How High to Hang Curtains (Height Guide)

Different Length Options

There are a few different options for hanging your curtains. All of these options should first start with the top being at least 4-6 inches above the window frame depending on your ceiling height.

The top of most of our windows are 8ft, and we used 108″ panels almost everywhere. So we hung our curtain rod about 13 inches above the windows.

The higher the curtain rod, the taller your window will appear. I recommend to always install a rod closer to the ceiling than the top of the window.

Tip: Before hanging your rod, you should already know if you are going to be using rings or not. This will add a couple more inches to your overall length.

The three top curtain lengths are apron, floor-len

The three top curtain lengths are apron, floor-length, and puddle. Floor-length curtains tend to be my favorite offering more of an elegant, classy look. They are hung to just touch the floor and are the easiest to open and close. You can see this height in our dining room above.

A puddle curtain length extends 1-3 inches further onto the floor. This creates more of a dramatic look for a room such as a formal dining room or living area. This option may be a little harder to keep clean with dust gathering, but they sure do look great!

The other option I mentioned isn’t one of my

The other option I mentioned isn’t one of my favorites, but it is one that several people use. The apron curtain length is more of a casual look that people tend to use in informal areas such as a breakfast nook. They come down about 4 inches from the window sill.

How to Hang Curtains

Hang the curtains using this simple two-step process once you have panels in the correct width and length.

What You Need

  • Curtain rod with brackets
  • Screws
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Wall anchors (optional)

Brie Williams

Video

How High Should Your Curtain Rod Be?

The next thing is to make sure that the curtain rod will be mounted high enough above the window frame. Generally speaking, 12-14 inches above the window frame is fairly standard and will give you adequate fabric flow in most cases. Longer windows may need a higher rod. 

Other things to keep in mind: 

  1. If you have a shorter window and are opting for longer curtains, your rod height will need to be lowered accordingly. If the curtains reach the floor but won’t cover ¾ of the space (because there’s molding on the bottom or something), that also needs to be taken into consideration before placing your curtain rod.
  2. The same goes for tall windows – if they aren’t high enough, hang them lower. 

Drapery Sizes

Consider the right size, length, and width drapes for your space. There are many store-bought options or your room may require custom-made drapes to meet specific heights, room, or window specifications.

  • In the majority of cases, the ideal length for drapes is long enough to just kiss the floor. Obviously where you hang your curtain rod will have an impact. If you’re purchasing ready-made drapes, it will be a bit of a balancing act to determine what length to get and where to hang the rod.
  • For a traditional, formal look, consider drapes that puddle a couple of inches on the floor. This look isn’t as popular as it once was but it’s inherently luxurious and can still work in formal spaces.
  • Do not allow your drapes to hang above the floor. When they stop a couple of inches above the floor, it can make the ceilings look lower.
  • For drapes to look full, the panels should have a combined width of at least double the width of the window. If you have two panels, each one should equal the width of the window.
  • Keep in mind that some fabrics hang differently than others, so light fabrics may require more fullness, while heavy fabrics may require a little less.

The Spruce / Almar Creative

HOW WIDE SHOULD A CURTAIN ROD BE?

Most people know the rod should be at least the size of your window. 

However, if you want the curtain to look expensive, the window to feel larger, and allow more natural light into the room, make the rod wider than the window.

It’s recommended that the curtain rod brackets be placed at least 6″ from the window opening but not wider than 12″.

TIP: Place the brackets 12″ away for a more dramatic effect.

For example, if the window is 36″ wide and you want to place the brackets 12″ away, you would add 12″ + 12″ + 36″ for a total of 60″ plus 1″ to 2″ more for an overhang, resulting in a total of 62″.

SIDE NOTE: If you want to save money, make your rod and brackets using this DIY curtain rod tutorial. It will cut the cost in half. The rod and brackets in the image were made using this tutorial.

How Fabric Impacts Curtains

Lighter fabrics, such as sheers, will help make the room feel airy as they let in more light. If you need to warm up a room, try denser fabrics or thermal drapes which will also give you more privacy. Winter curtains can stop drafts and save energy.

