How To Measure A Window For Curtains (Picture Guide!)

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Last updated on December 9th, 2022 at 03:27 pm

Curtain & Curtain Rod Measurement Guide

Wondering how to measure a window for curtains to achieve a high-end look? Well, look no further because I have your answer!

To measure a window for curtains, measure the width of the window and double it to get the total width of curtain panels. Measure from the ground to the ceiling and subtract 4 inches to get the minimum curtain panel length. Use the window width measurement plus 12 inches to get the minimum curtain rod length.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s break into the details so you can easily purchase the right curtain panels and rod for your window.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Navigation: How To Measure A Window For Curtains

  1. Measure For The Curtain Rod Width
  2. Choose The Curtain Rod Thickness
  3. Measure For The Curtain Panel Width & Count
  4. Measure For The Curtain Panel Height & Rod Height
  5. Standard Curtain Rod & Panel Dimensions For Different Window Sizes
  6. My Recommended Curtain Rods & Curtain Panels
  7. Other FAQs About Measuring Windows For Curtains
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Related Window Articles

Level Of DifficultyTime To Complete
Easy10 Minutes
Material ListTool List
Tape Measure

Step One: Measure For The Curtain Rod Width

The first step to measuring a window for curtains is to measure for the curtain rod width.

When hanging curtains on any sized windows, I highly recommend that you install the brackets significantly wider than the edge of the window.

This curtain-hanging technique is beneficial for two reasons:

  1. Make the window and room appear larger
  2. Let the most amount of light into the room while the curtains are fully open

As you can see in the diagram below, when the curtains can’t be pushed beyond the window’s edge, they end up blocking valuable daylight. On the other hand, if we give them room to rest outside of the window frame, then we get maximum light AND the window looks larger than it actually is.

Now, if your window is already extra large (120 inches or greater), it’s less important to install the rod beyond the edge.

This is because your window is already so large and you are already letting in a ton of light.

In addition, since your curtains will be spanning such a large distance, there will be a lot of weight on your curtain rods. So in this instance, it’s best to install the rod directly into as many studs/the window header as you can.

With all of that being said, you have two curtain rod width options:

  1. Install the bracket into the stud directly next to the window (probably in the center of the window trim) – for windows 120 inches or greater only
  2. Install the bracket into the next closest stud beyond the edge of the window (probably 16 inches away from the center of the window trim) – for any size window
Option #1
Option #2 – For most windows, I recommend this curtain rod bracket installation placement.

Whichever spot you choose, make sure to get a curtain rod that is at least as long as the distance between the two end brackets. Most curtain rods are extendable so you can adjust them to your specific width.

For our 144-inch window, we purchased a 120-240 inch extendable rod and installed the brackets into the stud directly next to the window.


Related Window Articles


Step Two: Choose The Curtain Rod Thickness

The next step in measuring a window for curtains is to choose the curtain rod thickness.

The recommended curtain rod thickness is 1 inch or thicker.

Curtain rods that are this thick will easily be able to support the weight of whatever curtains you choose.

This is even more important if you are hanging curtains over a window that is larger than 72 inches because you will likely be hanging more than 2 curtain panels on the rod.

Plus, the thicker rod will appear more elegant and luxurious over the window.

Believe me when I say a thicker curtain rod is better. We made the mistake of buying cheap and chintzy $5 curtain rods to “get us by” when we first moved into our house.

Not only did those curtain rods look bad because they were way too small, but they also started to pull away from the wall within weeks because they couldn’t support the weight of the curtains.

You can see how much those teeny rods are sagging even with smaller curtains. (Plus, the tiny anchors that came with the rod are falling out and are about useless. Just pay a little bit more money upfront to get quality curtain rods.

Needless to say, we’ve upgraded to 1-1/8 inch thick curtain rods to avoid that dilemma again.

For our 144-inch wide window, we purchased a 1-1/8 inch thick curtain rod to support the weight of 6 curtain panels.

During the installation process. You can see how much thicker this rod is. Plus, we installed all 4 brackets into studs so we knew they’d be secure for the long run.

Step Three: Measure For The Curtain Panel Width & Count

The next step in measuring a window for curtains is to measure for the curtain panel width and count.

When hanging curtains over windows less than 72 inches, I recommend installing two curtain panels (one on each side).

However, when hanging curtains over windows 72 inches or wider, I recommend installing 4-6 curtain panels. (I’ll explain why below.)

The actual width and count of curtain panels you need are dependent upon how many “window panels” you have within your extra wide window.

Often, larger windows are actually made up of several smaller windows (which I will refer to as window panels from here on out).

To cover your window, you have two options. You can:

  1. Use 2 extra large curtains total (each curtain panel should be the same width as the window itself)
    • Example: 120-inch wide window can have two 120-inch wide curtain panels to cover the entire window.
    • If you choose to use this option, then you will need this double curtain rod found at Amazon that only uses 3 brackets so the curtains can move across the entire width of the window without hitting a bracket.
  2. Use 2 curtains per window panel (each curtain panel should be the same width as the window panel it is covering)
    • Example: 120-inch wide window that has three 40-inch wide window panels can have six 40-inch wide curtain panels to cover the entire window.
    • If you choose to use this option, then you can use any curtain rod that has 3 or more brackets because each curtain panel will only span the distance between the two closest brackets (not the whole window)
Our window has 4 curtain panels on one window. My goal is to add 2 more panels so that when I shut them, they bunch a little better!

