When shopping for window shades, you may have wondered about the exact meaning of terms like opacity, openness, light-filtering, room-darkening, and blackout. These all refer to how much light a shade's fabric will allow in or block. We'll help you understand the meaning and find the choice that's right for your home.
If you’ve been shopping around for window shades, you’ve probably encountered terms like opacity or openness light-filtering, room-darkening, and blackout…and you may be wondering what they all mean. All of these terms simply refer to the amount of light a roller shade or solar shade lets through. This can affect not only the lighting and temperature in the room, but also visibility -- from both the inside and outside.
Blinds.com can help you find the right shade to suit your style and meet your needs in terms of the differences in light and visibility. Let’s start with standard roller shades. A light-filtering shade, when closed, gently diffuses light throughout the room, giving a soft, warm glow. To achieve complete darkness, you’ll need a blackout shade, which completely blocks out light. Blackout shades are ideal if you like to sleep in, or if you have a media room or other area where total darkness is desired. One thing to emphasize about blackout roller shades is that there will be light gaps on the sides of the shade, especially if you mount inside frame like we recommend. To eliminate light gaps, we suggest adding light gap blockers. These are strips with a sticky backing that you can easily adhere to block the gaps and prevent the light from shining through. Most Blinds.com blackout shades offer light blockers as an upgrade. If your shade doesn’t offer them, you can purchase them separately.
With varying degrees of light control, roller shades offer privacy when closed, and you’ll have to open your shade to see out. That’s not the case with solar shades, though. The appeal of solar shades is that they block sunlight and still allow you to see out, even when closed. But there is a tradeoff between visibility and light blockage. So how do you find a balance that suits your needs? It’s all about the openness percentage of the shade, also known as its opacity. Blinds.com offers openness ranging from 1% to 14%, with the most popular customer choice being 5%. This percentage refers to the amount of light the shade lets through. The lower percentage the more light the shade will block, and the less visibility you’ll have.
Consider a low openness percentage if you want to reduce light and glare in the room, and protect your interior from harmful UV rays. As you move higher in percentage the shade will allow in more and more light, and afford an increasingly clear view out. You may want a high openness shade if your primary concern is having an unobstructed view while still getting some of the heat-blocking advantages of a solar shade. Odds are you’ll fall somewhere in the middle, where there’s an even balance between light blockage and visibility. Keep in mind that a good view out also means a good view in, so if privacy is a concern, you’ll want to stick with a lower percentage. Solar shades also do NOT provide nighttime privacy. What you see outside during the day is what others will see inside at night, so you'll want to consider this if privacy is something you desire.
Blinds.com offers a variety of openness percentages so you can get the shade that’s perfect for your needs. We recommend ordering free samples of different percentages, and holding them up to your window to compare their effects. Once you’ve found your shade, Blinds.com makes it easy to customize your product and complete your order. And if you need a little extra guidance between choosing light-filtering, room-darkening, and blackout roller shades…or choosing the right openness percentage for a solar shade, call 1-800-505-1905 for free design help from one of our expert window covering designers. We’ll make sure you get the perfect shade solution for your home, at a price you’ll love!