Curtain rods come in all kinds of styles and finishes and can make your window curtains and other window treatments look fantastic. For a selection of the best curtain rods on sale at the moment, see here or take a look at the great selection below, but if you are not sure what you need yet read on for help with choosing exactly the right ones for you.
So, what do you have to think about when choosing curtain rods? Here are all the factors to consider. The right curtain rod will fit all your criteria. If that sounds like a tall order, don’t worry, as there are multitudes of different rods available online and in stores, so the right one for you is out there.
The Right Length
Measure the length of rod that you need. You can either fit your curtains inside the window frame or (what would be more usual) place your rod just above the frame (generally about 4″ above). If you are fitting your rod inside the frame measure the width of the recess. If you are fitting outside, it would be normal to have your curtain rod extending about two inches each side of the window, so the total length of the rod itself (not counting finials) would be 4″ wider than the window. However if you want your curtains to be drawn right back to expose more of the window you could make it 4″ either side instead. This allows more light into the room and makes the window appear larger. Just make sure that the curtains still overlap the sides of the window by an inch or so when drawn back or the arrangement will look quite odd.
Rods come in standard sizes but it is not a problem if you don’t have standard windows as most of them are actually called extending curtain rods for a good reason – and they will give maximum and minimum measurements they can accommodate. On the packaging or in the instructions, you will see how you can make your rod the right size and fix it in place so it does not slide about when attached to the wall.
The Right Diameter
You can get curtain poles and rods in all kinds of diameters to suit various curtain types. In most cases where you are hanging curtains using hooks which attach to rings on your rod, all you need to make sure is that you have the right size of rings to suit your rod. Often you will find these are supplied with the rod anyway.
If you are using curtains with a casement type heading, however, you need to make such that the rod or pole is a small enough diameter for the casement. You will usually see this specified on casement curtain descriptions e.g. “Suitable for a curtain rod up to 1″ diameter”
In any case it is best to match the diameter of the rod to the style of curtains. Heavy velvet curtains, for example, would look silly with a dainty thin rod (and might bend it anyway) whereas sheer voile curtains would look out of place with a big chunky wooden curtain pole. If you have medium weight curtains, you can get away with anything in terms of diameter but check the section on style below.
The Right Materials and Style
We’ll consider these two together as the material in which the rod is made (as well as the finish) have a huge influence on the style and whether the curtains in a particular room look good or not. You can buy decorative curtain rods in wrought iron, brass, nickel, stainless steel, plastic and wood. The only one to avoid is the plastic curtain rod or track which is not going to do your decor any favors unless you are completely covering it out of sight with a valance. No exceptions! If you can see the drapery rod then make it look as good as your drapes, if not better!
If you have a country style decor go for wood curtain rods in a finish which fits in with your wooden furniture. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same wood but the same tone will work best. Alternatively, wrought iron or rustic curtain rods will work very well.
In a city apartment or for a contemporary style room, a nickel or stainless steel curtain rod looks good whereas wooden curtain rods work well for a traditional setting (same rules apply for matching up furniture as for country style rooms). Brass curtain rods would also work well here.
For a room with white furniture, choose a white curtain rod, which will normally be a wooden or metal pole painted white and sealed to avoid the paint rubbing off. You can also get these in all the ice cream colors, which are great for nurseries.
Double or Single?
If you want to hang more than one layer at your windows you need double curtain rods. See our Double Curtain Rod guide for more details on these.
The Right Fittings
Whatever you choose should come with curtain rod brackets which are the bits of hardware which are screwed to the wall and which hold the rod. If none are included (which would be unusual) then look for brackets to buy which match the style of your rod.
Your rod will normally come with finials too. These are the end caps which go on each end of the rod to stop the curtains slipping off the ends. If your rod has very plain finials (a ball shape is the most common) you can usually buy fancy finials separately to give your curtain rod a new look.
