How to Measure for Window Blinds, Shades and Curtains
Blinds, shades or curtains make a room feel complete. They beautify a space as they add privacy, block sunlight and increase comfort. There are endless varieties of window treatments to suit any style or purpose and tie all the elements of a room together.
The first step to creating functional, appealing window treatments is to take measurements to ensure the curtains, blinds or shades work well and look exactly as you envision. Determining what size blinds you need, for example, can seem tricky if you don’t know where to start and how to measure for both inside-mount and outside-mount blinds. We’re here to help you get the perfect fit.
In this post, we’ll cover the basics and show you how to measure your windows, whether you want elegant, minimalist shades or luxurious floor-skimming drapes.
Inside Mount vs. Outside Mount
Before you take any measurements, you need to consider whether you’ll be mounting the window treatment inside the window frame or outside the frame. We put together the pros and cons of both installation styles to help you decide.
Inside Mount Pros and Cons
If you’d like to install a window treatment inside the window frame, you first need to make sure the window has enough depth for the hardware. In general, a window casing should be about three inches deep if you wish to mount blinds or curtains inside the window. Here are a few reasons to consider an inside mount:
- Creates a clean, elegant look
- Allows you to hang drapes on the outside of the window and blinds or shades inside the window
- Highlights gorgeous window trim or molding
- Suitable for windows that do not have much wall space around them
A disadvantage of an inside mount is that it requires precise measurements to make sure the window treatment properly fits in the window. Also, if the window casing lacks depth for an inside mount, the window treatment will project from the window.
Outside Mount Pros and Cons
If your window is not deep enough for an inside mount, your other option is to mount the window treatment outside the window. Here are reasons to consider an outside mount:
- It’s more forgiving and flexible with measurements
- Makes a window appear larger
- An excellent option for blocking out light
A disadvantage of choosing an outside mount is it conceals the window trim. If you live in an older home with lovely window frames, you may not want to hide the architectural details behind a window treatment.
How to Measure for Shades and Blinds
If you’ve ever wondered what the standard size of window blinds is, the standard window length ranges from 36 to 72 inches, and the standard width ranges from 24 to 60 inches. However, window sizes and shapes can vary greatly, especially in older homes or homes with custom windows. We’ll show you how to measure your window to get the right-sized blinds or shades, whether your home features modern or traditional styles.
1. How to Measure for Inside-Mount Blinds and Shades
If you would like to mount blinds or shades inside your window, gather the following supplies first: measuring tape, a piece of paper and a pencil to write down your measurements and a ladder or stepstool if necessary. With your tools on hand, take these steps.
- Measure the width: Measure from one side of the window casing to the other side in the top, bottom and the middle. If all the measurements are not the same, use the smallest measurement for your blinds or shades.
- Measure the height: Measure from the sill to the bottom of the top casing in three places. Use the lengthiest of the three measurements if they aren’t all the same.
- Measure the depth: This measurement is essential because some inside-mount blinds require specific depths to fit inside the window properly. You’ll want to measure the depth of the flat surface of the upper casing. Here is where you’ll attach the headrail or the housing for the mechanical components of the blind.
2. How to Measure for Outside-Mount Blinds and Shades
If you decided to mount blinds or shades outside the window, take these steps.
- Measure the width: Measure the area you would like the blind or shade to cover. For maximum privacy, extend the measurement as much as three inches past both sides of the window.
- Measure the height: Determine where you want to place the headrail, knowing it will be at least a couple of inches tall. Measure from there to the bottom of the windowsill, or where you want the blinds to hang down. It’s better to choose more length than not enough length because you can adjust the window treatment.
Regardless of whether you choose an inside mount or outside mount, keep the following tips in mind:
- Measure in inches, not feet.
- Measure to the nearest eighth of an inch.
- Measure every window, and don’t assume they are all identically sized.
- Measure width first and length second.
3. Types of Shades and Blinds
After you have your measurements, you’re ready for the fun part — shopping for shades or blinds. Blinds and shades are available in a vast range of patterns, colors and styles to complement your decor and create a professional look.
Types of Blinds
There are a variety of types of blinds to choose from. Some blinds to consider include the following.
- Wood: Blinds crafted from genuine hardwoods add warmth, richness and natural beauty to a space. Wood blinds pair gorgeously with other furniture pieces, whether your style is sleek and modern or classic and cozy.
- Aluminum: Contemporary and clean aluminum blinds are an ideal choice where you need durability, such as in kitchens, bathrooms or laundry rooms.
- Vertical: Vertical blinds are perfect for large floor-to-ceiling windows commonly found in high-rise apartments or spacious lofts, and are available in a range of stunning colors, patterns and materials.
Types of Shades
Shades are available for all kinds of window sizes and are excellent at blocking light or making a room more energy-efficient. Here are just a few shade types to consider.
