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What Not to Do When Hanging Curtains?

Hanging window curtains seems simple enough, but there are some common mistakes that are easy to make. Avoid these curtain hanging faux pas so your windows have the finished look you envisioned.

What Not to Do When Hanging Curtains?

Use Curtains That Are the Wrong Size

One of the most common mistakes is buying ready-made curtains that seem close enough to the right length, but don’t actually properly fit your windows.

  • Don’t Use Curtains That Are Too Short – Curtains that only cover part of the window look unbalanced and unfinished. Make sure curtains are long enough to cover the entire window opening from top to bottom when closed.
  • Don’t Use Curtains That Are Too Long – Extra long curtains that puddle on the floor can easily get dirty and frayed. For optimal appearance and performance, curtains should just slightly break the floor, with no more than 1-2 inches of extra length.

Hang Hardware Incorrectly

The hardware you hang your curtains from impacts functionality and appearance. Avoid these hardware hanging mistakes:

  • Don’t Use Too Few Curtain Hooks – Use enough so hooks are no more than every 6-8 inches. Too few and curtains sag.
  • Don’t Hang Hooks Crooked – Use a level and pencil marks to keep rows straight and even.
  • Don’t Hang From Cafe Rods – They can’t hold curtain weight properly without pulling down.
  • Don’t Hang From Tension Rods – Better for scarves than curtains; rods fall and curtains sag.

Not Allowing Proper Light Blocking

If you want curtains for room darkening, make sure they are constructed and hung properly.

  • Don’t Hang Sheer Curtains – Pretty but useless for privacy and light blocking; choose opaque fabrics instead.
  • Don’t Hang Side Curtains Too Narrow – They should cover the entire window opening to the wall edges when closed.
  • Don’t Forget Layers – Hang blackout lining behind lighter decorative curtains.

Incorrect or Missing Top Treatments

Usually essential finishing design elements, top treatments frame the window and give curtains a custom look.

  • Don’t Leave Windows Bare – Add simple valances, cornices, drapery scarves or rods if you skip swags and jabots.
  • Don’t Use Mismatched Valances – Coordinate or contrast colors/patterns with curtains.
  • Don’t Hang Too High or Low – Standard height is 1-3 inches above the window frame.

Key Takeaways

Avoid common curtain hanging mistakes for best appearance and performance:

  • Size curtains precisely to window measurements
  • Use adequate high-quality hardware
  • Allow for proper light blocking if needed
  • Include coordinating top window treatments


With careful planning and by avoiding common errors, you can hang window curtains successfully. Properly sized, constructed, and hung curtains framing your windows can elegantly enhance the beauty of any room. Consider enlisting a consultant if unsure about measuring and installation. Beautiful, functional window curtains are worth the extra time and care needed to do it right.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. How high should you hang curtains from the ceiling?
    Curtain rod brackets should be installed about 3 inches above the window frame as a general standard. Adjust higher or lower to best cover the window.
  1. What is the most popular curtain length?
    For optimal appearance and performance, most curtains are hung to puddle slightly at just 1-2 inches below the window sill.
  1. Why buy curtains too long instead of too short?
    Longer is better because curtains can be hemmed to customize the perfect length but cannot be lengthened if cut too short.
  1. Should floor length curtains touch the floor?
    Yes, the fabric should lightly graze the floor, but not be so long that excessive fabric piles up.
  1. Can you mount a curtain rod on the wall instead of the ceiling?
    Yes. Install extension brackets that mount to the walls a few inches away from window frames.
  1. Do you need two curtains per window?
    It’s recommended. Hang two panels, one overlapping the other when closed, per window for best coverage.
  1. How do you hang blackout curtains?
    Layer them behind decorative curtains using tabs or ring clips attached to a second, separate rod mounted behind the front one.
  1. What are the different types of curtain rods?
    Common types are adjustable, telescoping and tension rods or elegant solid wood or metal pole rods hung with decorative hardware.
  1. Should you steam curtains before hanging?
    It’s not mandatory but steaming can remove creases from packaging and make panels hang properly.
  1. Can you use nails instead of screws for brackets?
    No. Screws provide more secure support for the bracket hardware to prevent sagging issues.
  1. Do you need to know sewing to hang curtains?
    Basic skills help but aren’t imperative. Knowing how to properly measure, use a sewing machine, iron and hem curtains can achieve custom sizes.
  1. Where should you place curtain rods on a bay window?
    Use a rod wide enough to cover the entire bay window opening, mounted at side extension points, or individual rods on each window section.
  1. Why are my curtains rippling when closed?
    This often results from curtain panels being either too narrow or too lightweight to hang smoothly from casual air movement in a room.
  1. How wide should curtains be?
    For best coverage with minimum gaps, panels should be about twice the width of the actual window frame.
  1. Can you hang curtains from the ceiling without a rod?
    It’s possible but not typical. Specialty ceiling mount curtain hanging hooks with adjustable dropdown lengths are available.
  1. What curtains are easiest to hang?
    Rod pocket panels that slide directly onto rods are simplest. Clip rings, back tabs and decorative headers take more effort to attach properly.
  1. Why are my curtain rods sagging?
    Sagging results from too much weight caused by heavy curtains hung from inadequate hardware installed improperly into walls unable to provide sturdy support.
  1. Do back tab curtains have holes in them?
    No. Buttonhole slots at the top back are used to insert curtain hooks attached to rings on the hanging rods rather than holes.
  1. Can you iron polyester curtains?
    Yes. Use a medium heat setting and damp cloth between the iron and fabric. Don’t actually let the hot iron touch the curtain panel.
  1. Why not buy curtains too short?
    Because curtains cannot be lengthened if too short, but extra long curtains can always be hemmed and customized to the perfect size.

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