How to install curtain rods – 7 steps to put up a curtain pole yourself

Installing curtain rods doesn't require a professional's help. Whether you're putting up a pole on drywall or plaster.

Blue and pink floral floor length curtains in living room with plush light pink velour armchair
(Image credit: Joe Browns)

Everyone who loves to bring a new look home every once in a while, will want to know how to install curtain rods properly. Whether you have drywall or crumbly plaster and bricks, you can get a secure fixing in place for your favorite curtains with the right advice.

It's about having the right tools and technique for the job. And, when curtains are one of the most popular types of window treatments around, hanging curtain rods is a must for all DIYers out there.

How to put up a curtain pole

1. Take precise measurements

Work out how long your curtain pole needs to be, taking into account that 20cm should be added to each side of the window so the drawn back curtain will not block out light during the day. You'll know this if you're clued up on how to measure for curtains.

Dori Turner, designer and creator of The Greenspring Home blog (opens in new tab) says, 'To determine the curtain rod size to buy: measure your window width from trim-to-trim and then add 12” to 20” on top of that.

You want an additional 6-10" on both sides of the window, that way when the curtains are pushed totally open you can see almost all of the window.'

Consider that the heavier the curtain material and the thicker the lining, the more room they will take up when pulled back. This should be factored into your final measurement. 'Curtain rods are sold adjustable in size ranges, for example: 48-88”, 60-108” or 108-144”.' Adds Turner. So, once you’ve measured your window and know exactly how wide you need your rod to be, choose the appropriate range for that size.

Fabric pink curtains trailing on gray area rug

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

2. Decide where to position the pole

Now you need to mark up where to site the pole and decide on the distance above the window.

Allow at least 3-6 inches above the top of the frame in order to make an attractive drop and to keep out cold air during winter. If you have the curtains already, hold them up in situ to see what height will work best.

White curtains in white living room with wall art, houseplant and baby pink throw over neutral couch

(Image credit: ikea)

3. Check the pole is level 

This stage is a two person job as the level needs to be done by eye rather than using a level. 

Mark up the position of the brackets using a pencil. When nothing is square it is probably best to fix the pole parallel with the top of the window rather than following the line of the ceiling or the result could look wonky.

Blue gray pencil pleat curtains in living room with blue couch and white cushions

(Image credit: Loom & Last)

4. Drill into the wall

Make a guide mark with a bradawl, then drill a pilot hole and drive the screw in. If fixing into masonry, insert a wall plug first. 

Always choose a drill bit to match the plug and a plug to match the screw size. Wrap a piece of tape round the drill bit to indicate the correct depth that the hole must be drilled to fit the screw.

Drilling into a concrete lintel

Newer buildings and those that have been refurbished may have a reinforced concrete lintel over the window. Making a hole in this is usually way beyond the capabilities of a cordless drill. Corded ones are often more powerful; use a new, good quality masonry drill bit and select the hammer action.

If your drill still baulks at the concrete, borrow an SDS drill (Special Direct System), which has an even stronger hammer action. You may need to switch to a metal drill bit if you hit some steel reinforcing the lintel. Once you’ve made the holes, inserted the wall plugs and put up the brackets you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you have a really good fixing.

Top tip: When dealing with soft bricks use a smaller diameter bit in case the hole ends up too big. Hold drill square to the wall. Start drilling slowly and build up the speed as the bit goes deeper. Before drilling make sure there are no electrical cables or water pipes in the wall that you may inadvertently pierce.

6. Attach brackets to the wall

Insert one screw through the first bracket. Just drive it three-quarters of the way home so you can swivel the bracket to one side to allow for drilling the second hole. Select a screwdriver to match the screw head. Too small and it may wring the head; too big and it can gouge the plaster.

Now go to the other end of the curtain pole. Drill and plug one hole for the second bracket. Insert the screw three quarters of the way in. Before fixing the second screws, stand back and survey the window to make sure that you are satisfied with the position and level of the curtain pole.

7. Heavy curtains? Add extra support

If you have a very wide window or heavy lined curtains you may need to support the pole with another bracket in the middle. Slide the rings on to the pole. At each end leave one ring to sit between the bracket and the end of pole to hold the curtains in place across the width of the window when you draw them.

How do you install curtain rod brackets in drywall?

If you have drywall which is usually white on the front and brown on the back then you should use a drywall plug to secure the screws for the rod brackets. You should be able to use the hardware that comes with your rod and the second screw will be fine to go in without an anchor. It's more as a means of stopping the bracket from moving about. Do this for both brackets and then put your rod into place.

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