- Roman: Roman shades, made of a continuous piece of fabric, can come in a variety of fabrics from cotton to silk. When rolled up, Roman shades can have the soft, luxurious look of drapery, and when pulled down, they lie flat against the window.
- Solar: Solar shades are similar to sunglasses, allowing you to see the outside world through the fabric while still providing light control and a clean, modern look.
- Woven wood: Shades made with warm organic materials such as bamboo, grass and woven wood add serenity and natural appeal to any room.
How to Measure for Curtains
Curtains are one of the best ways to complement your home’s interior design and make a space comfortable and inviting. You have limitless options when it comes to choosing a curtain color, pattern and fabric. Curtains pair well with inside-mount blinds or shades for a complete window treatment with versatility and style.
As with any window treatment, you’ll want to take measurements before you buy curtains. You’ll also want to decide if you wish to mount the curtains inside or outside the window. The most common way to mount curtains is to do so outside the window frame using a curtain rod. Inside-mount curtains are less popular, but might be the better option if the window is deep enough and if there is a lack of wall space around the window.
To measure for curtains, take these steps.
- Determine rod length: Usually, curtain rods extend two to six inches beyond the window frame. This extra length makes a window appear larger and widens the view. It’s ultimately up to you and how much space you want to push the curtains to the side.
- Measure width: If you are hanging curtains outside the window, measure the width of the area you want to cover from one side to the next. Add an inch to the measurement to ensure you have fully covered the window. If you’re mounting curtains inside the window, measure from one side of the window casing to the next, and plan on getting an expandable curtain rod to ensure a tight fit. As a general rule, you’ll want to choose curtains that are at least twice the width of the window.
- Measure length: Measure from the curtain rod to where you want the curtains to hang. You might want the curtains to hang just below the sill or down to the floor — it’s up to you. The goal is to measure the area you want the curtains to cover.
Hire an Expert to Get the Right Size
Selecting curtains, blinds or shades that produce the desired look requires precise measurements. You may need custom-made blinds or curtains depending on your window shape, size or style. Taking the correct measurements can sometimes be challenging, especially for windows with unique shapes. When in doubt, it’s best to reach out to an expert.
At Allure Window Treatments, we’re ready to help you find the perfect fit to create a space that radiates your unique style. To ensure you get the right size for your blinds, shades and curtains, book your free in-home consultation today.
Different Styles of Window Treatments
Beyond just deciding on a color or overall look, you’ll need to choose a type of treatment — from drapery to shades or blinds and more, here’s how to make sense of the categories of window coverings to help you decide which is right for your room.
1. Curtains and Drapes
Drapery and curtains are fabric window coverings and can vary widely in colors, styles and price points. Custom curtains will give your home a true, professional-designed look. If you work with a vendor that specializes in custom drapes and curtains, you will get professional advice on the style that works in the room. This consultation ensures the finished drapes are a perfect fit in both style and measurement, and that they exceed your expectations.
Floor-length curtains typically stop about an inch above the floor. With custom curtains or drapes, you can abide by this standard regardless of the size of your windows or ceilings, which means you don’t have to retrofit a store-bought curtain to make it work. You also don’t have to settle for a pattern or fabric that’s not quite what you’re looking for. You’re also not confined to the inside of the window frame as you might be when mounting blinds or shades, but blinds and shades in tandem with custom drapes often complement each other design-wise.
Curtains and drapes also can be lined or unlined. Lined curtains can offer “blackout” capabilities, blocking out all sunlight from the windows, which often makes them perfect for bedrooms. Unlined curtains can work well on windows that usually get lots of shade or you if you have another window treatment, such as blinds, behind the drapes. If the windows receive lots of bright sunlight, a lined curtain protects the room-facing fabric from fading.
Sheers typically a type of curtain that is semi-transparent, offering some privacy while at the same time letting in sunlight. Sheers are often paired with opaque curtains for the most versatility and a formal, classic appearance. Sheers on their own also have a very romantic, airy vibe and work best when used in long panels. You can drape them around curtain rods, furniture or even pool them on the floor for a dramatic look you just can’t get with other styles of window treatments.
Another type of sheer, and one that Allure offers, are our vertical Luminette® Privacy Sheers. These sheers offer you the functionality and privacy of vertical blinds, and let you control whether you want filtered or full-on light in your rooms. Sheers like this work well with sliding doors and vast window expanses, so you can determine how much coverage you would like depending on the time of day. These modern, chic blinds work well both in residential and commercial spaces.
3. Horizontal Blinds
Horizontal blinds offer functionality while adding an overall aesthetic appeal to your space.
If you’re looking for a traditional feel, you might prefer a hand-crafted wood blind or wood-like finish style. An aluminum horizontal blind can have a striking appearance that can work in both traditional and more modern homes or spaces.
