The Language of Drapery Hardware: Measuring

Understanding the Language of Drapery Hardware: Measuring

When beginning your custom window treatment project, it’s not only about measuring; its also about learning the terminology for all the component parts – drapery hardware, fabrics, fabrication and more.  And it’s also about assessing the potential project’s situation.Designers should know everything about drapery hardware in order to better design window treatments. That way you’ll never design something that can’t be installed.  Make sure you leave enough time to access the window and the space around it before you even start to measure. After all, you have to make sure that you can actually install the window fashion in your head. Your eye is drawn to the windows first when you walk into a room. So, study the bare window to assess its shape and merits/needs.

First, ask yourself what type of window am I dealing with? Are the windows square? Inspect window and note obstacles, ducts, cranks, screens, etc.

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Second, consider the space around the window. Are there security systems? Is the window centered on the wall? Are there obstructions? Vents? Cranks? Can I mount my drapery hardware where I want to? The bottom line-Is there space to do what you want to do?

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Third, is your design intent congruent with the room it will be in? What kind of treatment are you using? Can the Design be executed the way you intend?  Does my drapery hardware choice match my treatment style? Once you noted your answers on your measuring notes; you’re ready to start measuring the window.

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When you are measuring the window for soft window coverings, regardless of finished length, width, drapery hardware choices, etc. it is important to understand the measurements that will need to be taken and the terminology that will be used. Let’s tackle some of the terminology before we get into the nuts and bolts.


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Rod Face is the measurement from one end of drapery rod to the other; excluding finials. Sometimes it’s called Bracket to Bracket. The Bracket to Bracket Maximum, sometimes called span is the point where the rod will sag or bow without a center support. So, with a one way draw drapery on a 2” wood pole; the maximum is 72” Where and how you place the rod and brackets could be critical.

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Projection is the distance from wall to face of bracket or the center of drapery rod. This measurement comes into play when doing more than one layer. The rule of thumb is to add 3” every time you add a layer to your window treatment design.

Rod Clearance is the distance from back of the drapery rod to the wall. The larger the rod; the smaller the clearance. Why should you be familiar with rod clearance?  Deep woodwork and hard treatments under the soft treatment can present problems. For example, a 2-1/4” rod with 3-1/2” clearance has rod clearance of 2-1/2”. Knowing your rod clearance will help you specify the correct brackets.  You can deduct ½ of rod diameter from the return measurement to get the clearance.

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Once you know what the rod clearances will be for your window treatment design, you can decide if there is enough room to do all the layers you would like to use and specify the returns. The Return is the end of the heading on a panel that wraps around to the wall and hides the bracket and rod projection. A return is a fabric measurement totaling the rod projection + ½”.


It is important for you to take the measures so that you are intimately familiar with the window as you design and specify and that you can talk intelligently to members of your team if questions or issues come up. It is important to be focused on measuring when you measure. If you are more worried about making the sale or uncomfortable with taking the measure during your sales call; make sure you add a remeasure into your  pricing and time as you move forward.

Sometimes it is also a good idea to schedule your installer to take measurements and to you accompany him for more intricate projects. This saves time, mistakes and helps define the final design details and installation.


Taking time to take even the non-essential measures will assure a successful end result.

  • Never assume that windows that look identical are.
  • Always use a steel tape
  • Measure in sequential manner left to right
  • Measure to nearest 1/8”- draperies
  • Measure every window
  • Measure width first; then length
  • Measure from the glass out
  • Use standard measuring forms

Take all the measures no matter if they are needed for each window or not. Some frequently missed items are:

  • Details are not spelled out. You know them, but you must make sure your team knows them
  • Finish
  • Bracket to Bracket measurement

Finally, here are the Bakers Dozen must-have measures to design and specify custom window treatments.

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