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Which type of curtain is best?

Choosing the right curtains for your home can completely transform the look and feel of a room. With so many different types of curtains available, from materials to styles to textures, it can be overwhelming to figure out which option is best for you. This comprehensive guide breaks down the pros and cons of the most popular curtain varieties to help you make an informed decision.

Which type of curtain is best?


Curtains come in a wide range of materials, each with their own characteristics. Consider factors like durability, light blocking, noise reduction, and overall look and feel when selecting a material.



  • Natural fiber is breathable and soft
  • Provides insulation to help keep heat in during winter
  • Usually machine washable for easy care
  • Affordable price point


  • Wrinkles easily
  • Not very effective at blocking light
  • Can shrink if washed improperly

Best for: Casual styles, fresh airy looks, affordable option



  • Made from natural fibers, absorbs moisture well
  • Lightweight material suitable for any climate
  • Gets softer over time
  • Drapes beautifully for an elegant look


  • Expensive
  • Wrinkles easily if not properly cared for
  • Difficult to clean requiring dry cleaning or hand washing

Best for: Sophisticated styles, adding texture



  • Very affordable option
  • Wrinkle and fade resistant
  • Easy care, machine washable
  • Good light blocking abilities


  • Not breathable, can get hot
  • Static cling is common
  • Not as durable over time
  • Cheap look if poor quality

Best for: Budget choice, easy maintenance, blackout curtains



  • Extremely luxurious look and feel
  • Naturally hypoallergenic
  • Diffuses light gently for a soft effect
  • Hangs beautifully with lots of drape


  • Very expensive, costs may add up for large windows
  • Delicate, requires dry cleaning
  • Sunlight can damage fibers over time

Best for: Luxury and glamour, making a statement



  • Rich, elegant look
  • Soft and plush texture adds depth
  • Blocks light effectively as thick material
  • Versatile for traditional to modern spaces


  • Shows dust, lint, and pet hair easily
  • Can crush and lose pile over time
  • Pricey, especially for high quality velvet

Best for: Adding drama and elegance, light blocking



  • Completely blocks external light
  • Keeps room dark for sleeping
  • Made from tightly woven opaque fabrics
  • Helps insulate room from noise


  • Can make room feel closed in if always drawn
  • Limits natural light when used during day
  • Usually must be dry cleaned

Best for: Bedrooms, nurseries, night shift worker routines


The style, or cut, of your curtains also impacts their look, function and best placement.

Pencil pleat

  • A classic tailored style for a clean, elegant look
  • Pleats are narrow and evenly spaced
  • Hangs smoothly with a neat stacked appearance
  • Versatile for any room and decor

Pinch pleat

  • Casual gathered look softens windows
  • Full plump pleats spaced further apart
  • Relaxed ruffled effect works with cottages or country themes
  • Usually made from lightweight fabrics like lace or voile

Tab top

  • Sleek minimalist style for modern interiors
  • Cloth tabs sewn into top seam slide onto curtain rod
  • Smooth straight panel hangs cleanly from rod
  • Best stationed high near ceiling for a tall uncluttered effect

Back tab

  • Curtain hooks to back of panel instead of top seam
  • Allows curtain to overlap window for a layered look
  • Softens edge of window and diffuses light gently
  • Best used with sheers and lightweight panels

Rod pocket

  • Fabric top hem features pockets to insert curtain rod
  • Creates casual gathered look with soft folds
  • Works with thicker fabrics from linen to velvet
  • Quick and easy installation without need for hooks


  • Metal rings inserted in top hem slide onto rod
  • Sleek industrial vibe paired with minimalist decor
  • Excellent choice for blackout curtains to seal out light -环扣


  • Curtain has back ties at top instead of rod
  • Pulling ties closes curtain for privacy and darkness
  • Typically made from lightweight fabrics like lace
  • Best for cottage, country or shabby chic spaces

Textures & Patterns

Texture and patterns add visual interest and depth to curtains. Consider the overall style of the room when selecting options.


