How to measure bay windows for drapery rods or curtain rods

By Matt Miller of ironhardware.com and irondraperyrods.com

 This is a simple task, and the rules are not set in stone. If they were, no two designers would completely agree on them anyways. So, armed with a few basic guidelines, your own personal tastes, and some pictures from our design ideas, you can do a wonderful job of covering your bay windows.

How to measure bay windows for Drapery Rods, Simple version:

Measure the entire width of the back wall. We are not as concerned with the size of the window because the bay window rod follows the wall and we must have the actual wall measurements. Now measure the side walls, put the end of the tape into the angle where the wall bends away from the back wall and measure past the side window to the point where you want the rod to end and the finial to begin. Do this same procedure for both side walls, and provide us with the three actual wall measurements, do not add or subtract anything, we will do the math for the rod projection.

How to measure the angle of my bay window

Most bay window angles are 135 degrees, (which is a 45 degree bend to a straight rod). There are many ways to measure or determine the angle. This page will allow you to measure the angle without any special tools or knowledge. If the angles in your project are other than 45 or 90, you will need custom bends and the additional charge is usually $25 for each bend.

To measure the angle, you are simply going to create a triangle using the walls as two 12" sides and then provide the length of the third side of that triangle by following the easy steps below. This page will do the math and provide the angle between the back and side walls.

1. Measure 12" from the back corner along the side wall and make a small (light) pencil mark on the wall.
2. Measure 12" from the back corner along the back wall and make a small (light) pencil mark on the wall.
3. Measure the distance between your two pencil marks and enter that number into the box below that says "Measurement in Inches" then press the "Calculate" button. The angle will appear at the bottom of the green arrow.

Please provide that angle in the special instructions field when ordering..

 

Extended version with FAQ, details, and measuring tips:

Rod width:

   Larger windows require more drapery rod width because typically you will put more Drapery fabric on a larger window, and that requires more stacking width, and therefore more drapery rod width.

Rod Height:

   Hang the drapery high enough so it covers the top of the window by at least a few inches if possible. If you are using tab tops, tie tops, or clip rings, which will drop your drapery down a few inches below the rod, move the rod up a bit to compensate. If you want a taller, more vertical or palatial look, you might want to hang the draperies a little higher, or even from floor to ceiling. If you are using ready made draperies, check to see what sizes are available, and decide on the rod height accordingly. Most ready made drapery panels are available in 84" length to cover the most common doors and windows which are around 80" high. It is not uncommon to use an 84" drapery panel on a 48" high window. This will give you a uniform look if you have patio doors or sliders in the same room using 84" drapery panels.
   If you are concerned with dust, water or Early California ranch style grunge on the floor, you may want to stay off the floor a bit with the drapery but it is not uncommon for the drapery to puddle on the floor for a lavish look.

Why does your quick quote page calculate only four mounting brackets, I need six?

Ah, you plan on putting a mounting bracket on both sides of those angles, don't you? Well, that will probably work just fine and we get to sell you more hardware than you actually need, but beware that it will look a bit cluttered and limit your ability to pull the drapes into those corners where you probably want them to stack. For the designer look, use two mounting brackets on the back wall, and one mounting bracket next to each finial, unless the walls are very wide, in which case our quick quote page will automatically add the necessary mounting brackets for the centers of those long spans.

How much space do I need to stack my drapes off the window? 

   This is the million dollar question, and probably the most frequently asked. "Stacking width" is the width of your drape when it is pulled back off of the window, or when the drapes are pulled open. Chances are that your drapes will be open more than they are closed, and you will achieve a nicer look if you don't try to stack the drapes too tightly when they are open, so allow plenty of room for the drapes to stack nicely, and measure accordingly to accommodate the drapes at the sides of the window. More fabric requires more stacking width, and pocket drapes require more stacking width than draperies on rings or tab tops. And by the way, rings slide much better than pockets or tabs. 

Do I need to clear the window when the drapes are opened?

   Not necessarily. While it is practical to get the draperies out of the way of a slider or patio door, at some of your windows space may be an issue, or perhaps you don't care for the view out of a particular window, or maybe you want to soften the edge of the window with a few inches of drapery fabric, or use tie backs for a swept back look. It is not necessary to clear the window when the drapes are opened.

Rod height, How will I hang my drapes on the Drapery rods?

   Tab tops, tie tops, or clip rings will create 1" to 6" of space between the drapes and the drapery rod, for a more country or casual look. Eyelet rings will put the drapes about a half inch below the drapery rod, for a nicely finished or formal look, and pocket drapes put the drapery on the rod. This look can lend itself to formal or informal settings. Simply adjust the drapery rod height accordingly to make sure the drapery covers the top of the window. It usually looks good to go a little higher than lower. And by the way, rings slide much better than tabs or pockets.

Which direction to draw the drapery?

   You may want to open the drapery all to one side for a number of reasons, because of foot traffic at a patio door or slider, or perhaps you have a wall with two big windows, and for visual impact you want to pull both draperies out and into the corners of the room with tie backs, medallions, or ball posts with tassels. It is usually helpful to look at the room as a big picture.

Should I group my windows and use one rod for multiple windows?

   Often, windows are set in groups with little space between them. Instead of trying to crowd finials and stacks of draperies in between each window, look at the whole wall for different possibilities. It is not uncommon to span the whole group of windows with one drapery rod , and group your drapery stacks between the windows and/or to the sides of the group.