How to Hang a Curtain Rod Without Drilling into the Wall

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DO hang your curtains close to the ceiling

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but here’s your official reminder to always hang your curtain rods high and wide. If you hang your rods to look like they’re hugging the window, it makes the window (and as a result, pretty much the entire room) feel smaller. Hanging them higher than the window creates the illusion that the window is larger than it is, and that your ceilings are taller than they are!

Most stores only sell 84″ curtains in-store, which can be confusing – that’s too short for even a standard 8′ ceiling if you’re hanging them high! Don’t be fooled – you’re going to want 95″ curtains for a standard 8′ ceiling, and even longer for higher ceilings. Yes, it requires some extra effort (you can’t just pop into Target and pick some curtains up!), but I promise you it’s worth it.

Our curtains are 108″ long. When you’re determining how high to hang the rod itself, it’s really just a personal preference – you can hang them so the curtains sit eeeeeever so slightly off the floor, so they barely skim the floor, or so they puddle a bit. I generally like mine to graze the floor just a bit – somewhere between a “skim” and a “puddle”. Confusing, I know, but there’s no real science to it – hold them up at a couple of different heights and see what you like, then go from there. My general rule of thumb is to hang the rod about 3″ below the ceiling.

Camouflaging the Command Hooks

This next step is 100% optional; but if your eye gets easily distracted like mine does (and you really want to use rings to hang your curtains), it’s well worth a little paint and time to camouflage the hooks with some matching wall paint.

Start by using some painter’s tape around the edges of the hook. If you work carefully, you can likely slide tape between the wall and hook itself.

Then paint the exposed areas of hook with matching

Then paint the exposed areas of hook with matching wall paint. If you use dark hooks, it may take a few coats to get good coverage (when using a light paint color).

Once you remove the painter’s tape, the hook

Once you remove the painter’s tape, the hooks fade into the background and become much less noticeable. An added bonus is that the bottom (non-painted) parts of the Command Hooks almost appear like finials at the end of the rods!

Is this a perfect solution for a “forever ho

Is this a perfect solution for a “forever home”? Probably not. But is this a great way to hang curtains in a rental home without inflicting a lick of damage to the walls? Absolutely!

How to Hang Curtains

Hang the curtains using this simple two-step process once you have panels in the correct width and length.

What You Need

  • Curtain rod with brackets
  • Screws
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Wall anchors (optional)

cottage style contemporary living room with blue curtains Credit: Brie Williams

Hi, I’m Megan!

I am a military spouse, mom to 3 young boys, and a constant creator. Thanks to my husband’s career, we have moved 8 times in the last 15 years, and I’ve made it my personal mission to decorate, organize, and re-imagine each rental space until it feels like home.

I love navy blue, a good peel-and-stick wallpaper, my Cricut machine, and really hot coffee; and I genuinely believe that…

…any space can be transformed into a place you love!

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4. Drill Larger Holes Add Anchors

Once you’ve made pilot holes on the other side of the window using the other half of your template (this is why you marked 10.5″ from BOTH sides of the cardboard) you can proceed. If you hit any studs, skip to the next step. Otherwise, you’ll need to add anchors, which are typically provided with your curtain rod

Swap out your drill bit for the correct size that works with your anchors (ours needed a 3/16″ drill bit) and drill into each premade pilot hole to make larger holes for your anchors. Bonus – the template acts as a great way to catch drywall dust!

With all of your anchor-ready holes drilled, gently tap in your anchors in with a hammer or mallet. If you’re able to push your anchors into the wall by hand, you’re making your holes too large! Switch to a smaller bit or keep your drill steadier as you drill. Loose anchors can cause your rod to sag or fall out of the wall over time.

Step 2: Hold your hardware in place and mark the holes

Once you have a level mark of where to place your

Once you have a level mark of where to place your hardware, hold your hardware up to the mark and pencil in the holes. This is where you will drill. Erase any pencil marks that won’t be covered by your hardware.

Width Considerations

Use these tricks to make the drapes a standard width and to create the illusion of wider windows:

  • The standard distance from the window casing to the end of the curtain rod (excluding finials) on each side of the window should be four to 10 inches.
  • As a general rule, drapes will be open during the day, so make sure the curtain rod extends at least four inches on each side of the window’s inside frame.
  • To create the illusion of a wider window, extend the rod up to 10 inches beyond the window's frame.