  • Made from lightweight see-through fabrics
  • Help brighten rooms and diffuse sunlight gently
  • Often used alongside thicker main curtains for layering
  • Provide privacy while still allowing light through


  • Features ornate raised woven floral or geometric patterns
  • Classic elegance works with formal traditional decor
  • Rayon-cotton blends provide rich drape and sheen
  • Timeless vintage vibe brings antique allure


  • Decorative designs like birds, flowers stitched onto fabric
  • Intricate detail lends an elegant focal point
  • Works well with minimalist styles to offset simplicity
  • Hand embroidery increases cost for custom artisanal look

Faux Silk

  • Synthetic silky sheen made from polyester and nylon
  • Imitates look of silk at a fraction of the price
  • Light diffusing properties help soften sunlight
  • Affordable way to get luxurious silk effect

Cable knit

  • Looped woven texture resembles hand knit blankets
  • Casual organic feel accentuates natural boho or farmhouse styles
  • Soft undone waves diffract light for a cozy vibe
  • Cotton or linen fabrics increase breathability

Faux Suede

  • Synthetic suede-like brushed nap adds visual depth
  • Luxurious look evokes feelings of comfort and warmth
  • Deep saturated colors complement bold modern palettes
  • Affordable alternative to pricy real suede


  • Thick opaque fabric completely blocks outside light
  • Essential for nurseries, media rooms, night workers
  • Lining is usually white to reflect and diffuse indoor light
  • Hang tight to windows and use side channels for maximum darkness


With so many factors to consider from styles to patterns to fabrics, choosing new curtains can feel like a daunting task. Focus on your priorities for the room – whether it’s privacy, light control, or simply a decorative element. Measure carefully to determine the correct length and fullness needed. Most importantly, allow your personal tastes to shine through in the textures and colors you select. An informed decision will help ensure your new window dressings enhance the space beautifully.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consider the room’s needs – privacy, light control or decoration
  • Natural fabrics like cotton and linen provide casual breathable options
  • For darkness, blackout curtains are best made from tightly woven opaque fabrics
  • Pencil pleat and tab top styles create clean tailored looks
  • Add visual interest with textures like cable knit or embroidered details
  • Measure carefully and allow your personal style to come through

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the most popular curtain styles?
    Some of the most popular curtain styles include pencil pleat, pinch pleat, tab top, back tab, rod pocket, grommets and tie top. Pencil pleat offers a very clean tailored look. Pinch pleat has a more casual ruffled appearance. Tab top provides a minimalist modern aesthetic.

  2. How much sunlight do curtains block?
    The amount of sunlight curtains block depends on the thickness and material. Lightweight sheer and lace curtains allow a lot of light through. Heavyweight fabrics like velvet, brocade or layered blackout curtains can block most sunlight. Dark opaque materials work best for maximum light blocking.

  3. Should you hang curtains above or below the window?
    Most experts recommend hanging curtains as close to the ceiling as possible. Hanging them above the window frame extends the appearance of height in a room. Allow curtains to generously puddle on the floor for a rich luxurious look.

  4. What is the standard length for curtains?
    The standard length for curtains is about 2-3 inches above the floor. However, personal preference comes into play. Those desiring a more casual romantic look can puddle curtains on the floor. Rooms with pets may opt to keep them an inch or two above the floor instead.

  5. How full should curtains be?
    Curtains typically need to be about 1.5 to 2.5 times the width of the window for optimal fullness. Very narrow windows sometimes need 3 times the width. Too little fullness appears skimpy. Too much causes overly billowy puckering. Measure carefully and use your window size to calculate proper width.

  6. Should living room and bedroom curtains match?
    Matching living room and bedroom curtains can help provide a cohesive flow in an open concept home. However, it is not a must. Feel free to experiment with different textures and patterns that complement each other. Just maintain a similar color scheme for continuity.

  7. What fabrics are best for soundproofing?
    Thick tightly woven fabrics work best for soundproofing curtains. Materials like velvet, canvas, wool felt and quilted blackout curtains contain sound well. Adding thermal or acoustic linings provides extra noise insulation too. Avoid thin sheer fabrics that allow sound to pass through.

