ROOM DARKENING VS BLACKOUT VS DIMOUT CURTAINS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
No matter how smitten you are by a cheery sunlit ambiance, at times you need a primitive cave. Like when you want to make the most of a movie night or a romantic candlelight dinner. Or when your little one is wide awake at naptime.
Certain rooms benefit from a moody dark setting such as your bedroom, media room, or nursery. Curtains prevent sunlight from entering these spaces, but there is more than one light-blocking option to choose from. In this blog post from our expert drapery stylists, explore the differences between various options so you can make the right choice for your needs.
‘Blackout curtains’, ‘room-darkening curtains’, and ‘dimout curtains’ are terms used interchangeably in the world of drapery, but they are not one and the same. Technically, ‘room darkening’ simply describes the function or benefit of the drapery fabric – while ‘blackout’ and ‘dimout’ are types of fabrics with varying degrees of light-blocking abilities.
However, the industry as well as clients increasingly refer to ‘dimout’ fabrics as ‘room darkening’ fabrics while reserving the term ‘blackout’ for the most effective light-blocking variety of drapery fabrics.
Before we distinguish them in further detail, let’s understand their similarities and the many tempting traits that make us their fans.
Order custom dimout and blackout curtains from Spiffy Spools online in any size. Pick from a wide variety of fabrics and patterns!
Benefits of Room Darkening Blackout & Dimout Curtains
Blackout and dimout drapery fabrics are chemically treated fabrics that can combat light and heat very effectively. They are thicker (yet not bulky) than average drapery fabrics.
Today you can get both blackout and dimout curtains in a variety of colors ranging from snow white to jet black. And if you are pattern-obsessed, be assured that you will have no dearth of choice there as well.
While there are differences between room-darkening blackout and dimout curtains, they both share the following key benefits:
- BLOCK SUNLIGHT: The thick weave of the fabric and the specially coated back does not permit light from penetrating through. If the curtains make seamless contact with the walls from every side, light cannot enter at all.
- REDUCE EXTERNAL NOISES: Sound waves are deflected by these curtains and hence external noises can be curbed substantially. Internal sounds like those of creaking floors or humming appliances are muffled.
- PROVIDE PRIVACY: Since light cannot pass through these curtains, it is impossible to tell which room is lit and therefore occupied. Not a shadow appears on the curtains for outsiders to guess what’s happening beyond. If dressing your windows for privacy is the goal, there’s nothing better than these curtains.
- REGULATE TEMPERATURE: The curtains help in keeping your home warmer in winter by blocking the cold air from entering in, and the heat produced by the heaters from escaping. They help in keeping the room cooler in summer by blocking the hot air from entering in, and the cold air generated by your cooler from leaving the room. This way, they help to maintain the room temperature and may save you almost thirty percent on your power bills.
- IMPROVE SLEEP QUALITY: In a quiet, dark, and temperature-regulated ambiance, it is easier to fall into a deep sleep with minimum effort. Quality sleep in turn translates to good health, well-being, and higher productivity. If you are thinking of getting blackout curtains for nursery, this should be your biggest incentive since the dark room will help your baby sleep through the night, letting you catch some rest too!
While these positive traits are shared by the blackout and dimout drapes, the degree to which they perform is where they differ.
Blackout Curtains vs Dimout Curtains
Blackout curtains block light almost entirely from entering the room. Dimout curtains resist light penetration to a substantial degree but do not make the room look ‘pitch dark’. So, the primary difference between dimout curtains and blackout curtains is the level of light that they block. And here are the details:
Blackout curtains are typically designed to eliminate 95-100% light. They are made of two or three interwoven blackout layers on thick fabrics. The thick fabric, super-tight weave, and the foam backing together block light from penetrating.
Depending on the manufacturing process, blackout fabrics can have two or three layers of coatings. And they are accordingly classified at two pass or three pass fabrics.
Blackout fabrics created through the two-pass method have two layers of coating and typically appear black on the rear side.
Blackout fabrics produced by the three-pass method have three layers of coating, appear white (or any other light color) on the rear side, and block higher degree of light than two-pass method fabrics.
So, if your goal is to achieve close to complete darkness in your space, blackout curtains are the exact option you need. Check out the product description and also inspect first hand, if possible, whether the fabric fits your light control requirements.
Dimout curtains usually block lower levels (anywhere from 70% to 90%) of light than blackout curtains. How much light will be blocked exactly will vary from fabric to fabric based on the thickness of the yarn, type of weave, color, and exact process of manufacturing.
