How Many Curtain Panels For A Sliding Glass Door?

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Trying to find the perfect cover for your sliding glass door? Do you use blinds, curtains, or is there something even better? And then how many curtain panels do you need, and at what size? Not to worry, the math is actually pretty simple once you ask yourself some basic decorating questions.

The desired look for your door will play a role in how many curtain panels you need to cover a sliding glass door. It will almost always be two panels, or four if a fuller, pleated curtain style is preferred.

Below, we’ll cover a few more things you need to think about. After just a few simple questions, you’ll be ready to decide just how many curtain panels you need. Then read on for help determining how to pick the right curtain size, and other options besides curtains to cover your sliding glass door.

Living room lounge in luxury apartment show home showing interior design decor furnishing and bedroom, How Many Curtain Panels For A Sliding Glass Door?

How Many Curtain Panels?

Chances are, you’ll need at least two panels for your sliding glass door. A standard sliding glass door is between 60 and 72 inches. This means, as a result, that most curtain rods have a center post for support. This is typically a requirement for rods longer than 60 inches. The curtain can’t slide between the center post – for this reason, you need at least one panel covering each side.

Some people prefer to use traverse curtains, which aren’t limited by a center post. In this case, you could do one panel that is easily pushed off to the side when needed. To learn more about traverse curtain rods, see What curtains to use with a traverse rod?

Other people prefer four panels, as it’s more flexible to arrange multiple panels to block sunlight throughout the day. However, keep in mind that if the door is frequently used, moving that many panels aside will quickly become cumbersome.

What Size Curtains Do You Need For A Sliding Glass Door?

Once you know the number of panels you prefer, you just have one more question to ask yourself. How full do you like your curtains to look? You can cover the door exactly, or you can use a curtain panel that is two or three times the size you need. This gives a much plusher look to the drapes; however, it can also be a pain to deal with the extra material. Again, if this is a functional doorway that opens and closes all day long, keeping it simple tends to have better results. 

Now, the final step is to simply measure the door, and then you’ll know exactly what size curtain panels you need.

A reclining chair near the glass door with curtains

How To Measure A Sliding Glass Door For Curtains?

First, measure the height of the door. If the curtain rod is already installed, measure the drop height. This is the distance between the floor and where the curtains will hang (from the rod, or from clips below the rod, depending on the style). If a rod is not installed, then add 4 inches (this leaves room to put the rod at the proper height). Chances are, for a standard door, the height is 80 inches (or 84 inches, adding space for the rod).

Now measure the width of the door. Standard sliding doors are either five or six feet wide (most often six feet). This translates into a width of either 60 inches (five feet) or, more commonly, 72 inches. Add four inches to each side (this leaves a bit of overhang so that the curtain can be pushed back from the doorway). This makes your width 80 inches for a six-foot door.

Finally, just use this simple formula: width divided by panel numbers. Then, multiply that answer by the desired fullness (1 for regular drapes, 2 or even 3 for drapes that pleat heavily when pushed back). 

Easy math:

  • 80 inches wide, divided by 2 panels, at a regular fullness= each panel is 40 inches wide, 84 inches long.
  • 80 inches wide, divided by 4 panels, at a regular fullness= each panel is 20 inches wide, 84 inches long.
  • For double fullness, for 2 panels, make panels 80 inches each, 84 inches long.
  • And finally, for four panels of double fullness, select panels 40 inches wide and 84 inches long.

Ideas For Extra Wide Curtains

One Panel

Maybe you have a special rod that doesn’t require a center post. Maybe your sliding glass door is on the smaller side at only five feet wide. In cases like this,  you might be able to use just one panel. Here are some suggestions that will be both long and wide enough for most sliding glass doors.

Wide Blackout Curtains

Available in 18 colors, multiple sizes, and with blackout energy-smart fabric, this is an all-around solid choice.

Click here to see this curtain on Amazon.

Sheer White Curtains

Click here to see this sheer on Amazon.

Two Panels

Extra Full Curtains

These curtains have double the necessary material, and as a result, give a fuller, rounded look to your curtains. Available in 17 colors.

Click here to see this curtain on Amazon.

Regular Curtains

This one comes in a whopping 22 colors and includes two panels.

Click here to see these curtains on Amazon.

Four Panels

If you prefer to use four panels to cover your door, then you can use the same curtains listed as regular two-panel curtains above. Simply buy 2 sets, and now you have four panels with extra fullness.

For more curtain inspiration, try 4 Types of Curtains that Are Best for Privacy and How to Embellish Plain Curtains [4 Awesome Suggestions]

What Window Coverings Are Best For Sliding Glass Doors?

Curtains aren’t the only choice for finding a little privacy behind your sliding glass doors. Some other ideas are:

Honeycomb Cellular Shades

Two shades will cover your sliding glass door. The cordless design makes it safe for kids. Install 4 inches above the doorframe, for an option that’s easy to push up and out of the way when needed.

Click here to see this shade on Amazon.

Horizontal Blinds

These are a classic, but an efficient choice. Like honeycomb shades, install these above the door so that the blinds stay of the way when drawn up.

Click here to see this blind on Amazon.

Vertical Blinds

For a more decorative touch, go for blinds covered with fabric like these.

Click here to see these vertical blinds on Amazon.

Sliding Panels

This is four separate panels, which then slide behind each other on a series of tracks to fold up. While the unused part of your door always remains covered by the panels, it’s a creative design that eliminates the need to wrestle with curtains.

Click here to see these panels on Amazon.

Sun Roller Shade

Ideal for blocking sun and glare. And if you really don’t want multiple panels – just one solid piece across the door- then this may be your best bet. 

Click here to see this shade on Amazon.

For other ideas, try How to Cover Glass Doors For Privacy [6 Awesome Ideas]

To Summarize

If you choose to cover your sliding glass door with curtains, then you will most likely need at least two panels. Most curtain rods large enough for a sliding glass door require a center post, and curtains cannot cross the center post. For this reason, traverse curtains and a traverse rod system (which do not need a center post) are the best options if you want to use one large curtain. On the other hand, some people use four panels for a fuller look to their curtains. The choice ultimately depends on your decor style and personal preference.

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