When you're installing curtain rods, you'll achieve the look you want by following a few simple guidelines for rod placement. Your curtains will hang properly, your windows and window frames will be covered, and you'll need just a few simple tools—a measuring tape, level and screwdriver—to get the job done right.

Woman looking out window
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Woman opens curtains

The Basics of Curtain Rod Placement

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Man installs curtain rods

The proper placement for your curtain rods depends on the type of curtains you're hanging and the look you're trying to achieve. The best time to decide where to place your curtains and rods is before you buy them. Take the time to look at different types of rods, curtains and drapes, and consider the size, shape and location of your windows.

If you're using curtain rings on a drapery pole, you'll need to mount the pole above the window frame, because the curtains will hang about an inch below the pole. If you mount the pole on the window frame, the curtains will hang below it and the top of the window frame will be visible.

If you're using curtains with a rod pocket, you can mount the brackets on the sides of the window frame. Be sure they're positioned high enough so that the curtain's header (the inch or so of fabric that rises above the rod) will cover the top of the window frame. You can also mount the rod this way if you're hanging drapes with drapery hooks on a curtain rod.

If you're using decorative rods with supports, mount them outside the window frame. The curtains will cover the window, and several inches of the decorative rod and a finial will be visible on each end. You might need to attach wooden blocks to the wall and mount the supports on them in order for the rod to clear the window frame.

Traverse rods should be placed four inches, and decorative traverse rods five inches, above the edge of the window glass.

If your ceilings are low, mount your curtain rods as close to the ceiling or molding as possible to give an illusion of height. If you're using ready-made draperies, their length might limit this placement, since full-length drapes or curtains should graze the floor.

If your windows are narrow, mount the curtain rods outside the window frame, no matter what type of rods you're using, to lend added width. If you're using standard curtain rods, use those with a longer return (the curved section on each end) to clear the window frame.