Opaque materials do not allow light to pass through or penetrate them. For textiles, the measurement of opacity in the fabric refers to the percentage of light it blocks out. Think about completely opaque materials like blackout fabrics -- these provide absolute coverage from light. You might see these kinds of specialty fabrics used in wedding or party tents. But did you know that fabrics come in varying levels of opacity?
A Little Background
Blackout fabric has been around since the early 1900's, coming from some technological advancements including top coatings, layering, uses of different textiles. Specifically, blackout fabric is a specialty textile with opaque material layered between at least two exterior fabrics Those external layers act like thick shields, protecting each other with the opaque textile in the middle acting as a barrier for light. But like many great breakthroughs, the potential uses were just being considered.
How Blackout Fabrics Work
The level of opacity can be manipulated in fabrics. This means you can use textiles that are either completely or somewhat opaque. There are a number of reasons why you might want have light completely blocked, or even allow for a certain amount of opacity to let some light pass through. Depending on the particular usage, you will want to evaluate the situation where the product is being used and even test as any number of factors can affect the ambient light, including position, seasonality, time of day, or surrounding structures.
Keep in mind that blackout fabrics are often little thicker given their construction, this can provide added benefits, including acoustic dampening and thermal protection.
So, what are some of the uses of opaque fabrics?
- Awnings & Patio Covers: Using a semi-opaque fabric in a shade structure allows just enough light to filter through - providing customers shade from direct sunlight, but still enough translucence to enjoy the brightness. For complete shade, you can use blackout fabrics.
- Curtains & Drapes: Using semi-opaque or 100% blackout fabrics for curtains, for industrial or home use, adds to the ambiance of your environment and helps reduce solar heat gain. Think reduced air conditioning costs. Remember, you can also use a semi-opaque fabric for your curtains or drapes to allow a little bit of light through.
- Tents: When it comes to using tents for weddings or parties, blackout fabrics are very useful. These keep out the heat, sunlight, and UV rays; allowing your guests to feel completely comfortable. Read more about blackout tent fabric considerations here.
- Boat Covers: Boat covers can also be made with blackout fabric. Selecting an entirely opaque covering will protect your boat’s finish/paint from direct sunlight damage, while in storage or while sitting in the dock.
Looking for the perfect tent fabric material? Download our free "Five Factors to Consider When Buying Tent Fabric Material" Guide.