When choosing new curtain rods, one of the first decisions you need to make is which material to select. The material impacts appearance, durability, weight tolerance and price. The most common materials used for curtain rods are wood, metal and plastic. There are also some specialty materials like bone and horn used primarily for decorative purposes.
Pros and Cons of Main Curtain Rod Materials
When evaluating materials for curtain rods, consider the following pros and cons:
Wood Curtain Rods
- Natural material that fits many decors
- Available in wide range of finishes and styles
- Can support medium to heavy curtains
- Typically middle-of-the-road price point
- Prone to warping and splitting over time
- Not as durable as metal rods
- Usually can’t extend longer than 144 inches without center support
Metal Curtain Rods
- Very strong and durable
- Available in many finishes like bronze, nickel, black
- Extendible up to 240 inches without needing center support
- Large variety of sizes and styles
- Can be prone to rusting or corrosion over time
- Cold appearance not suitable for all decors
- On higher end of pricing
Plastic Curtain Rods
- Most affordable option
- Very lightweight
- Easy to cut to needed width
- Good for temporary uses
- Durability issues – can bend, crack or shatter
- Low weight tolerance – not for heavy fabrics
- Cheap appearance
- Limited style selection
Now that you know the main pros and cons of common curtain rod materials, use the comparison chart below to help find the right one based on your needs and preferences.
|Traditional, rustic, cottage, transitional
|Medium to heavy
|Low to high
|Modern, industrial, contemporary
|Medium to high
Choose a Curtain Rod Material
Follow this decision process when selecting a curtain rod material:
1. Decide on Decor Style
Match the rod material to your existing room decor. Wood suits traditional styling like cottage or farmhouse spaces. Metal works for modern, industrial and contemporary rooms. Plastic rods fit casual family rooms or dorms on a budget.
2. Determine Needed Durability
Assess window usage and sunlight exposure. Metal rods are most durable, especially in high-traffic areas. Wood still offers decent durability for medium use. Avoid plastic for windows exposed to direct sunlight.
3. Calculate Curtain Weight
Factor in fabric thickness and fullness. Light curtains under 7 pounds do fine on plastic or small wood rods. Choose medium to heavy duty rods for curtains over 12 pounds. Metal extends longest without middle support.
4. Set Budget
Plastic rods run under $20. Basic wood runs $20-75. Metal costs $75-500+ depending on size and detailing. Measure window width and set pricing parameters.
Specialty Curtain Rod Materials
While less common in most homes, you can also find specialty curtain rods made of:
- Bone or horn – Intricately carved for exotic, artistic appearance
- Crystal – Sparkling glass or crystal beads strung as drapery rods
- Wrought iron – Hand-forged metal with twisting, scrolling shapes
- Bronze – Cast metal with antique coppery finish
These materials appeal when making a dramatic decorative statement but come at a higher cost. They also have very low weight limits for curtains. Use for accent windows or theatrical spaces rather than main living areas.
DIY Alternative Curtain Rod Materials
If you want to get creative with unique DIY curtain rods, consider repurposing:
- Copper pipes – Use 1/2-3/4 inch pipes with flanges and elbows for an industrial vibe
- Dowels or driftwood – Great for beachy, casual spaces
- Conduit – Thread with rope or rawhide for a rustic barn door look
- Curtain wire – Easy basic no-frills curtain hanging system
Paint or finish over basic hardware store finds to invent your own stylish rods on a budget.
- The most common curtain rod materials are wood, metal and plastic. Consider decorative specialty options like bone, crystal or wrought iron for added drama.
- Choose wood rods for traditional decor in medium use windows. Go for strong metal rods to handle heavy drapes in modern spaces. Use plastic for temporary light curtains.
- Match rod material to your existing room decor for a cohesive look. Check required durability and weight tolerance before selecting.
- While wood and metal rods range widely in pricing, plastic is cheapest and specialty materials are priciest per linear foot. Metal extends longest without center supports.
- Get creative repurposing copper, driftwood or conduit for custom DIY decorator rods on a budget.
The right curtain rod material impacts form and function in your window treatments. Evaluate needs for decor, durability and weight support. Then use the helpful comparison chart to narrow selection by material type that best suits your space and style. This makes choosing rods quicker plus ensures drapery hangs properly and enhances your room’s intended aesthetic.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the strongest curtain rods to buy?
Metal curtain rods can handle the heaviest weight and span widest widths without center supports. Steel is strongest, followed by wrought iron and aluminum.
- What problems cause wood curtain rods to warp?
Exposure to moisture from humidity, steam or direct sunlight can warp wooden rods over time. Avoid baths or hot kitchen areas.
- How much weight can a plastic curtain rod hold?
Lightweight plastic rods handle curtains under 7 pounds. The thin construction will bend, crack or shatter under heavier fabrics or with too wide a span.
- Do you need center supports for extra long curtain rods?
Rods over 144 inches long require center ceiling supports. Only high grade extended steel or iron can span up to 240 inches without visible middle brackets.
- Why are specialty material rods so expensive?
Materials like bone, crystal, bronze and iron are labor intensive to sculpt, carve, cast and hand forge driving up pricing on short production decorative rods.
- What information do you need to calculate curtain rod weight capacity?
Factor in curtain length, fullness (including any liners and overlaps), thickness, pleats and overall fabric density. Then check manufacturer specs on rod ratings.
- What type of rod hardware is needed for hanging extra heavy drapes?
Reinforced steel baton brackets, multiple ceiling anchors, and heavy duty finials help disperse weight better than standard hardware. Consider floor-to-ceiling poles also.
- Can you spray paint plastic rods?
Yes, use a specialized plastic primer first. Then spray with acrylic lacquer paint for best adhesion. Avoid dripping on any integrated workings inside telescoping rods.
- How are crystal curtain rods made?
Faceted glass crystal beads are strung along a thin metal internal rod or wrapped wire spine for sparkling but lightweight curtain rods.
- What are alternatives to traditional curtain rods?
Consider ceiling tracks, pole-pocket headings, holdbacks, tie tops, hidden circulation systems or free-standing beams apart from conventional window rods.
- Where should you install curtain rods in a window?
Most experts recommend installing just above the window trim. For floor-to-ceiling looks, extend rod height to cover at least two-thirds the full wall height.
- Which rooms suit tension curtain rods?
Tension poles best serve temporary spaces like rentals, dorms, kids rooms or gaps between cabinetry versus more permanent living room or master bedroom draperies.
- What depth curtains work with standard projection rods?
Rods that protrude 12-24 inches out from the wall require either rippled, pencil pleat or tab top triple fullness styles for enough stacking space.
- Is it better to get adjustable length or fixed window curtain rods?
Adjustable telescoping rods provide flexibility down the road. Check inner workings can still provide stable support at maximum extensions without sagging in center.
- Do you need to anchor floor-to-ceiling curtain rods?
Yes, very tall rods require multiple ceiling and floor anchors placed every 3-5 feet along entire run for safety and stability with curtain weighting.
- What are best practices for drilling into wrought iron curtain rods?
Never drill new holes directly into wrought iron. Attach external hardware or use clamps instead to disperse weight better without compromising integrity.
- Can you cut aluminum curtain rods to custom width?
While technically possible, the special cuts and end caps required mean custom ordering to size offers more reliability and better functioning support.