Here’s How Much You Can See Through Room Darkening Curtains at Night

Last updated on November 17, 2021

Room darkening curtains work both ways, i.e., you can see out during the day as much as someone can see inside during the night.

How much you can see through the curtains at night depends on how much light they block. This can vary from seeing silhouettes to seeing distinct features or not seeing anything at all.

By design, room darkening curtains block 85% to 95% of light. That means someone can see the silhouette of a large object from the outside when there is enough light inside. It is enough to provide privacy.

In contrast, light filtering curtains don’t provide much privacy because you can see pretty well into a wee-lit room at night (especially when there is no outside lighting.)

Blackout curtains and window blinds block 100% of light, so there’s no way to see inside at night (nor during the day) when they are closed.

So, in a nutshell, how much you can see inside from the outside depends on the difference in the amount of light and how much of the light the curtains let through.

What's Inside?

Types of Curtains and Shades You Can’t See Through At Night

night window

There are a few types of curtains that provide full or partial privacy at night:

Room Darkening Drapes: the heavier drapery commonly used in hotels and other places where people stay overnight. They are usually made from heavy fabric with a special coating that blocks out most of the visible light. This makes them perfect for sleeping in as they will help you sleep more soundly. At night, someone may only see the shapes of large objects if the lighting is bright enough. They are enough for privacy.

Privacy Curtains: These are often used in bedrooms or living rooms where privacy is essential. They are also available in different colors and designs, so you can choose one that suits your style.

Darkening Shades: These are similar to room darkening curtains, except they provide easier light control.

Blackout curtains are ideal for offices and other areas where you need to keep certain parts of the office or building closed off during the day. The blackout curtains are usually made from thick material, which means that they block out all light. Compared to darkening curtains, it is impossible to see through them from the outside throughout the day.

One-way shades are designed to let the light in from the inside but block more of it from the inside. This provides privacy during the day and relatively well privacy at night.

Solar shades are designed to filter UV rays but still let the light through. They don’t provide much privacy.

How to Test Whether You Can See Through Room Darkening Curtains At Night

Testing whether you can see through room darkening curtains is pretty easy when they are installed. Go outside and try to look into your window when the lights are turned on in.

It may be harder to do if the curtains block the light only partially. In that case, you may not see anything when the room is empty. Have a family member stand and move around in front of the window as you check outside. If you live alone, place a large object in front of the window and see if you can make out the shape from the outside.

When buying new curtains, you may not be able to tell if you can see through them at night right away. Heavier curtains and room darkening curtains will let some light in but still provide enough privacy. One way to test this is to use a flashlight by placing it behind the curtain fabric and seeing how much light you can see through. 

Comparing Room Darkening Curtains, Blackout Curtains, Light Filtering Curtains

When comparing room darkening curtains, blackout curtains, and light filtering curtains, here are some things to consider:

  • Thickness: Most room darkening curtains are heavier and thicker than standard curtains. Because of their weight, they tend to hang down further which means that you won’t be able to see through them even if you try.
  • Transparency: Some blackout curtains are transparent while others are opaque. Opaque curtains will completely block out light while transparent ones let some light pass through.
  • Color: Many blackout curtains are black while room darkening curtains are usually gray or silver. While blackout curtains are great for blocking out light, room darkening curtains are good for letting in some natural light.
  • Material: There are several materials used in making blackout and room darkening curtains. The most common material is polyester. Other materials include cotton, silk, nylon, etc.
  • Size: Most blackout curtains are large and cover entire windows.
  • Layers: Some curtains are single layer while others are double layered. Double-layered blackout curtains are thicker and therefore heavier.

How Much Someone Can See Through The Curtains When It’s Dark Outside

The amount someone can see through the curtains depends on several factors, including:

  • How bright the outside lighting is.
  • The size of the objects you place behind the curtains.
  • The color of the curtains you’re using.
  • The thickness of the curtains.
  • Installation quality of the curtains.
  • The distance between the person looking through the curtains and the object being reflected.
  • The angle of the person looking through the curtain.
  • The background color of the curtains.
  • The brightness of the light source inside the room.
  • Whether there are any obstructions directly in front of the door where the curtains meet the wall.

The Verdict

It is possible to see through room darkening curtains but not as easily as with regular curtains. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use room darkening curtains. They do provide privacy and someone will only be able to make out large shapes if the room lighting is very bright.

FAQ

Do solar shades provide privacy at night?

No, they do not. Solar shades are designed to filter out the UV rays but let the light in. During the night, one can mostly see inside if the room lighting is bright enough.

Can cameras see through curtains?

Yes, cameras can see through curtains. But depending on the type of camera, the exposure settings, and the light conditions, it might be difficult for the camera to capture an image of what’s behind the curtains.

Can you see through a window at night?

It is easier to see a lighted room during the night if the curtains don’t block the view. 

Can people see through blinds at night?

No, people cannot see through blinds at nighttime nor during the day if they block light completely.

How to Make Light Filtering Curtains Private at Night?

You can make light filtering curtains private at night by adding another layer of fabric.

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