Woman opening her window curtains

Curtains seem so simple but can make a world of a difference in your room. Good ones bring in just enough light to fill your home with that beautiful sunlit glow. The bad ones don’t give you enough privacy, right when you need it the most.

Surprisingly, the biggest mistake people make when buying curtains starts with a measuring tape. Learning how to measure curtains will help you select the right size, style and make curtain installation a breeze. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide with the most frequently asked questions and installation tips. This way you can measure right and find best window coverings for your home.

Questions to ask when buying and installing curtains

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1What type of curtains do I need?

There’s lots of options when it comes to window coverings. Style, fabric and length, oh my! A great and easy place to start is to stand in your room and consider these two questions:

  • How much light do I want to let in or keep out?
  • How much privacy do I need?

Want to let all the sunlight in? Need your bedroom in total darkness to sleep? There’s three main curtain types that will help you achieve your perfect level of privacy and light filtering:

Sheer curtains

Great for kitchens, sheer curtains are typically thin and let in lots of light.

Our Favourite Sheer Curtains

Light filtering curtains

A great option for living rooms, light filtering curtains let some light in and offer a bit of privacy.

Our Favourite Light Filtering Curtains

Blackout curtains

Best used for bedrooms, blackout curtains don’t let light in at all and offer the most privacy.

Our Favourite Blackout Curtains

Interior designer Natalie Chong also encourages layering curtain panels with a double rod for a look that’s sophisticated and practical. “Layering panels adds softness, texture and visual interest. They really make a space feel warmer, cozier and more lived in.”

Now that you know how much light you’re going to let in, it’s time to select your fabric and curtain header style.

Selecting Curtain Fabrics

From decorative brocades to simple cottons, it can be hard to know which type of fabric is best for your room and your family’s lifestyle. We’ve laid out the most common types of curtain fabric below, plus what room it’s best for, to help you narrow down your choices.

Fabric Highlights Best Room
Cotton Durable and easy to clean. Isn’t great for blocking light. Look for a tight weave or lining. Living room
Silk Adds glamour and luxury. Typically dry-clean only. Formal dining rooms and living rooms
Linen Sheer with relaxed, earthy vibes. Typically dry-clean only. Kitchen, living room
Polyester Durable, affordable and easily washed. Wrinkle resistant. Tends to absorb odors. Avoid kitchens
Velvet Glamorous choice. Loved for its ability to block cold air and light. Bedroom
Acrylic Lightweight and affordable. Hangs nicely and resistant to moisture and mildew. Any room
Lace Beautiful and elegant way to add depth to windows. Doesn’t filter much light. Living room (with lining), kitchens

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When designing her clients’ spaces, Chong prefers fabrics that breathe, like cottons and linens. When in need of a little drama, she’s not afraid to stray from the classics, “Velvet drapes add a bit more of a luxurious feeling, but they’re definitely a statement piece for a room!”

Still unsure of what fabric to choose? You can easily browse and shop options by light filtration on Walmart.ca.

Curtain Header Styles

What is a curtain header? Think of it as how the curtains attach to the rod. Part function, part style, the header can make your window coverings look opulent, modern, minimalist or dated. We’ve broken them down the details so you can select one that matches your home’s style.

Header Type How it Looks Design Style
Box pleat  Fabric is folded in front and in back to create concise square folds and clean lines. Modern minimalist
Rod pocket Pocket is sewn into the back of the curtain panel for the rod to slip through. Fussy (and a bit outdated)
Pinch pleats Curtain panels with holes along the top for a curtain rod to weave through. Casual
Classic tab top Loops extend off the top of the curtain panel for curtain rods to slip through. Casual
Goblet pleat This header is pinched in a way as to create a ‘goblet’ shape at the top. Opulent

Our Favourite Curtains

2What are the different types of curtain rods?

Wondering what type of curtain rod to choose? Here’s what you need to know about each style, so you can choose the right one for your windows:

Single rod

This is the most classic and simple style: a single rod attached to a wall with brackets and caps on either end known as finials. This style works perfectly for a single layer of curtains.

Our Favourite Single Curtain Rods

Double rod

Two rods mounted together means two layers of curtains. The panel closer to the window blocks light, while the sheer curtain that hangs in front. This way, you can slide the light-blocking panel back to allow sunlight in, while still having a bit of privacy (and design) from the sheer panel.

Our Favourite Double Curtain Rods

Traverse rod

This style has a hidden track that curtain hooks attach into. This allows the curtain panels to slide open and close more easily.

Our Favourite Traverse Curtain Rods

Wrap rod

Also called a return rod, it curves back at each end to mount directly on the wall. This way curtains can wrap right against the wall, blocking light completely.

