How to measure for curtains: follow these steps to get it right first time

Learn how to measure for curtains to ensure your window treatments are the right size and style

how to measure for curtains: Ikea bedroom curtains
(Image credit: Ikea)

Most of us assume we will know how to measure for curtains until we come to do it. And while it's a pretty straightforward job, as DIY goes, it's worth reading our tips to ensure you get it right, first time. Otherwise, you risk spending money, unnecessarily, or putting up with ill-fitting curtains.

After all, the right window treatments can make all the difference to the finish of a scheme, with curtains proving a consistently popular option for bedrooms and living rooms. And whether you are measuring up for curtains in your living room or a bedroom, it's worth taking the time to find out how to do the job properly.

For more advice on getting your curtains right the first time, use our buyers guide to choosing the best curtains.

1. Measure the curtain track or pole

We recommend installing your curtain pole or track before measuring for curtains. 

The pole or track should extend approximately 15 to 30cm past either side of the window and 12cm to 15cm above the top of the window, as this will help minimise  light when curtains are closed while allowing for curtains to be gathered either side of the window when open.

Always measure the curtain track or pole width, not the window, to calculate your curtain width. With a curtain pole, measure the pole length not including the finials. For a curtain track, simply measure the full width. 

If you are working with curtain tracks that have an overlap, to find the right curtain width, measure the full width of both tracks separately and then add them together. 

See our guide to how to put up a curtain pole.

2. Calculate your curtain width 

To get a soft, gathered look when your curtains are closed, use your pole or track measurements as a starting point and multiply it as follows (depending on your chosen curtain type):

Eyelet curtains: Pole or track width x 2

Pleated curtains: Pole or track width x 2

Tab top curtains: Pole or track width x 1.5

Add an additional 2.5cm to your measurement if you want your curtains to overlap when closed. 

3. Measure the correct curtain length 

Curtains can be hung either to the floor, to a sill or to below the sill, so you'll want to think about your desired finish before getting started.

As a general rule, we'd recommend either ending 1.25cm above the window sill, ending 15 cm below the window sill or ending 1.25cm above the floor. 

Always measure in at least three positions across the track or pole as floors and sills are rarely level. To avoid curtains dragging across the floor or sill we recommend you use the shortest of these three measurements.

Looking for more curtain advice and inspiration?

Emily Shaw
Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.