It truly is a little confusing, and we do get frequently questions about it. What does is mean when we refer to a window shade as being opaque or semi-opaque? Then other shades are described as room darkening, light-filtering or blackout. So here is an overview of the different terms describing transparency and lighting levels. We are using two terminologies as they can be found
in the window covering industry:
Now, let me explain the terms, and what they mean in regards to shades, light, transparency and privacy:
- A Sheer shade will allow most light to enter your room while reducing glare. This type of shade will allow a soft view outside. There is little to no privacy with this window treatment.
- Semi-Sheer Shades help to diffuse incoming light and provide a screened view. With this type of shade you will only get moderate privacy.
- Light-filtering or semi-opaque shades will transmit filtered light with no view through. Light can enter the room, while maintaining privacy. This is our most popular category, as the living area can be lit up with incoming light, the atmosphere is friendly, but neighbors are “shut out”.
- Room-darkening shades are made of materials that filter more light, and considerably darken the room. However, they do NOT block ALL light. These materials do not allow a view through and provide complete privacy.
- Blackout or opaque shades virtually block ALL light. The type of shade doesn’t allow any light to filter through; essentially electric light has to be turned on to see inside a room when lowered. This type of shade gives also complete privacy.
Why the 2 different sets of wording (opaque vs. blackout)? The opaque and semi-opaque wording has simply been established within the Hunter Douglas product line. It is used in their highly popular Duette honeycomb line. The Duette product line really only offers four fabric categories, which does not include a room-darkening fabric, it only offers the blackout fabrics with the foiled technology which blocks all light.