How to Hang Curtain Rods

If you’re putting off hanging new curtains, rest assured that you’re not alone. While it’s not particularly difficult once you know how to hang curtain rods correctly, you may still be worried about hanging your curtains straight, especially if you have several windows to dress in the same room.

To make sure you get the job done right, follow our step-by-step guide to hanging curtain rods and get your new drapes up in next to no time.

How to Put Up Curtain Rods: a Step-By-Step Guide

Unsure how to put a curtain pole up? We’ll share the easiest way to hang a curtain rod with you right here.

Let’s get started with a list of what you’ll need.

What You Will Need

  • Curtain pole – make sure that it is the correct length or longer if cutting. Your curtain pole should also be of a suitable thickness to support your fabric type, complementing your décor.
  • Curtains – whether you’re installing a single curtain, a pair or multiple sets, it’s best to have your curtain to hand when installing curtain rods so you can check on the placement and curtain length.
  • Step ladder – you could also use a sturdy chair if your windows are not too high, although step ladders provide varying heights, so you won’t have to strain to reach. This also means you’re less likely to fall.  
  • Drill & drill bit – ensure that your drill bit is the correct type for your walls and the right diameter for your curtain rod screws/wall plugs.
  • Tape measure – it is essential to make sure that your curtain rod is centred, with the brackets evenly spaced.
  • Pencil – to mark where to drill.
  • Hacksaw or jigsaw – if you have bought a cut-to-size curtain pole.
  • Screwdriver – to use with your curtain rod bracket screws.
  • Hammer – if using wall/Rawlplugs.
  • Spirit or laser level – to ensure that your curtain rod is level. While you can measure up from the window frame or down from your ceiling, using a spirit or laser level is much easier and more accurate.

Step 1: Measuring for Your Curtain Pole

Start by measuring your curtain rod. You’ll need to measure the width of your window, then allow for approximately 15 centimetres on each side of your window frame. This extra space will allow your curtains to fully block light out while they are drawn while also providing you with enough space to neatly store them when open to allow more light into your room.

Adding 30 cm to your window recess width is a general rule of thumb for finding the correct curtain rod width, although, for heavy fabrics, you may want to increase this slightly for extra storage space.

If your windows are near a perpendicular wall or a tall item of furniture that you do not want to reposition, don’t forget to account for the finials or end pieces when measuring up. This could mean opting for a different style of curtain pole with shorter, less decorative finials.

Most curtain rods do not include this extra end piece in their measurements, so it’s important to bear this in mind if you are tight on space.

Step 2: Measure the Centre and Height for Your Curtain Rod

To correctly centre your curtain rod, measure the width of the window and divide it by two. With your pencil and tape measure, mark the central point just above your window moulding. You may need to use this mark later if your curtain rod requires a central support bracket.

Man measuring the width of the window

Most curtain rods are installed approximately 15cm above the top of the window. To make sure that this height works for your curtain and window style, when possible, we recommend getting someone to hold your curtain rod at this height with the curtains attached. Walk over to the other end of your room and see how your curtains look to decide whether or not this height would be better increased or decreased.

Once you have decided on the height, make a note of it for any other curtains you’ll be fitting and mark the height above your central window mark. Installing your curtains around 15cm above your window will also help to keep more cold air out during winter.

Step 3: Measure for Your Rod’s End Brackets

When measuring your curtain pole end brackets, always consider the manufacturer’s recommended distances. Usually, your curtain rod will come with two curtain brackets situated 10cm in from each end at the side of the window.

You will need to mark out your curtain rod endpoints, using your total width measurement and adding half to each side of your central point. Measure out these distances and draw a vertical line at each endpoint at the same height as your central marker (approx 15 cm above your window).

As your brackets will need to be located further in, measure 10cm inwards from these endpoints and mark the spot where your support bracket will go.

Step 4: Check Your Markers Are Level

Make sure that your pole will be level by using your spirit level or a laser level to ensure that your markings level up. Otherwise, you could be left with a sloping curtain rail and unevenly hanging curtains. If you are installing multiple curtain rods on the same wall, you may want to make sure that all of your markings are level before completing each window.

Step 5: Drill and Install Brackets

Place your brackets on your marks and mark each screw hole on your wall. Check the required size drill bit on your installation instructions and drill the holes. If using, add your wall plugs with a hammer, and fix your brackets with the screws and a screwdriver or other wall anchors.

With your brackets securely in place, you can put your curtain rod into position, finally, hang your curtains and admire your handiwork.

Tips to Help You Hang Your Curtain Poles

Before you start hanging curtains, make sure that you read through the following tips for an easier installation.

