How to Measure Curtains, Shades and Blinds

People installing window curtain

The right window dressings will make a whole room pop, but if you get curtains, shades, and blinds that are too big or small for the window that you’re working with, it can spell disaster for the aesthetics of the room. You wouldn’t buy and wear pants that are two sizes too big or small, and yet buying the wrong size curtains, shades, and blinds is just like that. In this post, we’ll check out how to measure for curtains, shades, and blinds so that you can get window treatments that work perfectly for your house.

Thoughts on Measuring

If you don’t know the right size pants, it is difficult to buy pants that fit! Same with your windows, but how can you know what to measure in the first place? 

Get a Tape Measure

No, you cannot simply take your arm and compare it to the window. Definitely don’t try to find an object that is “approximately” the same length as the window and then take that with you to the store. You need to buy a tape measure so that you can get the actual size.

Normally, when measuring for curtains, there will be a bit of play in the actual treatment that you put on the window. Curtains have a large margin for error before they don’t fit–but shades and blinds generally need to be quite fitted to the window.

Measure Twice

While it is true that you are not cutting anything, you are making a purchase. It is so much easier to measure twice than to return a purchase and buy a new thing!

Measuring for Curtains

How Long Should Curtains Be?

There are a couple of main kinds of curtains that you may come into contact with, inside mount curtains and outside mount curtains. Outside mount are the common kind of curtains. 

The general rule of thumb for determining the length of curtain and curtain rod that you are going to need is to buy a rod that extends about an inch and a half past the window not including the part of the rod past the stopper. Basically, you want the curtains that you put up to be able to glide past the window about an inch and a half on each side. Others will recommend up to three or six inches, so it will just depend on the look you are going for.

With inside mount curtains, the curtains are within the window frame itself. They don’t generally block out light and keep everything a bit more simple. In this case, you will need to purchase something in which the total length of the rod, including the part past the stopper is within the measurement of the window within the frame or alcove that it is set within.

How Wide Should Curtains Be?

You will need way more width on each side of the curtains that you will think that you are going to. Curtain widths should definitely not match the length of the window, but should instead be at least 1 and a half times the length of the window. That means that if you have a window that is 3 feet long you are looking for curtains that are at least 4 and a half feet long. If you want curtains that are even more billowy and loopy, go for something twice the length or even longer. Just remember that the less curtain you give the more modern and minimalist the curtains will appear, while giving more curtain means that things will be softer and more royal.

Once you know the rules you are allowed to break them. While buying the wrong size curtains is certainly not a good look, buying the right size curtains sometimes means buying something a little bit smaller or bigger than you would normally buy for the window. After all, having large, looping curtains that take up more space can really soften up a room that feels a bit impersonal. On the other hand, smaller curtains can allow more natural light to flood the room and can make the room feel a bit bigger and cozier.

Measuring for Shades

To find the width of the shades that you are going to order, you will need to know the exact distances between the inside of the window. While windows appear to be really straight and exact in all places, you should measure three times, at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom to make sure that you get a standard measurement. Make sure to use the exact measurement when ordering shades. Factories generally deduct about three eighths of an inch from the sizings that you give them, so things should fit perfectly if you use the exact width.

Height is a little less of a pressure situation to measure, because if your shades are a bit too long they will simply touch the window sill. When you measure, go from the top of the window to the top of the window sill, not merely the bottom of the window. If you want the shades to touch use the exact measurement but if you want the shades to sit above the sill then deduct about half of an inch. 

Measuring for Blinds

There are a couple of types of blinds that you can get, ones that are mounted on the inside of the window frame and ones that are mounted on the outside of the window frame. If the frame of your window is not greater than an inch, you don’t have enough room to install blinds that are on the inside of the frame and you’ll have to go outside.

If you are installing blinds that are on the inside of the window frame, then you should follow the measuring procedure for installing shades. If you are measuring for the outside, you should measure the frame of the window (not the glass) and give about an inch and a half on each side of excess for width. You should measure the height of the frame and also add about an inch and a half to both ends for length as well.

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