Choosing the curtain size

Curtain Sizes: Advanced Guide on Standard Curtains

Decorating your house can be a hard task; very demanding, time-consuming, numerous details to take care of. Not to mention countless color matching attempts and measuring sessions. Even curtain sizes can become quite a handful if you have little experience in decorating. The good news is, we have a thing just for you. In our little guide, you will find the description of the standard sizes for all the curtain types you can find out there, as well as recommendations on your own choice: what to take into account, where to pay more attention, how to make the best choice for your case, and much more.

Standard curtain sizes and widths

Sure enough, you can find curtains in all possible shapes and sizes, or even have some tailor-made for you personally. But for the simplicity of your search, there are three general types of curtains that you should look into – curtain panels, tier curtain panels, and valance curtains.

Standard curtain panels

These panels as a rule come in 48 inches long (about 122 cm) wide and have 3 standard lengths: 63, 84, 95, 108, and 120 inches (or approximately 160, 213, 241, 274, and 305 cm). These curtains do not have specific restrictions to the color or style, and the material does not play the main role here either. They can be black-out, sheer, or anything in between, any color and pattern.

If you come to the shop and choose from the presented ready-made curtain panels, regardless of the material and design, the sizes will remain the same for all. Sure enough, you can always customize them yourself after the purchase, or have them custom-made specifically for your measurements from the scratch. Custom-made objects are usually a better fit for the room, although the price is very likely to be substantially higher too.

Choosing the curtain size
Curtain panels

If you are looking for the cover for a standard size window in your home, the standard curtain panel is a fairly good fit. If you need a real-life example of such curtain, recall any time you have visited your friends’ or parents’ house and saw the curtains in their bedroom, living room, or even bathroom if size allows, chances are you saw exactly these standard curtain panels. They are known to be rather convenient to use, very versatile, and, thanks to their standardized sizes, easy to mix different colors and textures.

You can also vary the number of panels you put on a rod at once; the more you put the fuller and more packed the look would be. For instance, a mixture of the sheer light curtain with the thick black-out one provides quite pricy look yet with practical use and not too stressful for your budget. Make sure though to have the colors paired up correctly and curtains put on the rod the way that brings sheer curtains to the center and black-out ones to the edges.

Standard Tier Curtains

Tier curtains, in their standardized variant, also come in panels that are mostly 45 inches (or around 115 cm) wide and reach in length 24 or 36 inches (or 61 and 92 cm respectfully), however, with a little more research you can find these curtains in the other widths.

Choosing the curtain size
Tier curtains

Judging by the shorter length of these curtains one can guess they are for the windows of substantially smaller size or those that don’t need to be covered completely. These are the most common kitchen curtains and curtains for the bathrooms. Tier curtains, just as standard curtain panels, can easily be customized and made to your requirements and liking.

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Valance curtains

Valance curtains are the shortest of these three, with a width of 50 inches (127 cm) and varying between 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 cm) long. They are designed specifically to cover just the upper part of the window, and they are usually combined with standard curtain panels that are put on both sides to frame the valance curtains and give the window a finished delicate look. It is not always the case, though, and valance curtains perform very well on their own on bay windows and its variations with other privacy coverings.

Choosing the curtain size
Valance curtains

The case of bay windows we believe is rather exceptional since this window does not have in its function the creation of closed space even at bedtime; full coverage and/or full-length curtains, in this situation, would simply hide all the special features of a bay window. This is the reason people developed other options, like shades, blinds, privacy screens, that can be used for the creation of private space without jeopardizing the style and charm a bay window can bring in.

How to choose the length of a curtain?

Generally speaking, it is all up to your preference and taste. It would not really matter if the length or width is correlating with the common style rules if you don’t like it and don’t feel comfortable around it. However, if you have no vision in your head yet how you would want to see your curtains, we have some theories that will help you.

In classic curtain styles, there are three lengths classified as proper; you can choose any of them, and modify them to your liking if that would be applicable.

Puddling Length

Pudding length in curtains world can be compared with oversize in clothes – it is way too long, but somehow quite good-looking and popular. With this length the curtains are hanging loose at the bottom, leaving a significant part of the curtain on the flow and making a “puddle” with it.

Choosing the curtain size
Curtains puddling length

It is a very popular type for the heavy blackout curtains, as it makes stress on their formality and their wholeness. It is important to mention, though, that sheer curtains used in the ensemble with blackout curtains should have the same length when it comes to puddling type. This length helps to create a sort of stretched vertically image and, paired up with the right color palette, can even increase visually the space.

Kiss Length

Remember your first kiss – the moment when your faces are a single inch apart, you hear each others’ wavy breath, your hearts start beating together, and the lips gently come together in a light touch… The same way in kiss length in the curtain sizes the fabric of curtains brushes gently against the floor, kissing it tenderly.

Choosing the curtain size
Curtains kiss length

It is a very balanced and almost iconic look, but keep in mind that it requires precise measurements and you may need to invest a significant amount of time to make it work right. That would include the evaluation of the method with which you hang the curtains and what hardware you apply, they both will be able to make the whole thing work or break it.

Floating Length

Floating length is pretty much a freestyle in the curtain world; as long as it does not touch the floor, it can be considered as a legitimate floating curtain. Yet there are two lengths that most people stick to. The first one is 1-2 inches above the floor; this one gives the curtain the freedom of moving around while maintaining a substantial length for the classic look. The second one presumes the curtain to be long enough just to cover the window and extra 5-8 inches down.

