Can you see through roller blinds at night? No, not in the vast majority of cases, and not in the way that most of us think of as being “see through;” by which I mean, being able to see the sort of detail you generally wouldn’t want an audience for… Like having a bath, or eating your own bodyweight in chocolate, two things that I personally prefer to do with a reasonable degree of privacy.
However, different roller blind fabrics might permit for different levels of awareness for those outside of what’s going on inside; ranging from being able to tell if you have a light on, or being able to see shapes and movement – or in the case of blackout roller blinds, being able to see absolutely nothing at all, whether there’s a light on in the room or not.
In this blog post, I’ll talk about the different degrees of fabric thickness and types that roller blinds are made from, and what sort of image or impression of what’s going on inside is likely to result from the use of each of them.
Can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re designed to be blackout blinds?
Starting with the most solid/privacy-enabling contender then, can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re blackout blinds? No, blackout blind fabric is absolutely impermeable to light and so, eyes; not a thing can be seen through blackout fabric, even if the room behind the blinds is lit up like a nuclear blast just went off.
With that said, you can get light leakage around the sides of a blackout blind if it’s not hung in such a way as to negate this – light leakage means that light from outside will leak in during the day, and light from inside will leak out during the night too.
Can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re not blackout blinds but are fairly thick?
First up, a bit of industry terminology that might stand you in good stead at a pub quiz at some point in the future – probably only if I’m the one setting the questions though – is that blinds that aren’t blackout blinds are referred to as “dimout” blinds, which is both obvious and literal, if not also significantly lacking in imagination.
Anyway. As you can imagine, dimout roller blind fabrics can vary in terms of their thickness, quality, and weight, with better quality fabrics feeling weightier and having a denser weave, aside from when blinds are deliberately made to be sheer or semi-sheer.
So, can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re fairly thick and made of a good quality material? No, people outside would not be able to see anything of inside, not even movement close to the window, nor the shapes and outlines of things.
They would, however, be able to see a diffuse glow of light if you have a reasonably bright light not too far from the window. This might really only result in the square of the window appearing a fainter shade of grey than the wall around it.
Generally, unless you want blackout blinds to stop the sun getting in rather than the halogens getting out, dimout roller blinds of a reasonable quality will suit the vast majority of people to ensure the sort of privacy they consider appropriate.
The only real exceptions to this rule are if you take your privacy (or avoidance of uninvited guests) seriously enough that you don’t even want them to be able to tell if there is a light on in the room; or if you’re trying to avoid contributing to light pollution, which is actually really important to a lot of people who like to encourage and observe nocturnal wildlife that visit the garden.
Can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re a very flimsy or thin fabric?
Unless you’re specifically looking for or requesting a very sheer or thin roller blind, you’re very unlikely to find yourself buying one by mistake from a reputable retailer of made-to-measure blinds, because that’s not what most buyers want or would accept.
However, if you do buy a very cheap blind, particularly a readymade one from any number of high street and online retailers, you may well end up with a fabric that’s a lot thinner and more flimsy-looking than you expected it to be from the pictures.
During the day when outside is brighter than inside or the indoor and outdoor light levels have a reasonable degree of parity, people outside won’t be able to see through your blinds on any level, assuming the blinds are closed.
However, when it starts to get dark and it’s lighter inside in rooms that are in use than outside, this all changes.
So, can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re made of a thin fabric, or don’t have a good quality and fairly dense weave? This is a “possibly-to-yes” kind of deal, depending on the fine details of just how thin the blind is and really, how bright the room is, and how close anything within the room is to the window.
At best, and in probably 50% of cases even when you’re working with a thin fabric, people outside will be able to see light from inside clearly; almost certainly clearly enough in fact to be able to tell the colour of the blind itself. Moving towards really thin fabrics, people outside might well be able to see movement/shadows from inside, if this happens close to the window; such as your silhouette if you’re near to the blind, or the shapes of ornaments on the windowsill behind the blind, or the outlines of furniture close to the blind at window height.
In rare cases with the kind of blinds that are both light coloured and so thin you’re more than likely planning to return it for a refund anyway, people outside might even be able to see a little more detail of things/people close to the blind, such as the colour of your jumper if it’s bold or dark.
Again, even a blind of this type might be ok for you if you’re really just trying to preserve your modesty in terms of being able to get changed without flashing the neighbours, as unless you’re right up against a very thin and light-coloured blind and powerfully lit from behind, nobody will see your bits.
But by the same token, few people knowingly choose a blind that has fabric this thin, unless the purchasing decision is purely driven by the need to spend the bare minimum, and this happens to be it.
Can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re voiles or sheer fabrics?
Uncommon but still a thing – roller blinds made of voile fabrics, or deliberately sheer fabrics. As I alluded to earlier on, these only tend to be used in combination with a second blind or window covering, so that this latter can be used to control privacy, while the voile or sheer blind can allow you to filter light and enjoy the view.
Can you see through roller blinds at night if they’re voile blinds or you chose a sheer fabric? Yes, these work just like actual voiles (such as those usually hung or draped on curtain poles) and net curtains.
During the day they prevent people outdoors seeing in unless the day is dull and you have lights on, but at night and with internal lights turned on, they do no more than put a soft focus on what’s happening indoors, otherwise allowing a full view in detail, just like you would get if the blind was open or absent entirely.
Can you see through roller blinds at night if the blind is thin, but you don’t have any lights on behind it?
Finally, this quite specific question is one that usually comes from people looking for office blinds, or those for shops, workplaces, and other locations where wandering around in the nude after dark is frowned upon, if not liable to lead to sacking and potential arrest.
By this I mean, people and organisations who are in the market for blinds mainly or wholly to prevent people outside from seeing what is inside after hours when the premises are closed and the lights are off – like your tech, stock, and so on.
Ultimately then, if your premises, shop, or office is unlit at night and light leakage from inside won’t potentially reveal some of the contents, then no, people outside would not be able to see through your roller blinds at night unless they were properly see-through or voiles.
Like, if someone came up to your window and shone a torch through it (generally “someone” wearing a black and white striped jumper and carrying a bag saying “swag” on it), if your blind is made of a sheer or voile fabric, they might well be able to see enough to make a measured assessment about the risk-to-reward ratio of robbing you blind. Or robbing your blinds in our case, LOL, we’re a blinds company, geddit? (Not even sorry for that one.)
However, even just a step up from there to blinds that are thin and flimsy but not actually sheer, your nefarious would-be malefactor’s torch would quite probably light up inside like a Christmas tree. But they still would not be able to see anything through the blind regardless; they might be illuminating the room, but all they themselves will see is the blind, not your stock/tech/whatever you’re trying to be discreet about having.
(Ps., and just a word of warning/caution in closing: Should you happen to find yourself in a situation in which you become aware of a potential crook Maglite-ing- up your premises through the blind like it’s Christmas and your place is looking a lot like Santa’s storeroom; just make sure that it’s not actually the night watchman before you take a frying pan to the back of their head.)