How to Install Curtain Rods (DIYer's Guide)

How to Hang Curtains in 4 Easy Steps

1. Gather Your Tools and Materials

First things first: gather up everything you need to hang curtains, including:

  • Curtains
  • Curtain rod and hardware
  • Ladder
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Safety glasses
  • Stud finder
  • Wall anchors (if needed)
  • Iron
2. Take Measurements

Measure your windows to make sure you get the correct curtains and rods. To determine the length of the rod, measure the width of your window and add eight to twelve inches. Each curtain panel should be at least as wide as your window. Measure from the spot you plan to hang the rod (usually four to six inches above the window, but a minimum of two inches) to the floor to figure out the length of the curtains. Add more length if you want the drapes to pool.

3. Install Brackets

Use a pencil to mark the drill holes for your brackets. Each bracket should be placed at the height you previously determined and about four to six inches from the side of the window frame. (This will allow you to open the curtains completely.) Check to make sure your pencil marks are level otherwise the entire window treatment will be crooked. Use a stud finder to see if your brackets line up with studs. If they don’t, you’ll want to install wall anchors after drilling the holes. Drill the holes and then screw the brackets to the wall.

4. Install Rod and Curtains

If your curtains are straight out of the package, iron or steam out creases and wrinkles. Remove the finials from the curtain rod and thread the curtain onto the rod. Depending on the type of bracket, you may need to place the rod into the bracket before replacing the finial. Your bracket may have set screws to keep the rod in place, so you'll want to tighten them once the rod is installed.

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.

Video

Steps for Hanging a Curtain Rod

Follow these steps to learn how to properly hang a curtain rod. Scroll down for the list of tools and materials needed for this project.

Step 1: Measure the window

  • To add drapes that partially cover the window, I’d add 2-5 inches to each side of the frame.
  • To position the curtains completely to the sides of the window, which is always my preference to let in the most light, I’ll add 8-15 inches to each side of the window.
  • To fine-tune this measurement, I use a stud finder to locate the stud beside the window. If a stud if close to my desired location, I’ll shift my placement so that my mounting screws can insert into a stud.
  • If your placement can’t land on a stud, just be sure to install wall anchors before installing the hanging brackets. If you have a long span of over 4 feet or are using a thinner rod, you may also need to add a center bracket to prevent the rod from sagging.
  • Next, I’ll measure the height, from the floor to the top edge of my window’s frame. A curtain rod usually sets about 4 inches above the window, but many people raise the rod even higher to make the room feel taller.

Keep in mind that floor-length curtain panels come in somewhat standard heights of 84 inches, 95 inches, 108 inches, and 120 inches. If you decide to move the rod up, you may need to purchase a longer panel and hem it to length or spend more money on custom curtains.

Step 2: Decide what kind of curtain you’ll be installing before hanging the rod

  • The most common hanging types are grommets, which are metal-lined holes in the curtains, tabs which hang above the top edge of the curtain, rings which clip onto the curtain and hang on the rod, and a pocket sleeve which slides over and completely conceals the rod.
  • The hanging type can adjust the overall height of the curtain, so be sure to have your curtains on hand to help determine the final height of the rod.

Step 3: Measure and mark the location of the hangers on the wall

  • On an open space, it can be difficult to replicate these measurements on both sides of the window and have them turn out perfectly level, so today I’m creating a quick cardboard template.
  • To do this, cut the corner out of a square piece of cardboard that can fit over the top corner of the window frame.
  • Measure and mark the desired location of the hardware
  • Create two holes using the hanger as a guide. Now place the template on the wall, slide it against the window frame, and mark the position of the holes.
  • Drive the screws into the wall, and position the hanger.
  • Flip to the opposite side to make the remaining marks and install the screws.
  • Feed the curtain onto the rod, and then place it on the hook. Add a finial, and then tighten the set screw

Tools Materials Needed

Apart from your curtain rod and the included hanging hardware (brackets, screws, wall anchors), there are very few items you’ll need to hang it quickly:

  • Power drill
  • Small drill bit (like 3/32″) to make pilot holes
  • Larger drill bit (like 3/16″) to make wall anchor hole
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Pen or pencil
  • Scrap cardboard sheet (like the one that came with your curtain panels)
  • Stool or stepladder

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.

Before You Install Your Drapery Rods

It is best to select your drapery before you choose your drapery rods, as the style of the drapery will influence which rod and design style will function optimally. It’s also important to know the length of the curtains, as this will influence where the rod will be installed on the wall. If you need help choosing a style or want to learn more about drapery options, check out our guide to different types of drapery.