Dimout fabrics are made through a combination of materials and processes that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. While the details might vary, what is common is that a thick tight-woven fabric is coated with acrylic or foam-based compounds. Some also apply a PVC coating for additional light blockage.
Dimout curtains offer a balance between the total privacy of non-sheer curtains and the total darkness of blackout curtains. You can expect your room to appear significantly darker when the curtains are closed, but you may still see a light glow coming through the material.
If you’re looking to reduce the amount of light in a room but don’t want to eliminate it entirely, dimout curtains are a great choice. Dimouts let you enjoy the benefit of muffling external noises without having to go for pitch-black darkness, which is perfect if you are trying to get rid of distractions and improve study room homework productivity for your child.
Since light and heat are two expressions of the same energy, it is not surprising that the curtains can repel heat only to the extent that they resist light. Hence, it is right to conclude that blackout curtains are more energy efficient than dimout curtains and that 100% blackouts are the most efficient of all.
When shopping for blackout and dimout curtains, the only way to know one from the other is through the product description. Blackout fabrics are typically sold with the ‘100% blackout’ tag. Whereas, dimout fabrics are marked as ‘xx% blackout’. For example, a drapery fabric may be tagged as 70% blackout which means that it is a ‘dimout’ fabric that will block light to that extent. Do not be shy to ask for details of the product from the seller to be doubly sure of what you’re signing in for.
‘Blackout’ Curtains or ‘Dimout’ Curtains? How to Choose?
Before making your decision as to whether you should purchase blackout curtains or room-darkening dimout curtains, take the time to assess your needs. Depending on the purpose of the room and your lifestyle, one option may work better for your needs than the other.
Choose Blackout Curtains If:
- You enjoy total darkness as you sleep. Blackout curtains will block all light even as the sun starts rising, helping you to get longer, deeper sleep.
- You work night shifts. If you need to rest during the height of the day, you certainly don’t want any sunlight to be present in your room. Blackout curtains will prevent this from occurring while reducing external noises, allowing you to enjoy undisturbed sleep even during daytime.
- You have an infant or small child. Once the kids are tucked away in bed, you want to make sure they stay asleep! Blackout nursery curtains are a great way to create the ideal sleep environment for your little ones.
- You want to darken a media room. Have a home theater, game room, or other media room you want to keep dark? Blackout curtains are the perfect choice.
- You live in a camper RV. Blackout curtains provide maximum protection from the extreme weather conditions you might face during your travels. They also provide foolproof privacy which is very precious when your RV is parked on a busy street or left vacant until you return.
Choose Room Darkening Dimout Curtains If:
- Partial light adds to the function of the room. For instance, you may choose to hang room darkening curtains in your office to cancel the glare of your computer. Or, perhaps you have a man cave that would benefit from a darker aesthetic but could still use some minimal light to enjoy the space.
- A room in your home gets too warm. Some rooms get more direct sunlight than others. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want that room to be completely dark. Room darkening curtains offer a happy medium by keeping your room cool while still allowing partial light to pass through.
- If pitch darkness is scary. Little children and nyctophobiacs might not love the idea of total darkness but may still want some efficient light blockage to catch a wink. Dimout curtains are just perfect to cater to their needs.
- You want to protect your furniture. Since the sun’s harmful rays are blocked to a high degree, your furniture and soft furnishings will be better protected from the wear and tear of strong sunlight.
READ MORE: HOME THEATER CURTAINS: IDEAS & TIPS
Enhance Functionality with Blackout Lining
Blackout drapes do not always have to be constructed from blackout fabrics on the front as the main face fabric. You can choose a standard, non-blackout drapery fabric and order a blackout lining behind the face fabric to enjoy the same benefits as blackout fabric drapes. The blackout lining can solve several problems and be used in multiple ways, such as –
Instead of Blackout Drapery Fabric: This is a great idea if you failed to find a blackout drapery that exactly fits your design style or color palette. The possibility to line your drapery with blackout fabric expands the styling options exponentially.
Behind a Blackout Drapery Fabric: You can get your curtains stitched of a blackout drapery fabric backed by a blackout lining. Together, they create a more energy-efficient window dressing that enhances the insulation of your home, offering a perfect solution for those dealing with very harsh weather around the year.
Behind a Dimout Drapery Fabric: Another clever way to use blackout lining is behind the dimout drapery. If you’ve fallen for a dimout fabric but actually need a blackout drapery, you can order a blackout lining. Get the desired looks without sacrificing functionality!
