Deciding on whether your curtains will be best suited on a curtain track or a pole will affect the overall look of the window and your room. The size and type of window that you have will also affect the length and style that would best match the vision you have for the room.
Should I choose a curtain track or a pole?
Curtains poles generally create more of a focal point and can enhance the overall effect by making a big, bold statement, especially with the wide choice of decorative finials available.
Curtain poles can be placed high above the window casement to create an illusion of a more substantial drop for the curtains, this is often a good choice for smaller windows or mullion windows.
Poles are usually metal or wood though cheaper plastic poles or faux wood and metallised plastic are available. The latter really are a false economy. Wood poles come in many styles and colours and painted stained or natural finishes are readily available.
Wooden poles are usually larger diameter (typically 30mm-60mm) than their metal equivalent (typically 16- 45mm). Metal poles are more practical for long continuous runs. For example a continuous wooden pole over 240cm long rapidly starts getting very expensive.
Poles typically are straight but metal poles can be bent into bay windows or around corners.
Since the curtain hangs beneath a pole (except for eyelet curtains) it is a little lower than if it was on a track. Therefore a pole may not be best option if the ceiling is low or if there is minimal space between the top of the window and the ceiling.
Traditionally tracks have been associated with corded controls but corded pole designs are available as a premium product.
Poles offer you a wider choice of curtain headings e.g. eyelets, tab top, goblet, and double/triple pleats, for example.
Poles can be the quieter solution if you use wooden poles with wooden rings.
Curtain tracks are less visible so are a good choice for plain or simple curtains styles. They are usually fully hidden by the curtain fabric when the curtains are closed.
Traditional tracks are either plastic or lightweight metal. More advanced tracks that use aluminium tube look rather like a pole with a track mechanism hidden internally.
Tracks are easy to shape. Many lightweight tracks can be shaped on site by the fitter, so present a cheap solution. Tracks are often used for bay windows as you can purchase tracks which can be bent to accommodate the curve of the window. There are poles available for bay windows, although they are usually more difficult to measure, manufacture and install, and most bay windows lack sufficient height.
Traditional tracks lack the versatility of poles when comes the choice of your curtain heading. Most curtains on tracks use pencil pleat headings. Some people try to fit double or triple pleat headings but the track prevents proper folding of the curtain fabric and the result is disappointing. Modern wave tape headings can only be accommodated on a specially designed track system.
Many track designs offer cord control of the curtains as a very cost effective option. Cording is useful if your curtains are very tall and as a way to avoid handling delicate curtain fabric.
Tracks are easily face fixed to a wall (with suitable stand-off spacers) or top fixed to a ceiling; poles in contrast are usually only face fixed to a wall with support brackets.