Stands at the top of the pack in almost every way – attractive, impressive room-darkening performance, and quality material. Comes in a variety of colors. Grommets look nice and make hanging them easy.
A few owners say the noise-dampening effects weren't as strong as they had hoped.
Has a lot to offer for a price the competitors can't beat. Reasonable light and noise filtering insulation, several stylish color options, and grommets. Washes nicely.
A few reports of mismatching lengths. Not quite as wide as some competitors. Only one panel per pack, but still less costly than others.
Insulated curtains that block out most sunlight. Available in a number of stylish colors. Grommets give them an expensive look, though the price is reasonable.
The lighter colors aren't as effective at room darkening. Some owners weren't happy with the noise filtering ability, and some received panels with uneven measurements and hemlines.
Owners rave about both their room darkening ability and durable material. Insulation also helps keep rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Available in a variety of colors.
Some reports of incorrect measurements and of a strange odor upon arrival. Some colors look different in person than advertised. No grommets.
Versatile liners that fit most curtains – a bit longer and wider for a perfect match, and available in several sizes. Adds insulation to standard curtains. Material has a durable feel.
A bit pricey, considering they are just liners and you have to purchase curtains separately. They don't have grommets, and are a bit difficult to hang.
Curtains are the type of home essential that you don't necessarily think about much until you need to buy them. Quality curtains can make the difference between getting a good night's sleep and waking at sunrise courtesy of the sun’s early rays. What's more, an attractive curtain choice can truly tie a room together.
What should you look for in a pair of curtains? Perhaps the first factor to consider is your curtain's heading type, as not all headings are compatible with all poles or tracks. You'll also need to choose the correct length and width of curtain to suit your windows. Of course, the appearance of your chosen curtains is important, too, so you'll need to pay attention to colors and prints.
This guide should tell you everything you need to know to choose the best curtains to suit your needs. You can also check out our favorite curtains to see if any of them are right for you.
The curtain heading type changes the way the curtains drape. Note, however, that you can't use all headings with all types of poles or tracks. You’ll need to make sure your heading type works with your hardware. These are the most common types of curtain headings.
Of course, your curtains must be wide enough to cover all of the window, but ideally, they should be wider than that in order to drape nicely when closed. Measure the length of your curtain pole and multiply it by two or three to get the width for your curtains. Always double-check the product description of any curtains before you buy; sometimes the listed width is for a single curtain panel, and sometimes it's for a pair.
Measure from the curtain pole or track to where you'd like your curtains to sit to find the correct curtain length for you. Generally, curtains hang down to one of three standard lengths: 1 1/2 inches above the sill, 6 inches below the sill, or all the way to the floor.
Color or print: The majority of curtains are in plain colors, but you can also find options with all kinds of prints, from subtle floral patterns to bold geometric styles. Generally, it's best to either match your curtains to something in the room where they'll be hanging — such as the color of the soft furnishings — or opt for a standout statement color.
Insulation: Curtains also have insulative properties, helping keep your house warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather. Thick curtains and lined curtains are better at insulating your home.
Valance: A valance conceals the area where the curtain attaches to the pole or track, which can add an area of interest to your curtains. Valances are sometimes also used curtainless as short decorative window treatments in kitchens or bathrooms. Some people think valances look tidy, whereas others consider them fussy — it's all down to personal preference.
After you’ve chosen your curtains, remember these useful accessories:
Tiebacks: Metaluxe Magnetic Tiebacks
As the name suggests, curtain tiebacks are used to tie back your curtains when open to give them a pleasant drape. Some curtains include matching tiebacks in the price, otherwise you'll need to buy them separately. Tiebacks come in many different styles, but we like Metaluxe’s magnetic tiebacks for their looks and functionality.
If your chosen curtains are unlined, you can buy a lining separately to improve insulation and block out more light. We like the Eclipse Thermaliner Panels, which can keep your bedroom cozy and dark.
Curtain poles or tracks: AmazonBasics Adjustable Finials Rod
If you don't already have curtain poles or tracks above your windows, you'll need to buy some to hang your curtains on. The styles available are abundant and varied, but we love the classic look of the AmazonBasics adjustable finials rod. It fits 36 to 72-inch windows and is available in black, bronze, and nickel finishes.
Curtain rings or hooks: Tejatan Clipping Curtain Ring Set of 30
Curtain poles and tracks generally have rings and/or hooks on them when new, but if you've just moved in, you might find the last resident has removed them. You'll generally need hooks for all curtain tracks, or both rings and hooks to hang pencil-pleat curtains on curtain poles. Tab top and grommet curtains don't require either. For a no-nonsense and attractive budget option, we like the Tejatan 1 1/2-inch clipping curtain set, which bypasses the need for hooks with small clamps attached to each of its 30 included rings.
You can find some basic curtains for as little as $15 per pair, but don't expect these to be of excellent quality. A pair of mid-range curtains should cost somewhere between $40 and $80. High-end curtains, generally made from cotton or other natural materials, can cost from $100 to $300 per pair, with some designer options priced even higher.
Q. Do all rooms need curtains?
A. It's your personal choice. Curtains bring a soft, homey look to rooms, so they're great for lounges, bedrooms, and anywhere else where you need privacy but blinds don't quite fit the bill. It's rare to have curtains in the kitchen or bathroom, because cooking smells and moisture, respectively, are big issues.
Q. What is curtain layering?
A. Curtain layering is when you use two or more sets of curtains on the same window. This can simply be for aesthetic purposes, but it's fairly common to layer standard curtains and voile curtains for privacy in a room that looks out onto the sidewalk. You can keep the voiles drawn all day, to allow light in but block the gazes of passers-by. Then you can draw the standard curtains later in the day when you want to completely block out the outside world.
Q. Why might you need a door curtain?
A. Door curtains are generally used on front or back doors for their thermal insulation properties. If you have problems with drafts coming in through the gaps in these doors, a door curtain will keep the heat in your house more effectively. However, they're also useful on un-frosted glass doors if you don't want people to be able to look into your home.
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