The 6 Best Blackout Shades of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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Block out noise and light for a better night’s sleep.

<p>Real Simple / Lexi Juhl</p>

Real Simple / Lexi Juhl

Fact checked by Emily Estep

If you want a good night’s sleep, light, or lack thereof, can make a big difference. Your body’s circadian rhythm naturally responds to light and darkness, and having a dark room can help you sleep better. The best blackout shades can block out light regardless of the time of day or weather outside—they “are made of multiple layers of material that can block out nearly 100 percent of the sun’s rays,” says Kelly Simpson, the senior director of design and innovation at Budget Blinds.

“When looking for blackout shades, you should be aware of the materials they are made of, looking for a thicker material that is better at blocking the light,” says sleep specialist Angela Holliday-Bell, MD. “You should look for a style and size that fits your space and make sure that they actually block the amount of light you are looking for them to block. You should also consider whether they block sound in addition to light and be mindful of cost as their price range varies widely.”

To find the best blackout shades, we tested seven models while considering factors such as effectiveness, setup, design, quality, and overall value. We also spoke with Dr. Holliday-Bell and Simpson for their expert recommendations on choosing the best blackout shades.

Best Overall Blackout Shades: ChrisDowa 100% Blackout Roller Shade

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Buy at

What Stands Out

  • This roller shade is effective at blocking out both light and noise.

What Could Be Improved

  • The metal pull cord doesn’t feel very sturdy.

If you want total darkness while you sleep, this blackout roller shade delivers that and more. The shade is on the thicker side and blocks out most incoming light. In our testing, we noticed a tiny bit of light coming in from the edges around the shade, likely due to the window attachments, but it was minimal—we estimated it blocked out about 97 percent of light overall. The shade also has thermal-insulated backing to help insulate the room from heat, cold, and ambient noise. During our tests, we noticed that with the shade drawn, there was less outside neighborhood noise.

The shades have an aluminum bottom rod to weigh them down and a chain cord to open and close them. You can also mount the included safety device to the wall to hold the cord, so it doesn’t become a choking hazard if you have children in the house. The pull cord allows you to adjust the shade at whatever height you prefer, though it feels a bit flimsy.

Plus, the setup is simple—this shade fits inside your window, the roller is labeled room side and window side so you know which direction to attach it, and you can choose which side to put the cord on. It includes all the screws, but you will need your own tool kit. Once installed, the shade has a streamlined look and is available in six colors and multiple sizes.

While we typically include a budget pick on our lists, this shade is one of the most affordable selections and performed best across all of the categories we tested. These shades have exceptional performance and don't skimp on quality, even with their budget-friendly price.

Price at time of publish: $32 

Dimensions: 20 x 72 inches | Material: Fabric with PVC backing, aluminum | Style: Roller

Best Roman Blackout Shades: Pillowfort Blackout Roman Shade

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What Stands Out

  • These Roman shades have an attractive, simple design.

What Could Be Improved

  • The shades aren’t super thick, and the white color lets in some light.

This Roman shade has a softer look, with white fabric that drapes and vertical side ribbons instead of metal hardware. Its material blocks out enough light to be comfortable, especially on sunny days, but because the shade isn’t super thick, we noticed that it didn’t completely block out all light. There were also some spaces around the edges of the shade where light peeked through.

Both setup and use of this shade are simple—it has a cordless retraction system so there are no dangling cords to get tangled up in. Just pull down or push up in the center bottom of the shade, and it smoothly glides open or closed. Overall, the look, design, and straightforward functionality make this shade a great option for most rooms.

Price at time of publish: $60

Dimensions: 27 x 64 inches | Material: Polyester, linen | Style: Roman

Best Roller Blackout Shades: LEVOLOR 37-in x 78-in White Blackout Cordless Roller Shade

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What Stands Out

  • You can trim this roller shade to your exact window size, and it’s easy to clean.

What Could Be Improved

  • The shade doesn’t include mounting hardware.

This roller shade can be cut down to any size for free (at Lowe’s) to ensure it fits your window perfectly—and can be mounted on the inside or outside of your window. When mounted on the inside, some light comes through in the corners, but otherwise, we found that the shades block out most light. When closed, we noticed that they also helped keep the room cooler.

You have to buy the mounting hardware separately, but it’s inexpensive, and the only tool you need for installation is a drill. (If you don't already have one you love, check out our favorite cordless drills.) Set up is quick and easy, and it only took 10 minutes for us to put the shade up. This shade is also cordless—to close it, pull it out and down, and to open it, give the shade a tug down and inward. Because it’s vinyl, this pick doesn’t collect dust and is easy to clean with a quick wipe down.

