When my boyfriend and I moved into our new home, we were faced with three walls of windows in our living room, one of which was twelve feet long. We loved the light, but we didn't love the prospect of paying out the nose for custom rods, or for all the pre-made ones it would require, for that matter. So we devised a way to make three lengthy rods for under $25.
What You Need:
Electrical conduit (sold in 10-foot lengths)
5/8 " curtain rod brackets
Drywall anchors (1/4")
Spray paint/ dropcloth
Optional: 1/2" set screw coupling, available in the electrical supplies area (if you need an extra long rod, this will be used to combine different pieces of conduit)
Optional: 1/2" corner elbow, available in the electrical supplies area (use if you plan on building your rods around a corner)
1. Measure for the desired length of rod.
Remember to add a few inches so you can hang your curtains wide.
2. Cut the conduit.
Measure your piece of conduit, mark off the desired length with a marker, and use the hacksaw to cut it to size.
3. Paint your pieces.
Disassemble all your pieces (e.g., take the screws out of the curtain brackets, breaking them down to their component parts), lay everything out on a drop cloth, and spray paint them the desired color. The conduit is already silver, but there are stampings on them, and we wanted the finish of all the component parts to match, so we chose a basic Rustoleum silver.
4. Measure the desired height of the rod.
Be sure to add a few inches so you can hang it high.
5. Place the first bracket.
On one side, place one of the curtain brackets in the place that marks the intersection of your desired height/ width of the rod. Make sure it's level. In the screw holes, lightly mark with a pencil the place where you plan to drill. (Ignore the fact that this bracket is brass; we used an extra to mark the holes while the painted pieces were drying.)
You can set the bracket aside for a moment, and using your pencil marks, drill pilot holes in the intended places. Hammer in your drywall anchors, replace the bracket, and screw it into place with the screws included with the curtain bracket hardware.
6. Measure for the second bracket.
Find the intersection point of your desired height and width on the other side of the window. Before you drill, though, you should make sure that everything is going to be level. We began using a normal level, but we quickly switched to using our laser level, which made the process a bit easier. If you don't have a laser level, rest the conduit on the first bracket, have someone hold the other end in the projected location, and use a normal level.
Once everything is in place, lightly mark the screw holes, apply your anchors, and then mount the bracket.
7. Place the conduit on the brackets and add your curtains. Assuming that you're just hanging a rod for one window, you're pretty much done. Congrats! Skip ahead to step 10 for some final notes.
If you're planning to use either the elbows or set screw couplings, read on.
8. Set screw coupling instructions.
We had one window that was twelve feet long, so one piece of conduit was insufficient. We hung a third bracket in the center of the window, measured the conduit so that we had two even pieces (two six-foot pieces rather than one ten-foot and one two-foot piece), and used the set screw coupling to join them together.
The coupling made the conduit a bit too fat for the normal bracket, so we used pliers to slightly bend it so that the coupling would sit inside more neatly. Here's an image of how the finished product looks. (Please ignore that the coupling is off center in the close up; we readjusted it after the photo, and it's centered now).
9. Elbow instructions.
If you're planning on building a rod around a corner, a corner elbow makes a fine connector. You will need to make sure that that rods to be connected are level around a corner so that the far end of one can be situated in the elbow with the other.
You can use a corner elbow, as photographed in the supply list, or you can also use a pull elbow, as shown in our example, which might make it easier to move curtain rings around the corner if you plan to do so.
10. A final word on finials.
As it stands, our rods have no finials because I wanted to figure out an option that I really liked rather than a stopgap.
The rods really don't need finials for a functional reason, but if you don't like the open ends, here are some solutions:
• Use a dowel screw to join a piece of cork, cut to size to fit inside the conduit, and a craft shape: a wooden ball, another decorative wooden shape, etc.) You could paint them to match your rods, or you could paint them a punchy color for a bit of fun. The cork will make it easy to remove the finials, should you need to change the rings.
• If you find a pre made finial that you like, you could attach it to cork or a bit of styrofoam that you cut to fit inside the electrical conduit.
• If you don't think you'll need to remove the finial, you could adhere a pre-made finial inside the conduit using a sturdy air-hardening clay.
• You could use a wood shape drilled with the same size bit as the conduit (1/2"). See this Design*Sponge post for a how-to on making a geometrical wood cube finial using this method.
(Images: Carolyn Purnell)