How to Hang Curtains the Easy Way with a Laser Level

Reader Success Stories

  • Anonymous

Jul 18, 2017

    Anonymous Jul 18, 2017

    “I bought some curtains (first time) and forgot about the hardware I needed. This article reminded me to look before buying. I didn’t know I needed curtain hooks or how to really make the curtains look presentable. Thanks so much!” …” more

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How to Hang Curtains

You can eliminate some common mistakes in hanging curtains by following these simple steps and time-saving hacks.

  1. 1. Measure your windows. You must know the measurements of your windows to find the right length and width for your panels. Make your own DIY curtains or find ready-made ones that will completely cover the window and also look aesthetically pleasing with the height of the ceiling in your room. Curtains that are too small or short might make your ceilings appear lower than they are, while curtains that are too long will bunch up on the floor and collect dust and debris.
  2. 2. Decide where to attach the rod brackets. Determine whether you want to install the rod brackets to your framing or your drywall. If you are installing heavier hardware, you can ensure a secure installation by screwing your brackets to the framing elements of the wall. Find wall studs by using a stud finder tool and lightly mark the exact spot on the framing surface.
  3. 3. Draw a template before you drill. Use a tape measure, level, and pencil to draw out a template before you do any drilling. Creating a visual plan before you drill will make it easy to hang your curtain rod at the correct height and ensure both ends are level. Inaccurate templates can result in multiple drilled holes that you will need to repair and paint over.
  4. 4. Drill holes for the rod brackets. Save cleanup time by taping an open envelope below your drilling locations to catch any drywall dust or sawdust from the stud from landing on your floors. Use a drill bit slightly smaller than the securing screws and the drill holes to ensure a straight and accurate entry into the stud face. If you are having trouble finding studs that will accommodate your curtain rod, you can instead choose to secure the brackets directly into the drywall using wall anchors (available at any hardware store).
  5. 5. Secure the brackets and hang your curtains. You can use a screwdriver or an impact drill on a lower setting to secure the brackets to the wall. You should fasten the hardware to create a stable installation that children or pets can’t easily undo, but the installation should not be so overly tight as to damage the surrounding drywall.

3. Check the pole is level

This stage is a two person job as the level needs to be done by eye rather than using a level. 

Mark up the position of the brackets using a pencil. When nothing is square it is probably best to fix the pole parallel with the top of the window rather than following the line of the ceiling or the result could look wonky.

(Image credit: Loom & Last)

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!

Drapery Sizes

Consider the right size, length, and width drapes for your space. There are many store-bought options or your room may require custom-made drapes to meet specific heights, room, or window specifications.

  • In the majority of cases, the ideal length for drapes is long enough to just kiss the floor. Obviously where you hang your curtain rod will have an impact. If you’re purchasing ready-made drapes, it will be a bit of a balancing act to determine what length to get and where to hang the rod.
  • For a traditional, formal look, consider drapes that puddle a couple of inches on the floor. This look isn’t as popular as it once was but it’s inherently luxurious and can still work in formal spaces.
  • Do not allow your drapes to hang above the floor. When they stop a couple of inches above the floor, it can make the ceilings look lower.
  • For drapes to look full, the panels should have a combined width of at least double the width of the window. If you have two panels, each one should equal the width of the window.
  • Keep in mind that some fabrics hang differently than others, so light fabrics may require more fullness, while heavy fabrics may require a little less.

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Installing Drapery and Curtain Rods

Different types of curtain rods may have varied, unique instructions, but the information included here will provide general instructions for installing drapery hardware. No matter which type of drapery rods you choose, it’s important to read the instructions before you begin the installation process.

Step 1: Mark the Placement of the Drapery Rod



Before you even pick up your materials, you need to determine the exact spot where you want to install your curtain rods. Use a pencil to mark where you will hang the curtain rod. The best way to do this is to decide where you want the bottom of the curtain to fall, and then measure upward. Drapery rod placement will also depend on the type of drapery you’ve selected, as different types of drapery have unique lengths. For example:

  • Sill length curtains should reach the bottom of the window sill
  • Floor length curtains should hang just above the floor
  • Puddled drapery should touch the floor

Step 2: Mark Where the Curtain Rod Brackets will be PlacedIn general, most drapery rods are installed a few inches above the window frame. However, if you are interested in a more dramatic look, we recommend mounting the drapery higher than the sill and wider than the width of the window to make the windows appear larger. 

Once you’ve marked the spot for your drapery rod, you need to decide where to put the curtain rod brackets. 

Where Should Curtain Rod Brackets Be Placed?

Curtain rod brackets should be placed at the height determined by the drapery rod, and the brackets should be marked approximately 3”- 4” from the ends of the drapery rod (usually beyond the window frame to allow for the curtains to open fully). If you have selected longer or heavier-than-average curtain rods, these typically come with center brackets, which should be installed at the midpoint of the two end brackets.

Note: Any backing to the brackets should be removed in order to mark where the drill holes on the brackets should go. Otherwise, you may end up with an inaccurate marking. 

Step 3: Mount the Brackets

After you’ve measured and marked the spots for the brackets, it’s time to mount them. This part is relatively simple: all you need to do is drill pilot holes where you made your bracket markings.

