Choosing the right curtains – Blackout, Insulated, Darkening, Filtering

There is more to curtains than just hanging down the window sides looking good. Some can actually fulfill some very useful functions like insulating the room and blocking out light, both street lights, and sunlight. There are several options though that can work, and which you choose depends on how much light you want to be blocked and what other functions you might want from them. Here we will look at blackout curtains, insulated curtains, room darkening curtains, and light filtering curtains.

The 4 main options and what they do

Light filtering – These type of window treatments filter out the least light as they are made from a semi-sheer fabric so light is filtered but does come in. However, some owners use these along with blackout curtains. That way you get the option of having a light open room or a dark one depending on the time of day and which you have open or drawn.

Insulated – These are next in terms of keeping light out. The room will be darker than with light filtering shades but some still comes in. What is interesting about this option though is that they also reduce the drafts coming in, and how much heat escapes the home and also insulate against some noise too.

Room darkening – These keep a room darker than insulated but still not as dark as blackout shades. They are made up of 3 polyester layers in panels and are often used in media rooms or bedrooms.

Blackout curtains – These have a lining made from a special material that blocks nearly all incoming light, some as much as 99% in fact. These are the best if you want real darkness in a room but also have the advantages of offering some insulation on both heat and sound too. If you want to protect furnishings and furniture from sun fading these are a good choice. These curtains are great for shift workers trying to sleep in the day, napping babies and young children struggling to sleep when the sun is up. They also offer complete privacy so a nice choice in rooms where you change clothes or get undressed.


The type you choose depends on what you want to do in that room and whether light outside affects your sleep. What is good about insulated or blackout shades is that they also offer the benefit if saving money on energy bills. They keep the home warmer in winter, and cooler in the summer so heating and air condition costs are a little less. They also offer you a chance to have less of an impact on the environment since you are being more energy efficient.

If you really love the curtains you already have, that does not stop you from enjoying the benefits of layering, insulating or having blackouts. You can take the curtains you have and line them with the right fabric yourself, or have someone do it for you.