Curtains: The Whats and Hows of Determining the Best Choice

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Windows and glass doors play an important role in a house, whether it is to allow fresh air to flow into a house or for residents to look out or into their own houses. Windows are often installed in every room while glass doors are commonly used for balconies or at the front and back of a house. However, despite the conveniences that a window brings, there are times when residents would want some privacy or better protection from the sun and heat. This is where curtains play their role.

Curtains are an essential accessory to most houses. They provide a wide range of functions, including privacy, and protecting residents and belongings in the house from the eyes of outsiders. Besides adding a sense of security to a house, curtains protect the house from sunlight and heat, helping to regulate the temperature and amount of light that is entering the house. Apart from adding beauty to a home, curtains also prevent excessive dust from entering.

Due to their practical and aesthetic role, curtains are an integral part of any house, whether it is modern or traditional. Fabric remained a preferred material in most curtains, however, there are many more material choices out there today thanks to technology and innovation in the field. 

Types of Curtains and Their Functions

There is a wide range of ready-made curtains for windows available in the market today. As with all things, curtains come with their own advantages and disadvantages, a variety of decorating styles, curtain colours, and lighter or heavier fabric, depending on the space available, the room type, and the location of the window or glass door.

Panel Pair Curtains

These are standard curtains which come in pairs and are hung on the left and right of a window. They are opened and closed from the middle and are often held open with a curtain tieback. These are very commonly used as living room curtains and even in the bedroom so they are available at most shops that sell drapery.

Single Panel Curtain


Compared to paired panel curtains, a single panel curtain is sold individually and is used to cover an entire window. They can be pulled on either side to open and close, and like double panel curtains, they can be held open with a curtain tieback. A very common type of curtain that is used in most settings.

Pleated Curtains

There are many types of pleated curtains that come in a range of styles such as single, double, pinch, goblet, and pencil pleated curtains. These pleated curtains create neat-looking folds and consistent wave patterns from the top to bottom. The pattern differs depending on the type of pleated curtain, and some of these curtains are also made with thinner fabric. They are often used as bedroom and living room curtains. 

S-Fold Curtains

S-Fold curtains provide a more modern look as compared to pleated curtains. These curtains have an “S” pattern from the top all the way to the bottom of the curtain providing a contemporary finish. These curtains use tracks that are slim, making them an ideal choice for tall windows and windows that do not have the space for a curtain rod or pole, or as ceiling curtains. Even though these tracks are slim, they are able to support heavier curtains made with heavy fabric.

Grommet Curtains

Grommet or eyelet curtains are curtains with rings that are trendy due to their simple installation and ease of use. Metal rings are manufactured onto the curtain to allow the opening and closing of the curtain with ease as they slide across the curtain pole. Eyelet curtains are a good choice for places where you regularly open and close curtains such as the bedroom. 

Tab Top Curtains

Tab top curtains are kind of similar to grommet curtains where they slide across the curtain pole. However, instead of metal rings, the top of this curtain is woven into loops that hang onto the curtain pole. This type of curtain is more suitable for specific décors such as Japanese-styled homes or cottage home décor.

Tie Top Curtains

Similar to tab-top curtains, these lighter fabric curtains hang onto curtain poles and slide across to open and close. The difference is where the curtain is tied onto the curtain pole instead of woven into loops, and due to it being more delicate than the other options above, these curtains are often made with lightweight fabric.


Valances are short curtains used as decor to provide beautiful window treatments. They are usually hung by themselves, or on top of a full curtain. As they are used for decoration purposes, hanging valances onto your window will often result in drafty windows as they do not cover your window entirely. Valances are available as a standalone or come in a set together with a full curtain. Valances are ideal when you are looking for something to decorate your window without installing full curtains.

Window Scarf

A window scarf is a long and thin curtain fabric hung on top of the window resembling a scarf. This kind of curtain does not cover the entire window and is used as decoration. It has no other practical functions such as blocking sunlight or for privacy. 

Sheer Curtains

Sheer curtains are curtains that are made with lightweight sheer fabric. This type of curtain uses delicate fabric to filter light entering a room, soften natural light, and provide a layer of privacy to your room during the daytime. These curtains are generally used as living room curtains and paired with blackout curtains to offer different levels of lighting depending on the user’s needs. 

Blackout Curtains

Blackout curtains are solid curtains made using heavyweight materials and dark colours which block out sunlight and heat. Depending on the material, these heavy curtains can block over 90% or more sunlight from entering the room and are ideal as bedroom curtains for those who have sleeping issues caused by light. These heavy fabrics used with dark curtain colours are also ideal for entertainment or home theatre rooms to reduce outdoor sound besides blocking the sunlight. They are also often paired with sheer curtains made with sheer fabrics to provide different layering of lighting in the room. 