  8. What are the best header styles for blackout curtains?
    Grommets or tab tops make excellent blackout curtain header styles. The hard metal grommets seal light gaps tightly. And tab tops fit right against the wall, leaving no space for light peek through. Avoid back tabs or other overlapping headers which can allow slivers of light to filter in.

  9. Should you iron curtain panels before hanging?
    It’s a good idea to gently iron curtain panels before hanging, especially if they are wrinkled from packaging. Use a low heat setting and delicate motions to avoid damaging thick fabrics like blackout panels. The heat can help relax fibers and restore a smooth appearance.

  10. Can you put blackout curtains in the washing machine?
    Check fabric care instructions, but most blackout curtains can be machine washed in cold water on a gentle cycle. Use mild detergent, never bleach, and dry on low temperature. To avoid shrinkage, it’s best to air dry curtains fully if possible instead of the harsh heat of a dryer.

  11. What time of day should you close blackout curtains?
    Ideally, close blackout curtains as soon as daylight begins dimming in the evening and open them upon rising in the morning. However, some people prefer closing them about an hour before bedtime for maximum darkness. Adjust according to when the room needs light blocking for sleep versus natural light exposure when awake.

  12. Where should sheer curtains fall compared to main curtains?
    Sheer curtain panels should fall about 2-7 inches below the main curtains layered underneath for proper proportion. Allowing sheers to extend slightly below the main curtain gives a relaxed yet polished finished look. Just take care that they don’t puddle excessively on the floor.

  13. Should curtains cover the whole window?
    Curtains do not necessarily need to cover the entire window opening. It comes down to personal preference for the look you wish to achieve. Covering just the lower two-thirds of the window provides privacy while still allowing light through the top. Or drape them wider than the window frame to emphasize height.

  14. What fabrics are best to keep a room cool?
    Lightweight, natural breathable fabrics such as cotton, bamboo and linen work best for keeping rooms cool. The more open the weave, the better air can flow through. Also look for moisture wicking, light colored curtains to deflect sunlight rather than absorb heat. Adding thermal curtains behind them adds insulation.

  15. Should curtains be wider than the window?
    Curtains can absolutely be wider than the window for an abundant, luxurious look. Ensure the rod extends an additional 6-12 inches past the window frame on either side for proper hardware support. Allow curtains to generously puddle for a soft romantic vibe. But take care that overly full panels don’t block needed light.

  16. How do you measure for curtains?
    Start by measuring the exact width of the window frame from edge to edge in inches. For proper fullness, multiply that number by 1.5 or 2. Then measure the length from top of window to where you want curtains to fall. Add an extra 3 inches if planning to use decorative curtain rings or clips at the top.

  17. What is the most cost effective curtain solution?
    Panel tracks or tabs with sliding rings are very cost effective curtain solutions. They utilize simple lightweight polyester panels and plastic rings on a sliding rail. Easy to self-install, these curtains provide an affordable way to cover large windows without spending a fortune.

  18. Which rooms are best suited for floor to ceiling curtains?
    Rooms with high ceilings can be beautifully complemented by floor to ceiling curtains. This includes living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and dens. Take advantage of the vertical space by extending curtains from just below the ceiling all the way to the floor to draw the eye up and highlight tall windows.

  19. What are the main differences between drapes and curtains?|
    The main differences between drapes and curtains are their weight, construction and fullness. Drapes use thick lined fabrics, have generous fullness, and pleating or ties to hold them back. Curtains are lighter, may be unlined, have varying fullness, and typically hang straight rather than pulled back.

  20. How can you use bold patterned curtains in small spaces?
    The key to using bold patterned curtains in small spaces is restraint. Stick to smaller accent windows rather than covering large expanses. Or combine them with solid drapes in the same color family to minimize the busy pattern. Also select smaller scale prints. Allow them to make a statement without overwhelming the room.

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