1. Knowledge Centre
  2. Commercial blinds and curtains

What's the difference between screen blinds and blackout blinds?

When choosing the right roller blind, there are many options. Ultimately, it comes down to what you need the blind to do. And as you’ve probably guessed, it’s not as simple as blocking out the sun.

In a nutshell:  

  • Choosing the right fabric for roller blinds will depend on your requirements
  • Blackout fabric blocks out all light
  • Screen fabric allows some light and heat into the room
  • Fabric transparency is described by an ‘openness’ rating
  • 1% openness should be used when on windows where the sun is brightest
  • 3% is a good balance between providing shade and allowing natural light
  • Ask your specialist blind supplier about ‘dual shade’ blinds

Here’s our (very) quick guide:

  • Blackout fabric blinds, as their name suggests, block out all light
  • Screen fabric blinds allow some light and heat into the room

Why do you need to block out all light?

In bedrooms for

a start. But also in offices, schools, hospitals and other public buildings where AV equipment is used.

Why do you need to block out some light?

While sunlight can cause glare and over-heating, natural light and the sun’s heat can be a good thing (reducing energy costs). So, some fabrics have an ‘openness’ rating.

  • A 3% openness rating will prevent glare but allow some natural light and ‘solar gain’ – it will also be transparent enough to see through
  • Fabric with a 1% openness rating has a tighter weave and should be used on south-facing windows, where the sun will be brighter

Worried about specifying different fabrics on different windows? Relax - they’ll look the same from the outside.

3% openness doesn’t sound very much...

You might be surprised to how well a fabric with a 3% openness rating provides shade and natural light. Most specialist blind suppliers will advise against 10% openness because it doesn’t offer enough protection.

The best of both worlds

Ask your specialist blind supplier about ‘dual shade’ blinds. They can provide everyday shading, as well as total blackout when required.

Submit new questions 

Would you like to see your questions answered? Submit them to us and we'll let you know when we've found the answer. 

Submit questions