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Curtains and Drapes Buying Guide

Dress up your windows with stylish drapery panels.

Drapes hanging in a window.

Types of Curtain and Drapery Panels

Types of curtains and drapes.

Unsure if you want a transparent curtain or one that blocks out light and weather? Find the type that best meets your needs.

Sheer Curtains

Sheers.

Sheers are wispy panels of semi-transparent fabric that soften views and provide moderate privacy. They look best in living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. Sheers should be layered with other window treatments if privacy is a concern.

Things to consider:

  • The kind of fabric you select depends on the look you want to achieve and the level of care you're willing to provide. Polyester sheers have a slight sheen and create a more formal look. They're also easy to launder and require little ironing. Cotton sheers offer a casual, contemporary look. Lace sheers feel romantic and traditional. Both cotton and lace sheers may need to be cleaned professionally.
  • For generous waves of fabric, select sheers two or three times the width of the window. You may need to use multiple sheers to achieve this effect.
  • Sheers are usually light enough to hang from spring-loaded tension rods, but any type of drapery rod will work.

Drapery Panels

Drapery panels.

Providing more privacy than sheers, panels are solid pieces of fabric that hang from wall-mounted rods or clips. They're a great option for media rooms, bedrooms or any room that you want to block light and enjoy complete privacy.

Things to consider:

  • Choose from simple cotton and printed polyester to lush velvet, silk, wool and woven tapestry.
  • Plan to purchase panels one-and-a-half to two times the width of your windows for a stylish effect.
  • Unlined panels are cheaper but may become semi-transparent at night when interior lights are on. Check that you're comfortable with the level of privacy any panel provides.
  • If intense sun is an issue, as with a west-facing window, look for panels specially lined to block light completely.
  • Most panels require a sturdy hanging rod. Choose from a simple café rod to a more decorative drapery rod with decorative finials. Remember to consider hardware costs when planning a window treatment purchase.

Blackout Drapery Panels

Blackout panels.

Blackout panels help block nearly 99% of sunlight. They also reduce energy costs by blocking heat in the summer and cold in the winter. Use blackout panels in living rooms and bedrooms for added comfort.

Things to consider:

  • Blackout panels don’t sacrifice on style. Most come in a variety of colors and prints and are machine washable.
  • Blackout panels need a sturdy drapery rod just like standard drapery panels.
Good to Know

Check the packaging to find out what size drapery rod your curtain panel will fit.

Top Treatments

Window valance.

To give your windows extra flair, cap them with top treatments. They add a stylish touch to the kitchen, living room, dining room and bedroom.

Things to consider:

  • A valance is a narrow strip of fabric that runs along the top width of a window.
  • A scarf is a long piece of fabric that you drape over hooks or the rod itself to embellish the window and frame.
  • Top treatments can pair with blinds or shades for light control and privacy.
  • Top treatments often require special mounting hardware. Remember to consider hardware costs when planning a window treatment purchase.

Drapery Panel Styles

Choose from rod-pocket, grommet, back-tab or tab-top drapery panels to get a look that works with your decor.

 

Rod-Pocket Panels

Rod-pocket drapery panels.

The most common type of curtain, rod pocket drapes have a sleeve that runs across the top of the panel for the drapery rod to slide through. Many have two pockets at the top. Feed the drapery rod through the lower one to create a ruffle-top drapery panel. Feed the drapery rod through the top pocket for a clean look and to add extra length.

Grommet Panels

Grommet curtains.

These drapery panels have metal rings stamped along the top of the curtain for the curtain rod to feed through. Coordinate the grommet finish with the finish of the drapery rod.

Back-Tab Panels

Back-tab panels.

These drapery panels have hidden tabs on the back of the curtain that allow you to slightly bunch your curtains for a pleated look.

Tab-Top Panels

Tab-top panels.

These drapery panels have individual tabs of fabric that the drapery rod feeds through so the rod is exposed.

Drapery Hardware

Drapery hardware.

Drapery Rod – Drapery rods come in both single and double. Use a double rod to hang sheers on the lower rod and drapery panels on the upper rod.

Clips and Rings – Use these if you don’t want the curtains to hang directly on the drapery rod, or if you need added length.

Holdbacks – These allow you to draw curtains away from the window and let light in, or to create a formal look. Mount holdbacks beyond the edge of the window frame. Holdbacks look good in a formal dining room or living room.

Popular drapery hardware finishes include:

  • Oil-rubbed bronze
  • Antique bronze
  • Brushed nickel
  • Matte black
  • White

Finials – The end cap of a drapery rod is the finial. The finial prevents the curtain from sliding off the drapery rod, and also provides an element of style. Popular drapery finials include:

  • Solid ball
  • Filigree ball
  • Marble
  • Mercury glass
  • Wood
  • Leaves

Installation

Installation chart.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install your drapery rod. As far as placement, mount hardware close to the ceiling to elongate windows. To make your windows appear wider, install hardware well outside the window (up to 1 foot). Double up the panels for an extravagant look. Print out Lowe's Window Treatment Worksheet to record your window measurements. Take this with you when purchasing your curtains and drapes. Use the placement guidelines to help you mount your new drapes.