How to Measure for Curtains, Blinds, and Shades

How to Measure for Curtains, Blinds, and Shades

Window treatments enhance and beautify your space, as well as add privacy or block enough light to make your room comfortable. Blinds, shades, or curtains can be the final touch to your interior design tying everything in the room together.

The first step to creating your custom window treatments is to take measurements. A proper fit ensures the curtains, blinds, or shades you choose work and look exactly as you want them to. Measuring can be a challenge if you have never done it before and don’t plan ahead but, no matter what look you are after, following these steps will help take a lot of the guessing and headache out of the process.  


Tools and Materials

Before you begin, you will want to have a few tools handy: a tape measure, step ladder, and something to mark with. A metal or steel measuring tape is recommended over plastic or cloth measuring tapes. Stiff metal lends to more accurate measurements than cloth or plastic, which can bunch up. Unless height is on your side, a step ladder will help ensure you can get your measurements safely and accurately. Make sure to have a pencil or pen handy to mark your measurements so you can refer to them later. 


Determine the Mount that Meets Your Needs

When measuring, know whether you want your window treatment to have an inside mount or an outside mount. Inside mount treatments install inside the window casing whereas, for an alternate look and extra covering, you may choose outside mount window treatments which install outside of the window casing. If going with an outside mount, measure the overall area you want to be covered. 


Measuring for Blinds and Shades

No matter which type of window covering you choose, there are some general guidelines you should follow for measuring. They are:

  • Always measure to the nearest 1/8 inch. Keep your measurements as exact as possible. Do not round to a half or whole inch. 
  • Take care that you don’t transpose measurements. As a rule of thumb, always list your width first and height last. Clearly mark them (W x H).

Measuring for Inside Mount Blinds and Shades

To measure the width for inside mount blinds or shades, measure the inside of your window frame in three places: across the top, middle, and bottom. For height, measure the left, middle, and right side. Record the narrowest width and the longest height. Also, take note of the window depth to ensure you meet the minimum installation requirements for the blinds or shades you’ve selected. 


Measuring for Outside Mount Blinds and Shades

Because you are measuring outside your window casing, you can decide how wide you’d like your window treatments to go beyond the window. You may even want to consider adding three extra inches to the height and width to maximize your look as well as privacy and light control. 

Outside mounts require at least two inches of flat surface above the window or frame for the mounting brackets. If needed, you can purchase projection brackets to clear the frame moulding.


Measuring for Curtains

Because curtains cover more than the window, there are some additional measuring considerations. If using a curtain rod, measure the width by the length of your curtain rod between the finials. Do not measure the window itself. The rod should extend between 8” to 10” on either side of the opening. Goblets or tab curtains should extend 12” on each side. 

Next, measure the drop, which is the finished length of the curtain from the rod to the desired length on the wall or to the floor. Usually, the rod is positioned 6” above the opening. You can measure it to the sill length, below the sill, or to the floor for full-length curtains.

Here are some additional considerations related to the types of curtains and the related hardware used to hang them:

  • If you are hanging curtains on tracks, measure from the top of the track because you want the curtains to hide it.
  • For curtain rods, measure the underside of the curtain ring so you can see the pole above the curtains.
  • For French pleat, pencil pleat, or goblet top curtains, measure the drop from the eye, which is the small ring at the bottom of each curtain ring. This prevents the curtain from obscuring the rod and rings.

One Final Tip

If you take some time to think about your window treatment design and gather your materials, measuring for blinds, shades, and curtains isn’t as challenging as it may seem. Our last measuring tip is to remember to bring your list of measurements with you to the home improvement store or have them in front of you if you are ordering your window coverings online.