Other Alternatives to Curtains

There are many advantages when it comes to curtains as they come in a myriad of lengths, colours, and patterns to suit any room type or need. Even so, there are other alternatives to curtains as they are not a one-fits-all solution. 

Here are some other options that are available on the market.



Drapes are commonly used as living room curtains with the specific function of blocking out sunlight. Compared to curtains, drapes are made of thicker and heavier fabric which are often more expensive materials. The length of the drapes is also floor-length or longer. Due to the thicker material and more expensive material use, drapes provide a more elegant and premium look, and they can also help to dampen the sound coming from the outside. Drapes are commonly layered together with sheer curtains for flexible lighting options during the daytime.

Despite their clear advantages, drapes are not cost-efficient as the materials used to make them come at a higher cost. Its length could also be troublesome to certain households, especially those with young children or pets.


Blinds are commonly used in offices or even some bathrooms as it is space saving and provides a different kind of aesthetic to the space. Blinds consist of long thin slates lined horizontally that fold open or close in unison. They are mostly made of hard materials such as aluminium, PVC, and wood.

Blinds are cost-effective and space-saving. They are also quite durable compared to curtains due to the hard materials used in their manufacture. However, it is a hassle to clean them as you need to take time wiping each slat.



Shades are made with fabric or PVC and they come in different lengths, styles, and patterns. It is a cost-effective option to cover your windows compared to the other choices above. However, shades are aesthetically less pleasing and do not offer any light control when compared to curtains and drapes.

Ensuring the Ideal Curtain Size for Windows

Most curtain suppliers offer measurement services to ensure the best fit for your house. However, it is also good to know how to ensure the right curtain fit in case there is a need for DIY in the future. Here are a few important points to take note of.


Curtain Pole Length

Generally, the standard length should be 12 inches wider than your window frame, with 6 inches longer on both sides of the windows. The reason for this is to have extra space for the curtain to stay at the sides of the window instead of covering it when you leave them open. 

Curtain Pole Height

It is common to install the curtain pole 3 to 6 inches above the window for proper coverage. However, there are some cases where the curtain pole is installed higher, close to the ceiling to create the illusion of a taller room. 

Curtain Width

There are 2 types of width that you should take note of depending on the purpose of the curtain. For functional purposes where you often open and close the curtain, the curtain should be the full width of the curtain pole for single panel curtains, or half of the full width of the curtain pole if it’s panel pair curtains.

For decorative purposes where the curtain remains stationary, it is recommended to get curtains with 1 and a half or 2 times the width of the curtain pole to create a “full” look. However, this depends on how narrow your window is as well, as having a curtain with too much width on a narrow window would give it a heavy look.

Curtain Length

Too long and it would look messy and be a hazard that trips people. Too short and it will make your room look shorter. A floor-length curtain is an ideal length. To achieve this, measure the length from the top of the curtain pole to the floor. However, you should keep in mind how specific curtains will affect your measurements. For example, grommet curtains have open rings that hang onto the curtain pole. For this specific curtain, you may have to add additional inches to your measurement. 

Pole Brackets

Pole brackets are the parts screwed to the wall that support the curtain pole. Be mindful of how far away the curtain will be from the window. Too near and it may hit the window when you are operating the curtains. Too far and light may seep through the sides when your curtains are closed.

An additional tip when installing pole brackets is to have an extra bracket installed in the middle of the curtain pole to provide support. Curtain poles are mostly made of steel, requiring you to replace them over time as they could bend due to the weight of the curtains. 

Taking Care of Your Curtain

Ensuring your curtains are well maintained helps them to last longer. Most fabric curtains are washable, but before doing so, it is important to read the cleaning instructions to understand what you can and cannot do. Curtains should also be washed individually instead of mixing them with other fabrics to avoid unwanted staining or damage. 

Curtains should be left to dry by themselves rather than tumble dry as it may damage the fabric. If you have accidentally stained a part of your curtain, you may use a sponge with soap and water to gently rub the stained area. Finally, fabric curtains can be ironed or steamed to straighten the wrinkles to restore them to their former glory. 

Final Takeaway

Like any other furniture or appliances at home, curtains come in many shapes, sizes, and advantages. Make sure you do your research and thoroughly understand the room where the curtain will be installed to decide on the best curtain type for your needs. It is also important to take the correct measurements so that the curtains come in the right length and width, especially after hanging them up.

If your budget allows it, you can also consider installing two layers of curtains to give yourself the option of whether to completely block out outdoor lights or have filtered daylight entering your house during the day.

At the end of the day, if you are still having trouble deciding or prefer a professional to handle things for you, there are many curtain suppliers in the market who are ready to advise and handle all the labour of installing the perfect curtain for your home.

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