Illustration: The Spruce / Emily Mendoza

HOW HIGH SHOULD YOU HANG CURTAINS?

It’s recommended to hang curtains higher than the window to make the ceiling look taller and the room feel larger.

So, don’t hang the curtain rod at the top of the window; give it some space, let it breathe.

Try to have the curtain rod at least 3″ above the window opening and if your window has trim have it at least 3″ above the trim. The higher you can go, the better.

But do not place the curtain rod higher than 12″ from the window opening or trim. It might look awkward if you go too high.

And remember to let the ceiling breathe too, so leave at least 3″ of space between the ceiling and the curtains.

SIDE NOTE: The example image is 3″ from the ceiling.

Once you’ve decided how far the curtain rod will be from the window opening, or trim, you’re ready to move on.

Step 3

Next, measure the window height. Wall-mounted rods are usually installed four inches above the window. To find your ideal placement, measure down from the ceiling to the top of the trim at the left corner of your window; mark the midway point. Repeat this in the middle of your window frame and in the right corner, then check your markings with a level.

While measuring, keep in mind the length of your curtain panels. If you can avoid it, you don’t want to have to alter the hems once you’ve mounted the rod. You may need to adjust your penciled-in placement by an inch or two to get the panels to fall where you want them. Curtains that just graze the floor or sill appear classic and tailored, while those that break slightly at the floor (from one to three inches) are also on trend.

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To give the illusion of height in the room, mount the rod even closer to the ceiling. Don’t go higher than eight inches above the window frame; any more than that looks awkward.

If you plan to puddle your curtains for a look that is extremely formal, allow six to eight extra inches of fabric to fall at the bottom. Skip this style if you plan to open and close your curtains regularly, as the bottoms will dirty quickly from constantly brushing the floors.

Step 2: Make Your Cardboard Template

We used a scrap piece of cardboard to make our template – marking 10.5″ from both sides (see white arrows) and 3″ down from the top (yellow area). This was actually the cardboard that came in the curtain package, so you might have something like it on hand already! Once we marked our lines, we lined up the curtain rod hook and marked the two screw holes on BOTH 10.5″ marks.

Instructions

  1. Determine how wide and long your curtains need to be for your window (visit full article for detailed instructions)
  2. Use a drywall anchor to attach the curtain rod brackets to the desired location.
  3. Place the curtain rod onto the brackets.
  4. Adjust the curtain to the correct size.
  5. Hang the curtain onto the rod with curtain rings.

Step 4: Drill screws into place

Using the drill bit on your drill, drive the screws into the wall. Here I am using the BLACK+DECKER Lithium Drill with AutoSense technology which has two modes, drill and drive. You can see the “drive” option lit up on the top. Drill is when you are creating holes and drive is when you are filling them with screws. Sometimes it’s challenging to get a screw perfectly flush and not “over drilled”. Stripping a screw head is never fun. With this drill it automatically monitors the amount of torque needed to drive the screw making it easy to achieve perfect results! I also like that it lights up allowing me to see the screw head before I begin drilling.

DO know your style and plan accordingly

I used to love a bold, patterned curtain but over the years I’ve learned that my style really leans towards using simpler curtains and allowing other parts of the room to be the star.

I like for my curtains to quietly layer into the space and feel like kind of a background character. You might prefer something that feels bold and exciting – and that’s fine! But if you try to go against your instincts and do something different because it’s trendy or someone else suggests it, you’ll be disappointed.

When we were planning this project, I heard from some people who were so disappointed that we weren’t doing something with some pattern, other people who felt like it would look terrible if it was anything but white, and still other people who thought we should get a couple of different colors and change them out seasonally!

The lesson here is that we all approach curtains (and really, all decor) differently, and that’s fine! Just know yourself well enough to stay away from the patterned curtains if you actually prefer something plain.

Things You’ll Need

  • Curtain rod
  • Brackets
  • Screws
  • Wall anchors (if needed)
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Pencil
  • Small nails or brads
  • Hammer
  • Stepladder

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