner and principal designer at Lesley Myrick Interior Design and a former project manager at a couture drapery workroom. “So look for curtains that are wider than your windows when closed and also higher than your windows,” she said. “This extra coverage outside of the actual windowpane will help create a true blackout feel.”
Blackout curtain fabric versus liners
Although some curtain panels are made from blackout fabric, Myrick noted, she’s found the best results come from curtains with built-in blackout liners. “Because blackout-lined curtains are made with more fabric, they’re heavier — which means that proper drapery hardware to handle the weight is essential,” she said.
However, you can also opt to buy a specific liner made to completely block out light. “This is accomplished through a coating that’s applied to the fabric and blocks the little pores in the weave,” added Brown. “This material is thick and offers thermal insulation benefits, blocks out noise and creates ultimate privacy.”
Best blackout curtains to shop in 2021
There are countless blackout curtain options on the market across styles and price points. The experts we consulted recommended a few standouts for quality, performance and style.
Best blackout curtains overall: West Elm
Available in three different sizes, these simple 100-percent polyester curtains with pole pockets can be hung on their own or layered behind a more festive material to make them blackout. Sometimes you just need a straightforward, effective, and tried and true choice, explained Brown. “This selection accomplishes all of your needs for a beautifully designed blackout curtain that’s still reasonably priced,” she said. “This dense drape blocks light, absorbs noise and insulates against heat and cold. By blocking sunlight, it also protects curtains, rugs and furniture from fading.”
Best affordable blackout curtains: Amazon Basics
Instead of a stiff liner, these 100-percent polyester blackout curtains are made of a triple-weave fabric and feature two panels, as well as 1.5-inch grommets. They are also machine-washable, come with Velcro ties to pull them back and are made in an Oeko-TEX standard factory. “This is a super economical choice that ships quickly and comes in a multitude of colors and patterns,” said Brown. “Given the fabric type, they do a nice job of blocking outside noise and insulating rooms for energy efficiency.” Plus, with their reasonable price point and range of styles, she noted that they’re an ideal choice for rooms that change often, like kids’ rooms, playrooms or those who are renting.
Best high-end blackout curtains: The Shade Store
For buyers looking to spend a bit more on their drapes and curtains, Brown explained that The Shade Store is a great resource to customize the exact type of blackout curtain for any room in your home. “With over eight drapery styles and more than 650 fabric materials, you can basically create whatever type of blackout curtain you have in mind,” she said. However, “given its focus on customization, The Shade Store will cost more than your average home goods or big box retailer stores.”
Best style blackout curtains: PBteen
Bring an edgy feel to your room with these pure cotton canvas woven curtains complete with delicate gold stud trim and pole pockets. They require dry cleaning only and are available individually or in a set of two — and come in three colors. “These studded blackout curtains are insanely chic,” said Myrick. “They’d bring a little edge and polish to a room.”
And Peters agrees with PBteen’s combination of quality and design details. “Don’t let the ‘teen’ part fool you, this curtain is appropriate for all ages,” she added. “Pottery Barn across the board makes some amazing blackout curtains.”
Best blackout curtains for the bedroom: NICETOWN
For your bedroom, these thermal insulated drapes will block up to 99 percent of light, according to the brand. Available in 24 fade-resistant colors and ten sizes, these wrinkle-free blackout curtains come with two panels per package to accommodate various styles and window sizes. Plus, more than 60,300 reviewers on Amazon have given these machine-washable curtains a 4.7-star average rating.
Best blackout curtains for kids rooms: Pottery Barn Kids
Many of the experts we consulted agree that Pottery Barn Kids offers adorable blackout curtain options for a nursery or child’s room. “They have really set a high bar for the style of blackout curtains by selling an abundance of unique, stylish curtains in various colors,” said Peters. One of her favorites is this cotton weave curtain with four-in-one top treatment so you can pick from pole pocket, belt loop, clip rings or drapery rings depending on the look you want. “The ruffles add some beautiful detail to the bottom of these girly curtains.” However, if you’d like something more gender-neutral, they are also available with just a simple pleat design.
Best blackout curtain liner: Rose Home Fashion
A creative way to bring both function and unique style to your windows is using a blackout curtain liner under your regular curtain. “With this feature, you can buy any curtains that fit your style and pair them with a blackout curtain or blackout curtain liner,” said Peters. This insulating blackout liner comes with two panels and drapery rings, is machine washable and blocks out up to 99 percent of light, according to the brand.