HOW TO HANG CURTAIN RODS?

Now that you know how tall and wide the curtain rods will be, let’s talk about how to hang the curtain rod.

The easiest way to hang a curtain rod is to create a template for where the curtain rod brackets should be placed.

You can create one by using a cardstock paper or cardboard. Use one corner of the paper at where the end of the window is. Then, measure the extra width from this corner (in our example, it’s 12″).

TIP: If your window has trim, use it to your benefit by having the template wrap around it, like the example picture below.

Then, measure how tall the curtain will hang (from the window opening or ceiling).

Where the two measurements intercept is where the top of the bracket will be. 

Now, take the actual bracket you will be using and place it at this interception, top of the bracket at the tallest measurement and side at width measurement.

Once the bracket is aligned to your template, mark the top screw hole of the bracket onto the template. Cut out the marking hole, if you can, with a hole punch.

Place the template onto the wall with the corner at the correct location. Mark the hole on the wall with a pencil.

Then, flip the template and mark the other side of the window.

SIDE NOTE: If you have a window opening wider than 48″, I would recommend placing a middle curtain rod bracket.

You are now ready to hang the curtain rod brackets.

3. Hang them in the right length

Choose curtains in a length that will hang either

Choose curtains in a length that will hang either just above the floor, or just touch the floor. You can “puddle” the curtains on the floor for a more luxurious, bohemian look — but never, and we mean never, hang your curtains so they hover more than a couple inches off the floor. Where’s the flood?

Types of Hangers

When you’ve figured out how high to hang your curtains, the next thing is figuring out what kind of hangers (or hanging method) you want to use. There are quite a few options for this – here’s some overview:

  1. Tiebacks and pullbacks can be used as an alternative to curtain rods when curtains aren’t lined up with each other. You can even add decorative finials or butterfly clips on top. This is my preferred style – I love tiebacks and find that they look very crisp and clean. The downside? It doesn’t work well if you have small windows/areas where the fabric might fall short of the molding below it without being tied back somehow.
  2. Hooks are easily the cheapest way to go if you’re just looking for something that will work. I don’t recommend hooks in most cases, because they can look messy and are harder to adjust/tighten than curtain rods or rings.
  3. Rings are a versatile option that has been in use for decades – no surprise. They make up our favorite type of rod hardware and usually come with screw-in mounts so that you can drill directly into your window frame (or you can also hand curtains without drilling).
  4. Screws are like rings, except they screw into the wall rather than being free-standing pieces of hardware. They can be useful if you want to mount some decorative brackets on the wall instead of a rod, as an alternative to curtain rings.
  5. Rods are the most common type of hardware for curtains -they come as exposed hardware (no finials or brackets) or with nice decorative touches like finials.
  6. Hanging rod systems are more complicated than traditional curtain rods, but they can offer a lot of interesting design options – especially if your windows have unusual shapes you want to work with. These can also be a good option for large rooms where multiple panels must line up well together (ie columns).

How Height Impacts Curtain Rod Placement

Use these tips to make sure you place your rods at the right height:

  • For standard drapes that hang on either side of a window, the typical height is halfway between the top of the window casing and the ceiling. This applies if there are more than 12 inches between the window trim and ceiling. 
  • For cathedral ceilings, leave approximately four to six inches above the window trim as a guideline. 
  • No matter what the ceiling height, the minimum distance from the top of the window casing to the curtain rod is two inches.
  • To create the illusion of height, mount the drapery rods close to the ceiling. This is particularly important to do if the room has low ceilings.
  • Use these same rules when the windows are arched.

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Step 2: Mount curtain rod and hang curtains

After you’ve determined the proper placement, hanging curtains is easy. Use a screwdriver to install the curtain brackets; make sure the sides are even using a level. For particularly heavy curtains or rods, you might want to install wall anchors ($13, The Home Depot) to mount the brackets securely to the wall.

Place curtains on the rod. Thread the rod through the openings if your curtains have large grommets or eye holes. Otherwise, attach the panels to the rod with curtain rings or clips ($10, Target). Then set the rod into the brackets to hang the curtains.

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