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How Many Curtains Should I Buy?

When buying new curtains for your home, one of the first questions that comes up is “How many curtains do I need?” Getting the right number is important so your windows are fully covered, the curtains hang properly, and you achieve the aesthetic you want. There’s no universal rule on quantities – the amount depends on several factors like window sizes, room dimensions, and your personal preferences.

How Many Curtains Should I Buy?

Follow this comprehensive guide to determine the right curtain count for your space. We’ll go over techniques for measuring windows accurately, calculating the number of panels needed per window, choosing rod lengths, and deciding on curtain styles. With these insider design tips, you’ll purchase the perfect amount for flawless flow and functionality.

Measure Windows Precisely

In order to determine curtain quantities, you first need precise window measurements. Make sure to measure the exact width and height of each window opening to use for calculations. Follow these steps:

You’ll Need:

  • Cloth Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
  • Paper


  1. Stand directly in front of the window to measure. Measure across the entire opening from edge to edge. Note the closest half or quarter inch in width. Repeat for the height from the top of the molding to the bottom sill in height.
  2. Measure identically sized windows together. If you have multiple windows of the same dimensions, you won’t need to measure each one. Measure one accurately as a sample for quantity calculations.
  3. Account for hardware and obstructions. Make note if the window opening includes protruding handles or cranks so you account for potential interference when choosing curtain widths.
  4. Convert to inches if needed. Many curtain sizes are listed in inches so convert wider measurements from feet to inches to compare properly.

Always measure the actual window opening rather than wall to wall. This gives you accurate dimensions to work with for determining panel requirements. Repeat for every unique sized window in the room.

Calculate Curtain Panels Per Window

Once you have precise window measurements, it’s time to calculate the number of curtain panels needed per window. Panel quantities are based on the width of the window and the standard curtain panel widths available. Follow these guidelines:

  • Pay attention to dimensions: Note if your windows are extra wide to determine if you need extra panels or special ordering.
  • Fullness matters: More gathered curtains need more panels than flat panels.
  • Go with wider panels if possible: Wider individual panels mean fewer splits over windows.
  • Buy panels in pairs: Each window needs an even number of curtain panels to hang properly.

Use the below formulas as a guide adjusting for your own window sizes and chosen curtain widths:

  • Standard Window Widths:
    • Up to 40 inches wide: 2 panels
    • 40-72 inches wide: 3 panels
    • 72-144 inches wide: 4-6 panels
    • Wider than 144 inches: 8+ panels, extra width panels, or special order

So for example, if you measured your window to be 60 inches wide, you’ll need 3 panels for that window (2 panels would only cover 48 inches).

Repeat the measurement and calculation process for every window in the room accounting for variable sizes. Order panels in pairs according to each window’s needs.

Special Considerations

  • For extra long windows like floor-to-ceiling drapes, you may need extra-long panels versus standard sizes.
  • If hanging blackout curtains, you often need to order panels 2-3 inches wider than the window to prevent light gaps.
  • With patterned curtains, make sure to order enough pairs for patterns to correctly align across panels.

Choose Proper Curtain Rod Lengths

In addition to ordering the right curtain panels, you also need to get an appropriately sized rod to hang them on. Curtain rods should be:

  • At least 4-6 inches wider than the actual window frame to accommodate panel ends.
  • Long enough to span the window past each edge by 2-3 inches for proper hanging.
  • Selected for the style of curtain top: rod pockets, back tabs, grommets, etc.

So measure window widths accurately, then add at least 4 inches minimum to determine the curtain rod length needed. Having an improperly sized rod is a common mistake that causes curtain issues down the road.

Decide on Desired Curtain Styles

The final factor that impacts curtain quantity is the style you select. More tailored paneled curtains require more individual sections over gathered curtains. Consider these variables:

  1. Curtain Style
  • Paneled curtains need one panel per window section.
  • Ruffled and gathered curtains are fuller so require less panels.
  • Floor-length curtains usually need more fabric.
  • Blackout curtains may need extra width.
  1. Headings/Tops
  • Rod pocket tops need accurate flat widths.
  • Back tab and grommet tops have more flexibility.
  1. Curtain Length
  • Sill length vs floor length require different amounts of fabric.
  • Super long designs like puddle curtains require more.
  1. Windows to Cover
  • The number and sizes of windows in the room impacts totals.
  • Don’t forget niche, specialty, and door windows.

With the above room measurements, window dimensions, and style factors identified – you can determine the right total number of curtain panels needed for perfect coverage!

