How To Hang Curtains the Right Way

Peter Chambers

May 31, 2023

airy drapes behind a decorative table with flowers and a book that are hung by someone who knows how to hang curtains

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Curtains are a handy home design tool. They block out the sun allowing you to sleep, eat or watch TV without being blinded. They keep your late-night activities and your at-home workouts from prying eyes. They can completely transform the look and feel of your space. If you know how to hang curtains correctly, you can make your room seem larger and turn your home from drab to sophisticated.  

This guide will walk you through all the steps of how to hang curtains the right way the first time. No more guesswork, just real results.   

The Magic Is in the Measurements

The most important part of the whole process is getting accurate measurements and using spacing to your advantage. Most common curtain problems boil down to neglecting this first step. The proper dimensions can make your ceilings look taller and the window wider, while skipping this step can lead to the opposite.  Solidify these specifics before buying drapes or drilling holes. 

Rod Length

Rods come in many lengths to accommodate windows of differing sizes. However, the price increases the bigger they get, so finding the best fit will make your home look better and your wallet happier. 

When your curtains are open during the day, they hand on the ends of the rod. If you measure the exact width of the window, the curtains will cover the sides when open. To avoid blocking out valuable natural light, you should measure extra space for the rod to hang beyond the window frame. Ideally, you want at least 3 to 4 inches of overhang on each side, so add 6 to 8 inches to your measurement for the window width before selecting the rod size. 

Rod Height

Hanging your curtain rod at the right height will make your ceilings look taller and your window appear larger. The right setting is dependent on your ceiling and window heights. 

The general recommendation is to place the rod 4-6 inches above the window frame. If you have 8 or 9-foot ceilings with 6-12 inches between the frame and the ceiling, you should hang the rod halfway between the two. Ceilings 10 feet or higher are more challenging. You’ll need to customize the height to fit the room’s scale. 

Curtain Length

When shopping for curtains, you need to know what length you need. You’ll base this measurement on the current rod height and how you want your drapes to hang. The standard sizes for curtains are 84, 96 and 108 inches long.

You also need to decide how you want the curtains to hang. You can choose one of three looks — hovering, kissing and puddling. Hovering curtains float just above the floor line, not quite touching. Drapes kissing the ground are slightly longer and meet flush with the floor. Puddling is a more dramatic and vintage look where the curtains are longer than the height of the rod, so they create a “puddle” of fabric on the floor. 

For most ceiling heights, 84 inches will be too short, making your window and wall look strange. It’s better to go longer than you need because you can always hem the curtains while adding length is challenging. 

Curtain Width

Your final decision is curtain width. Unless you order custom drapes, you won’t have much say in the width per panel. However, you must determine how many panels you need to cover the window and look nice. 

You generally want enough material width to cover double the window’s width. You should also have a minimum of two panels per window. These tricks will give you enough for billows or pleats to elevate the design of your space and make it look less like a bachelor pad. 

Consider Your Material and Finishes

The material and finishes you choose are a highly personal decision and will change depending on your desired aesthetic. However, here’s a few quick notes. You should avoid ornate rods or finials unless you love maximalist, vintage or Victorian decor. Basic ones in matte black or a metal tone to match your home will look lovely and accentuate your beautiful curtains. 

Your drape material must match your design style and needs for the space. Heavy curtains are best for bedrooms and noisy apartments since they block out sound and light. Lighter materials give a much more open and airy feel to a space. 

Supplies You’ll Need

Gather these materials before beginning your curtain-hanging project. 

  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape 
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill 
  • Drywall anchors
  • Level
  • Rod and hardware
  • Brackets
  • Curtains (at least two panels)

How to Hang Your Curtains

Once you have all your measurements and you’ve purchased appropriately sized materials, the rest of the process is quite simple. 

Mark Your Holes

Using your measuring tape and a pencil, make a dot at the crossroads of your height and width requirements from the window frame. Once you have your initial point, you can place your bracket on the wall to mark the other. Hold the bracket over your pencil spot and use your level to check it before making your final pencil marks. Repeat this process for each bracket.  

Install the Brackets

Now you can use your drill to pre-drill each hole. If you’re screwing into studs, you won’t need drywall anchors. Otherwise, you should use one in each hole by inserting them right after drilling. After the holes are ready, you can use a screwdriver and your rod hardware to fix the brackets to the wall. Your rod should come with specific instructions to help you complete this step. 

Hang Curtains on the Rod

Once your brackets are in place, you can pleat or fold your curtains and string them onto the rod. Spread them out so you have at least one panel on each side. Before hanging, you may need to iron out any wrinkles for a better finished look.  

Install the Rod and Curtains on the Brackets

The final step is to raise the rod with curtains in place and set it on the brackets. Use the screws to tighten the brackets against the rod to hold it in place. All you have left to do is stand back and enjoy your handiwork.  

Learning How to Hang Curtains Is Easy

Hanging curtains is one of the easiest ways to add flair to your home. The most challenging step is to set your measurements and choose your materials. Afterward, the process is quite simple. With these tips, you’ll be able to maximize your natural light, make your windows appear bigger, and have your ceilings looks higher. 

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