Do Soundproof Curtains and Blackout Curtains Block Sound?

soundproof curtains

Nothing is more frustrating than needing some peace and quiet, but all you can hear is the sound of traffic, sirens, people etc.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Noise is a leading cause of dissatisfaction for people living in cities. It disturbs sleep and concentration, which can lead to fatigue and stress.

Beyond the expensive fix of adding soundproof walls, doors and windows, the most common solutions are using soundproof and blackout curtains. They’re an inexpensive way to keep your home quiet, easy to hang and come in many styles.

But are they effective, and what’s the difference between them?

Let’s find out.

Do Soundproof Curtains Work?

The purpose of soundproof curtains is to reduce the amount of noise heard from within a room. Is that actually what they do though?

The answer is yes, and no.

Soundproof curtains won’t block all the external noise coming in through your windows. What they do is absorb the sound that bounces off the surfaces in a room, reducing the echo and making it feel quieter.

How Effective Are Soundproof Curtains?

Although you’ll still be able to hear noises from outside, soundproof curtains are very effective at damping the sounds once they’re in your home. Quiet sounds may be eliminated entirely, while louder ones will be muffled and less distracting.

It’s something of a misnomer to call the curtains soundproof. A better name would be along the lines of “sound dampening curtains.”

Add more.

What Are Soundproof Curtains Made Of?

Soundproof curtains are thicker and heavier than regular ones as it’s harder for sound waves to pass through dense fabrics, and porous materials easily capture noise. Manufacturers also use materials known to have good soundproofing qualities. Such as:

  • Suede
  • Velvet
  • Satin
  • MLV

Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
Mass-loaded vinyl is common in all kinds of soundproofing applications. Made from a combination of PVC and calcium carbonate, it’s highly effective at blocking sound, but MLV alone doesn’t absorb it.

Look for curtains that combine MLV with the other sound dampening materials mentioned above.

Do Blackout Curtains Block Sound?

Retailers often market blackout curtains as also being soundproof on top of blocking out light, but that’s not usually the case.

Blackout curtains are explicitly designed to block light, and those specs aren’t the same as soundproofing ones. The materials and thickness of the curtains will significantly impact their ability to block sound.

With that being said, many blackout curtains will have at least some noise-reducing qualities.

Are All Blackout Curtains Noise Reducing?

You’ll find that most blackout curtains dampen sound at least a little compared to regular curtains.

But the price comes into play here. Curtains that manufacturers make on a budget won’t have the required thickness to significantly affect the sound. Not only that, but cheaper materials are generally used that aren’t as good at absorbing noise.

How Effective Are Blackout Curtains?

The effectiveness of blackout curtains at reducing sound will depend on the variables we already discussed (materials and density). Still, a few other factors can make a difference with both blackout and soundproof curtains.

Curtains that contain multiple layers and pleats, especially with soundproof fabrics, will be all-around better at blocking sound. The pleated material makes the curtain thicker, which makes it harder for sound to travel through.

The width and length of your curtain will also have an impact on sound absorption. You want the curtain to sufficiently cover your window and a large portion of your wall to be the most effective. We’d recommend using floor-to-ceiling curtains, where the rod is a few inches from the top and curtains are a few inches from the floor.

What Are Blackout Curtains Made Of?

Manufacturers coat fabric with multiple layers of foam to create blackout curtains, usually polyester or nylon. These materials also work as excellent insulators that keep your home cool in summer and warm in the winter.

Blackout curtains can also be made using the materials we mentioned before for soundproof ones. If you’re looking for blackout curtains with noise-dampening ability, stick to suede, velvet, satin and MLV.

Do Regular Thick and Heavy Curtains Reduce Noise?

Any soft and porous materials (fabrics) will absorb sound better than hard, impenetrable ones (like walls or metal). Also, the denser the material, the better at reducing noise it will be.

With that knowledge, it’s fair to say that any thick and heavy curtain will somewhat reduce noise in your home. Though, it won’t be as effective as soundproof curtains designed with that purpose.

Final Thoughts

Soundproof and blackout curtains might not be the ultimate solution for blocking out all noise. But they undoubtedly make a difference for a fraction of the cost of other permanent and costly soundproofing options.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking for curtains to give you relief from the noises in and around your home:

  • Choose curtains made from suede, velvet, satin and MLV.
  • Thicker and heavier curtains with pleats absorb more sound.
  • The longer and wider the curtain, the more effective it will be.
  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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