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How to measure for window treatments

1. Choose your length: The lengths of curtains and draperies are a matter of individual taste. The three most common lengths are: to the top of the windowsill, to just below the window sill, or to the floor. However, you may decide to choose another length for either aesthetic or functional reasons. For example, for an elegant formal look, you may want to have some fabric puddling on the floor; or, as a practical concern, you may want your window treatments to be above heating vents.


Window treatments are always measured width by length, and the width is always stated first. For example, a 42-by-84 inch panel measures 42 inches wide by 84 inches long. Standard panels are 84 inches in length, but 63- and 95-inch lengths also are commonly available. The length is always measured from the top of the rod pocket to the bottom of the panel (the header fabric above the rod pocket is not included in the length.) Valances also are measured width by length: an 88-by-15 inch valance measures 88 inches wide by 15 inches long.


2. Select your hardware: Once you have decided upon a style, you need to decide what type of hardware best suits that style. For example, tailored formal styles that extend from floor to ceiling require a heavier rod than lighter-weight curtains such as sheers and laces. Some rods, such as conventional traverse rods, are designed to be hidden by the window treatments. Other types of hardware are designed to be used as a decorative element and there are many different decorative rods, hooks, clips and rings from which to choose from. Generally, traverse rods with hooks or decorative poles with clip rings are best for window treatments you intend to open and close; decorative rods alone or with clip rings are best for stationary window treatments.


3. Measure and mark: Using a metal tape measure, measure the height of your window treatments from the desired point (floor, window sill, etc.) Avoid using a cloth measuring tape, because it can stretch and give you inaccurate readings. Record all measurements to the nearest 1/16 of an inch. Double-check your measurements to make sure that they are accurate. Measure on each side of your window to ensure that the window hardware is straight. Use a pencil to make a small mark on the wall on each side of the window, at the correct height.


Once you have marked the height, you need to measure the width. One factor to consider when measuring the width is stack-back, a term that refers to how much space is needed on either side of the window for the curtains or draperies. You will want to make sure to install the rod at the correct width, so that when the fabric is drawn back, it will clear the window. Heavier fabrics and wider windows require more of a stack-back than lighter-weight fabrics on narrow windows.


For most fabrics, you should allow approximately one-third of the width of the window for the stack-back. If the curtain fabric is unusually bulky, you may need to add an extra inch or two. A good rule of thumb is to have the rod extend three to four inches from each side of the window frame. Use a pencil to make a small mark on the wall at the correct width. You may want to use a level to make sure the marks are straight.


4. Make your purchase: We offer several window treatments from fine companies such as Veratex, Lawrence and others. Make sure to look at all of our window treatment under the bedding section using the menu at the top.

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