How To Hang Tab Curtains

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Tab top curtains can add class and beauty to any room. But how do you hang them correctly? We’ve looked into it thoroughly and created a step-by-step guide for you to follow.

To hang tab top curtains, you follow most of the same basic steps for hanging any curtain, with some extra considerations. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Determine the size of your curtain.
  2. Purchase curtains and rods.
  3. Mark the curtain rod bracket location.
  4. Drill pilot holes for bracket screws.
  5. Mount the curtain rod brackets.
  6. Slide curtains onto the rod.
  7. Place the rod onto the brackets.

If you follow these steps, you can install new curtains and make your room look exactly the way you dream. Keep reading for more details and some pointers.

How To Hang Tab Curtains

Steps To Hang Tab Top Curtains

When it comes to hanging curtains, you can hire someone to do it, but why not hang them yourself? By following the steps below, you can hang curtains that create the exact look to complement your room or even change the room’s entire look.

What you’ll need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Curtain rod and brackets
  • Curtains
  • Drywall anchors (possibly)

1. Determine Curtain Size

The first thing you should do is step back and get a good look at your window. Try to envision how you want things to look. If you want to give your window a more dramatic look or make your window appear wider than it is, you can hang the curtains much wider than the window dimensions. Some designers will extend the curtains 12 inches or more past the window frame’s edge to trick the eye and make the window seem wider.

small playing table for four in a living room with tab curtains in the windows

Similarly, if your window top is too low for your tastes, or you want your window to appear taller and narrower, you can hang the curtains higher. Some people hang the curtains just a couple of inches below the ceiling, making the windows seem very high.

Whatever look you decide on, you should measure across the outside of the window frame and write that width down. Then measure from the top of the window frame down to where you want your curtains to hang. In most cases, the curtains should just touch the floor; so, measure from the top of the window frame down to the floor and write that number down.

Curtain Rod Length

For a typical curtain installation, your curtain rod needs to extend around six inches past each side of the window frame. Add five or six inches for the left and five or six inches for the right to the width you wrote down earlier to get your rod length. If you decide to extend your curtains wider than that, add that amount instead of five or six inches for each side to the width you wrote down earlier.

Curtain Width

To allow for proper pleating and draping when closed, you want your total curtain width to be two to three times the width of your window frame. For a two-panel curtain, each panel should be at least as wide as the window frame. Some designers prefer each panel to be one and a half times the width.

Curtain Length

For the length, you need to decide how high you want your curtain to sit. Most of the time, they sit around four or five inches above the window frame. This is an area you need to be especially cautious of with tab top curtains because you don’t want the window frame to show through between tabs when the curtains are closed.

When you have decided how far above the window frame you want the curtains to sit, add that to the total height you wrote down earlier. That is your curtain length.

Purchase Curtains And Rods

Armed with all the numbers you calculated above, you can head out to get your curtains. You can also find curtains and rods online, such as these:

Versailtex Tab Top Curtains

Click here to see these curtains on Amazon.

Amazon Basics 1-Inch Curtain Rod

Click here to see this curtain rod on Amazon.

2. Mark Curtain Rod Location

Now, you can measure and mark where your curtain rod brackets go on the wall. The top is going to be the same number you calculated for the length of the curtains above.  The bracket’s outside edge needs to be four or six inches from the end of the rod. This means if you added five or six inches on each side of the window frame for your rod length, then you can safely place the bracket in line with the outside edge of the window frame, or one to two inches outside of that area.

One good way to do this is to use a scrap of cardboard to make a template to precisely locate the bracket in relation to the corner of the window frame. If you do this, then once you mark the bracket location on one side, you can flip it over and use it on the other side to mark that side to match. Another tip here is to place masking tape to mark the bracket’s edges, which you can easily remove later. This way, you don’t damage the paint while removing marks from a pencil or marker. Once you have the edges figured out, hold the brackets in place and mark the holes. 

3. Drill Bracket Pilot Holes

Use a very small drill bit to drill a hole through the wall at the locations you marked above. If you hit studs, great! If you didn’t, then you’ll need to install drywall anchors like these:

Qualihome Drywall Anchor Kit

Click here to see this kit on Amazon.

4. Slide Curtain Onto Rod

Slide the rod through each tab on the curtain. Make sure all curtain panels are facing the same direction as you do this. If you have a multi-part curtain rod, connect the pieces before placing the curtain on it. Adjustable length telescoping rods should be set to the approximate final length before adding the curtain. 

5. Place Curtain Rod Onto Brackets

Now, you need to put the rod onto your brackets. Depending on your curtain rod’s length and the weight of your curtain, you may need a helper for this part. Most brackets allow you to lower the rod down into the bracket from above. There is sometimes a set screw to lock the rod into place, so be sure to tighten that once the rod is in place and centered. Other brackets may require you to slide the rod through a loop, and you may have to temporarily remove any attached finials before doing so.

What Is A Tab Top Curtain?

Tab top curtains are curtains with fabric loops attached to the top. These loops are what the curtain rod goes through, and the curtain hangs from them. They leave the curtain rod exposed between each loop.

Where Should Curtains Hang?

Curtains are usually hung around four to five inches above the top of the window frame and should extend five to six inches on either side of the window frame. This is a general baseline, not a hard rule. You can hang your curtains higher to give the visual effect of a taller window or extend the curtains more than six inches on each side to make the window appear wider.

How Far Apart Should Tabs Be On Tab Top Curtains?

The distance between tabs on tab top curtains varies by manufacturer and curtain design. Many are in the range of five to eight inches, and most directions for making tab top curtains also fall into that range.

How Do You Make Tab Top Curtains Slide Easier?

Tab top curtains tend to be more difficult to slide than other styles of curtains. While there isn’t anything that will completely fix this problem, there are some things you can try to help the situation.

  • Silicone Spray
  • Curtain Slide Tape
  • Install Curtain Rings
  • Change Curtain Rod

Silicone Spray

Silicone spray is a dry lubricant that you apply to the top of the curtain rod. It will make the rod slicker, which makes it easier for the curtain to slide. While this works extremely well with curtain rings, some people say it can also help with tab top curtains.

3M Silicone Lubricant

Click here to see this spray on Amazon.

Curtain Slide Tape

Curtain slide tape is a thin tape that sticks across the top of your curtain rod to create a slick surface. This works similar to the silicone spray and has the added benefit of smoothing transitions between joints on multi-part curtain rods.

EZY Glide Tape

Click here to see this tape on Amazon.

Install Curtain Rings

While this isn’t the easiest, sometimes it is necessary if you have curtains you are constantly opening and closing. One way is to fold your tabs onto the back and tack them down, then use a drapery pin to attach a curtain ring to your curtain. This will make the curtain slide much easier.

Change Curtain Rod

Sometimes switching to a smoother curtain rod will help if your tab top curtains are hard to slide. This is especially true if your curtain rod has multiple joints and you can switch to a one-piece rod. Even if you have a one-piece rod, switching to a smoother one may help the curtain glide easier.

In Conclusion

Tab top curtains are a great choice to decorate your room. Hanging them can be a simple project that you can do yourself. By following the process we’ve outlined above, you can have the beautiful room of your dreams.

You might also enjoy reading:

4 Easy Ways to Make Curtains Slide Easily

Should Curtains Cover Window Frame?

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