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How to Measure for Curtain Rods

Measuring for curtain rods isn't as difficult as you may think.  We've been doing it for years, and are happy to provide you with a general set of guidelines for determining curtain rod width. 

First, decide what type of curtain are you installing.  Is it a fabric curtain or drapery, a sheer curtain, or a valance?  Each is measured differently.  Second, what type of curtain of drapery hardware are you interested in?  Decorative hardware that is a visible component of the finished product, or basic hardware that is hidden or mostly hidden after installation? 

With these thoughts in mind, here are some general guidelines.

Fabric Drapery or Curtain 

The idea is to use a drapery or curtain rod that will allow the fabric to stack "off the glass".  This accomplishes two things. First, you won't lose your view, and second, your windows will actually look bigger after installation (your eye will assume the glass "continues" behind the drapery panels).  Accordingly, when you measure your windows, measure from frame to frame, then ADD an additional amount to allow the fabric to stack.  We typically add 5 inches to each side of the frame for windows up to 50 inches wide, then add an another 2 inches for each additional 10 inches of window frame width.  Here is a simple chart:

Frame Width          Rod Width

Up to 50"                Frame width PLUS 10"
51" to 60"               Frame width PLUS 12"
61" to 70"               Frame width PLUS 14"
71" to 80"               Frame width PLUS 16"
you get the idea . . .


Sheer Curtain

Because a sheer curtain is, well, . . . sheer (it can be seen through), we generally recommend installing a curtain rod that is 3 or 4 inches wider than the window frame.  The reason for this is that if your curtain rod is much wider than this recommended width, you'll be able to see too much "wall" through the sheer curtain, and your curtains will look too wide for the window.  Trust us on this one. 

Stand-alone Valance

Same rule as the Sheer Curtain above.  Measure the window frame and ADD 3 or 4 inches. 

Valance Over Drapery or Curtain

Add 4 inches to the width of your drapery or curtain.  The result is your valance width.

Some notes on height

Things get a little more complicated when discussing "how high" to install your curtain or drapery rods.  Some folks prefer their rods hung high above their window frames, some prefer their rods just a couple inches above, and some prefer to split the distance between the top of the frame and the crown molding or ceiling.  What we discovered in all the years that we conducted professional measure-checks is that most people tended initially to want their rods hung too low.  When we explained the advantages of installing their rods higher, they agreed and were much happier after installation.  Since a curtain rod or drapery rod becomes a focal point once it is installed, if it is installed too low it will "bring down" the height of the room.  A drapery rod installed higher makes the windows and room look "taller".  Sounds crazy, but its true.


Feel free to call us at 800-251-5009 with any "How to Measure" questions you may have.