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Choosing the curtain size
Curtains floating length

Depending on the placement of your window and its size, this curtain is most likely to be moving around most easily due to being quite lightweight. This type of length is very useful for the creation of a floating cloud-like look, especially when made with sheer curtains.

Useful Information: Choose The Right Curtains For Your Home

Discover more about curtain sizes, design, and color in this video.

Taking measurements for your curtain panels

Choose the placement of the hardware to be fastened

In the majority of cases, there are two ways you can place your hardware: inside the “mount” or outside it. In case of the inside hanging, your curtains will be put in maximum proximity to the window; therefore, if you want to have an opportunity to open the window again, you would probably prefer to keep the hanging height as close to the window frame as you can.

Placing hardware outside the mount, the curtains will be hung around the window, and you will have more freedom not only in terms of the height of hardware placement but also the type of curtains, curtain sizes, and their length. It is very likely the reason why the second type of hardware placement is the most common one; it also is easier to integrate into a stylish and sleek design and use as a visual enlarger of the window space.

Measure the curtain width

The procedure here depends on the way you decided to place the curtain rod. Rod inside the mount allows the length of a certain no more than the window itself unless you are looking for some extra folding on the curtains. Rod outside the mount gives more freedom of choice.

A great rule of thumb states that you should take the width of the window and add 12 inches (equal ~30 cm) on both sides, and get the total width as the width of your window plus 24 inches (~60 cm). This width would ensure that the window is properly covered when the curtain is closed and provide enough room for natural movement with any of the curtain sizes available.

It is also important to note that the number of panels you use would influence your measurements. If you use 2 panels, the most common package for standard windows, make sure that for each curtain you divide the window width by 2 and add 12 inches. However, if your window surpasses the standard size or you would like to make the layered effect, it would be reasonable for you to use 4 or 6 panels. The measurements for these panels would look like this: your window length plus 24 inches divided by the number of panels.

Let’s look through an example. A window is 60 inches long. Adding 24 inches – 84 inches. I want to cover this window with 4 panels, therefore I divide 84 inches by 4 panels and get 21 inches per panel.

The math we just did here is the minimum suggested width, and of course, the floor is yours to play with with different widths and panel mixes. Pay special attention to the material of the curtains that you use; if your composition consists of both blackout and sheer types, it is advised to install the second rod and have the blackout curtains covering full-width or 80% of the window and sheer curtain occupy the center.

Choosing the curtain size
Beige curtains

Measure the curtain length

Since we already discussed the position of the hardware, we assume you made up your mind as to where to place it. And since you know where you placed it, the only thing that’s left to do to get your perfect kind of curtain sizes is to measure the length of the future curtain from the level at which you placed the rod until the level you wish it to end, whether it is puddling, kiss or floating length, or anything in between.

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One last thing – when buying curtains, make sure that you connect the measurements you made to the curtain you are holding correctly, and mind the rod pocket. Depending on if it’s purely textile or has some solid frames (usually from metal) the curtain is going to sit on the rod differently.

Our express math lesson ends here, and now it’s the time to let your creativity go wild and come up with the best set of curtains ever!

Useful Tips: How To Measure for Curtains

In this video you will learn how to measure windows for curtains and blinds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard size for a curtain rod?

As there are many various standard sizes for windows, curtain rods follow their lead in the diversity of lengths. Most often you can find in the local home improvement stores 4 types of them: 28-48 inches, 48-84 inches, 66-120 inches, and 120-170 inches (or ~72-122 cm, 122-214 cm, 168-305 cm, and 305-432 cm accordingly).

Do the curtains need to touch the floor?

They sure can, but it is no necessity. Most often you would be told that the floor-long curtains provide the immortal classic look, however, it is your curtain set and the entire design is up to you. As we discussed previously, there are three classic lengths for curtains, and only in one of them the curtains actually touch the floor.

Choosing the curtain size
Curtins with a print

There are exceptions to this do-all-you-want rule, namely kitchen and bathroom windows, where floor-long curtains actually prevent the window from performing its primary functions and limit your own access to it. In these cases, it is highly recommended to stick to floating length, apply valance curtains or apply other types of window treatments.

 Do tier curtains cover the whole window?

Tier curtains are a special type of curtains that are designed only for covering the lower half of the window it is installed on. For tier curtains, the rod is placed at the level of the window center, and such curtains usually have the length until the sill.

All in all

Decorating indeed can be quite a handful, especially if it’s your first time doing it. But even if you feel completely lost, a couple of simple guidelines can save the day! After all, all the curtain sizes, with numbers, and lengths, and widths, and styles, and recommendations are just suggestions from those who have already passed through this experience to you – the one who has not yet. But at the end of the day, it would be your house, your design, your curtain sizes, and therefore your decision.

Working with standard curtain sizes is easy, but they cannot satisfy everyone, which is why you should not settle for them either if they do not fit your image of a perfect curtain set. Play with various curtain sizes, lengths, widths, and materials, see how they look together and if you like them this or the other way, try it all out. And if it’s still not quite right, you can get custom-made curtains with some extra money investment and proper measurements.

And if all that you just learned made you sure that dealing with curtain sizes yourself is not the thing for you, there are plenty of non-curtain window covers out there, so go explore!

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