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.

Sunroom Curtain Rods

So, how did I hang all those curtains? An assortment of electrical conduit, fasteners, and plumbing hardware.

You can search “pipe curtain rods” or “DIY curtain rods” to find a variety of tutorials. This Custom Long Drapery Rod tutorial from Sarah M. Dorsey Designs was one of the most helpful. We didn’t follow that tutorial exactly, but it was a good reference.

Sarah chose to spray paint her curtain rods black, which really compliments that room and definitely makes this a very versatile project. Essentially, you can easily coordinate the long curtain rods with any existing hardware… all you need is a can of spray paint!

In our Sunroom, we didn’t want to draw the eye up or create much contrast. So, in our case, the galvanized steel was great as-is (yay for simplicity!) and just required a little Goo-Gone to remove sticker labels from the conduit.

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)

1. Take precise measurements

Work out how long your curtain pole needs to be, taking into account that 20cm should be added to each side of the window so the drawn back curtain will not block out light during the day. You’ll know this if you’re clued up on how to measure for curtains.

Dori Turner, designer and creator of The Greenspring Home blog (opens in new tab) says, ‘To determine the curtain rod size to buy: measure your window width from trim-to-trim and then add 12” to 20” on top of that.

You want an additional 6-10″ on both sides of the window, that way when the curtains are pushed totally open you can see almost all of the window.’

Consider that the heavier the curtain material and the thicker the lining, the more room they will take up when pulled back. This should be factored into your final measurement. ‘Curtain rods are sold adjustable in size ranges, for example: 48-88”, 60-108” or 108-144”.’ Adds Turner. So, once you’ve measured your window and know exactly how wide you need your rod to be, choose the appropriate range for that size.

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

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

Top Curtain Rod Installation related questions

If curtain rod installations aren’t perfectly straight and professionally finished, the result could be an unsafe or unattractive wall covering. Plus, your professional will be aware of legal requirements for adjustment chain length to ensure child safety. There are well over 30 different types of curtains, all with different types of curtain rods and tracks. Your installer will be able to advise on the best option for your curtain and space. Curtain rods should be long enough to cover your window, plus some extra length, depending on if you’d like to install them inside the frame, on the architrave, or just outside the frame. It also depends on the type of curtain you’re installing. Curtain installation will usually take anywhere between 20-45 minutes per curtain. Some window coverings (like vertical blinds) will take longer than others. Research different types of curtains and blinds to get an idea of what type of curtain you’d like. Measure the windows and discuss the measurements and your preferences with the installer prior to their arrival. The average cost of a curtain installation on Airtasker is $59-140. But your service might cost more or less depending on the number of curtains, type of curtain rod, and how long the job is likely to take.

If curtain rod installations aren’t perfectly straight and professionally finished, the result could be an unsafe or unattractive wall covering. Plus, your professional will be aware of legal requirements for adjustment chain length to ensure child safety. Curtain rods should be long enough to cover your window, plus some extra length, depending on if you’d like to install them inside the frame, on the architrave, or just outside the frame. It also depends on the type of curtain you’re installing. Research different types of curtains and blinds to get an idea of what type of curtain you’d like. Measure the windows and discuss the measurements and your preferences with the installer prior to their arrival. There are well over 30 different types of curtains, all with different types of curtain rods and tracks. Your installer will be able to advise on the best option for your curtain and space. Curtain installation will usually take anywhere between 20-45 minutes per curtain. Some window coverings (like vertical blinds) will take longer than others. The average cost of a curtain installation on Airtasker is $59-140. But your service might cost more or less depending on the number of curtains, type of curtain rod, and how long the job is likely to take.

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

Window Treatments for a Sunroom

Thankfully, the wood blinds came with the home (otherwise, that would have been a big investment — 14 sets of wood blinds, $$$!); but the space still needed to be softened with curtains. Everything in the room had straight lines or a hard texture, except for the couch and chair.

It wasn’t difficult to choose the curtains. Basic, white, curtains are my go-to window treatment. They offer a casual, breezy look, which is perfect for a sunroom. White curtains frame the windows, drawing the eye out the window toward the scenic view. Sunrooms aren’t are a room that needs curtains to become a focal point.

You’ll notice that we didn’t flank every window with curtains. Privacy isn’t an issue since we already have blinds. I used 8 curtains for 14 windows. On each end of the room, there is a set of three windows flanked by two curtains. Across the length of the sunroom, there are 4 curtains for 8 windows. I chose where to hang curtains based on how it looked with the furniture. For example, a curtain on each side of our couch — which equaled 3 windows.

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