Key Takeaways: Curtain Quantities Cheat Sheet

  • Use a cloth tape measure – carefully measure all windows
  • Calculate panels – determine pair amounts needed per window
  • Account for odd sizes – floor to ceiling, extra wide or specialty windows
  • Size rods correctly – order wide enough to hang panels
  • Factor in styles – tailored vs. gathered, lengths, headers, fullness
  • Count all windows – don’t forget niche and specialty windows

Getting the measurements right up front and using the right calculations helps ensure you order the perfect amount of curtains tailored to your space!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many curtain panels do I need per regular sized window?
    For average width windows under 72 inches, you typically need 2-3 panels per window. So 4-6 panels total for a standard double window.

  2. How do I calculate curtains for big windows over 144 inches wide?
    Oversized windows over 144 inches wide may need alternative solutions like extra width panels, more panels (6+), special order widths, or dividing into separate groupings with multiple rods.

  3. Do floor-to-ceiling curtains need more panels?
    Yes, since floor length curtains require significantly more fabric, you often need more panels or wider width panels to make up the difference.

  4. Should I get wider curtain panels?
    If available, wider width curtain panels (up to 120” wide) allow you to use fewer panels over big windows to minimize central gaps.

  5. How much extra width do I add to blackout curtain measurements?
    For the best blackout effect, add 2-3” width over the actual window dimensions for full coverage with minimum light gaps.

  6. Can I use fewer wider curtain panels instead of more narrow ones?
    Yes, although make sure wider panels still provide good overlap in the middle and aren’t too heavy. Specialty wide widths are now available up to 120 inches.

  7. What is the standard curtain length I should get?
    For typical height windows, sill length curtains that puddle slightly on the floor are the most popular style and common length to order.

  8. How do I ensure my patterns match properly across panels?
    When ordering patterned curtains, carefully review layout diagrams to ensure the patterns align correctly across panels when hung.

  9. Should curtains cover the entire window wall?
    Not necessarily – standard recommendations are extending rods only 2-3 inches wider than the frame on each side.

  10. What happens if curtains are too narrow or too short?
    Too narrow or short panels result in gaps, exposed areas, less privacy, and light leakage. They usually need to be replaced.

  11. Can I combine different curtain widths on the same rod?
    While you can combine different width panels, it usually looks best to have matching pairs for uniformity.

  12. How do I calculate curtain panels for bay or curved windows?
    Bay and specialty shaped windows often require made-to-measure curtains to achieve the right fit and coverage. Consult an expert designer for the best solution.

  13. Where should I mount the curtain rod over the window?
    Current standard recommendation is installing curtain rods as close to the ceiling as possible, around 6-12” above the window trim for a sleek, modern look.

  14. What is the minimum width I need for each curtain panel?
    The absolute minimum is around 24”, but that allows for almost no draping. Standard panel widths start around 40”+ and increase by increments of 12” (40”, 52”, 63” etc).

  15. How much extra length do I need for perfect floor-grazing curtains?
    For puddle curtains that graze right at the floor, allow at least 1-2” of extra length past the official floor-to-ceiling measurement for the perfect gentle puddle.

  16. Can I use two separate narrow rods instead of one wide rod?
    You can install two smaller rods on either window side instead of one long rod, although operation of narrower curtains can be trickier. Make sure supports are sufficient for width.

  17. What type of curtain headers suit narrow vs. wide panels?
    Narrower panels look great with pinched pleat headings. For wider panels up to 120”, pencil pleat or ripple fold headings help minimize bulky gathering at the tops.

  18. Where do I measure from to get the floor-to-ceiling length? *
    Carefully measure from the top window framing trim right down to where the baseboard trim meets the floor for exact floor-length dimensions.

  19. How much extra yardage should I order?
    Order 10-20% extra length for hem allowances, miscalculations, returns, future replacement if discontinuing. Curtain alterations are expensive so get extra.

  20. What tools do I need on hand for DIY curtain measuring and hanging?
    Must-haves are a steel tape measure, pencil, laser level, screwdriver, quality drill, hammer, pliers, hook tool, scissors and seam ripper for adjustments.


Determining curtain quantity doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Now that you know how to measure windows properly and calculate panels accurately per the width, you can find the right amounts. Factor in your length needs, styles, special shapes and sizes – then order with confidence! With the tips above and the handy cheat sheet, you’ll determine the perfect tailored curtain quantities for flawless coverage in every room.

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