Price at time of publish: $30 

Dimensions: 37 x 78 inches | Material: Vinyl | Stylee: Roller

Best Cellular Blackout Shades: IKEA Trippevals Blackout Cellular Blind

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What Stands Out

  • These modern cellular blinds block light and insulate your room.

What Could Be Improved

  • The shade doesn’t come with screws, so it requires some extra research and work for installation.

Despite its impressive blackout functionality, this IKEA shade looks and feels lightweight and airy thanks to its sleek, cellular design (which creates air pockets between the fabric layers). The cord is hidden inside the blind and has a snap-on clear plastic handle that can attach to the bottom. You can also buy a draw rod for extra help opening and closing the shade, but we found the handle easy to use, even with just one hand.

You can mount the blind on the wall or ceiling, but keep in mind that while the wall fittings are included, the wall screws are not. The manual says that different wall materials require certain screws, so we recommend doing research to determine what screws work best for your home and windows.

When mounted inside the window frame, the shade blocks out almost all light. A few millimeters of light came in around the top and sides of the shade, and about a centimeter of light peeked through at the bottom due to the handle. While we didn’t find that the shade blocked any significant sound while closed, it did keep our room cooler even when it wasn’t fully drawn. We noticed that the blind rustles when pulled, which may not be ideal for nurseries.

Price at time of publish: $63 

Dimensions: 30 x 76.75 inches | Material: Polyester | Style: Cellular

Best Cordless Blackout Shades: Eclipse Drew 100% Total Blackout Cordless Roman Blind and Shade

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Buy at

What Stands Out

  • This Roman blind has a high-quality look and feel and comes in several neutral colors.

What Could Be Improved

  • The handle on the back of the shade is sharp and hard to hold.

This Roman blind has a textured design and comes in four different fabric colors, combining the look of traditional curtains with the functionality of blackout shades. It comes in various widths to accommodate different window sizes.

The fabric of the shade feels high quality, and we found that the shade blocked out about 85 percent of the light and kept some heat out of the room. Some light seeped in around the sides of the shade, but this may vary depending on what type of window you have. There is a hidden handle on the back of the shade for raising and lowering it, and it is extremely quiet and smooth. For those who prefer a cordless look or want to avoid any potential choking hazards, the sleek design of this shade is a standout feature.

The one downside we found is that the small loop attached to the handle is sharp around the edges, making it hard to use, but you can also pull the shade down from the bottom instead of using the handle. You can mount the shade inside or outside the window frame, and installation is quick as the shade arrives almost completely assembled—all you need is a drill, level or laser level, and measuring tape.

Price at time of publish: $105

Dimensions: 27 x 64 inches | Material: Polyester | Style: Roman

Best Customizable Blackout Shades: SBARTAR Blackout Cordless Cellular Shade

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What Stands Out

  • You can customize the color and size of this cellular shade.

What Could Be Improved

  • The material of the shade is not as soft as a fabric curtain.

If your home doesn’t have standard-size windows, or you’re looking for something tailored to your home, opt for these customizable cellular shades. You can choose between several colors (most of the blackout options have two colors), decide if you want an inside or outside mount, and select from many sizes for a made-to-order shade.

This shade has a blackout liner to block light, and the cellular construction helps provide insulation. During our testing, this shade blocked out about 90 percent of light and kept the room cooler. There was some light that came in from the sides and the bottom of the shade, but overall, the shade was more effective than using regular blinds and curtains.

Installation is simple—you only need two brackets with one screw per bracket. The shade has no cords or wands; instead, you raise and lower it by pulling the handle attached to the bottom up or down, and it moves smoothly in both directions.

Price at time of publish: $65

Dimensions: 39 x 64 inches | Material: Fabric | Style: Cellular

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the ChrisDowa 100% Blackout Roller Shade for its effective light-blocking, easy installation, affordable price, and quality. It also comes in multiple color and size options. For an option that is completely customizable, we recommend the Sbartar Blackout Cordless Cellular Shade, which you can fit into your window’s exact measurements.

Our Testing Process

We tested seven blackout shades and evaluated them on effectiveness, design, quality, and value. Before we tested each shade, we determined how it would be mounted (inside or outside the window frame), and then we measured the height and width of the window to ensure we had the best coverage.

To determine setup time, we started a timer and recorded how long the installation took. For inside mounts, we installed the shade inside the window frame and only covered the glass, which could leave light coming in from the sides. For outside mounts, we installed the shade outside the window frame, covering both the frame and glass. If the shade was adjustable, we trimmed it down to the recommended length for the window.

