The Ultimate Curtain Hanging Guide

window measure for curtainSelecting just the right window dressing and drapes is an essential step for finishing any room. While there are a seemingly endless number of fabrics, styles and types of drapes and curtains, they all have two fundamental needs.

Your curtains must be measured correctly and when completed, hung just right. While there are many ways and devices available for hanging your drapes, there are basic guidelines for making the finished product look just right.

Determining the Length and Width

Starting with the right measurements is an essential first step to achieving the look you desire. With today’s trend to big windows, you will want to ensure your curtains do the job of blocking the light while maintaining the right proportions for the room.

When discussing how to measure for curtains, it is important to first think about the curtain rod you will use and the type of curtain, shade or drape you will be hanging. Also, make sure you measure each window for exact sizing, even if they all look the same.

The issue of curtain length is a function of your decorating desires for any given room. However, assuming a normal full-length curtain, you will want to measure from the top of the rod pocket to the baseboard or desired length.

The tricky part here is to take both the header and the fringe or dust ruffle into consideration. If you are measuring yourself for custom curtains, you will want to remember and discuss how much these two items add to an overall length. Generally speaking, the header is above the curtain rod, and is not included in the basic length measurement. Final adjustments can be made when you actually install the curtain rod.

When deciding the width of your curtains, the final measurement will be based on the width of the window area you wish to cover. Starting with a measurement of bracket to bracket for the curtain rod, use this guideline:

  • Basic curtain pairs should be one-and-a-half to double the basic width
  • Sheers often require double to triple the width of the basic measurement
  • Valances and swags will normally take one-and-a-half to double the basic width

Different types of curtains will follow different guidelines, but final objective is to have your curtains look full and adequate, not stretched or gapping.

How to Hang Your Curtains

As with the measurements being influenced by the type of curtain rods and hanging style you prefer, the actual hanging process is determined by those items. Assuming you choose a traditional rod, you will want to measure its location based the way the curtains are designed and how they will hang on the rod.

For example, if the rod is threaded through hoops in the curtains, make sure you measure from the top, not the middle or bottom of the hoop. Likewise, line up the hooks properly as they will hang when installed and measure from that point.

Once you have these measurements, you will need a level to ensure you have the curtains hanging straight. If they are heavy and/or will be opened and closed frequently, you will want to use plastic or metal anchors in the wall to secure the rod brackets. This requires you to use a drill and prepare a properly sized hole into which you slide the anchors. The brackets are then attached to the anchors with screws.

girl hangs curtainHere is a summary of the process:

  • Measure
  • Lightly draw a level line
  • Center the rod and brackets
  • Position and secure the brackets
  • Attach the rings or hooks to the rod
  • Position finials on the rod ends, if provided
  • Place the curtain and test for sturdiness

It takes a little work and planning, but when you select and hang just the right curtains, you’ll have a finished room that reflects your own personal taste and desires.

+Jodi Call has spent the last 12 years taking on home remodel and decorating projects. She blogs regularly offering tips and advice for your home decorating needs at