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Should curtains go to the ceiling?

Curtains that go from ceiling to floor can make a room feel taller and more spacious. However, ceiling-height curtains also have some potential downsides to consider before installing them in your home. This article provides tips on determining if floor-to-ceiling curtains are right for you and ideas for alternative window treatment options.

Should curtains go to the ceiling?

Factors to Consider for Ceiling-Height Curtains

When deciding if curtains should extend all the way to your ceiling, here are some important factors to weigh:

Light Control

Floor-to-ceiling curtains provide maximum privacy and blackout capabilities. The long, draping fabric prevents light leakage from the tops and sides of the window. This makes them ideal for bedrooms.

Room Height

Tall ceilings can accommodate the dramatic look of long curtains. Make sure you have enough clearance for the curtain rod height and stack back of the fabric. Standard ceiling heights under 9 feet may feel overwhelmed.

Window Height

Floor-to-ceiling curtains only work for windows that meet or nearly meet the ceiling line. Consider other treatments for shorter windows to avoid awkward negative space.

Stack Back

Account for how much fabric will stack back when open. Deep stack back styles need width clearance. Pencil pleat curtains minimize stack back but may not provide a full floor-to-ceiling look when closed.


Avoid flowy ceiling-height curtains near doors. The fabric can get caught on door knobs or prevent doors from fully opening.

Pros of Hanging Curtains from Ceiling to Floor

Going from ceiling to floor creates an impressive, lavish look. But floor-to-ceiling curtains also serve some practical purposes:

  • Maximize Privacy – Prevents light gaps at the top of the window for complete coverage.
  • Soften Wall Appearance – Drapes draw eyes up which makes rooms feel taller. The fabric hides less attractive wall areas.
  • Help with Resale Value – Luxe, high-end window treatments can increase a home’s value.
  • Provide Darkening for Sleep – Maximum light block out is ideal for bedrooms to limit morning light.
  • Enhance Acoustics – Thermal insulating curtains absorb sound better than shorter treatments.
  • Allow Flexibility in Length – Longer curtains can be hemmed later if needed to reach changing ceiling heights from home updates.

Cons Associated with Ceiling-Height Curtains

On the other hand, some disadvantages come along with the dramatic ceiling-to-floor curtain look:

  • Accumulate More Dust and Dirt – Increased fabric surface area catches and shows more dust and dirt over time. More frequent cleaning is needed.
  • Easy to Catch and Tear – Lengthy curtains brushing the floor can get caught on objects and tear.
  • Harder to Open and Close – Longer curtains require more strength and effort to smoothly glide open and closed on the rod.
  • Can Make Rooms Feel Shorter** – Dark, floor-length curtains advance visually and can reduce vertical space in rooms with already low ceilings.**
  • Limit Furniture Options – Floor-to-ceiling curtains restrict tall furniture placement like bookcases and entertainment centers below windows.
  • Difficult to Install – Getting long curtains even and level on high curtain rods takes precision and may need professional help.

Alternatives for Windows Not Reaching the Ceiling

For windows positioned a foot or more from the ceiling, avoid awkward negative space by opting for window treatments sized appropriately:

Café curtains – Shorter curtains hanging just below the window sill maintain privacy and softness without meeting the floor.

Top treatments – Decorative cornices, pelmets, canopy drapes or swags mounted right over the window frame balance out a window lower on the wall.

Drapery panels – Specifying panels wide enough to cover window frames fully on both sides avoids uneven exposure. Panels nearly reaching the ceiling still elongate the look of low windows.

Roller shades – Shades cut specifically for the window then neatly rolled up when open prevent odd negative spaces within the window area.

Tips for Measuring Ceiling-Height Curtains

Getting measurements right for floor-to-ceiling curtains ensures proper light control and proportional style. Follow these best practices when measuring and mounting curtains to reach all the way from ceiling to floor:

  • For the rod, measure down approximately 4 inches from the ceiling to account for the rod hardware and curtains to slide smoothly.
  • Measure at three points across every window then use the widest width.
  • Factor in leading edge for a clean frame with curtains fully closed. This helps curtains stack evenly on both sides when open.
  • Allow at least 3 inches puddling onto the floor for the proper luxurious look.
  • Add at least twice the puddle length when hemming curtains to allow alteration flexibility if ceilings heights change during home updates.

