How to Hang Curtains Correctly the First Time

Make quick work of measuring and hanging curtains with these easy tips. Learn how to find the perfect curtain panel size and hanging height for your window treatments.

Curtains are an essential element in living spaces and bedrooms. This hardworking home accessory provides privacy, blocks harsh sunlight, helps you get restful sleep, and spruces up windows with texture and color. Sure, hanging curtains can be tricky, but you can achieve a polished, perfectly draped look by following our tips, including how to hang curtains at the right height, what size curtains to buy, and how to hang curtain rods. You can make the most of your window treatments and complete a room in style with the correct measurements and hanging techniques. Learn how to hang curtains or drapes properly with our simple step-by-step instructions.

Bedroom with large window and multiple pillows
James Nathan Schroder

How to Calculate the Right Measurements for Hanging Curtains

Before you start hanging curtains, make sure the panels are wide enough to cover your home's windows. You don't want to be rudely awakened by a beam of sunlight that the curtains don't block, so measure your window dimensions before purchasing or making your curtains. The total width of your curtain panels should add up to about two times the window's width.

Choosing the correct curtain length for your windows is also important. Besides looking awkward, too-small curtains visually shorten your space, making ceilings appear lower. Too-small curtains also make the room look smaller overall. Curtains that drag on the floor could pose a tripping hazard and collect dust more easily. For the ideal middle ground, curtains should hover just above the floor.

To find the right curtain length, measure from the floor to where you'll hang the rod (usually 4 to 6 inches above the window frame). Otherwise, hanging the curtain rod just below the ceiling is a simple design trick that makes your ceilings appear taller. Curtains come in standard lengths like 63, 84, and 96 inches. Choose one closest to your measurement, erring on the side of a few inches longer than shorter.

Additionally, be sure to choose a curtain rod that's wider than your window. This allows curtains to be pulled completely to the side of the window and makes the space feel larger. The rod itself should be 8 to 12 inches longer than the window's width, which allows for 4 to 6 inches on either side.

low table and patterned curtains
Nicholas Johnson

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)
cottage style contemporary living room with blue curtains
Brie Williams

Step 1: Determine how high to hang curtain rods.

Wondering where to hang curtain rods? It's essential to mount curtain rods in the right spot, or your perfect-length curtains might not hang properly. A rod that sits too close to the window can make a space seem smaller than it really is. To ensure perfect curtain placement, measure the depth of your window molding to determine the ideal size for your curtain brackets. You'll want curtain brackets that extend past the depth of your trim. If they're too shallow, your curtains won't hang properly.

Using a pencil and tape measure, mark the desired position of your curtain brackets, so the rod is about 4 to 6 inches above your window frame, making sure the curtains will slightly brush the floor or hover just above it. The curtain brackets should be placed about 6 inches from the outside edge of the window frame to allow plenty of natural light.

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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