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Drapery Hardware Essentials

Choosing the right drapery hardware can be daunting.

Rods, poles, rings, brackets and holdbacks are just a few of the components you might need to hang your window treatments—the variety can be a bit overwhelming. However, Curtainworks can simplify the selection process and provide suitable solutions for your window décor.

The first step in decoding your drapery hardware needs is to answer a few simple questions: this process will make it easy to narrow down exactly what hardware you need to hang your window treatments.

Question #1: Are you going to open and close your window treatments, or are they going to be fixed in one place?

If you intend to open and close your draperies or curtain panels, you have several options. The first option is a traditional traverse rod, which allows your panels to open and close across a window by using a draw cord. Typically with a traverse rod, drapery panels are hung on drapery pins or hooks, which are threaded onto small plastic carriers on the inner side of the rod; the carriers then slide open or closed as the cord is pulled.

Traverse rods generally are used with heavier draperies, especially traditional pinch-pleated styles. Most traverse rods are functional rather than decorative and are fairly basic in styling; often the outside edges of the rods are painted to match the walls or ceiling so that they are not noticeable. You can also go “high-tech” with a motorized traverse rod, which allows you to open or close the panels with a remote switch.

A second option for moveable drapery panels is a decorative rod with clip rings. Clip rings are small metal, wood or plastic rings with a clip that attaches to the fabric panels. The rings slide smoothly back and forth on the rod so that the panels can be opened or closed by hand. Clip rings also can be used with pinch pleated draperies in lieu of hooks, and often add another decorative element to your window décor.

Decorative drapery rods or poles come in a seemingly-limitless array of materials, styles, colors and finishes. Most decorative poles are constructed of wood, brass or iron and are capped at the ends with decorative finials. In many cases, decorative drapery holdbacks are available to match the decorative drapery rod; these are mounted on the sides of the windows and used to hold the curtain and drapery panels open.

Decorative drapery rods also frequently are used with tab-top, back-tab or grommet top window panels to create a moveable window treatment. In this application, the tabs or grommets slide onto the rod, which enables the panels to be pushed open or closed easily.

Another option for moveable window coverings is simply to slide the rod pocket panels back and forth on either a decorative or standard rod. This can sometimes be difficult with a standard rod, because the fabric may “catch” or snag in the center where the rod comes together. Look for extra-wide rod pocket panels to alleviate this problem.

When hanging a fixed window treatment, you can use virtually any type of curtain rod. In general, heavier weight fabrics and longer length treatments require thicker and stronger rods than lightweight sheers and laces. Often, decorative rods and holdbacks are used to enhance the overall appearance of a fixed window treatment.

Question #2: Is your window treatment going to be a layered look, combining curtain or drapery panels with a valance and/or sheer under-treatment?

If you are going to create a layered look at the window, you will need more than one rod: each “layer” will go on its own rod. For example, if you are using a combination of drapery panels and a valance treatment, the panels will go on one rod and the valance will go on a second rod. If you add sheers as an under-treatment, these will go on a third rod. Often, you can purchase double- or triple-rod sets to make installation of layered treatments easier.

In some cases, you may want to use a combination of standard or decorative rods with certain specialty rods. For example, if you want an under-treatment to fit inside a window frame, you can use a spring tension rod that adjusts to fit the opening of the frame; rubber “feet” on the ends prevent damage to the frame. Tension rods are only suitable for lightweight sheers or curtain panels. Another type of specialty rod is the café rod, which is a narrow adjustable rod often used with tier curtains, generally in kitchens or bathrooms.

Finally, certain valances are designed to be used with extra-wide rods called continental or dauphine rods. These extra wide rods measure from 2 ½ up to 4 ½ inches wide and are designed to create more of a custom look at the top of the window. There are combination rod sets available that combine a continental rod with a standard rod for use with a valance treatment and drapery or curtain panels.

Question #3: Do you want your hardware to be decorative and enhance the overall window treatment, or do you want your hardware to be hidden?

This last question, more than anything else, is truly a matter of personal preference—there is no right or wrong answer! Drapery hardware can be hidden and simply functional, or an extremely decorative component to the overall decorating scheme.

Decorative drapery hardware can be used to enhance virtually any home decorating style. Whether your décor is contemporary, casual, traditional, formal, or an eclectic mix, you are sure to find some type of decorative hardware that is suitable for your needs.

The basic components to decorative drapery hardware are the decorative rod or pole and finials. The finials are decorative elements such as a ball, leaf, flower, urn or scroll that go on the ends of the rod. Often, you can purchase decorative drapery holdbacks that coordinate with the rod and have matching finials. Rod pocket panels can be slid onto the decorative pole and held back with the holdbacks. You can also enhance the decorative component of your drapery hardware by using decorative clip rings, which are sold in sets.

Other decorative components to consider are sconces and swag holders. Sconces are decorative brackets with a hole in the center that can be used to hold the decorative drapery rod, or to hold a scarf valance treatment. Swag holders are similar to sconces, and are used to hold scarf valances or to help you drape highly decorative treatments such as swags or jabots.

If you want the drapery hardware to be hidden, you will most likely want a standard curtain rod, which is usually constructed of metal in a white or ecru finish. This type of rod slides into the rod pocket on the panel or valance so that the fabric conceals the rod. The rod mounts onto a bracket on the wall; the panels can then be pulled back to the wall to conceal the bracket. Double- and triple-rod sets are available to create layered window treatments.

Nearly all drapery rods or poles are adjustable to a range of widths; make sure to purchase a rod that is at least as wide as the final measured width of your window. If you select a decorative drapery rod, make sure that the finials extend beyond the final measured width, so that they will be visible. (Curtainworks offers a wide variety of drapery hardware choices. Please see our “How To Measure & Install” section for more information on selecting the appropriate window coverings and hardware to fit your needs.)

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