Best Ceiling Height for Hanging Long Curtains

Floor-to-ceiling curtains make sense with taller ceiling heights. Here are recommended minimums:

  • 12+ feet – Soaring ceilings call for ultra long curtains for stunning drama able to carry the height.
  • 9-12 feet – Standard high ceilings can accommodate most floor-to-ceiling curtains without cramming the space visually.
  • 8-9 feet – Lower ceilings may work with some relaxed flowing sheer fabrics, but solid luxurious fabrics might feel overwhelming.

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure you have enough ceiling clearance before buying ceiling-tall curtains
  • Consider potential downsides like dust and dirt accumulation
  • Measure precisely from ceiling to floor including puddling and stack back
  • Adjust to the appropriate height over low-positioned windows
  • Opt for café, roller shades, panels or decorative cornices on shorter windows


Ultimately, the decision if curtains should meet the ceiling depends mainly on your room’s proportions and privacy needs. As a general rule of thumb, it makes sense to hang curtains from ceiling to floor if you have a standard 9-foot or taller ceiling height paired with windows reaching near the ceiling line. This provides that lavish, softening look without awkward negative space. But also weigh if your lifestyle can accommodate the extra maintenance that comes with expansive floor-length curtains. Understanding all the pros and cons allows you to make the most informed choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are my curtains not touching the ceiling?
    If your curtains have a gap between the top and ceiling, it likely comes down to a couple reasons. First, you need to account for the height of the curtain rod and clearance needed. Leaving this buffer prevents fabric getting bunched up. Secondly, windows positioned lower on the wall leave awkward negative space curtains can’t fill regardless of total height. Consider supplementing with wider mounting boards, cornices or coordinating swags.

  2. Should floor length curtains just kiss the floor?
    For optimal visual flow and proportions, floor-length curtains should lightly puddle onto the floor by a few inches rather than just grazing the floorboards. Allow 3-4 inches for the fabric to lay elegantly and move gracefully when walked by. Too much puddling however can trip hazards.

  3. Do floor to ceiling curtains make rooms feel bigger?
    Yes, floor-length curtains make rooms feel taller and spacious by drawing eyes from ceiling to floor in an unbroken line. It also expands wall space visually to feel larger by softening hard edges. Ensure taller drapes reach all the way to the ceiling without gaps for maximum effect.

  4. Are floor to ceiling curtains timeless?
    The dramatic look of long, draping ceiling-high curtains maintains a classic elegance that outlasts changing home décor trends. When well-tailored from rich fabrics, floor-length curtains evoke majestic luxury in both traditional and modern spaces making them a timeless window dressing option.

  5. Do floor length curtains work with radiators?
    Yes, luxurious floor-length curtains can work beautifully with radiators situated under windows for both aesthetics and functionality. The key is to allow minimum clearance above the unit accounting for heat distribution needs when mounting the curtain rod or installing a floor-to-ceiling track system that curves out and around the radiator.

  6. How wide should curtains be for floor to ceiling?
    For floor-length curtains to elegantly puddle onto the floor without pulling, use a general rule of thumb when sizing width. Standard curtains should have a fabric width equal to at least 2 times the width of the window frame. This provides optimal gather fullness. But expand to 2.5 times window width if choosing pencil pleat styles for a slimmer stack back.

  7. Can you put floor to ceiling curtains on bedroom windows?
    Definitely. Tall, flowing bedroom curtains hung ceiling to floor make an excellent choice providing key benefits. Light cancellation maximizes restful sleep. Sound absorption enhances a tranquil environment. Privacy satisfies without cluttering windowsills with closing blinds daily. And indulgent, luxe style promotes relaxation.

  8. Do I need special hardware for floor to ceiling curtains?
    To support the full length and weight of floor-to-ceiling curtains, robust specialty hardware works best. Look for extendable tension rod kits designed for ceiling-high mounting without sagging over time. Or install decorative pole systems featuring ceiling cups or finials anchored securely into wall studs for safe stability holding high curtains.