Horizontal blinds often work well in bedrooms and over-the-sink kitchen windows because you can easily adjust the level of privacy. Your home’s architecture will determine the finish, texture, valances and wand attachments you should choose — all options that truly bring your windows to life in your space.
Use blinds with drapery to complete a look.
If you want a more opaque style and are looking for something other than sheers or horizontal blinds, shades come in varying opacities and offer privacy and shade from light.
There are several different types and styles of shades:
- Honeycomb: This type of shade, also called pleated or cellular shades, pulls down, but the fabric has chambers that trap air, providing greater insulation and possible savings on your home’s energy bill.
- Roman: The fabric of Roman shades have elegant gathers and folds, giving them a more unique appearance. Because they are made of fabric, they can also offer some sound-dampening qualities.
- Roller: These shades are housed in a valance tube at the top of the window and pull down like a roll of wrapping paper or an old-fashioned school map with a chain or by a motor with a remote control. You get privacy while blocking sun glare and UV rays, but can still see out through the shade.
- Silhouette: Resembling horizontal blinds in functionality, silhouette shades are s-shaped and made from sheer fabrics that look like they’re floating in your windows suspended there between light and air. These shades give your windows, and your space, a sophisticated feel.
- Pirouette: A totally unique experience in window treatments, these shades move and curve upward like a pirouette — their shape gives you elegance with all sun and UV-protection traditional coverings offer. You can have both delightful style with protection and practical function, which makes these shades desirable in many Philadelphia homes for all types of windows.
- Woven: Woven shades give you the warm feel and strength of nature all in one window dressing. Woven shades typically are seen as rollers, roman and in drapery, so the choice is yours when you bring the textures of the outside into your home.
One of the most classic window treatment options available, shutters provide a unique look for a home with instant curb appeal, added resale value and a designer woodwork appearance.
With this style, having your windows professionally measured and fitted will guarantee a stunning result. Shutters are long-lasting, have timeless appeal and are window treatments that look good from the outside too.
Motorized Window Treatments
Today’s window treatments can come infused with technology, for the ultimate in privacy and comfort. Almost all types of window coverings, from curtains to blinds to shades, can be found in a motorized option. The motors are small and are hidden out of sight, usually with a battery compartment that fits right in the top rail or rod of the window treatment, or a discreet plugin to use the electricity of your home.
With this trendy advancement in home décor, motorized window treatments allow you to raise or lower your shades and blinds, or open and close their curtains at the touch of a button. They can be operated by a remote or programmed by a smartphone or tablet. Newer models also have self-controlling capabilities and can move automatically according to the positioning of the sun, or a pre-set program that you can set to your liking. Spend your time on other more important tasks, and less time adjusting all your drapes and blinds.
Automatic motorized window treatments offer several distinct benefits:
- Better protection against home break-ins. As the window coverings move on their own regularly, they give the appearance that someone is home, even when you’re not. This serves as an effective deterrent against break-ins and other vandalism.
- Visually cut the cord: No complicated pull-cords to operate means a sleeker look overall, plus can improve safety for some homes with children or pets.
- Passively save energy: Even though motorized window treatments use a small amount of electricity to operate, they can save you even more on your electricity bill, and help your home be more environmentally friendly. By automatically controlling the light streaming into your home, these window treatments contribute to the passive heating and cooling of your home, and effortlessly saving big on energy.
Professional Window Treatment Installation
Once you’ve done your research and decided on the right window treatments for you and your home, it’s time to have them installed them in your home! Hiring a professional can save you time and hassle.
Window frames are not standardized and must be measured exactly, especially if you have unique or oddly-sized windows. Hiring a professional to consult with and install your window treatments means the final result will be installed quickly and correctly, and fit exactly to your windows and specifications. Window treatments with advanced features like motorized opening and closing can be more complicated to install, but an experienced professional can easily handle this type of job.
If you’re still on the fence about what type of window treatment to choose, most professionals like Allure offer design consultations and can help you decide just what type of treatment is best for your room. A consultant is knowledgeable about all the types of window treatments available and can offer advice on everything from style and color to more technical aspects of each treatment.
Allure Is Here to Help
Allure Window Treatments serves both homes and businesses in the Philadelphia area. As a full-service window treatment design studio, we offer free in-house consultations, professional installation and the highest quality custom window treatments. We guide you through every step of the process.
At Allure, our drapery is custom-made by hand, in house and made to fit your windows — and your style — perfectly. We also install motorized systems for drapes, shades, blinds and more. Our experienced technicians can even integrate them into your existing smart home system, or connect to your tablet or smartphone for ease of use.
For full-service window treatment design and installation, schedule your consultation with Allure today. Get ready to transform your space with stunning new window treatments.
Shani is the Marketing Director of Allure Window Treatments. She has over a decade of experience in the home improvement and window treatments industry.