The final pieces, which your rod may or may not come with are curtain rings. If you want to use these and your rod does not come with them, you will not have to look far (at least online – try here) to find a huge selection of plain and decorative curtain rings to fit any diameter rod.
If you choose traverse curtain rods rather than standard rods you will not need rings however as these work on a kind of pulley system and you fit the curtains to the rod which already has small rings attached using curtain hooks. These have the advantage that you don’t have to touch the curtains to open and close them, which is great if you have chosen a pale colored fabric.
A Selection of Curtain Rods
Here are some great curtain rods, to show you a selection of what is available. If you want to see many more drapery rods click here.
This curtain rod set comes complete with finials and brackets. The rod itself is adjustable to fit different window sizes. Matching curtain rings available. Click here for details.
Antique brass curtain rods look great in a traditional environment. This adjustable curtain rod set includes rod, brackets and finials. Holdbacks and rings also available. Click here for more about this curtain rod.
Great contrast of light and dark in this extending curtain rod which comes complete with crackle glass ball finials and brackets. Click here for details.
This white curtain rod is in tough powder coated metal and it extends in length to suit large windows. Feather finials and 3 brackets are included. Would be great for rooms with pale decor or baby’s room. Click here for details
This satin nickel curtain rod and brackets set with scroll finials would be ideal for any contemporary home. The rod extends to fit medium and large windows. Click here for more information.
Black curtain rods also look great in many homes particularly if you match them up with other black metal hardware such as a chandelier light. This curtain rod is black finished metal and is adjustable to suit your windows. Brackets and matching holdbacks sold separately. Click here for details.
After talking about the benefits of a double curtain rod in my previous post, I realized there are a few things I often get asked by those who want to use double window curtains, which I did not cover. Although there is a huge selection of double curtain rods out there, a few of which I picked out last time, you may still not be sure what to do so I hope this post will help with some typical cries for help.
“I Don’t Know How to Install Double Rod Curtain Rods”
Actually the installation is no different than a single drapery rod. You position the brackets exactly where they need to go (which is usually about 4 inches above the window and extending an inch or two beyond the window at each side) and mark the screw holes with pencil on the wall.
Use a level to make sure that the holes are even. Then drill a hole for each screw using a suitable drill bit. If you are not drilling into the wall studs use drywall screw holders to keep the screws tight.
Screw the curtain rod brackets in place and check the level again. (Nothing looks worse than curtains which are not level).
Once the brackets are in place, thread the inner curtain onto the first rod and position it in the brackets and then repeat for the second curtain. (If you are using curtain rings or hooks, you can put up the rod before attaching the curtain). Add the finials and smooth out the curtains and you are done!
“I Can’t Use a Drill!”
If your curtains are light you can use double tension rods to hang your curtains. I do not recommend these for heavy drapes. They can’t take too much weight especially if you are going to be opening and closing the curtains daily. However if you are hanging sheer curtains as your inner drapes and light cotton curtains for your outer ones, they are ideal and you won’t have to make any holes in your walls. Failing that call in a tradesman who knows what he is doing! It is worth a few dollars to make sure your curtains don’t fall down on you.
“I Want Three Layers not Two”
If you want to use sheer curtains, curtain panels AND a valance then a double curtain rod is not enough. You can either install your voile curtains on a tension wire across the top of the window and then use a double curtain rod as usual or install a triple curtain rod. Yes, they do exist! See left.
“My Windows are Not a Standard Size”
Use extending double drapery rods which will allow you to fit any window size within the minimum and maximum measurements given for the rod.
“I have a Bay Window!”
Look for special bay window rods. You can get double versions of these too. I haven’t come across a triple version yet but I’m sure triple curtain rods for bay windows exist somewhere. If anyone finds one please let me know and I will update this post.
“I Already Have Single Curtain Rods”
You can buy a double rod conversion kit or just buy double curtain brackets and make use of the rod you already have. Always make sure that your existing rod will fit. You will find guidance on the kit or brackets for the maximum diameter rod required. You will need to remove the old brackets and repair any damage to the wall before installing the new ones.
