How to measure and hang curtains

Difficulty rating: Low

These tasks should be fairly straightforward, whether you have experience doing DIY or none at all.

Before you get started on any of our 'how to' guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.

Tools for the job

1. How do I measure up for curtains?

The amount of fabric you'll need is linked to the length of your pole or curtain track, not the width of your window, and there's normally around 14 inches or 35cm difference. (You can find out how to measure up your window for your pole or track directly below.)


Once you've measured your pole or track, remembering to include any centre overlap of your rail, you'll need to double this measurement to ensure your curtains hang in luxurious folds. For an extra touch of opulence, you might decide to opt for even more fabric.


As for the drop, you need to start measuring from where your curtains will hang just below your curtain pole, or from ½ inch above the top edge of your track. Then measure right down to either your window sill or the floor, depending upon just how low you want your curtains to hang. If you've chosen made-to measure curtains, you'll need to allow for hemming by adding an extra eight inches to your measurement.


2. How do I measure up for curtain poles and tracks?

How to measure up for curtain poles and brackets

Curtains should neatly frame your window when pulled open. To achieve this, your pole will have to extend beyond the edges of your window surrounds by around 15-20cm (6-8"). So when you've measured the width of your window, you need to add an extra 30-40cm (12-16"). The pole should be mounted 5cm-15cm above the top of the window, while it's supporting brackets need to be fixed 50mm in from each end of the pole, allowing room for a curtain ring before the end finial. Heavier curtains usually require an extra, central bracket.


How to measure up for curtain tracks

Your curtain track needs to extend slightly beyond your window's edges, so when you've measured your window's width you should add an extra 30-40cm (12-16") to give you a 15-20cm (6-8") overlap either side. As tracks come in set sizes, you'll obviously need one that you can easily cut down to the required size. The brackets should be fitted 25mm in from each end of the track and at least 50mm above the window recess.


3. How do I put up a curtain pole or track?

How to fit a curtain pole

Using a pencil, mark where you'll be fixing your brackets to the wall, including indications of where you'll be securing them in place with screws. Drill your holes, fit with rawl plugs, then screw in the wall brackets.

Next, slip your curtain rings or looped curtain fabric over your pole before fitting it into the brackets, making sure that there's a ring or loop between each bracket and end finial to keep the curtain in place. Screw or fix your pole to make it secure, then finally attach the finials.


How to fit a curtain track

Mark up the position of the screw holes for the support brackets. The amount t of brackets you'll need depends on the length of your track. Drill the hole, fill with rawl plugs, then screw your brackets securely into place.

Cut your track to the length required using a junior hacksaw, cleaning the rough edges with sandpaper. Fit the track to the brackets, then slot in the end stops. Finally, slip the hooks attached to your curtains through the track's loops.


How to fit a curtain track inside a bay window

Angled tracks are available to fit within bay windows. Count the sides in your bay window, a side counting as any flat section, so that you know your bay window style, e.g. 3 sided or 4 sided. Measure from one end to the first angle of the window, then repeat for all sections. Add these measurements together to give you your total track length.

If your window is a more unusual shape or curved, it's best to seek help.


4. How do I fit curtain tie backs?

The height at which you fix your tie backs changes the way your curtains look, so you need to work out which style you prefer.


First, try placing a tie back about a third way up from the bottom of your curtains. Next, move it up or down until you're happy with the look you've achieved. It helps if you know someone who could hold the tie back in place while you judge the effect from a distance.


When you've found your ideal height for your tie backs, draw a line on the wall on either side of your window. Next, hang a weighted string down from each outermost curtain ring. Where this string crosses your drawn lines, mark these as the points where you'll be attaching your tie backs.


5. How do I take care of my curtains, poles and tracks?

How to clean your curtains

To avoid damaging the fabric, you should always wash your curtains according to the instructions. Normally, ready-made curtains can be simply removed and washed in a washing machine. However, dry cleaning is usually best for lined curtains with delicate fabrics.


How to look after your curtain poles

Sunlight can discolour metal and wood, and even weaken them over time, so you should think carefully about the positioning of your poles before you put them up. They can usually be wiped clean with warm water.


How to look after your curtain tracks

Like everything else in your home, tracks collect dirt that can turn into grease, especially in the kitchen. This not only makes them more difficult to clean, but also affects the smooth running of the rails. You should regularly wipe your tracks clean using warm water to keep them gliding smoothly.


6. How do I hang curtains safely?

  • Whether you're measuring or fitting your curtains and their accessories, always use a safely secured ladder rather than climbing up onto chairs or other items of furniture.
  • Always have somebody to help you, as you may drop the curtain pole onto something or someone below. Be careful of your fingers when drilling and sawing.
  • When drilling into walls, always wear a mask and goggles to protect your eyes and lungs from dust. 
  • If you're worried about the quality of the wall, use rawl plugs to help make your screws more secure. 
  • When cutting the pole, wrap a piece of tape around it to help stop the saw from slipping. 
  • Make sure that you've securely attached the brackets to prevent the pole from falling at a later date.

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