Get it right the first time, and your curtains will be sitting (or hanging) pretty for as long as you want them to.

By Kelsey Mulvey
Updated July 09, 2019
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Hanging curtains - must-have tools for hanging curtains
Credit: Getty Images

You don’t need to be a certified interior designer to know that curtains—even if you’re using shower curtains as window curtains—are integral to every home. Not only do they offer some privacy from your nosy neighbors and help with temperature control, but they also make a room feel complete and, well, homey.

The problem is that hanging curtains—installing a curtain rod and hanging some pretty drapes off it—is easier said than done. What if you measure incorrectly and wind up with curtains that don’t cover your windows? What if your rod isn’t leveled to perfection? Even worse, what if your curtains spontaneously fall down at the worst possible moments?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’re taking you step by step through the entire process for how to hang curtains—and sharing our go-to products to ensure you’ll have beautiful, straight-hanging curtains that actually stay put.

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How to hang curtains - Step 1: Measure up

1 Step 1: Measure up

Believe it or not, where you place your curtain rod is one of the most important steps of the entire process. Hang your curtain rod too low, and it’ll make your room look smaller. But place the rod too high and it’ll make your curtain look like a classic rookie’s mistake.

As a general rule of thumb, the ends of your curtain rod should be three to six inches outside of the frame to turn your curtains into a design moment. If you want to create the illusion of higher ceilings, you’ll also want to place the rod four to six inches above the window frame.

As expected, you’ll need a tape measurer to find (and record) the dimensions. Komelon’s option is made of a sturdy, acrylic-coated steel blade tape that won’t slump mid-measure. Once you’ve found the correct measurements, mark them with a pencil (which is probably already lurking in your junk drawer).

To buy: Komelon Steel Blade Tape Measure, $7;

How to hang curtains - Step 2: Create a leveled playing field

2 Step 2: Create a leveled playing field

Before you start drilling anything, it’s important to make sure your measurements are level. No matter how much precision you used to take your measurements, human error is bound to happen. Qooltek’s popular level features a laser line, making it easy to see if your curtains will be straight.

To buy: Qooltek Multipurpose Laser Level, $14;

How to hang curtains - Step 3: Tell me about it, stud

3 Step 3: Tell me about it, stud

Do you ever have that paralyzing fear your curtains are going to slip—and bring your whole wall down with it? That’s where a stud finder comes in.

The presence of wall studs (a.k.a. the vertical frames that support your wall) will help you determine how to hang your brackets. Simply glide a stud finder—like CH Hanson’s magnetic option—along your wall and it’ll alert you when you reach a wall stud, which will be the best spot to hang your curtain rod.

To buy: CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder, $8;

How to hang curtains - Step 4: Anchors away

4 Step 4: Anchors away

If the area you’re planning to drill your bracket in doesn’t have a wall stud, you’ll need to use a drywall anchor and a regular screw. Otherwise, the screw alone won’t be able to hold your rod and curtain. If your space does have a wall stud, you use a regular screw.

A drywall anchor is essentially a little jacket you put over your screw to give it extra strength. TOGGLER’s anchors give screws a vibration and shock-resistant hold, so your curtains will stay put through almost anything.

To buy: TOGGLER SnapSkru SP Self-Drilling Drywall Anchor with Screws, $16 for 50;

How to hang curtains - Step 5: Bust out the brackets

5 Step 5: Bust out the brackets

Your curtain rod isn’t going to magically float; it needs a bracket. For a strong, sturdy hold, simply attach your bracket using your screws, optional anchors, and that drill from your toolbox. There are plenty of brackets to choose from—and some curtain rods even come with their own brackets. If not, this option from AmazonBasics comes in three nice finishes and will blend in nicely with the rest of the room.

To buy: AmazonBasics Adjustable Curtain Rod Wall Bracket Hooks, $8 for two;

How to hang curtains - Step 6: The right rod

6 Step 6: The right rod

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: Time to hang up your curtain rod. While most of the heavy lifting is officially over, it’s important to select a rod with care. After all, very few things can cramp your curtain hanging style than accidentally choosing a rod that’s too short for your setup.

Before adding one to your e-cart, take out that tape measurer for the last time and record the distance from the edge of each bracket.

To buy: Kenney Chelsea 5/8” Standard Decorative Window Curtain Rod, from $10;

How to hang curtains - Step 7: A quick fix

7 Step 7: A quick fix

Let’s make one thing very clear: If your room has windows, it should have curtains, too. But what’s a person to do when they live in a temporary space with a strict no drilling policy?

While some people use removable hooks with adhesive backs to hang curtain rods, an expandable tension rod will cut a number of steps down and press against the nook in your window frame.

To buy: AmazonBasics Tension Curtain Rod, from $16;

How to hang curtains - Step 8: Cute curtains

8 Step 8: Cute curtains

Congratulations! You’ve measured, drilled, and hung; now all there’s left to do is pick out a beautiful set of curtains. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—and your curtains are no exception—but a sheer set will look nice in just about every room. (If you’re looking to give your space a little insulation, look for blackout curtains instead.)

To buy: SPARVÖRT Sheer Curtains, $30;