Too much light streaming in through your windows? Need to block out the prying eyes of outsiders? Then it’s best to consider blacking out your windows.
I was interested in learning how to black-out windows, so I got to researching, and eventually I decided that it would be beneficial to document what I was learning in a short article.
In this article, I go through the reasons for blacking out windows, how to apply affordable DIY window black-out solutions, where it’s best to black-out windows, the downsides of blacking out windows, and answers to other relevant questions. When you get to the end of this article, you’ll know how to black-out your windows (residential or commercial) as well as the benefits of doing so.
Why Are Windows Blacked Out?
A variety of reasons compel both home and business owners to black-out their windows, including:
1. Bolstering Privacy
Black-out window treatments, whether DIY or professionally manufactured, are ideal for those who want to ensure total privacy at home. If you don’t want people to know your home, black-out fixtures will help you achieve this end, as they’ll prevent interior light from being seen outside.
While manufactured shades tend to provide more privacy than DIY options, you can make a thick set of black-out shades using material at home for a low cost. Done right, you can achieve the same effect as a professionally manufactured set of shades.
2. Natural Light Control
There are numerous reasons why controlling natural light is important to both homeowners and business owners. For one, if you have antique rugs or old furniture that will fade because of too much sun exposure, being able to control natural light intake is essential.
A lot of sunlight streaming in can also elevate the temperature of a room, especially if there are floor-to-ceiling windows, like those that are found in many modern office buildings.
Being able to control natural light intake is also a priority for those who want to get as much sleep as possible. After all, if too much natural light streams in through your windows in the morning, such may wake you up before your alarm clock has a chance to.
3. Complementing Decor
Black-out shades go wonderfully with a range of decors. Therefore, when you use these shades you get utility without sacrificing visual appeal. Of course if you want the best possible results, you should purchase a professionally manufactured set of black-out shades (as opposed to using a DIY option like cardboard).
What Are Affordable Ways to Black-Out a Window?
Blacking out a window doesn’t have to be a budget-busting task. There are numerous DIY black-out window solutions you can use, including:
Grab the aluminum foil out of the drawer in your kitchen and see how much is needed to cover the window from end to end. It’s best to measure first before rolling out foil, as that way you don’t waste any.
Foil will not let any light through if applied properly; instead, it will reflect it back. Here’s how you can make an effective window black-out solution out of aluminum:
- First, measure the window. When measuring, keep in mind that it’s better to have more tinfoil than less.
- Once you have your measurements, cut out a tinfoil square that’s the size of the window and then fix it to the window (or the wall that encases the window). It’s good to use masking tape here, as it holds up well and it won’t strip the paint if you have to remove it later.
If you want to ensure total light blocking, use two layers of tinfoil.
Note: It’s best to not use tinfoil window coverings on windows that face busy intersections, as the reflective quality may impaired drivers and lead to traffic accidents.
Black fabric provides the black-out quality, yet it’s not reflective, so you don’t run the risks that are associated with using tinfoil. The trick is to get a thick fabric, as the thin stuff tends to be so fine that it lets in tiny streams of light.
Another good thing about fabric is that it’s cheap: Here’s how you can make a DIY fabric window cover:
- Measure to see how much fabric is required.
- Cut out how much fabric you’ll need.
- Tape it to the window using heavy duty tape.
Note: If you want more coverage, use two layers of fabric; you can even sew these together to make a more effective solution that’s easy to put up and take down.
Cardboard is not only an effective solution for blacking out a window—it’s also inexpensive; you may even be able to get it for free at your local grocery store.
To install the cardboard solution, first measure to see how much you need. Then cut the cardboard out, and leave a little extra so there’s no chance of light streaming through. You should use heavy duty tape to keep the cardboard in place for the long term.
Note: It’s best to use one big piece of cardboard instead of combining two or three pieces, as this way you prevent cracks through which light can shine.
How Do You Black-Out a Large Commercial Glass Window?
Have you ever seen large black-out windows in or outside a commercial building? It’s most likely what you saw was a window utilizing a black-out window film. This is a 0% film, meaning these films work both ways: you can’t see outside and you can’t see inside.
Black-out films are preferred over painting and other black-out solutions in a corporate setting, in large part because they look clean and installation tends to be simple.
What Rooms Utilize Blacked-Out Windows?
A range of rooms can utilize blacked-out windows, including:
Some individuals use black-out windows in a bedroom to prevent natural light from entering in. They also ensure 100% privacy. Moreover, if you don’t want to have to open and shut shades every morning and evening, then blacking out the window may be the right move for you.
Many bathrooms nowadays utilize black-out windows to ensure complete privacy. Bathrooms with these windows are commonly found in high-rises both residential and commercial.
In a studio, it’s essential to have complete darkness so film develops properly. While black-out shades could be utilized in a studio, these take up more space, and considering studios are usually small, it makes more sense to have black-out film windows.
In a conference room where important business is being discussed, blacked-out windows ensure prying eyes don’t peer in. These windows also prevent those who are in a meeting from getting distracted by what’s going on outside.
Where Do Window Black-Out Options Fall Short?
As is the case with anything, black-out window solutions are not all upside. Below are some notable downsides associated with both DIY and professionally manufactured black-out window options:
Costs More to Light a Home or Business
With no access to natural light, it’ll cost more to artificially light the home or office. Therefore, putting in black-out films is not a good move if you don’t like a high electric bill.
Damaging the Window Pane
The black-out film can damage the window. Specifically, it can cause one side of the window to absorb more heat while the other side stays cool. This contrast may lead to a crack or shattering.
Eliminates the Benefits of Being Able to See Outside
Since you can’t see out of a blacked-out window, you can’t take in the mental health benefits that are associated with viewing greenery and the world outside your home. This is largely why homeowners go for black-out shades over black-out films; you can control when you want the black-out feature and when you want to have a window into the world outside.
Qualities to Look for When Shopping for Black-Out Shades
When shopping for black-out shades, you should look for products that are sewn to ensure 100% blockage of sunlight and UV rays. There are also soundproof black-out shades, and as far as these are concerned—the heavier the better. One extra layer of fabric can turn a shade that doesn’t block much noise into a soundproof shade.
The shades should also be able to stand up well in both hot and cold climates. Moreover, they should be built-to-last and machine washable so you can get many years of use out of them, no matter where they’re placed.
To summarize, you can use DIY options to black-out your windows or purchase a professionally manufactured product—like black-out shades or a black-out film—to accomplish this end. The good news is that there are a range of options on the market, and there’s likely something for your preferences and budget.
Just remember to take proper measurements first, as no matter what kind of black-out solution you have, you’ll need the right measurements to ensure the solution blocks out 100% of natural light. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or thoughts on what was discussed here!