Our Favourite Wrap Curtain Rods

Tension rod

It’s an extendable pole with a spring inside that creates tension when squeezed in a window frame. It’s easy to install, but fair warning, it’s not the most durable (and won’t hold up to toddlers pulling on drapes.)

Our Favourite Tension Curtain Rods

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When selecting curtain rods, look for a finish that will match the hardware already in your room, like the doorknobs and light fixtures. This will help create a cohesive style.

3How do I measure my windows for curtains?

Before you get out your measuring tape, you’ll have to decide how you’d like to mount your curtains. Lucky for you, there’s only two options to choose from:

  • Inside mount: This is how blinds are typically mounted but sometimes be used for curtains where the rod is mounted within the window. Measure this way if you are considering using a tension rod.
  • Outside mount: The rod is mounted above the window. This is the go-to style for curtains and gives you that illusion of taller windows.
illustration of windows at night showing how to measure for inside mount
Image Source: theHUB by Walmart Canada

How to measure curtains for an inside mount:
If you’re installing a tension rod inside your window frame, you’ll need measurements for an inside mount. For this, start at the inner corner of window frame, not the corner of the glass, and measure across from right to left (A). Write it down, then starting at the same corner, measure down to the bottom of your window sill (C).

illustration of windows at night showing how to measure for outside mount
Image Source: theHUB by Walmart Canada

How to measure curtains for an outside mount:
Start from the outer left corner of your frame, measuring it across to the right side (A). Be sure to note the measurement, then starting at the top outer corner, measure down to the bottom of the frame (B). Note that amount, then continue down to the floor (C). These two measurements will come in handy when figuring out the length of your curtains.

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Use a soft sewing tape measure, this will allow you to get right into the corners of your windows, for the most accurate measurement.

4How long and wide should curtains be?

The measurements aren’t done yet! Now that you have your window size, we’ll help you figure out how long and wide your curtains should be.

Mount Types Length Width
Inside mount Use your length measurement (C). For curtain panels, starting with your width measurement (A), add 20-30 cm of fabric to either side of your window. This will ensure your curtain panels cover your entire window frame.
Outside mount

Plan to install your curtain rod 10-15 cm above the window frame. Add this to your total length (C).

For floor-length curtains, add 2 cm to your total length (C).

For curtains that rest on the floor, add 7 cm (C).

For curtain panels, starting with your width measurement, add 20-30 cm of fabric to either side of your window. This will ensure your curtain panels cover your entire window frame.

Designers suggest adding 5-10 cm of rod length on either side of the window frame. This will create the illusion of a wider window. Add this to your total width (A).

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Toronto-based interior designer Natalie Chong has a few tricks up her sleeve for making store-bought drapes look custom, “A thicker, fuller panel that just kisses the floor will give the look of a custom design. If you can’t find an exactly perfect measurement, find one with a bit more length, and then hem it to sit just right!”

5What tools do I need to install curtains?

You don’t need to empty your tool box, but a few key items will help you get your curtains up easily and securely. Here’s what you need:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver or power drill
  • Screws
  • Ladder or step stool

Our Curtain Installation Must-Haves

6How do I install curtains?

While you can hang a curtain rod and curtains on your own, the project will be much easier with an extra set of hands and eyes to guide you.

  1. Mark your points: From the top of your window frame, measure up 10-15 cm, then, from the outside edge of your window frame, measure about 5-10 cm. Mark you point with a pencil. Repeat on the other side of your window.
  2. Get drilling: Slowly drill the screw into the marked point on your wall. Once you got a hole for your screw, reverse it out of the wall. Place the rod anchor on the wall, over the hole, and slowly drill the screw into the wall.
  3. Hang on: Slip the curtain panels onto the curtain rod. Make sure both panels are facing the correct direction, and no loops or eyelets are skipped.
  4. Put the rod up: Carefully slip one end of the curtain rod into the anchor. You’ll have to push it through an extra few centimetres to bring the other end inside of the opposite anchor.
  5. Add the finials: The rod ends will often twist on, but sometimes they need a screwdriver. Be very gentle if you’re screwing the finials on, as to not put too much weight on the freshly hung rod and anchors.
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Worried about messing up your measurements? Cut a handy L-shaped template out of cardboard for easy markings. Even with the template, we recommend double (and triple) checking your measurements with a tape measure and level.

7How do I install curtains without a drill?

Do you need a drill to install curtain rods? Not necessarily! A tension rod is an easy and affordable solution for hanging curtains quickly. You’ll still need measurements for an inside mount, to ensure the tension rod you buy will fit nice and snug. For tension rods to work, the fit needs to be perfect.

Shop Curtain Essentials

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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.