How to Blackout Windows While Still Allowing Air Flow

opening up window to makeshift ventilation device

There are dozens of different blackout solutions for your windows to choose from.

From blackout window film to blackout curtains, the most common methods can be extremely effective at achieving total blackness in your bedroom even during the day. However, one of the biggest downsides of blacking out your windows is that by doing so, you most often block airflow from your windows as well.

As a result, people simply trying to get a better night’s sleep often feel as though they need to choose between completely blacking out their room and getting fresh air from outside. Nevertheless, you might not need to make this compromise.

Although traditional blackout solutions are ideal for achieving total darkness, there are a few alternative ways you can blackout your windows while keeping them open to get fresh air from outside. 

This post will delve into three of these creative light-blocking methods. 

But first, why can’t you get airflow from your windows and have them blocking sunlight at the same time?

The problem with getting airflow with blacked-out windows

blackout film on windows

Blacking out your windows can be key to sleeping without being disrupted by the morning sunlight. The downside, of course, is that to blackout your windows, most often you have to have them shut to achieve complete darkness. After all, blackout film and blackout paint on your windows are useless if your windows are kept open.

However, there is one window blackout solution that doesn’t require your windows to be shut: blackout curtains.

Blackout curtains are one of the most popular ways to block light from your windows. Not only is this method extremely effective for darkening your room, but it is also likely the most aesthetically pleasing ways to do so. The only problem is that even with your windows open, closed blackout curtains don’t let much airflow in through your windows… at all.

Blackout curtains are typically made of super tightly knit fabric. In addition, the inner side of the curtains often has an additional liner made to block light from the outside. As you can imagine, because of the density and thickness of this material, these curtains do not allow for air to pass by them easily. They aren’t just flimsy curtains that the breeze can gently blow through.

In turn, with closed blackout curtains, you simply can’t experience the benefits of sleeping with your windows open

However, you might be thinking, “well, the air from the windows flowing around the sides of the curtains can bring airflow into your room right?”.

Well, yes that is correct. However, you must keep in mind that the amount of air that can easily waft around the sides and top of your curtain into your room is minimal. These curtains are often designed to fall close to your window and extend past the edge of your window, to begin with. This allows the curtains to better block light from around the top and edges of the window, but consequentially, this allows for little to no room for air to pass through.

In fact, the more you try to completely cover your windows with curtains to block as much light as possible, the less air is actually going to come through your windows if they are open.

Don’t fret quite yet though! With the help of any of the following methods, you can fix this problem in no time. 

Ideas for how to block light from your windows while still allowing airflow

With the right tips and tricks, you can still blackout your windows with blackout curtains while still allowing for the fresh breeze to easily flow in.

Unfortunately, you likely will never be able to totally blackout your room as effectively while still maintaining good airflow through your windows. However, these methods will show you how you can at least reduce the amount of sunlight that would otherwise shine into your room while still getting fresh air. 

Window fan and air duct

a makeshift ventilation method

Ultimately, this window fan method is likely the most effective way in which you can block out the most sunlight from your windows while still getting good air circulation.

First, you must put a window fan inside your window casing and adjust its settings so that it is sucking air into your room instead of the other way around. From here, you will need to get a little creative.

fan in a window casing

You must position an air deflector over your fan, pointed downward so that the air sucked in from outside is essentially directed to the floor instead of horizontally away from the window fan. Try turning the fan on and then tweaking the position of the deflector so that it is directing as much fresh air as possible in the downward direction. Once you have found the ideal positioning you must tape your air deflector to your window fan.

air deflector attached to a fan

From here, if you don’t have your blackout curtains installed quite yet, go ahead and put them in place. However, when installing them, make sure that the curtains are hanging with a few inches of space above the ground.

The beauty of this setup is that once the window fan is turned on and the blackout curtains are completely closed, fresh air will still be able to disperse throughout your room since it will be channeled down and out from under your curtains. Without the air deflector and the slightly raised curtains, the channeled fresh air would simply hit your blackout curtains directly in front of the fan without getting a chance to easily flow into your room.

This method is ideal because your room will practically be just as pitch black with the window fan configuration as it was without it.

Using an awning

awning attached to a window

An awning is an overhanging canvas sheet that you attach outside your house right above your window. The purpose of an awning is really to block sunlight from hitting your windows or doorway head-on. Naturally, this structure is great for helping to darken your room.

If your house is facing the east where the sun rises, a light-blocking awning can make a huge difference in how much light enters your room in the early morning.

However, the angle at which the sunlight initially hits your window really determines how effective the awning solution might be.

For instance, if the morning light hits your window from higher above as it peaks over the top of a hill or a building, a long overhanging awning might provide enough coverage to block the majority of this light from entering your room.

Of course, your awning won’t completely block all sunlight. After all, it will only overhang across part of your window. However, as long as sunlight doesn’t shoot horizontally into your room as it peeks over the horizon, your awning should dim a good amount of sunlight. 

To block as much light as possible, you should still use your blackout curtains. Keep them halfway closed, however. This way you can allow for some airflow without letting too much light into your room.

Mesh liner

black mesh liner inbetween curtains

This method, in most cases, is the least effective for blacking out your room while still maintaining airflow from your window. However, it is the least costly, and probably the easiest to implement.

Your mesh fabric would essentially act as a semi-blackout material put in place between the two blackout curtains. This way your mesh fabric will allow for fresh air to permeate into your room while still blocking out a good deal of sunlight. 

To begin, you will want to set up your blackout curtains if you haven’t already. Next, you will have to cut out the appropriate shape of the mesh liner. Of course, you should make sure the length of the mesh liner is the height of your windows, to begin with. The width, however, should be appropriate for how much airflow you want to have. A wider width of mesh liner will allow more airflow. On the other hand, this could potentially allow for more light into your room as well. It’s a balance that you might have to play with a bit.

Once you have cut out your mesh fabric, you can then attach it to your curtain rod. If you want this to be more of a temporary solution, you can simply just tape the mesh to your curtain rod. However, if you want this mesh fabric to be more of a permanent solution, consider attaching curtain hooks to it as if it were essentially a third curtain.

A last resort option… but an effective one

Although a sleeping mask is technically not a solution for blacking out your windows, it is an excellent way to totally block out light for better sleep nonetheless. 

The benefit of this method is that you can essentially keep your window wide open, with no curtains at all, in broad daylight for maximum airflow and yet… your world will still be 100% pitch black.

Yes, sleeping masks can be irritating to wear. However, if you would rather avoid the hassle of trying to block light from windows while keeping airflow, this method might be ideal for you.

Final words

Achieving total blackness in your room while maintaining a nice breeze from outside certainly isn’t easy. In fact, in many cases, the more you might try to blackout your windows, the more airflow you will restrict the process.

However, with a little bit of creativity, you can most certainly bring some cool outside breeze into your room without a flood of sunlight as a result. The various methods to do this require a bit of planning and effort, but until blackout curtains that allow for airflow become a real thing, these methods will suffice in the meantime.

To learn more about the ways in which you can darken your bedroom, check out this guide on how to blackout your bedroom.