The Do’s and Don’ts of Hanging Curtains: How to Hang Curtains Like a Pro

updated Sep 30, 2023
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Curtains might not be the most exciting home decor buy you can make for your space, but they are one of the most impactful. Curtains complete a room. They help control the light, lend privacy and warmth, affirm your style, and add texture and color. A set of curtains makes your home look instantly more pulled together (and makes a space look more grown up, too).

Hanging curtains is a totally DIY-friendly project, but there are some tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of your window treatments. Here, some common mistakes that people make when making curtains — and what to do so your curtains look as good as possible.

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

DON’T Go Too Narrow

Select a curtain rod that is wider than the width of your window. This will allow enough room for the panels to hang on either side of your window and will force the panels to cover the window at all times. It also tricks your eye into thinking the window is much larger than it actually is. The rule of thumb is to go 8 to 12 inches wider than your window.

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

DO Use Enough Fabric

You want your curtains to feel full, not skimpy. If you actually plan to close your curtains on occasion, the curtains should be roughly between two and two-and-a-half times the width of the actual window.

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

DO Hang High

The higher the curtain rod, the taller the window will appear, so fix your curtain rod closer to the ceiling than the top of your window, if you can. One rule of thumb is that they should sit 4 to 6 inches above the window frame.

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

DON’T Go Too Short

Unless they’re cafe curtains, too-short drapes like the ones above are a little like high water pants: not a good look. A little puddling (as seen here in various shots) can be nice if you want a romantic feel, but if you don’t want to worry about them dragging and getting dirty, then stop the fabric just before they hit the floor — a little under an inch is good.

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

DO Choose Appropriate Fabric

Choose curtain fabric that suits both the mood of the room and its function. Lighter blends feel casual and filter light, while denser fabrics feel more formal and provide more privacy. Try something like heavy velvet for drafty windows or linen for a breezier feel during the summer. You can even DIY your own curtains for the perfect look.

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

DO Use a Template

A simple template ensures you hang the curtain rod at the same height for every window, and that your rods won’t be crooked. The one above was made using a couple of pieces of cardboard and saved time otherwise spent measuring from the corner of the windows. (Use a level, too, especially if you live in an old house with less-than-perfect walls). And if you’re a renter, check out these no-drill tips for hanging curtains without damaging your walls!

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

    How to Hang Curtains

    Here’s what you’ll need to know if you’re hanging your own curtains.

    Tools and Materials:

    • Curtain rod
    • Screws
    • Drywall anchors (optional)
    • Drill
    • Level
    • Tape Measure
    • Pencil

    Instructions for Hanging Curtains:

    1. Figure out how high your curtain rods should be. Remember, a good rule of thumb is to place them 4 to 6 inches above the top of your window frame.
    2. Next, figure out where the brackets should be. Your rod should be about 8 to 12 inches wider than your window, so make a mark about 4 to 6 inches beyond the window frame on each side.
    3. Install your first bracket by screwing it into the wall. For heavy curtains and rods, you should first install drywall anchors to make sure that they’re secure.
    4. Use a level to make sure your second bracket is even with the first, then use the same method to install.
    5. Hang the curtains on the rod by using rings, clips, or grommets.
    6. Place the rod (and curtains) onto the brackets.