(This post is a guide to help you shop our made to order curtain panels.)
Our most popular widths for curtain panels are 24 and 48 inches. That comes out to 48 and 96 inches wide per pair, respectively.
But how do you choose which width option to select? Well, it mostly comes down to two factors – purpose and coverage.
What Coverage Do You Need?
Coverage simply means how much of an area curtains cover. Contrary to popular belief, coverage is not about window, but instead, it’s a reference to the width of a curtain rod.
This wrong assumption that curtains absolutely only cover a window and not a curtain rod is why the HGTV designer photos have gorgeous panels that fit properly while in reality most homes have curtains that look like they’re too small and shriveled up on a window.
In other words, a properly trained and experienced interior designer uses a 60-inch wide curtain rod on a 40-inch window while everyone else just gets a 42-inch wide curtain rod to hang their drapes. That’s what coverage is all about. It’s about how much of a curtain rod curtains should cover.
And if you want your room to look taller, brighter, more open, and like in those HGTV photos, you need more coverage than your window.
So before even considering what size curtain panels to buy, you’ll need to determine where a curtain rod should be mounted first.
What Is the Purpose of Your Curtain Panels?
Next, you’ll have to decide if your curtain panels should be functional or decorative only.
In other words, will you need to draw them shut for privacy on a regular basis (functional), or will they stay in the same position at all times (decorative)?
Curtain panels that are decorative only don’t follow any rules. It’s perfectly fine to select 24-inch wide panels for a 108-inch wide curtain rod just as it’s perfectly fine to select 48-inch wide panels on a curtain rod less than 108 inches in size. You’ll of course have to take into consideration how much the curtain panel will gather (more on that later), but overall, there is no rigid rule if the curtain is for decorative purpose only.
Some customers choose the 24-inch wide panels if the fabric is made in a bright pop of color, while others are fine choosing wider 48-inch wide panels if the fabric is in a more neutral color palette. Some customers choose 24-inch panels in smaller rooms while others choose 48-inch panels in larger rooms.
There is no rule if the panels are to be decorative only. It’s really about personal preference and aesthetics.
Speaking of aesthetics, it’s good to know that curtain panels will gather differently depending on the header, or how they’re finished on top. For example, our rod pocket panels can be shirred on a rod through the top pocket, or they can hang on clip-on curtain rings.
Even though a panel may be 48 inches wide, it will gather differently depending on whether you choose to use its pocket or clip-on rings.
This 48-inch wide single panel gathers to about 18 to 22 inches wide when mounted using clip-on curtain rings (equals to 36 to 44 inches per pair). It will be about 20 to 24 wide if lining is added (equals to 40 to 48 inches per pair). Find this product here.
The same single panel gathers to about 19 to 28 inches wide when mounted using its rod pocket (equals to 38 to 56 inches per pair). It will be about 21 to 30 wide if lining is added (equals to 42 to 60 inches per pair). Find this product here.
However, with functional panels there are specific rules. You’ll have to make sure the pair of panels will be able to cover the curtain rod size plus any side returns if necessary.
If you calculated that you’ll use a 78-inch rod and need 3-inch returns on each side, then your panels need to add up to at least 84 inches. In this case, the 24-inch wide panels won’t work while the 48-inch panels will work (remember, they come in pairs).
So now that you’ve decided on whether you’ll need decorative or functional panels, what width will you choose? 24 inches or 48 inches wide?