During the testing period, we measured effectiveness by using each shade and noting how well it blocked out the light. We evaluated whether there was a 100 percent blackout effect and noticed if it blocked out outside noise or aided with insulation.

To test for design, we observed how the shade draped over the window, assessing if any light came in through the surface or around the perimeter. We also noted how easy it was to raise and lower the shade and if it got stuck in one position.

We looked at the texture and thickness of the shades to determine their quality. We also considered the effectiveness of the retracting mechanism (wand, pull chain, cordless).

<p>Real Simple / Tammy Gardini</p>

Real Simple / Tammy Gardini

How to Shop for Blackout Shades Like a Pro


Blackout shades prevent as much light from coming into a room as possible. Of the shades we tested, we estimated that they blocked about 85 to 98 percent of light, as some minimal light may come through the sides or bottom of the shades. Blackout shades tend to be thicker or have blackout fabric that blocks most light, reduces outside noise, and insulates rooms from cold and heat.

For a 100 percent effective blackout solution, Kelly Simpson, the senior director of design and innovation at Budget Blinds, recommends adding decorative drapery panels on either side of the shade, which blocks out any light and instantly adds flair to your windows.


A properly fitting blackout shade will give you the best results for blocking light in your room. Too small of a shade will allow light to shine through the gaps. We recommend measuring your windows first, though some products we tested can be trimmed or customized to fit the size you need. If you mount the shade inside the window frame, you’ll need a smaller size that fits within the frame. Note that the cost of a shade will also depend on its size—larger shades are generally more expensive.


Blackout shades come in several styles including roller, Roman, and cellular. Your choice depends on your preferred aesthetic, but there are also functional and cost differences between the styles. Cellular shades have pleats or a honeycomb design that traps air to provide insulation, so they “are perfect for wide windows with the added benefit of energy efficiency,” says Simpson.

Roller shades, as their name implies, are usually made of a sheet of vinyl that rolls up and down. They’re “a great choice for those who want energy efficiency while being more budget-friendly,” she says. And Roman shades are made of fabric that folds as you pull it up. Roman shades and natural woven shades can have a blackout liner for added effectiveness, according to Simpson.

Ease of Installation

“It is important to consider how shades are installed,” says Simpson. “Traditionally installed inside mounted roller and solar shades may not be able to be pulled down completely, so there might always be a light peeking in between the shade and window when it’s pulled down. Outside mounted shades can be pulled down past the window opening and avoid that gap. In addition, traditionally installed shades will also have some light gaps on the sides.”

The blackout shades we tested had straightforward instructions and took 10 to 40 minutes to install, and most required some additional tools (drill and screwdriver). Renters can also consider adhesive options to avoid drilling into walls or window frames. Double-check if the shades you buy include mounting hardware and screws so you won't scramble at the last second.

More Blackout Shades to Consider

Redi Shade Easy Lift Trim-at-Home Blackout Shade: This pick is easy to install and use. No drills, tools, or screws are needed—just measure your window length, trim the shade using a knife and the included scale and guide, peel the adhesive on the back of the shade, and stick it to the window. While the shade effectively keeps light out, it's also thin and seems weaker in quality than some of the other shades we tested.

<p>Real Simple / Michael Navarro</p>

Real Simple / Michael Navarro

Questions You Might Ask

Are blackout shades better than blackout curtains?

While both blackout shades and blackout curtains can effectively block outside lights, sleep specialist Angela Holliday-Bell, MD, says blackout curtains, due to their extended size, “are probably better at blocking out more light than the shades and are better at providing insulation.” However, if you want a more modern look, “shades have the advantage of being lighter and taking up less space,” she says.

Are blackout shades effective?

“Blackout shades are very effective at blocking out ambient light that may cause disruptions to your sleep," says Dr. Holliday-Bell. "They don’t tend to block out 100 percent of light though, due to gaps, and are most effective when combined with blackout drapery.”

Are blackout shades insulating?

“Blackout shades are insulating, as they block heat loss and prevent heat accumulation,” says Dr. Holliday-Bell. An additional benefit, adds Simpson, is that “blackout shades can assist in lowering your energy costs and can save you money. Blackout treatments offer enhanced efficiency by keeping sunlight out and helping you to keep your home cooler during the hotter summer months.”

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Lesley Chen, a contributing writer for Real Simple with experience writing commerce, home, and lifestyle stories. To find the best blackout shades, we tested seven products in our Lab and evaluated them based on setup, effectiveness, design, quality, and value. For expert tips, we also spoke to Angela Holliday-Bell, MD, a sleep specialist, and Kelly Simpson, the senior director of design and innovation at Budget Blinds.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.

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