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How to Measure for Curtains and Drapes

Posted by HLC.me on Mar 12th 2019

How to Measure for Curtains and Drapes

The finishing touches in any home are the curtains. They’re like the icing on the cake, or the cherry on top. Contemporary window treatments turn a nicely decorated house into a home by creating a cozy feeling - and that’s what home is all about. But before you even think about putting any up, you need to know how to do it properly. Ask anyone who has recently moved into a new home, and they will tell you that hanging window treatments, whether they’re light sheer drapes or heavy blackout curtains, is no easy task. Fortunately, many others have failed so that you could succeed. Follow this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to homey perfection in no time.

Where Should I Mount the Hardware?

There are two different ways you can mount the curtain rod itself:


  • Outside Mount - this is the most common method. This placement puts the curtain rod above the trim of your window and helps to open it up, creating the illusion that your windows are larger than they really are.

  • Inside Mounting - generally reserved for smaller windows, inside mounted curtain rods sit within the frame of the window and allow more light to come in around the edges. This method works for kitchen and cafe curtains, bathroom curtains, tiers, and valances. Additionally, if the trim around your windows is especially ornate or you don’t want to put holes around your windows, this is a good option to use.

If you’re going with the outside mounting method, you need to decide how high up from the window trim you want to put the rod. 4-6 inches is the norm, but you can put it flush against the trim or go as high as 20 inches to create a bold, stately look. No matter how high you hang it, in general you want the rod to extend 5-6 inches beyond the window to either side.

Tools You’ll Need to Measure




Now that you’ve decided where to mount the curtain rod, you can start measuring. The basic tools you should have on hand are:

  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • step ladder (for taller windows)

Measuring Width and Length



  • A: Your first step should be identifying where you intend to mount the curtain rod. Measure up from the trim frame of your window whatever number of inches you decided on, and mark it with a pencil.
  • B: Next, measure out 5-6 inches from either side of the window trim at the same level as your first mark and make another - this will tell you how far out the rod should come.

Now that your windows are ready for curtain rods, it’s time to measure for the curtains themselves. Start by measuring the width of the window from one top corner of the frame to the other. Make a note of this number; you’re going to double or triple it to find the right curtain width, depending on how full you want them to look. If you’re using grommet curtains, remember that the folded effect that this classic look offers will require more fabric per inch.


What Length Curtain Do I Need?

You have four options when it comes to curtain length:
Window Sill - this size is the shortest and reaches to the top of the window sill. This length works best for kitchen curtains and in areas with small windows. Apron - slightly longer than window sill length, these curtains are generally 63" and 72" inches long. Floor Length - as the name suggest, floor length drapes brush the floor and can be 84 - 90 inches in length. If your ceiling is high, you can use 95 - 96 inch window treatments. Modern floor length window treatments are ideal for the dining and living rooms. Puddle Effect - for a regal look, use 95 to 96 inch, or 108 inch to 120 inch drapes. This style is best saved for the bedroom or an area where kids and pets won’t tromp all over the fabric.

To measure curtain length, keep in mind where you want the curtain to reach. Starting from the mark you made for the curtain rod height, measure to one of the following areas:

  • the window sill (for short kitchen or bathroom curtains)
  • the bottom of the window trim (the apron)
  • the floor (adding an inch or so to ensure the curtains don’t fall too short)

If you’re going for the puddle effect, add about 3 inches to the rod-to-floor measurement - you’ll need extra long curtains for this style.

Which Curtains Should I Buy?

Now that you have the length and width figured out, you can get to the fun part - shopping! If you’re a little lost as to which style goes where and how to choose the best curtains for each room, check out this guide. (link to article)

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