As a general rule of thumb, each curtain panel should be double the width of the part of the window you are covering. This measurement lets the curtains have a beautiful “bunch” to them even when they are fully closed.

Plus, they will also look substantial while fully opened and sitting in the extra space to the side of the window.

Overall, the wider curtain panels will make the curtains feel more luxurious and substantial.

I personally like the look of several sections of curtains over an extra-wide window, so that’s what we chose to do in our living room!

Step Four: Measure For The Curtain Panel Height & Rod Height

The final measurement you need to measure a window for curtains is the curtain panel height (which is based on how high you hang your curtain rod).

As a general rule of thumb, you want to hang your curtains as high up as possible to make your walls appear taller. Or if you actually have tall walls, you want to hang your curtains higher up to help the curtains be proportional to your tall room.

For 8-10 foot ceilings, make the highest point of your curtains sit about 4-6 inches below the ceiling.

  • If your curtains are on rings with clips, then install the brackets so that the highest point of the rod is about 4 inches below the ceiling. (Don’t forget to account for end caps in your measurement.)
  • If your curtains have rings built-in (grommets) and sit above the rod, install the brackets so that the top of the curtains is about 4 inches below the ceiling.

For ceilings taller than 10 feet, make the highest point of your curtains sit about 4-6 inches below the ceiling OR install the rod brackets 12-24 inches above the window.

  • Some rooms have windows that are the same height as a room with an 8-ft ceiling, so you’ll want to just hang the curtains 12-24 inches above the window.
  • Some rooms have windows that go all the way to the top of their tall ceiling, so you want to hang the curtains near the ceiling just like you would for an 8-10 ft ceiling.

Once you know how high the curtain rod will be installed, you want to purchase curtain panels that are at least that long.

It is always better to buy too-long panels than too-short. You can either hem the panels so they barely brush the ground or you can let them puddle on the ground as mine do. Both are better than curtains that are too short on the window and make your walls appear stocky.

You don’t want the bottom of the curtain to look like someone took a pair of scissors to them.
My “too short” curtains on the left vs my “puddled” curtains on the right. The left looks like the little kid that had a growth spurt and now only has high waters for pants while the right looks substantial and grand haha!

Standard Curtain Rod & Panel Dimensions For Different Window Sizes

If you still need some help with choosing the best curtain rod and panel sizes for your window, you can check out this table with a bunch of standard sizes.

These standard dimensions can work for windows that are this wide or for the window panels within an extra-wide window.

Window Size (Width)Curtain Panel Width (Each Panel)Curtain Rod Length
36 inches36 inches68 inches
48 inches48 inches80 inches
60 inches60 inches92 inches
72 inches72 inches104 inches
84 inches84 inches116 inches
96 inches96 inches128 inches
100 inches100 inches132 inches
120 inches120 inches152 inches
132 inches132 inches164 inches
144 inches144 inches176 inches
156 inches156 inches188 inches
168 inches168 inches200 inches
180 inches180 inches212 inches
192 inches192 inches224 inches
204 inches204 inches236 inches
216 inches216 inches240 inches*
228 inches228 inches240 inches*
240 inches240 inches240 inches*
This table demonstrates the standard curtain width and curtain rod length based on the window width. *Note: Standard curtain rods extend to a max of 240 inches, so any window over 200 inches should get a 240-inch extendable rod.

Remember when following this chart that it also works for extra wide windows that have several “window panels” within the wide window. If that is your window, you can follow the smaller window size curtain panel recommendation to cover each window panel and follow the larger window size for the curtain rod recommendation.

That’s it for the measurements! Now that you’ve got all of the dimensions you need, check out my other article to help you install the curtains (especially if you are installing them on wide windows!).

My Recommended Curtain Rod & Curtain Panels

If you’re wondering what curtain panels and rods I bought for my own house, you can check them out here. They worked perfectly for my huge 12-ft wide window in my living room.

I also purchased these same items to replace the chintzy $5 curtain rods and curtain hand-me-downs I put in our 3 bedrooms. If you buy any of them, hopefully, you enjoy them as much as I have!

My Recommended Curtain PanelsMy Recommended Curtain Rod
Blackout Curtains
Curtain Rod
Sheer Curtains
I love the look of these sheer curtains and that bold curtain rod in my home!

Other FAQs About Measuring Windows For Curtains

Here are some other frequently asked questions about curtain dimensions to help you hang your curtains quickly and easily!

Can Curtains Be Too Wide For The Window?

As long as the curtains cover the edge of the window when fully open, the curtains can extend as far past the window as you want. The farther the curtains extend, the wider the window will appear.

Should Curtains Hit The Floor?

Curtains should either brush against the floor or have 1-2 inches of fabric that “puddles” on the floor. Both options help the room appear taller and let the curtains look substantial. Curtains that are too short make the room look stocky and outdated.

Final Thoughts On Measuring Windows For Curtains

There you have it!

Use this guide to get the perfect measurements for your window before you purchase any curtains.

Then you’ll be able to purchase some with confidence and know that they’ll dress up your windows perfectly!

Catch you in my next post!

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How To Measure A Window For Curtains (Picture Guide!)

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