Curtain tracks can be fitted in a number of different positions in relation to the window. The choice is down to personal preference but bear in mind that fitting curtains within the window reveal can substantially reduce the amount of daylight entering the room when they’re open.
The options for fixing the track are: to the wall above the window; to the ceiling above the window; to the head of the window reveal; to the top of the window frame itself. In this article we will be looking at fixing a track to the wall above the window opening but the methods for all are fairly similar. The main exception being that brackets fixed directly to a wooden window frame can simply be secured with suitable wood screws without the need for drilling and plugging.
1. Measure the overall width of the window opening and add a suitable allowance for the curtains to be opened beyond the window.
Buy a curtain track kit for this size. If the exact size isn’t available, simply buy the next size up and it can be trimmed to suit.
Open the kit and check the components are all there as detailed on the leaflet.
2. Measure the overall length of the track and deduct the measurement you made earlier. This will give you the amount by which you need to cut down the track.
3. Remove the end fittings from the track, lay it on the floor and mark the amount to be cut off.
4. Cut off the excess using a junior hacksaw or similar. Make sure you mark the cut line accurately and square and, keep the saw square as you cut.
5. Any small burrs can easily be removed using medium grade abrasive paper.
6. The fixing brackets are usually made of two pieces. A bracket that is fixed to the wall, and a bracket that clips into the track. Mount the track brackets on the track so that there is one at each end and the others are spaced evenly along the track.
7. Decide the height at which you wish to have the bottom of the curtain track and make a light mark on the wall at this height in the centre of the window. This will vary according to location but should normally be no less than 50mm above the window. Now measure the distance from the centre of the fixing point on one of the brackets to the bottom of the track. Add this to the height you just marked on the wall. This will be the level for the fixings.
Note: The track will need to be at least 25mm below the ceiling to allow for fixing. For curtains with large top pleats, this may need to be considerably more.
8. Measure the track and make a light pencil mark at the centre.
9. Hold the track with its face flat against the wall and evenly either side of the centre mark. The top edge of the track should be in line with the fixings mark made earlier. Make sure the track is roughly level and mark the centres of each of the fixing points of the brackets.
10. Place the track to one side. Hold a spirit level on the mark and, at each of the bracket fixing centre lines, draw a short horizontal line.
11. For solid plaster and brick walls, drill suitable size holes for the wall plugs you are using. For hollow walls see our Fixing to Hollow Walls article.
12. Insert the wall plugs and tap them fully home with a hammer.
13. Using suitable size screws, fix the wall brackets to the wall at these points.
14. Make sure that the free running hook eyes are all correctly installed in the groove in the track.
15. Once all the wall brackets have been secured to the wall, the track can be fitted.
16. Hold the track above the brackets so that the two halves of each fixing are aligned. Gently ease the fixings together by pulling down.
17. The curtains can now be hung on the hook eyes.
Tracks vary and you will need to read the included installation instructions for the particular kit you have chosen. Some are extendable and you will need to familiarise yourself with the method for adjustment. Many also include a pull cord mechanism for opening and shutting the curtains. Be sure you understand how this works and how to adjust it before you start fixing the track to the wall.
If you are fixing the track to the ceiling above the window there are some additional considerations. The weight of the curtains can be quite significant so, using plugs for the hollow wall will not be strong enough. You will need to fix the brackets through the plasterboard and into the ceiling joists above. If the joists run the wrong way or are not in a suitable position, you will need to fix some timber battens between them to provide suitable fixing points. To do this, mark the fixing points on the ceiling and make a small hole with a bradawl. Access the void above the ceiling – this may be simple enough if it’s an upstairs room and you can get to the area from the attic. If it’s a ground floor room, you will have to lift the floorboards in the room above to get to the area.