How to Block Light From Top/Side of Curtains

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Light coming in from the tops or sides of your curtains can be rather annoying. Vampires and light sleepers alike hate sunlight coming into the room; it’s always just enough to wake you. Or maybe you have a game room and the sunlight is causing glare. It just so happens there are plenty of options available to completely divorce the light coming in through the sides and the top of your curtains.

How to Block Light From Top/Sides of Curtains

1. Use Blackout Curtains

First and foremost, invest in blackout curtains (View on Amazon). Contrary to its name, they aren’t always black; in fact, there’s a wide range of colors you can buy. This is going to help exponentially in blocking out sunlight. If Dracula were still alive, there’s no doubt he’d use these.

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What blackout curtains do, if the name didn’t tip you off, is block out the sun with a thick curtain. Not only does it help block the sun, it’ll even keep your house a few degrees cooler or trap heat in during the winter. In other words, you save yourself a few bucks on your heating and electric bill.

While you’re at it, don’t get curtains that have rings. This provides an opening, albeit a small opening, but an opening nonetheless that light will shine through. Stick to blackout curtains that have a single loop sewn shut. Also, don’t forget to buy the right size!

2. Install a Cornice Board

One of the worst aspects of curtains, no matter the brand or kind, light always comes up through the top. That small amount of light is going to wake light sleepers, which you may very well be. In that case, you should consider installing a cornice board (View on Amazon).

A cornice board is basically a cap that goes over your curtains. Since it covers the curtains and the bar itself, it shields the light coming in from the top. You can buy some off of Amazon for very affordable prices and all kinds of designs exist, giving you plenty of options for picking one that fits the aesthetic of your home. And plus, it gives you a lot more freedom with the curtains you choose since you don’t have to consider the tops of the curtains.

Now, chances are almost 100 percent that a cornice board will have to be drilled into your wall. If that poses a problem, you should consider a valance instead.

3. Use a Valance

A valance is similar to a cornice board, provided you buy the right kind. Generally speaking, a valance is basically a portion of a curtain that covers the very top. However, you can take a scarf-style valance (View on Amazon) and drape it over the top. This will block a portion of the light or more depending on the thickness of the valance.

If you use a valance, you can avoid drilling holes into your wall for a cornice board. However, your choices are far more limited as it can be tough to make a valance look natural laying across the top of your curtains.

4. Weather-stripping and Caulking

Weatherstripping/window caulking are effective methods to stop light from coming through the top of your window. Weatherstripping is used to seal off the edges of a window to stop heat and cold from coming in. This also stops light from coming into the window as an added benefit – anywhere light can get through, heat and cold and get through. Weatherstrips (view on Amazon) are relatively cheaper, however, caulking can be slightly expensive. Caulking involves adding caulk on the sides and sealing it off with a caulking gun (view on Amazon).

5. Blackout Curtain Liners For Drapes

If you have drapes that let the sun come through the top, then you should add a blackout liner (view on Amazon) behind them rather than replacing the drape. Thermally insulated blackout curtain liners are thick enough to block sunlight and they’re convenient because they attach to your existing drapes. You can install the blackout curtain lines onto your existing drapes by attaching the liner to the back of the drapes. This will take about 10 minutes. Another added bonus to blackout curtain liners is that they reduce noise.

6. Install a Wrap Around Curtain Rod

To go with your blackout curtains, you need a wrap around curtain rod (View on Amazon). This is going to solve the problem of light shining in through the sides of the curtains. The way it accomplishes this is the two ends bend backward, allowing for your curtains to extend back further rather than get blocked by a straight rod.

Using a wrap-around curtain rod or return rod is one of the most natural-looking ways to block off light from around the edges of your curtains. Better yet, no glues or sewing is needed. You simply need to install a return rod properly.

In terms of looks, a return rod doesn’t look different from a normal curtain rod. But the difference is that the return rod curves around at the end to create a wide U shape. This allows the curtain to draw into the wall which will close off the sides of the window. This will ultimately let less light into your room.

Although this works well to stop light coming through, the downside is that this type of curtain rod doesn’t close off the top of the curtain as well as the side. But if you install the curtain rod high enough from the top of your window, you’ll be able to block most of the light that comes from the top of your curtains.

To install a return rod, first, make sure that you have removed your existing curtain rod. Simply pull out the screws, remove the brackets and the rod.

Before you can install the return rod, you’ll need to remove the existing rod. This can be done by removing the screws from the brackets and taking down the rod.

Measure where you want to put the new curtain rod. To stop as much light as coming through from the top of the curtains as possible, you need to mount the return rod as high on your window trim as possible. Make sure you make it just high enough to prevent any light from coming through the top. When trying to judge how high would be best to put the rid to stop light from coming through the top, you need to make sure that the curtains aren’t exposing the bottom of the window because they’re too high up. This will cause light to come through the bottom of the curtains rather than the top.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, mark the spots where you want to place the brackets. At these points, you want to drip pilot holes for the screws. Now place the brackets over the holes before you start drilling the screws to secure them. When trying to position the brackets, make sure that the rod will be perfectly leveled and lined up. Now you can drill it in the secure it.