  9. Should living room curtains touch the floor?
    In the living room, touching floor length remains an elegant, softening choice if your space suits long curtains. But more lenience exists to creatively shorten window treatments in casual living areas. Grazing the floor, breaking at window sills, mixing high and low panels and accent swags all work nicely. Just ensure the overall look doesn’t create disjointed negative spaces.

  10. What height should curtains be above the floor?
    Ideally, floor-length curtains should float just a few inches above the floor without dragging. Allow them to lightly kiss or puddle onto flooring about 3-4 inches for appropriate visual proportions. Too high above the floor looks awkward in gaps. Too low increases trip hazards and dirt accumulation. Touching gently is just right.

  11. Where should curtain rod be placed on wall?
    Standard curtain rod height sits about 4-6 inches below the ceiling line. This leaves a subtle gap allowing fixture hardware clearance and enables fluid sliding movement opening and closing tall curtains. Place the rod higher up to 8-12 inches below ceilings over 9 feet tall. Or graduate rod height on a tall sloped ceiling walking it parallel with the changing angles.

  12. Should curtain rod be wider than window?
    Yes, extending curtain rods 6-12 inches wider than the window frame on each side establishes nice proportions. The added width prevents too-narrow panels sagging in the middle and provides stack back space keeping edges neatly framed. But leave at least 2 inches clearance from walls for draw pull cords to hang without rubbing.

  13. How long do floor length curtains need to be?
    To best reach floor-length, order panels about 10-12 inches longer than the exact measurement from the planned rod height to the floor. The extra length accommodates the rod setting, stacked gathering at the top, and a slight floor puddle. It also leaves room to re-hem if floors shifted during home updates alter the distance down the wall incrementally.

  14. Do ceiling height curtains make room look bigger?
    Yes, draping curtains positioned high on the wall then streaming fully down expands vertical space visually making rooms feel taller and more grand. Contrast this to stubbier treatments like café curtains that abruptly truncate the eye’s movement downward. Keep colors light to prevent dark hues shrinking the space despite the floor-to-ceiling length.

  15. What length should I get if making DIY floor length curtains?
    When sewing your own floor-length curtains, cut fabric lengths basing from precise ceiling-to-floor measurements. Then generously add 8 inches to accommodate heading depth, seam allowances, hem allowances and a graceful floor puddle. This ensures no shortage. Fine tune final lengths during the installation pressing and hemming steps as needed.

  16. Should floor to ceiling curtains just pool on floor?
    Yes, floor-length curtains should artfully pool onto the floor slightly rather than just hovering right at floor level. Calculate about a 3-4 inch puddle length when measuring and mounting rods. The goal is lightweight, effortless draping rather than heavy heaping. This creates elegant movement and proportions as you walk past the window.

  17. How do I keep floor length curtains clean?
    Maintain fresh, clean floor-length curtains by regularly vacuuming gentle brush attachments then spot treating stains immediately before setting. Alternatively, remove panels 4 times a year for machine washing delicate cycles then air dry to prevent musty smells. Iron back pleats and steaming also helps refresh. Consider liner undercurtains if pets may mark territory curtains.

  18. Where to buy curtains floor to ceiling?
    Many major home goods stores sell a variety of floor-to-ceiling curtain panels both in person and online. Top retailers carrying long curtain selections include Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Walmart, IKEA, Amazon, Overstock, JCPenney, Wayfair, Pottery Barn and specialty drapery workrooms. Browse various styles, colors, textures and price points before deciding where to purchase your new high drapes.

  19. What length of curtain goes to the floor?
    For curtains to optimally reach the floor, panels need to be cut substantially longer than your exact floor length to accommodate hardware, heading and puddling allowances. Standard floor-length panels measure about 10-12 inches longer than the height of your ceiling down to the floor. This provides a graceful airy pool of fabric rather than stubby chopped look.

  20. How long should 52 inch curtains be to touch floor?
    If choosing ready-made 52-inch wide floor-length curtains, your panels need to be around 110 inches (9 foot 2 inches) long to meet the floor properly. The typical distance from ceiling height down to the floor in most standard rooms falls between 96-108 inches. So with the extra length, 52-inch wide panels should amply puddle on the floor.

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