6 Sliding Glass Door Curtain Ideas That Will Work in Any Space

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Image Credit: Stephen Paul for Hunker

Buying window treatments for your sliding glass doors can not only elevate the look of a room, but they can also provide privacy and add a bit of insulation for the warmest and coolest months of the year. Though installation may be slightly different than a traditional window covering, with just a few extra considerations (like ensuring you can open and close the door), you can easily get the job done yourself.

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Ready for some window covering inspiration for your sliding glass doors? These six curtain ideas combine functionality, style, and privacy.

1. Sheer Curtains

Image Credit: Stephen Paul for Hunker

If you love the natural light from your patio door and want to add a little privacy or a splash of color, the light-filtering nature of sheer curtains makes them an excellent choice. Sheer curtains are available in a wide variety of colors and textures, so you're sure to find something to match your décor.

One downside to keep in mind, though, is that while these curtains look lovely and delicate when gently wafting around during a light breeze, the lightweight material can start flapping uncontrollably in even medium-level wind, so you may need to leave your door closed on windy days. Tiebacks and holdbacks are particularly useful with these lightweight materials since they can help stop the curtain panels from flying around, preventing damage to your draperies and keeping them out of your way.

2. Blackout and Insulating Curtains

Image Credit: Stephen Paul for Hunker

If you want a break from the incessantly bright light of the summer sun, blackout curtains can be a great option. Blackout curtains can block out as much as 95 percent of the sun's light, and like sheer curtains, they are also available in a wide array of colors and textures. While standard blackout curtains only work to block light, insulated drapes go a step further, not only protecting your room from light but also trapping in the cool air in summer and the hot air in winter, making them the most energy-efficient option. On the downside, blackout and insulating curtains need to either be closed, stopping any natural light from entering the room, or open, limiting your privacy.

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3. Classic Vertical Blinds

Okay, okay — vertical blinds might not be considered the most attractive window treatment, but they ​are​ the most popular window covering for sliding glass doors for many reasons. Vertical blinds are relatively inexpensive, even for large doors that would otherwise require multiple rod support brackets for a curtain rod and many curtain panels.

Vertical blinds can be cleaned with nothing more than a damp cloth, and if one slat is stained or damaged, it can easily be replaced. Vertical blinds are very simple to use, giving you optimal control of your light level and privacy by simply opening, closing, and rotating the slats. And if you really hate the look, you can paint vinyl vertical blind slats to give them a makeover (or, if you really can't do the vinyl, you can always go with a fabric vertical blind).

There are some downsides to vertical blinds, aside from their notorious unpopularity, starting with the fact that it is nearly impossible to fully darken a room with them. They are also more difficult to install than curtains, though it is still possible to install them yourself. Also, many people dislike the noise of the slats bonking on one another while the blinds are being opened or closed.

Vertical blinds can be installed using an inside mount, meaning they are installed within the door frame, or using an outside mount where they are installed above the door frame. Vinyl blinds can be cut to the right height, but fabric blinds should be ordered at the proper height, which means they should end about 1/2 inch above the floor. To install them using an outside mount, hang the hardware 2 to 4 inches above your door because, just like with curtains, this will make your door look larger and will make the room appear bigger.

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4. Sliding Panel Blinds

For a more modern look, you can install sliding panel blinds, sometimes called panel track blinds. These are made from large fabric panels that slide open from side to side. Unlike traditional vertical blinds, they cannot be rotated, but the upside is that the large panels do not let in light between the slats, so they are much more effective at darkening a room.

They come in a wide variety of fabrics, with an array of colors, textures, patterns, and opacities, but the modern appearance of these systems may not fit with everyone's decor. It's also important to note that these types of window treatments can't open as widely as others, so you won't be able to let in a lot of natural light.

Panel blinds are some of the easiest window treatments to install, and like curtains, they should be installed 3 to 6 inches above the door if they are installed using an outside mount. They can also be installed with an inside mount, provided that the door frame has adequate space for them. Panels should hang 1/2 to 1 inch above the floor to keep them clean and ensure they can be pushed and pulled easily.

5. Cellular Shades

Overall, traditional shades, like roller shades and Roman shades, are not a great option for doors since they must be fully raised in order to access the door without ducking, which can be time consuming and frustrating. However, there are now vertical cellular (honeycomb) shades available that can enable you to enter and exit the door by just pushing the blinds open or closed as necessary.

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The structure of honeycomb shades traps air in pockets, which means they are effective insulators. Unlike insulating curtains, though, they can also be light filtering, so if you want something that lets in light while still keeping your home a comfortable temperature, these are a fantastic option. On the downside, since these are one of the newest and least common options for sliding door window treatments, expect to pay a premium for them. Also, keep in mind that these shades can be difficult to clean and may even need to be replaced if they are stained. It's also worth considering that their design leaves them vulnerable to damage, particularly in homes with kids or pets.

Installing vertical honeycomb shades above a sliding patio door is very similar to installing vertical blinds. They can be installed with an inside or outside mount and come with a valance to cover the hardware. While many people like the appearance of cellular shades over vertical blinds, the valance may still be an eyesore, so you may choose to cover it with your own custom valance, cornice, or curtains.

6. Layered Window Treatments

One of the best ideas for patio doors is to layer your window treatments. A double curtain rod will allow you to place heavier blackout or insulating drapes on top of light, sheer curtains so you can have full light control while still maintaining privacy. Heavier drapes can also help prevent sheer curtains from flying around as much on windy days.

Alternatively, you can layer drapes over vertical blinds or cellular shades, which can help hide the hardware and even cover the blinds or shades when they are fully open.

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Sliding Patio Curtain Rods and Hardware

When you are ready to hang curtains or drapes, don't be afraid to DIY since the installation is fairly simple. However, you should keep a few things in mind when buying the curtain rod and other hardware.

Purchase a curtain rod that is approximately 12 inches wider than the door to provide the curtains space to fully open without blocking your access to the door. The curtain rod should be placed 3 to 6 inches above the door whenever possible to allow the curtains to hang properly and to make the windows look taller, which will also make your room look larger. If you have floor-to-ceiling glass doors, look for brackets that secure to the ceiling or purchase a ceiling-mounted traverse rod. It's best to allow drapes and curtains to hang 1/2 to 1 inch above the floor so they stay clean, move easily, and don't get in the way.

If the curtain rod is over 96 inches long or if you purchase particularly heavy drapes, you'll need a support bracket in the center. This means your curtains can only open from the center out, or you will need C-shaped curtain rings with a bypass support bracket to allow the curtains to pass the center support. Alternatively, you can choose to use a traverse rod that can span the distance with two brackets. Tiebacks and holdbacks are also particularly useful when using patio door curtains since they can keep the curtains out of the doorway.

While shopping for curtains or drapes to use with a sliding door, avoid choosing pocket curtains, as these are more difficult to open unless you intend to attach them to curtain rings or a traverse rod.

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