“I Have Seen a Great Double Curtain Rod Set But I Don’t Like the Finish”
If your curtain rod and brackets are metallic, you can spray paint them in whatever finish you like. Make sure you give them a few coats of specialist paint so that the new finish does not wear off.
If you have any other problems with double curtain rods I have not covered, leave a comment below and I’ll get to them as soon as I can.
A double curtain rod is essential if you want to hang more than one layer at your windows, whether this a double layer including sheers and heavier window curtains or a curtain and valance. As implied by the name, a double curtain rod is simply two curtain rods which fit onto the same brackets at each side of the window. The rods are positioned so that they are generally about two inches apart. This means that each curtain (or layer) can be opened and closed without the movement of the curtain getting in the way of the other one. (A double curtain rod might also be used in the bathroom to hang fabric shower curtain and inner waterproof curtain which stays inside the bath tub but then you need a special shower curtain rod and rings rather than standard double rod curtain rods.)
These double rod arrangements for windows are great for any keen home decorator as you can create so many effects with ease combining any two types of curtains and opening and closing them independently to get just the effect you need. Combining various fabrics, colors, rods, finials and curtain holdbacks or tiebacks mean you end up with endless possibilities and with imagination and flair you can have designer curtains using quite ordinary materials and at very low cost.
On a more practical level, a curtain treatment where you have sheer voile curtains as the inner layer means that you can have privacy during the day without blocking out too much light and any double curtain layer adds to the insulating properties of the window treatments. Your double rod could even be used to hang a blackout lining or thermal lining for winter while in summer you leave your curtains airy and light.
You are making quite an economical choice if you buy a double curtain rod, in any case as you will find the price less than buying two separate rods and a double curtain rod set is certainly easier to install as you only have one set of brackets to worry about and no concerns about needing to position them far enough apart. The fewer holes you have to drill in your walls the better.
You will also see some tension curtain rods for sale, suitable for double curtains. Take care with these if you are thinking of hanging two sets of heavy drapes. The tension rod may be enough to hold the weight of the curtains but drawing the curtains backwards and forwards each day may be too much for the tension! Use these only with lighter weight curtains if you want to be sure that there will be no slippage.
An easy way to buy double curtain rods is by ordering online, as you will find a good selection often at discount prices and sometimes it is easier to have them shipped right to your door. You will find a selection below to start you off on your search for just the right set of curtain rods. Most are available in several materials if you are looking for a different finish and you can often change finials to get just the effect you are looking for.
Look out too for separate double curtain rod brackets if you already have rods you can use as that could save you some money.
This bronze double curtain rod set includes two rods, matching curtain rod brackets and finials. It can be extended to suit the width of your windows. Easy to install and use. Discount and free shipping. Available in various finishes. Click here for details.
Stylish double tension curtain rod by Umbra, which can be installed without drilling. Extends to fit various widths and is available in a number of finishes. Great for quick installation of light to medium weight curtains but don’t expect miracles if your try and use it with heavy drapes. Then it is time to get out your drill! See details and discount here.
Hang your curtains for less with this cheap double curtain rod. In fact if you are hanging curtains and valance and the whole rod will be out of sight, why pay more? Click here for details.
These double curtain rod brackets can be used with matching poles or rods up to one inch diameter and finials of your choice. Matching items available to create a stylish way to hang curtain layers. Available in different finishes. Click here for more information.
This black double curtain rod is simple and stylish – great for a contemporary curtain arrangement. The drapery rods extend to various widths as required. Also available in other finishes. Click here for details.
This double drapery rod set includes two rods in wrought iron (nickel finish) and 4 decorative finials along with three brackets for secure fixing to the wall. These decorative double curtain rods can be used with heavy curtains. Extends to fit your windows. Click here for more info.