Now that the rod is secure, make sure that the curtains cover your window as well as the sides of your window trim too.

7. Use Magnetic Tape

A wrap-around curtain rod is all good and fine, but you can go one step further by lining the inside edges with a thin strip of magnetic tape (View on Amazon). Likewise, the edges of your window will also be lined with a thin strip of magnetic tape. When the two meet, they’ll snap together and keep the curtains from moving.

You will need:

  • Super glue
  • Magnetic tape

You’ll hardly notice the black strip of tape since the curtains will probably be closed for extended periods of time. And to be frank, are you going to care if people see tape on your wall? It blocks the sun out, that’s all that matters.

To carry this out, you’ll need to start by sticking your magnetic tape to your curtains. With the magnetic tape you’ve just bought, you’ll need to unravel it and start sticking it to the bottom outer corner on the inside edge of your curtains.

Start to unravel the magnetic tape along the side of the curtain whilst also pressing the tap against the fabric as you go along to make sure that it sticks properly.

Once you’ve reached the top of your curtains, cut it with scissors and press the end of the tape into the fabric. Follow the same process along the top of your curtain an inch or more below the curtain rings.

Tip: Magnetic tape doesn’t adhere as well to some types of curtains. Depending on the type of fabric your curtains are made of, you might find that your magnetic tape peels off pretty easily. Depending on the type of curtain you have, your magnetic tape might not adhere. Due to the material of some curtains, magnetic tapes can peel off easily. To fix this, rather than using the magnetic tape on it’s own, you can couple it up with superglue and glue down the magnetic tape to the edges of the curtain. This will ensure that the magnetic tape has strong adhesion to the fabric.

Make sure to line the adhesive side of the magnetic tape with superglue every few inches at a time before you press the magnetic tape into the curtain. Glue and press the tape into the curtain bit by bit whilst making sure that the glue doesn’t dry out as you lay the magnetic tape onto the edge of the curtain.

You need to press each glued segment every few inches to make sure that the tap really sticks to the curtains. Making sure that you do this every few inches will ensure this. Continue this process all the way to the top then do the same for the top of the curtain and the other side of the curtain. Now you need to stick more magnetic tape to the wall an inch away from the window trim. You need to determine the point that your curtains fall to and you can mark this using a pencil since this is where the magnetic strip will need to be stuck to.

You now need to stick the magnetic tape to the points that you’ve marked on the wall, inch by inch, just like you did when sticking the magnetic tape to the curtains. Once you’ve placed the magnetic tape on your wall, the edges of the curtain should automatically stick to the perimeter of the window, blocking any light from coming through the edges.

8. Block Light with Blinds

It may sound counterintuitive or a waste of time, but blinds can shelter your room from the rays of the nearby star so long as the blinds fit the inside of the window. Once you’ve place the blinds on the inside, you can install curtains to cover anything peeking through. And if you want to go overboard, use blackout curtains for maximum sunlight blockage.

9. Install Privacy Film

What makes privacy film such a tantalizing option is that it accomplishes two things: it can reduce sunlight coming in and, as its name suggests, provides a layer of privacy. It does this by obscuring your window with its mesh-like material. However, since it reduces sunlight, this should be used in conjunction with the options available here.

10. Window Tint Film

To prevent light from coming through the top of your curtain, you can apply a window film treatment. This will darken the windows without drapes or curtains. You’ll need to apply the window film directly to the windows on the inside. The window film will reduce the light coming into the window similar to the window tint on your car if you’ve had the treatment applied. Light will still be able to seep through the film treatment but this will reduce the darkness of the film. Bear in mind that your room will feel cooler due to this film treatment.

11. Bedroom Pillows

Rather than buying things such as magnetic tape or using window film treatment, you can use the extra pillows from your bed and lay them on the top of your curtains to stop light from coming through the top. You can also lay them against the bottom to prevent light from entering. If you have multiple extra pillows, you can lay them so each pill is touching the other and make sure the bottom of the curtains is being pressed against the wall to block out any sunlight coming through the bottom.

12. Use Cardboard

If you have a large piece of cardboard laying around, you can lay it on of the curtain rod. By laying it on top of the curtain rod, it will stop light from coming through from the top of your bedroom window.

13. Use Tin Foil

If you’re short on cash and desperately need some sleep, consider using tin foil and tape. Tin foil isn’t see-through so it blocks the light well enough, and if you use painter’s tape you won’t run into the problem of tape sticking to your windows.

