Window Shade Opacities Explained

Showing Window Shade Opacity in Living Room Showing Window Shade Opacity in Living Room

What Opacity Should I Choose for My Window Shades?


So what exactly is opacity? Opacity refers to the amount of light that passes through a fabric. Sheer fabrics allow for the most light to enter a room, but they offer the least amount of privacy. On the other end of the spectrum, blackout fabrics block nearly all light from entering a room, and they provide the most privacy.

Choosing the Right Fabric

Keep in mind that while every Hunter Douglas fabric provides some level of light control and glare reduction, the type of fabric and color you choose will have a significant effect on your window shade's opacity. Also, there are many additional options that can help you create more privacy no matter which fabric you choose — from liners and dual-roller systems to hardware features designed to block light.

Understanding the Different Opacity Levels

If you’re not familiar with fabric opacities, you might accidentally choose a fabric that doesn’t provide as much privacy as you had expected. So let’s look at each opacity level in more detail.

Sheer Opacity Sheer Opacity


Sheer fabrics allow the most light into your room while softly focusing the view. But while they reduce some glare, they’re not designed for privacy.

Semi-Sheer Opacity Semi-Sheer Opacity


Semi-sheer fabrics let in slightly less light than sheer fabrics. The view-through is not quite as much as with a sheer, and they still don’t give you much privacy.

Semi-Opaque Opacity Semi-Opaque Opacity


Semi-opaque fabrics bring in just enough sun to light up a space but they will block your view and prevent others from seeing inside (although you may still see shadows of objects). 

Opaque/Room Darkening Opacity Opaque/Room Darkening Opacity


Opaque (also called room-darkening) fabrics will block almost all light from entering a room and provide optimal privacy. Keep in mind, however, it will be harder to brighten up your space with natural light unless they are partially or fully open.

Blackout Opacity Blackout Opacity


As the name implies, blackout shades create the highest level of darkness by blocking almost all incoming light. Plus, they provide complete privacy for any room in your home.

Opacity Throughout the Home

When deciding which window shade fabric to choose, consider your room's privacy and light control requirements. Sheer and semi-sheer fabrics that don’t offer much privacy are great options for rooms or activities you’re not too concerned about people seeing, like living rooms or family rooms. Semi-opaque, opaque and blackout fabrics, on the other hand, are ideal for bedrooms, bathrooms and media rooms where you want more privacy and the ability to block out almost all incoming light. 

To better assist you in finding the perfect opacity for your window treatments, contact one of our local experts and see first-hand how different fabrics will look in your home.

From selecting materials and colors to expert measurement and installation, our window treatment specialists can help you create the perfect window treatments for your home. Find a specialist near you to get started today.