Once you’ve drilled the pilot holes, it’s time to fasten the brackets to the wall using the provided screws or nails. Again, make sure that you check all pieces before beginning the drapery rod installation process to make sure you have all the necessary screws or nails. Once you’ve installed all of the curtain rod brackets, check to make sure they’re secure before you move on to the next step.

How to Hang Curtain Rods in Drywall

If you’re installing curtain rods on drywall, the installation process will vary from curtain rods on other surfaces. It’s important to either mount the brackets into the framing of the wall or use wall anchors for the installation. Otherwise, you run the risk of insecure brackets which may tear and fall out of the wall. 

Step 4: Attach the Drapery Rod to the Bracket

Once the brackets are secure, you can install the drapery rod. If you’ve measured the space and mounted the brackets properly, this last step should be easy. 

Some types of drapery rods come with finials or rings. These should be installed once the rod is in place. 

How to Install a Valance Rod

You can use a window valance by itself or with curtains and drapery to cover the upper portion of the window. Follow these steps to install a valance rod:

  • Measure and mark where you will place the curtain rod brackets
  • Mark the spot for the first valance bracket. Aim to place the valance bracket approximately 1 inch from your curtain rod marking. Use a different color so you can tell the difference between markings
  • Next, measure from your first valance rod marking to the opposite side of the window. Just as you did in the last step, place the second valance bracket mark 1 inch outside of the curtain rod marking
  • Use a level to make sure your bracket markings are aligned
  • Using your drill, carefully attach the valance brackets to the wall
  • Arrange the curtains on the rod and place the rod between the brackets
  • Once your curtains are in place, slide the valance onto the rod
  • Place the valance rod into the brackets
  • You may want to use a steamer to remove wrinkles or creases in the valance

Step 5: Hang Your Drapery

Now that everything is in place, the final step is to actually hang your drapery. Hang your curtains on the rod and test that the rods and brackets are secure by opening and closing the curtains. The drapes should hang naturally on their own.

Determining Rod Height

When you hang a curtain rod in the “traditional” way, the rod is usually even to the top of the bracket. In the case of Command Hooks though, the rod nestles into the hook, making the rod even with the bottom. This can be a little tricky to gauge visually, so I suggest first taping the Command Hooks to the wall (as shown below) to test different heights.

Even though I originally placed my hooks at what I

Even though I originally placed my hooks at what I thought was “high and wide,” it wasn’t near high enough once I placed the rod and tested a panel.

I personally prefer my curtain rods halfway betwee

I personally prefer my curtain rods halfway between the ceiling and the window trim. So once I figured out that placement, I made a quick cardboard template using this curtain hack from Young House Love. Using a cardboard template allows you to skip the measuring and leveling and can really save so much time and hassle!

Twist and Fit

Shop on Bed Bath & Beyond
Shop on Bed Bath & Beyond

Twist and fit curtain rods are another fantastic product for people who want to hang curtains without holes. 

The removable curtain rod works similarly to a tension rod, but actually has decorative ends that stick out from the window and lets you attach a real curtain rod to them so the curtains sit in front of the window rather than inside it. 

Step 1: Determine how high to hang curtain rods

Wondering where to hang curtain rods? It's essential to mount curtain rods in the right spot, or your perfect-length curtains might not hang properly. A rod that sits too close to the window can make a space seem smaller than it really is. To ensure perfect curtain placement, measure the depth of your window molding to determine the ideal size for your curtain brackets. You'll want curtain brackets that extend past the depth of your trim. If they're too shallow, your curtains won't hang properly.

Using a pencil and tape measure, mark the desired position of your curtain brackets, so the rod is about 4 to 6 inches above your window frame, making sure the curtains will slightly brush the floor or hover just above it. The curtain brackets should be placed about 6 inches from the outside edge of the window frame to allow plenty of natural light.

How to Calculate the Right Measurements for Hanging Curtains

Before you start hanging curtains, make sure the panels are wide enough to cover your home's windows. You don't want to be rudely awakened by a beam of sunlight that the curtains don't block, so measure your window dimensions before purchasing or making your curtains. The total width of your curtain panels should add up to about two times the window's width.

Choosing the correct curtain length for your windows is also important. Besides looking awkward, too-small curtains visually shorten your space, making ceilings appear lower. Too-small curtains also make the room look smaller overall. Curtains that drag on the floor could pose a tripping hazard and collect dust more easily. For the ideal middle ground, curtains should hover just above the floor.

To find the right curtain length, measure from the floor to where you'll hang the rod (usually 4 to 6 inches above the window frame). Otherwise, hanging the curtain rod just below the ceiling is a simple design trick that makes your ceilings appear taller. Curtains come in standard lengths like 63, 84, and 96 inches. Choose one closest to your measurement, erring on the side of a few inches longer than shorter.

Additionally, be sure to choose a curtain rod that's wider than your window. This allows curtains to be pulled completely to the side of the window and makes the space feel larger. The rod itself should be 8 to 12 inches longer than the window's width, which allows for 4 to 6 inches on either side.

Related: 19 Impactful Ways to Dress Multiple Windows in a Row

low table and patterned curtains Credit: Nicholas Johnson

Final Thoughts

Whether you want the traditional window treatment look or you’re fine with hanging curtains without rods, you can easily do it without doing any damage to your walls.

Tension rods, stick-on rods, and even skipping curtains altogether to opt for a window shade are all creative ways to avoid drilling into your walls without sacrificing style. 


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