Light-Filtering Blinds vs. Blackout Shades

Searching for window coverings for your office or commercial space can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of options available. Two common options include light-filtering blinds and blackout shades. You might think terms are synonymous for the same type of window treatment; however, light-filtering blinds and blackout shades actually differ in style and functionality, and how they can help meet your lighting needs and desired aesthetic. 

In this article, we will explore why filtering light for your commercial space is important, as well as the unique benefits of light-filtering and blackout window treatments.

The Cost of Unfiltered Sunlight

Unfiltered sunlight can lead to some costly consequences for your interior. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from unfiltered sunlight — the same rays that cause skin damage — can discolour, fade and warp furniture, carpets and more. In extreme cases, UV rays can even weaken otherwise durable materials.

This typically isn’t top of mind when furnishing your office or installing the flooring, it should be. Replacing flooring or furniture means an unnecessary expense for your business, and it can be challenging to find identical furnishings or matching flooring if the manufacturer discontinues the lines.

In addition to damaging property, unfiltered sunlight can cost you in another significant way. It can increase your utility bills during the summer, by making you more dependent on air conditioning to moderate the temperature for employee comfort. Glare caused by unfiltered sunlight can also result in a loss of productivity by making computer monitors challenging to see.

Light-Filtering Blinds vs. Blackout Shades

Now that you’re up to speed on the consequences unfiltered sunlight can have in commercial settings, it’s time to examine two types of commercial blinds and shades designed to mitigate these effects: light-filtering blinds and blackout shades. 

Light-Filtering Blinds & Shades

The goal of light-filtering window treatments is not to block out sunlight completely, but to diffuse it, thus reducing its intensity and establishing a more comfortable environment for employees and customers. 

Of the two types of commercial window coverings, light-filtering blinds are the most versatile and can be found in a variety of commercial settings, including restaurants, hotels, stores and other commercial businesses. However, light-filtering blinds only offer a moderate degree of privacy. In spaces where privacy is of utmost importance or where achieving total darkness is necessary, blackout window treatments are the best solution. 

Even when light-filtering blinds are used, some light can still enter between the slates. Therefore, these window treatments are less ideal for spaces where blackout conditions are favourable. For example, in a conference room where projectors are used for presentations. For a greater degree of light control, light-filtering blinds can be paired with more opaque curtains or drapes that can be closed when the situation warrants it.  

Light-filtering shades feature many of the same benefits as light-filtering blinds. The materials used for shades tend to be sheer or thinner, allowing diffused sunlight to permeate the space. Installing them will help create a more comfortable work setting. 

Light-filtering shades can also help you maintain privacy. They make it difficult to see inside, but still provide a semi-permeable view to the outside world. Motorized shades are a popular option for office or commercial spaces, as some of these window treatments can be programmed to automatically raise and lower throughout the day, or can be controlled remotely. 

Blackout Shades

As the name implies, blackout shades have a darkening effect that is ideal for environments requiring total darkness or privacy. Blackout shades are commonly used in hotel rooms, allowing customers to get quality rest regardless of the time. Certain places of business also require blackout shades to maintain privacy, including hospital rooms, spas and doctor exam rooms. 

In addition to privacy and quality sleep, when used strategically throughout the day, these commercial window coverings can reduce your heating and cooling costs, as well as your environmental impact. 

It’s not only light that blackout shades reduce. These thicker window treatments boast some noise insulation as well. Though not specifically designed with sound absorption in mind, blackout shades can help reduce the din of sound from the outside world. This is a great addition for businesses located in a busy city core where street noise can be distracting. 

Finally, both light-filtering and blackout shades can help to keep office furniture and flooring looking newer for longer. You’ll experience less discoloration and overall sun damage than you would otherwise. 

As mentioned, you want to be strategic with your use of blackout shades. While they will effectively block out sunlight, most employees and customers prefer natural light to artificial light, so it’s best to only use them when the sun is most intense or to opt for light-filtering shades instead. 

Choosing the right window treatment for your commercial space can be difficult, so it’s important to begin the process with an understanding of the benefits of each option. To learn more, contact your commercial window treatment provider.


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