However, it should be noted that if you’re renting, this may not be an option. You may want to speak with your landlord before sticking tin foil to your windows. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

14. Light Blocking Blinds

You can block out light around the edges of your curtains using light-blocking blinds. This works by using individual blinds that would typically hang in front of your window, as light-blocking barriers between the curtain and your window trim. If you don’t have any spare blinds, you can order some replacement blinds (view on Amazon).

You need to line up your blinds flush against the edge of the side of your window trim so that the blinds are coming out from the wall. If the blinds are too big for your window, mark the areas where the windows end on the blind and cut the blinds at those markings so that they fit well with the length of the window. Do this for another set of blinds to fit the other side of the window so that no light leaks through the sides. Then do the same for the top of the window.

Next, you need to stick the first blind to the side of the window using superglue. Using super glue to do this would make it permanent since trying to peel the blinds off once it’s been glued down will damage your wall. Rather than glue, you can use 3M Command strips (view on Amazon). This means that your walls won’t be damaged if you were to peel them off the wall. It’s a semi-permanent solution and if you even chose to remove it, your windows will still look new.

If you’ve decided to go ahead with superglue, you can apply the super glue to the edge of the blind, doing this every few inches. Once applied, make sure to press the edge of the blind against the side of the window trim firmly. This will ensure that it sticks properly and the light doesn’t leak out. Gluing down the blinds to the wall bit by bit will make sure that your glue doesn’t dry up before you try to stick it down. If you applied the glue all at once without sticking it down then apply every few inches, it will dry up. Also, doing it in sections will help you make sure that the blinds are aligned and aren’t out of place.

To use the 3M command strips, you’ve need to stick one side of the command strip to the top corner of the blind, then stick the other side to the corresponding corner of the window trim. Do the same thing for the bottom. The 3M strips will allow you to remove the blinds if you no longer want then anymore and it won’t leave any peeled walls if you decide to take them off. The only downside to 3M command strips compared to super glue is that it’s not as adhesive. Wether you decide to use command strips or superglue, you need to follow the same process for the other side of your window. Once you’re done, the blind should stick out far enough out of the wall to prevent any light from leaking out onto the edges of your curtain.

Why Light Is Coming Through Your Curtains

If your curtains are abnormally wide, or weidly shaped, they might not fit the window trim properly to be able to block out all sunlight. Apart from this being the main reason, there are still other reasons why light can shine around the edges of your curtains that have to do with the set up of your curtains. With a few tweaks and adjust ments, you can solve these problems.

1. Your Curtains Are The Wrong Size

If your curtains are the wrong size, then onbiously light will seep through the top of your curtains which will prevent the pitch black look that you might be going for. Even if you have the best curtains in the world, they might simply be too small for your windows which will cause light to spill over.

If your curtains are too big, then the obvious decision would be to buy some new curtains that are much larger (view on Amazon). Before buying your curtains this time, you need to determine whether they’re going to fit the shape of your window. You’ll need to take time out to measure the length and height of your windows and buy your curtains according to the measured dimensions.

2. Your Curtains Have Been Installed Incorrectly

If your curtains have been installed incorrectly, this can cause light to come out of the edges of the curtains. You may have installed the rod at the top too low and this is causing light to come through the top of your curtains. Or, the bracket and the rod might not reach the width of the entire window trim which is causing light to seep through the edges.

If the rod has been installed too close to the top of the window and not high above it, it might not be high enough to block out light that’s coming from the top of the window. If the rod was installed too close to the side of the windows, then the curtains won’t be able to extend far enough to cover the sides of the window.

To fix these problems, you’ll need to reinstall the rods so that the curtains are positioned high and wide enough to prevent light from seeping through the top and the sides of the curtains. You need to remove the screws holding the brackets in place. Position the brackets about three inches above the window and three inches from the side of the window. Then you need to drill your brackets back in to secure the rod in place. Now place your curtains and they should clear the top and sides of the window to stop light from getting in.

3. Your Curtains Are Too Far Away From The Window

If your curtains are coming out too far away from the window, as in the length between the rod and the edge of the window is too much due to the brackets, then this will cause light to come through the window. When your curtains are hanging far from the windows, then too much light can get through. You’ll need to make sure that the rod is closer to the edge of the window so light can’t seep through the top, bottom or sides.

To fix this, you need to adjust your brackets so that they’re closer to the wall. If you brackets can’t be adjusted, you’ll need to hang the curtains a different way or use magnetic tapes to stick the edge of the curtains to the edge of the wall.

Bottom Line

Any one of these solutions will certainly reduce the amount of light coming in. However, for maximum sun reduction, you should use all the options presented. Of course, some options are better than others—privacy film over tin foil, cornice board over valance curtains.

By using a combination, for example: the blackout curtains will block the most sun, the wrap around curtain rod will stock sun from coming in the sides, the magnetic tape will keep the curtains in place, and the cornice board will block sun coming in from the top. What you get in the end is zero sunlight and better sleep. It might suit you to use a sleep mask, too.