Before You Start

Before you start drilling, always make sure that there are no electrical cables or water pipes in the vicinity. If you’re unfamiliar with your home’s electrical layout, you could use a cable detector to make sure you’re safe to drill.

Heavy Curtains

While we already suggested allowing a little extra space around your window trim to pull back curtains made from heavier fabrics, you should always check that your chosen curtain rod and curtain rod brackets are strong enough to support more robust material hanging curtains.

If they are near the upper weight limit, you’ll want to help to support the pole with an extra bracket in the centre before hanging curtains on it. Alternatively, you could use a stud finder to hang your curtains from a joist more securely.

Don’t forget to also account for the weight of your curtain panel lining or if you decide to add a heavier lining at a later date. You don’t want your end brackets to take too much strain and end up with huge holes in your plasterwork for the sake of not adding an extra bracket. Aside from heavy material, you should also consider installing an extra support bracket for very wide windows before you hang the rod.

Problems Drilling

You may encounter some difficulties when hanging curtain rods, depending on the type of wall that you are drilling into.

  • Reinforced concrete – if you are hanging curtain rods in a relatively new build or recent refurbishment, you may find that you just cannot get anywhere with your cordless drill. These types of properties often have a reinforced concrete lintel above each window. In this case, you may need to use an SDS drill with hammer action and start with pilot holes. Once you’ve drilled all of the holes, use wall plugs to ensure a snug fit for your bracket screws before hanging curtains.
  • Soft bricks can cause a different problem – crumbling away so that your hole is much too big, even with a wall plug. In this case, use a smaller diameter drill bit and drill slowly with your drill held square to your wall.

Curtain Pole Hanging FAQ

Can You Hang a Curtain Pole From the Ceiling?

Ceiling curtain poles come with specially designed vertical mounting brackets to help to support your curtain rod, so whether you want full-length curtains or just don’t have enough space for wall fixing, hanging curtains from the ceiling is definitely a possibility.

Bear in mind that lateral fixing will hold your curtains up much more easily, especially heavier materials. If you need or really want to use ceiling mounted curtain rods, you will probably want to use a stud finder to locate the joists.

This will allow you to better secure your curtain rod without risking the weight of your curtains pulling a hole through your plastered ceiling. If you cannot screw into the joists, use three brackets with good plasterboard metal fixings to securely hang your curtains.

Men installing cornice for curtains on a stretch ceiling

When choosing a top fixed curtain rod, make sure that you pay close attention to the height of your curtain rod brackets. Long vertical curtain rod brackets may allow too much natural light to come in over the top edge, while short brackets are not suitable for eyelet curtains. You may also find that you don’t have as many style options to choose from as with convention curtain poles.

Can a Curtain Pole Be Too High?

While hanging curtain rods too low will make your windows and entire room look shorter, hanging your curtain rods higher can have the opposite effect giving you the illusion of a taller window with portrait proportions. It could also help to make your room feel taller.

Generally, rooms with an average ceiling height look best with curtain rod brackets installed around 15cms above the top of the window, although you could extend this up to 20cms. It helps to try out a few different heights before drilling, so get some help and take a few photos of your curtains held at different heights – just don’t forget to note the measurements.

If you have a lot of wall space and high ceilings, you may want to install your curtain rods halfway between the top of your windows and ceiling. Otherwise, for a really dramatic look, especially with a statement fabric curtain, you could hang full-length floor to ceiling curtains. Just make sure that you can get hold of enough fabric.

In a nutshell, too high is nearly always much better than too low when it comes to positioning your curtain rods. While some rooms may look a little odd with very high curtain poles, a lot comes down to your ceiling height, curtain style and room layout, so make sure you try out different heights before committing.

Larger floor-length curtain panels can also help reduce temperature fluctuations from drafty windows and convey a more romantic feel.

Can I Hang a Curtain Pole in a Bay Window?

Whether you have a five or three-sided bay window, you can purchase a special curtain rod designed to fit it. Bay window curtain rods come with sections with cut slits in them, allowing you to bend the rod to fit your windows or as separate rods that join together via a series of flexible joints.

It is common to use c-shaped “passing rings” and special curtain rod brackets to allow you to fully open and close your curtains when installing a curtain rod in a bay window.

You may also see some models with return kits to allow extra light into your room by providing a larger stack-back area. Simply add on the extension pieces, which will allow you to pull back your curtains, so they extend past the side of the window and stow back parallel with the walls in your room.

Installing Curtain Rods

Once you know how to hang curtain rods, you’re well on your way to a successful installation. Just be sure to measure accurately and take time to double-check your measurements before drilling.

Curtains are an excellent way to improve your room’s style and comfort levels, so put your newfound knowledge to good use, update your home with new curtain fabric, and experiment with your curtain lengths.

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