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Installing Custom Curtains Part 1: How Long Will This Take?

installing custom curtains

Everyone loves the thought of a cool, DIY project for their home… right up until they discover it takes way longer and is much harder than they thought.

For example, it took me nearly three months to install and duct a range hood for my kitchen, because I kept putting it off after it was halfway done. It was aggravating and really a two-person job, so I just ignored it until I couldn’t stand the sight of holes in my walls anymore.

Installing my custom curtains, meanwhile, took much less time, because it’s so easy to set a schedule and break it into tasks. Even though I spent more time hanging 14 window treatments than I did installing ductwork, I finished it in just 3 days of solid work over three weekends.

So, how long does it take to hang curtains?

Well, if you’re a first-time DIY’er, you can expect that a single window might take you 2-3 hours to finish. The good news is that it gets easier as you go; when I hung the last set of custom drapes for a 120” window in my master bedroom, it took just an hour to mount all the hardware.

Here’s how I planned for the job… I started with my house’s public spaces because I wanted them finished ASAP. I planned to hang my ground floor (kitchen, living room, dining room) one day and my upstairs (bedrooms, nursery, hallways) the next. I got out all of my custom curtain panels, organized them, steamed them, and placed them on my kitchen table to keep them flat.

But that’s far from how I finished the job. I’d already hung my dining room and kitchen windows while my wife was out, only to find out when she returned that the mounting hardware was 6 inches too low. I had to redo that work, and ended up taking the next weekend off, meaning my common spaces were half-finished for two weeks, during which we had guests and tripped over things a lot.

Having learned from the experience, here are some tips to make sure you finish the job quickly and well:

1. Plan ahead of time

Don’t just pick up a panel, find the window it goes with, and hang some hardware there. Nothing looks worse than a half-finished room. Organize your shipment and steam or iron the panels for a single room, then hang that room.

2. Start somewhere hidden

Hang the first set of custom curtains in a room no one ever sees first. That might be a child’s bedroom or a second-floor office. This gives you the chance to make mistakes, position hardware incorrectly, and figure out exactly how high you want your curtains to sit on the wall.

3. Start somewhere small

Following up on #2, pick a small window to test first, not a large one.

4. Test your custom curtain hardware

If you’ve never anchored anything into a wall before, do your homework on how to do it. If you have drywall, try to hang hardware on studs first. This is rarely going to work everywhere, especially in older houses, so you’ll need to choose and use drywall screw anchors.

5. Buy the right tools before you begin

I went to and from the hardware store (fortunately just 3 miles away) three times a day for the duration of this project. It was not a great use of my time or gas budget, so don’t do it that way.

6. Measure, don’t cut

It’s much easier to measure something two or three times than to redo it two or three times.

7. Make marks

On a related note, mark holes, level lines, and anything else that you need to hang your custom curtains properly. Buy a gallon of matching paint for your walls (or a quart for a small room) and detail everything you marked up before you hang the curtains.

8. Organize your time

Unless you’re unusually dedicated, you shouldn’t expect to spend both days of your weekend doing this. Plan your work in day-sized lots; for example, a living room and kitchen, or two bedrooms. Don’t start another room unless you’ll finish it the same day.

9. Know when you have help

Mostly, hanging custom drapes is a one-man job. Two people will speed it up if you have enough tools. However, for wide windows, you’ll need two people to mount the curtain rod and hang the curtains. Unless you want your perfectly ironed curtain panels sitting in a crumpled pile while you wait for your friend to drive over or your spouse to get home, plan to do these things when someone’s there to help.

If you learn from my mistakes and plan well, you can finish two or three rooms a day without stressing yourself out, and have a completely new look for your home in just a few weeks.

We here at Emma Custom will be happy to help you with every phase of your project, from style advice and fabric selection to suggestions on hardware and advice on how to DIY. We have perfect custom curtains for any room in your home. Set yourself on the path to a more beautiful home, and start designing your custom curtains today.

See you next week for a discussion of tools.


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