You are in the market for new curtains and you wish to block out outside sound. However, you may be having trouble understanding the difference between blackout and soundproof curtains and what their capabilities are.
Do blackout curtains block sound? Blackout curtains are meant to block light. The blackout curtains do not block sound like a soundproof curtain does.
While there are actual soundproof curtains that can remove the sound of noise, it is still possible to block the sound considerably with blackout curtains. We will discuss the differences.
Can Sound Pass-Through Blackout Curtains?
Blackout curtains were not meant to block out sound. Blackout curtains can block noise, but the curtains would have to be thicker than normal to see any results. If your home is or has any of the following decor issues, then it will be harder to block sound with blackout curtains:
- Tile Flooring
- Minimalist Decor
- Wood Flooring
- Little Furniture
The more items you have in a room, the less echo you will hear. Having carpeted floors will certainly help your space to absorb sound as well.
It can be confusing at times as blackout curtains can also be claimed as soundproof too. However, the noise will still sound slightly muffled as you may not be able to make out every word or car noise that comes across your window, it can still be heard.
While blackout and soundproof curtains can be seen as the same, what is the difference between them and regular curtains?
What Is the Difference Between the Three Curtain Types?
Even though sometimes it is hard to spot the difference with curtains, there are a few key elements that will let you know which one you need for your space. How the curtains are designed and installed distinctly are also an important factor in their contrast.
The following curtain types are the curtains we will be examining:
- Blackout Curtains
- Soundproof Curtains
- Regular Curtains
There are some blackout curtain manufacturers that boast their curtains to have a 99% blockage of light. These curtains can help many retire early and stay asleep longer should they have overnight work shifts. These curtains can also help those with a health problem that stems from a lack of sleep.
While blackout curtains are not considered soundproof, there are brands that claim that their blackout curtains can reduce up to 7 decibels. However, be cautious as most blackout curtains do not hold back sound as well as soundproof.
Reduce the light and trapping heat is what blackout curtains do best. Since so much heat can be lost as it travels through the window, if you place a blackout curtain there it will slow down the travel of heat. The blockage of heat can help reduce your heating bill as the heat can now stay in your home, especially during winter months.
In addition to blocking heat, while the blackout curtains block sunlight they are also blocking UV rays from attacking your furniture and your floors. This helps to prevent sun damage and discoloration as time progresses.
Soundproof curtains will do the job that you want them to do and that is to reduce the noise from outside significantly. Without having to screw different pieces into your walls to install a soundproof product, you can simply install soundproof curtains.
Soundproof curtains are meant to be installed just like regular curtains. The key trick is that soundproof curtains come past the edges of the window to sort of incase it. There are Velcro straps to certain brands that you can stick to the edge of your windows for the curtains to catch and stay in place.
The design of soundproof curtains is interesting as well and is what you are looking for when it comes to blocking out sounds. Soundproof curtains are made of a vinyl layer that has been flattened into a thick fabric.
The materials need to be thick enough to reduce noise and this in turn makes them heavy. To receive a high level of noise cancellation from the soundproof curtains, they are built to reach the ceiling and the floor.
Most soundproof curtains have an STC Rating. An STC Rating is meant to tell you how much sound can be absorbed by the product that you are using. Soundproof curtains have an STC Rating of 26. Most ratings are done between 0 and 60, with 60 being the best. This means if a product you are using has an STC Rating score of 60, it has an excellent sense of soundproof, with a score of 0 being the worst.
Regular curtains are the most popular curtains as you will see them in almost every home. This type of window treatment is meant to be viewed and not to serve a purpose other than to look great and allow a bit of privacy.
Depending on the fabric and color you choose for a regular curtain, they can block out a small hint of light but not too much. Regular curtains are meant to be light and airy and if this is not the look you are pushing for or if they do not serve your purpose like soundproofing, skip it.
Curtains in general no matter which type they are can help you keep your space dust-free. As you open your windows and your doors, the dust particles that swirl around in the air will land on your curtains.
Any type of curtain you have can be washed. There may be some curtains that can prove being too strenuous for you to handle on your own and you may need to enlist in the help of a professional.
When mentioning all three curtain types, one has to wonder how do they stack up against each other?[Related Article: 5 Best Sound Deadening Curtains For Your House]
How Do Each Curtain Types Stack Up Against Each Other?
With super close similarities and an understanding of all three types of curtains, just how do they act differently with each other? What are some characteristics that can be seen from one curtain to another?
Blackout Curtains vs. Soundproof Curtains
Soundproof curtains can almost double as blackout curtains. While soundproof curtains may not be able to eliminate all light, they can eliminate approx. 85% of any outside light. Blackout curtains can rid your space of 99% of any outside light, but external noise can still be heard.
Both types of curtains are able to save you money on your heating bill as they are both thick enough to trap heat. The thickness of both curtain types varies between 1.5 to 1.6 inches.
Speaking of saving money, blackout curtains will save you more money than soundproof curtains. You can purchase blackout curtains for as low as $15, while soundproof curtains can start at $89. Now, either of these curtains can start to become pricier depending on the materials they are made of.
Soundproof curtains use a combination of these different materials:
Blackout curtains are made out of the following:
If you would like to have your soundproof curtains installed professionally, you have that option. However, the installation will be much more expensive. Blackout curtains do not usually come with the offer of professional installation.
Now, just because both of these curtains are thick does not mean that lower frequency sounds will be trapped. The lower the frequency, the more likely you will be able to hear it as the sound frequency is too small to be trapped in the materials of the curtains.
