Let’s start by looking at what blockout curtains and blockout blinds are, and how they differ from other types of curtains and blinds.
Very simply, blockout curtains and blinds are designed to fulfill a specific range of functions. They are manufactured using different materials to essentially provide the best options for dealing with issues such as privacy, noise, light control and room temperature.
Whilst both blockout curtains and blockout blinds provide solutions to these issues, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Obviously any choice of blockout window covering needs to work with your existing home decor, and should of course be visually appealing. However let’s first explore the practical side in more detail to help determine which product may be best suited to your needs.
Privacy is generally the single most important reason for choosing a blockout curtain or blockout blind.
We all need a level of privacy in our homes, whether it’s for a bedroom, a bathroom or maybe just to create a private space that’s protected from the view of the street or neighbours.
Blockout and fully lined curtains are a perfect way to maximise privacy. It is easy to extend curtains well beyond the window opening by selecting and installing the correct tracking solution. Not only does this give more options from a design and decor perspective, it also ensures that maximum privacy is achieved.
There are a large number of blockout fabrics available for both roller blinds and roman blinds, all which will create a privacy screen to the outside when closed.
It’s important to consider the placement of a blockout blind though when privacy is of paramount importance. If a blockout blind is to be fitted into a window recess, there will always be a slight gap (upto 25mm with roller blinds) between the edge of the fabric and the window frame. Whilst only small, this may not provide adequate privacy depending on the room and its outlook.
Blockout curtains and blockout blinds need to deliver the level of light control you require. This may seem like an obvious statement, however we all have different preferences for the amount of light entering our rooms, particularly when it comes to bedrooms.
Some people enjoy the early morning sun providing a glimmer of light through their window coverings, whilst for others any light coming in can be enough to disturb their sleep – a real issue for night shift workers that need to sleep during the day.
All curtain fabrics offer a level of light control depending on their density and weave. However true blockout fabrics have a coating applied to the rear during manufacturing which totally blocks light from coming through the fabric. Alternatively a fully lined curtain has a blockout lining attached to the rear of the face fabric.
Both curtain types will prevent light penetrating the fabric, however for complete light blockout in a room, consideration has to be given to things such as curtain length, fitting location, curtain heading, end returns and pelmets.
Blockout roller blinds have a coated backing to prevent light penetration. This means that the front and back of a roller blind may be different colours – the blockout coating is normally white. This doesn’t create an issue if the blind is to be forward rolled, however if the blind is to be back rolled, the white coating will be on show across the top of the blind.
Installing a forward rolled blind on an architrave would leave a gap between the fabric and the architrave of upto 70mm for light to enter the room. Alternatively if the forward rolled blind is installed in a window recess, there will always be a slight gap (upto 25mm) between the edge of the fabric and the window frame. The best light control option for a roller blind is for it to be back rolled and fitted to the architrave.
Windows allow heat into our homes through the warm summer months, but allow it to leave our homes at the cooler times of the year.
Installing blockout curtains and blockout blinds enables us to manage this movement of heat to our advantage. Blocking out sunlight and heat in summer helps to keep our homes cooler, whilst covering our windows during winter prevents heat being lost from inside the home and helps to minimse heating costs.
The best solution for minimising heat loss through a window is a fully lined curtain. The double layer combination of a face fabric and blockout lining provides superior insulation qualities. To maximise the benefit, the curtain should ideally be installed to provide coverage beyond the window opening in all directions.
Blockout coated fabrics can also be useful in reducing heat loss, although not to the same extent as a lined curtain. They can however provide excellent heat blocking qualities during the summer months to minimise heat entering the home.
Blockout roller blinds require much less fabric than a curtain, as they create more of a screen, only utilising the amount of fabric necessary to cover a space. Less fabric means less insulating qualities, but this doesn’t mean that blockout blinds can’t be effective in helping to maintain room termperature.
Blockout blinds are particularly effective in summer time when there is a need to reduce heat entering a room. When correctly installed they can help trap the heat between the window and the rear of the fabric. As with curtains, the greater the area beyond the window opening that the fabric covers, the greater the insulating benefits.
All fabrics can help with noise reduction. From dedicated accoustic fabrics, through to simple roller blind fabrics, they can all play a part in absorbing unwanted sound and echo.
Sound absorption is a measure of how much energy is removed from a sound wave as it passes through a fabric. Imagine a scale of zero to one with zero being no sound absorption and 1 being complete sound absorption. A surface such as concrete would be a zero offering no absorption, whilst an accoustic fabric could provide absorption of around 0.66
Obviously from the information above, a lined curtain made with an accoustic fabric will offer the best sound absorption and noise reduction capabilities.
However as stated, all blockout curtain fabrics can offer a level of noise reduction. As a basic rule this depends on the fabric, with heavier, more dense fabrics offering the best results. To compare curtain fabrics, look for their respective Grams per Square Metre (GSM).
As roller blinds are typically made from much lighter fabrics, they offer much lower levels of sound absorption than a blockout curtain. However a blockout roller blind can still have a positive impact on the level of sound reverberation and echo within a room.
Blockout roman blinds as an alternative can be made from more dense, heavier fabrics, and so can assist more with sound reduction.
The above points are key reasons to choose blockout curtains or blockout blinds. However there are also a few other considerations to take into account when choosing the ideal blockout solution.
As a general rule curtains will require, and use more space. They sit proud of the window or wall they are covering, and take up floor space if they are full length. They also require space to “stack back” into when they are in the open position.
Blinds on the other hand create more of a screen, and sit closer to the window or wall they are covering. When opened they either roll up or fold away so as to minimise the amount of space they take up.
Different fabrics have different cleaning requirements to ensure their longevity, and to keep them looking their best.
Low maintenance fabrics like synthetics can generally be machine washed providing they are not lined. This is great for people with allergies or pets who need to clean their curtains more regularly. High maintenance fabrics, or any curtains which are pleated, are best dry cleaned so tha they maintain their colour and shape.
All fabrics benefit from regular vacuuming to remove surface dust, which if left can lead to deterioration of the fabric.
Style and Decor
Whilst privacy, noise reduction etc. are all good reasons to choose blockout curtains or blockout blinds, the most important choice is to find something that you absolutely love the look of, and will enhance the style, decor and practicality of your home.
Fortunately both blockout curtains and blockout blinds are available in a wide range of fabrics, colours and finishes, to make it easier to find the perfect solution for your home.
Cost always has be to a consideration, irrespective of the budget you are working to.
Blockout curtains are a premium product and even with the wide range of fabric price points on offer, they will always be a more expensive solution than blockout blinds.
Need more help ?
Selecting the product and fabric for your interior is the key to getting your window furnishings right. At Evans Curtains and Blinds we know how important this decision is. With years of experience we can guide you through each of the above important factors, to find the perfect window covering to suit your style, functional requirements and budget.
Wondering what the best window furnishing options are for specific rooms in your home? See our comprehensive window furnishing room guides:
Get in touch with us today and move one step closer to bringing the perfect custom made curtain to your home.