Fitting Curtain Poles – Tips From a Professional
Before you start fitting or hanging a curtain read any instructions that come with the pole and apply the following tips to successful fitting. Do not hurry! Moreover, make sure you have the correct tools for the job. Above all there is no substitute for carefully thinking through the job before hand, and taking your time can save time!
Before you start clear yourself space and move furniture out of the way and remove all items from the window sill.
This can be subjective and is influenced by obstructions around the window area. But as a guide the pole should extend about 15-20cm (6-8in) beyond the window recess on each side and it should be fitted symmetrically relative to the window opening.
There are exceptions in which case seek help from a professional. Double check the position that end brackets might occupy and be careful if electric sockets or light switches are within 30cm (1 foot) of the window.
Poles are usually fitted about 15cm above the aperture of a window, but sometimes compromises are needed if there is insufficient space or if the coving obstructs. You need to place the pole the correct height above the floor to allow the curtains to hang correctly.
Take your time measuring this accurately and mark positions on the wall with a pencil. If the curtains are eyelet headed you will need to be particularly careful with your measurement since the curtains have no means of adjusting their height other than by moving the pole up or down.
Aim to position the pole on the level using a spirit level as your guide even if the top of the window or the ceiling are not truly horizontal. A laser level or a corded plumb line can be useful aids to getting a good level and ensuring that all brackets are perfectly in line.
The most unforgiving curtains to hang are eyelet curtains since there is no means of altering the position of the curtain relative to the pole. You need to get the position of the pole right first time.
Walls and fixings
Poles and tracks are generally fixed to walls, window frames or ceilings, therefore you will need to drill holes possibly into unknown material. You need a good drill, possibly with hammer action for concrete, and the appropriate size & type of drill bit.
In modern houses you may only have plasterboard into which you drill or you may hit a steel lintel (particularly for the centre support over a wide window). You could hit stone, wood or concrete, or any mix! In bathrooms you may have to drill ceramic, slate or travertine tiles before you reach the wall and this will require special care and drill bits.
Most DIY fitters drill only about 25mm into the wall because the screws usually provided with curtain poles are this length and often something hard to drill is lurking behind the wall! Sadly this won’t guarantee that your curtain will stay up!
We usually discard the provided screws (often they are poor quality anyway) and try to secure fittings at least 50mm into the wall – often we’ll go to 75mm depth to get a secure anchor.
Take extra precautions to avoid drilling into electric wiring or pipework. If in doubt consult an electrician/plumber.
Poles in two halves
This will sound like common sense and it is, when a pole comes in two pieces make sure the join is in the middle, unless you have a good reason for putting the join in another place to accommodate a bespoke solution.
A pole made of two pieces will require a centre support bracket and this will hide the join. Wooden poles usually have a doubled-ended screw that is used to join the two halves. Metal poles sometimes use a wooden dowel to join the two halves. Poles in two halves always need a centre support.
When fitting a long pole fit the centre support first and then take levels off the the left and right for the end brackets. You should get a more level finished pole than if you start at one end and work across.
Cutting a curtain pole down to size
For wooden curtain poles we use a mitre box and a pull saw although any wood saw will do and if you are stuck use a straight block of wood as a guide. We do however recommend the use of a mitre box to give a straight finish and you will also find that the pull saw will give a cleaner smoother finish with less chance of chipping than a conventional wood saw.
For small diameter metal curtain poles we use a pipe cutter. For large poles use a high quality metal saw with 28 teeth per inch. You can use a junior hacksaw, but they are prone to going offline. Stainless steel poles need a sharp saw.
Remember that with poles in two pieces, you will need to shorten both parts by equal amounts to keep the join central to the finished pole.
More complex jobs should be left to professional fitters. They will have the experience to deal with heavier curtains, double curtains, bay poles, motorised systems, pass-over solutions and custom poles and tracks formed on site. They will also be able work where space is tight or if other unusual conditions arise.
You may be able to do it yourself but consider how long it might take you and whether you have all the tools, and whether you can guarantee the outcome?
Power drill, with hammer capability; drill bits; masonry for brick etc; titanium for steel lintels; wall plugs and screws; spirit level; screwdrivers; pencil for marking up; saw, pipe cutter & mitre block. If you want to be hi-tech a laser level is helpful too. Oh, and remember a dust sheet to stop dust going into the carpet and a vacuum cleaner to clean up at the end.
Finally – safety first
Fitting a curtain pole need not be an onerous task, but if you lack confidence please get a professional in to do the job. In particular if the curtain is going to be over 3 metres drop or width or particularly heavy, or if fitting space is obstructed please go straight for a pro.
If you do not know a good curtain fitter your first port of call should be your local curtain shop or interior design shop as they will be able to help. If you are in the York area we can help.
Disclaimer: this information is for guidance purposes only. We are not advising you to fit poles or curtains yourself and we cannot accept any responsibility under any circumstances for the outcome if you choose to act upon this information. Our fitters normally only fit curtains that we have supplied.