Privacy, room darkening, and blackout are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably when talking about window shades. But these terms mean different things and knowing those differences can save you from disappointment once the shades are installed.

Privacy/Room Darkening
Privacy shade fabrics, also known as room darkening shades, provide an opaque covering over a window opening. While providing privacy and a degree of room darkening, they allow small strips of light (sometimes called “halos”) to be visible from each side of the shade. There are several ways to maximize the effect of privacy/room darkening shades.

  • Outside mount: Mount the shades so the fabric extends a few inches beyond each side of the window opening.
    • “L” Angles: These vinyl or aluminum open angles attach to each side of the window, further reducing visible light.
    • “U” Channels: Insert the edges of the shade fabric into extruded aluminum channels attached on each side of the window. Adding channel liners makes this one of the most efficient ways of reducing light leakage without a total blackout solution.

Blackout Solutions
Blackout fabric is a misnomer. Total blackout or light blocking can’t be achieved solely through fabric choice: it’s the result of an entire properly-installed system that includes a privacy fabric. To achieve a compete blackout solution with window shades requires the proper installation of a light blocking system. A system like our LightBloc ZIP includes headbox, fabric retention channels, and a weighted hembar to keep out as much light as possible. There’s also a “zipper”-style fabric retention system on each edge of the fabric panel to keep it in place and provide a complete blackout system.

But it takes more. Proper installation is the key to attempting a blackout solution. Shims and caulking may be required to make sure the window opening is completely square and fits the system snugly. More caulking may then be required to eliminate the possibility of light leaks around the hardware’s interface with the mounting surface.

To explore all of our privacy/room darkening options, click here for our fabrics page.

For more information on the LightBloc ZIP, click here.