Bare windows are rarely desirable. They leave your furniture and floors vulnerable to sun damage, make it difficult to sleep, and let's face it, there's a privacy issue. If you're looking for window coverings, curtains are a great solution.

Curtains have many advantages. They enhance your existing decor, can be used alone or in conjunction with blinds, and perhaps best of all, they're easy to install. But first, you'll have to measure to make sure your curtains are the right size.

Read on for step by step directions on how to measure your window for curtains.

1. Grab An Old Fashioned Tape Measure

A good, old-fashioned tape measure.

Laser tape measures are awesome. But most people find it easier to measure windows with a good old-fashioned tape measure, particularly if their windows are awkwardly shaped or you want your curtains to hang outside the frame.

2. Determine What Kind Of Light You Want

The way you install your curtains will impact the amount of light that filters into your room.

Inside Mount

Inside mount curtains in a kitchen.

In an inside mount, the curtains are mounted inside the window frame for a clean, minimalistic look. Bear in mind with an inside mount installation that slivers of light can creep through the top, bottom, and sides of the curtains.

Outside Mount

Heavy window treatments in front of  window.

In most rooms this difference won't interfere with your lifestyle either way, but it can make a difference in a media room or bedroom, particularly for anyone who has difficulty sleeping. You should also remember that the type or thickness of your fabric will affect light as well. If you install sheer lace curtains they won't block much light no matter how they're mounted.

3. Measure Your Windows

Soft lace curtains.

For An Inside Mount Installation

  • For an inside mount installation, you'll start by measuring the length from the top of the window frame down to your preferred length. It's desirable to leave a small gap at the bottom so they don't bunch up or attract dirt and dust by sitting at the bottom of the window sill.
  • Next, measure the window frame from side to side. Once again, it's preferable to leave a small gap on each side, otherwise, the fabric will rub against the frame and begin to fray.

For An Outside Mount Installation

Curtains tied together in front of a twin bed with  a floral bedspread.
  • For an outside mount installation, you'll first need to decide how high above your window you'll want to hang your curtain rod. This will depend on your personal aesthetic and also on how much wall space is available between your window and your ceiling. Most people install their curtain rod anywhere from 6-12 inches above their window frame.
  • Once you've decided where you'll be installing your curtain rod, measure from that point to your desired curtain length. Once again, you'll want to avoid allowing you curtains to extend all the way to the floor so they don't bunch up and get covered in dust bunnies and pet hair.
  • Next, measure from side to side inside the window frame. Your curtains should be two to three times the width of your window, depending on how generous you prefer the drape.
  • When mounting your curtain rods you'll want to make sure they extend past the window a few inches. Once again, this will depend largely upon your personal taste and available space.
  • 4-6 inches is common, but you may want to go up to 12 inches each side of the frame if you've selected particularly bulky heavy curtains.

Tip: Consider the style of your curtain. For instance, if your curtain rod will run through a curtain with eyelet holes at the top, chances are there will be a couple inches of extra fabric on the top. Be sure to take this into account.

Similarly, if your curtain is installed via hooks, it may dangle below the rod. This will need to be considered when taking your measurements.

4. What You'll Need To Install Your Curtains

Beautiful, soft curtains in a bedroom.

Now that you know your measurements, it's time to install your curtains. You'll need:

  • A level (to make sure your curtain rod isn't crooked
  • A stud finder (to make sure you mount your brackets in the right spot)
  • Drill
  • Curtain rod (packages will also include the brackets and hardware)

5. Where To Buy Curtains

A cat sits in a curtained window.

You can buy curtains at from a variety of sources. Here are just a few:

Curtains add a touch of class and decor to any room and come in a wide variety of price ranges. You're going to love the way they'll look!

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