So, if you found the blackout lining to be a godsend like we do, it’s time to learn about the ways to optimize their benefits.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Blackout Lining
If achieving a high degree of darkness is a key priority, please keep the following in mind when you select the drapery fabric:
- PICK TIGHT WEVE, MAIN FACE FABRIC: Thick, densely woven fabrics are able to offer additional ‘support’ to the lining in the back. Therefore, the same blackout lining may ‘seem’ to be more effective when used behind main fabrics with thick, tight weaves like velvets and heavier cottons, as compared to when sewn behind a loosely woven linen fabric.
- NO SHEERS: Avoid lining sheer curtains because it defeats the purpose of both fabrics. Neither can the sheers let in abundant light and air, nor does the blackout lining block light effectively without support from the face fabric.
- PALETTE: Similarly, a darker front fabric will add to the lining’s effectiveness. Light fabrics will naturally reflect more light while darker ones will absorb and block.
Spiffy Spools’ blackout linings are available in gray and beige colors. Our linings are stitched with the drapery panels; they are not detachable or available separately.
The goal of complete light control is not achieved by merely selecting the right drapery fabric and/or lining. It goes beyond. In order to cancel light from breaking in at the seams, you need to follow some more steps.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Blackout/Dimout Drapes
Whether you create blackout drapery with blackout/dimout fabric or blackout lining or their combination, these tips will help you cancel light leaks –
- VALANCE: If your decor style permits it, consider adding a board-mounted valance or a wooden pelmet above the window so that light cannot penetrate from above the curtains.
- HEADING STYLE: Opt for a heading style that features no holes and gaps through which light can pass like pinch pleats, rod pockets, or back tabs.
- CLOSE SIDE GAPS: Install return rods so that the curtain will make seamless contact with the wall on the sides. Or, if you have straight poles, use the hook and eye method to close the gap on the sides between the curtains and the wall.
- SCALE AND MEASURE RIGHT: Design the curtains to overlap the window trim by at least 6 inches on all sides of the window. If the situation permits, go for floor-length drapes as some light leakage is inevitable from the bottom with short curtains. If the scale of the window calls for it, go for floor-to-ceiling drapes for maximum light-blocking.
The tour is never quite complete without a few picturesque clicks along the way. And so we are going to give you a peek into our collection for some visual inspiration. Our collection of blackout and dimout fabrics has been curated keeping a wide variety of decor styles in mind so that all find one after their heart.
Spotlight On: ‘Golden Sand’ Blackout Drapes
Did you ever imagine that a drapery that blocks sunlight totally could be designed in such a glossy hue? The sheen of Golden Sand bounces light around accentuating the brightness of a sunny day when you do want light in the room. With a gentle sheen of lovely gold, these drapes add style with function.
Spotlight On: ‘Peeping Pearl’ Blackout Drapes
If you’re looking for a pop of color in a modern print, why not try these drapes depicting a melange of various shades of purple in a stunning watercolor effect? The abstract prints and lovely hues of Peeping Pearl are calming – just the perfect pick for a tastefully designed bedroom that needs to block light out completely for a sweet slumber.
Spotlight On: ‘Cedros’ Dimout Drapes
For a sun-exposed room that needs effective light and heat control, consider these 60% blackout drapes. Designed in a beautiful neutral backdrop with a soft oversized floral print, Cedros is a lovely touch of sophistication you can give to any room. Or, design your baby girl’s room with these if you’re looking for a motif that she’ll most likely never outgrow.
Spotlight On: ‘Bialy’ Dimout Drapes
In case you’re wondering whether you can stick with your obsession with white even as you order light-blocking drapes, this drapery fabric should bust all your myths. Indeed, Bialy sports a spotless white and can still block light substantially. Back it with a blackout lining if you want to kill the light totally.
Spotlight On: ‘Starbunch’ Blackout Drapes
If it’s a chic textured fabric that captures your interest and relays your style evidently, Starbunch may pique your heart. With a marvelous array of embossed stars, this beige drapery is a stunner with understated elegance.
Order Custom Curtains from Spiffy Spools
Does window shopping excite you to get into the actual shopping mode? Jump right in, especially since you now know well the difference between room-darkening dimout curtains and blackout curtains. But if you still have questions, we are just a call away. Whether it’s blackout curtains for a camper RV to make it more private or a media room or bedroom that you want to amp up with the right ambiance, shop blackout and dimout drapes from Spiffy Spools today!