While the sizes of both curtains can vary depending on the sizes offered and the sizes that you need, the most usual size is from ceiling to floor. This ensures that minimal light and sound can reach you while you are sleeping.
The weight of these curtains will greatly depend on the size of the curtain you have purchased, and the materials used. The weights can move between 2 pounds and 10 pounds.
If you want to remove the most noise from the outside world and do not mind a very small amount of light coming through the window, then the soundproof curtains are right up your alley.
Should you really want to remove any light from showing and you are in an area that is not as noisy, then blackout curtains are what you need.
Blackout Curtains vs. Regular Curtains
Regular curtains usually have just one layer of fabric, while blackout curtains can contain several, to make sure that they do their job of blocking light.
Because regular curtains only have one layer, they are lighter than blackout curtains and can be handled easier without the need of a professional.
You will not need to compromise on style with regular curtains as their main job is to allow for a bit of privacy but to mostly be a part of the decor in your space. Blackout curtains because of their nature and their duty, must be a darker color. This way you receive the most out of your curtains.
When installing either a blackout curtain or a regular curtain, they both can be installed the same. All you need is a curtain rod to do the trick. The only difference is that you may want to purchase blackout curtains that will come a bit below the bottom of your window to ensure no light spills anywhere.
You can use wraparound curtain rods for any type of curtain, but they will help your blackout curtains to do their job better around the edges of your windows.
Neither of these curtains will help you with reducing the sounds from the outside. However, if you are looking for style, choose the regular curtains. If you are not too keen on style and just need longer bouts of sleep, your choice should be the blackout curtains.
Soundproof Curtains vs. Regular Curtains
Soundproof curtains and regular curtains are an option if you choose to continue to let light into your space. There are designs and a variety of colors that allow for the light airy feeling, even though soundproof curtains can look heavy.
You will definitely have more of a variety of pricing options with regular curtains as they can start at a mere $20. Soundproof curtains jump out of the gate more pricey but that is to be expected as these curtains need more material to do their job effectively.
Soundproof curtains are much bigger than regular curtains. Since soundproof curtains have to reach around to the edges of the window they tend to be wider. Regular curtains can run away with being not so wide.
Your best option if you want a bit of a room darkening appearance and a quieter space, is to pick the soundproof curtains. Regular curtains may be important to you if you just want a certain look and nothing more.
Now, when looking for blackout curtains to outfit your space there a few things you will want to keep an eye out on.
What to Look for In Blackout Curtains?
Shopping for blackout curtains is not easy. There are a lot of deceiving pitches that will make you believe that the blackout curtains can do one thing and after you install them you realize that they cannot.
Here are some key phrases to look out for:
- Room Darkening
- Noise Reduction
- Privacy Protector
The term “privacy protector” is given when buying blackout curtains. You do not have to worry when looking for blackout curtains that does not have this description. Privacy protector just means that no one is able to see into your home when looking from the outside. As long as your curtains are drawn you will not have this problem.
However, the term “room darkening” is sometimes used with blackout curtains and this means that the percentage of light that will be blocked will be approx. 85%. The normal percentage for blackout curtains is between 90% to 100%. You may want to stick with a lower percentage of this range so that you are able to walk through your space or tell what part of the day it is.
Room darkening will create a “Halo Effect” on your windows. This will let in a soft glow of light around the edges of your curtains. So, remember to look closely at the percentage on the package that will tell you how much light will be kept away.
Although scarce, there are some brands and makes of blackout curtains that contain a magnetic strip or a weighted bottom to stop the halo effect from happening.
When it comes to hanging your blackout curtains, you can use grommets or a rod pocket. Rod pockets work with wraparound rods as well, where the fabric of the curtain sits over the rod.
The use of grommets can make it easier for the curtains to slide through the rod. Grommets are the oversized holes that are already placed in the curtains. Take note that you will want to position your curtain rod way above the window so that the grommets do not catch any sunlight.
Blackout curtains are not meant to be soundproof. If a company has the term, “soundproof” on the packaging of actually blackout curtains this is incorrect. At most, you will receive a bit of noise reduction with your blackout curtains.[Related Article: 52 Soundproofing Materials and DIY Tips That Fit Any Budget]
Making Your Space Soundproof
While you may have been hoping to have blackout curtains that greatly reduce sound, maybe there is another way around this. Along with soundproof curtains, there are different maneuvers in which you can soundproof your home that include:
- Acoustic Panels: These are panels that are hung on your wall like paintings to help with noise absorption. These panels work best if the room on the other side of you is noisier.
- Insulation: Most homes are packed with foam insulation to trap heat. If you are looking to block out noise, look for loosely packed fiber which helps with soundproofing. However, this should be used alongside another method of soundproofing to receive the full effect.
- Dampening Compounds: This compound is usually used in spaces like a studio or home theatre. It comes in a tube that is used between drywalls and subflooring, which is a great way to reduce noise levels drastically.
- Mass Loaded Vinyl: This vinyl comes in sheets that you can wrap around anything. If you have a pipe that often makes noise, you can wrap this sheet around it to lessen the sound. This option, however, is on the more costly side.
- Sound Absorption Sheets: These sheets can be hung anywhere in your space, like a tapestry. You can carry these sheets wherever you go and they are capable of absorbing 85% of sounds.
- Acoustical Sealant: This sealant is in the same tube as a dampening compound. It is used to fill in any gaps where cracks are to help stop any sounds from spilling out.