Types of Curtain Rods & How to Make the Right Choice

painted wood curtain rod

If you have curtains in your home or you're planning to buy curtains, having the right curtain rods can make a big difference in the window's overall appearance. It's easy to overlook something like curtain rods. However, once you see the difference that a decorative curtain rod with the right finials makes, you can then appreciate the role they play.

Types of Curtain Rods

The first thing to consider is the type of curtain rod that you want. It's important to get something sturdy that will work well with the type of curtains you intend to hang. You will also need to know what type of hardware is required to install the rods if you're buying them separately and the hardware is not included.

Decorative Rods

Decorative rods are designed to be seen and are available in a variety of colors, materials and diameters. They can be made of wood, brass, wrought iron, brushed nickel, pewter, verdigris and other materials. A decorative curtain rod is usually paired with decorative finials.

Concealed Rods

Concealed rods are designed to be hidden underneath the drapery. They are often adjustable and usually white or metallic color. Sash, tension and wide pocket rods are usually concealed. Tension rods used a spring mechanism to hold the rod in place, similar to a shower curtain pole. These type of rods should only be used with lightweight curtains.

Cafe Rods

Cafe rods are usually brass, are small in diameter and are often round or fluted. These types of rods work well with tie-tab or hand drawn curtains.

Traverse Rods

Traverse rods are used with the type of curtains that are opened and closed with a wand or cord. Drapery hooks are inserted into sliding holders and the rod is visible when the curtains are open. Two-way traverse rods are the most commonly used type and allow curtains to be moved away from the middle to each end. Most sliding glass doors use one-way traverse rods, where the blinds or drapes can only be moved in one direction.

Special Purpose Curtain Rods

Special-purpose curtain rods are flexible rods that are designed to fit on irregular shaped windows such as bay windows, arched windows, eyebrow windows, octagon windows oval windows and round windows. The crystal-clear rod easily bends to the shape of the window.

Hardware and Accessories

Once you've decided on the type of curtain rod that will look and work best with your drapes or curtains, it's time to decide what type of hardware and accessories will finish the look. Hardware and accessories include:

  • Finials
  • Brackets
  • Sconces
  • End caps
  • Rings
  • Clips
  • Hooks
  • Pulls
  • Holdbacks/tiebacks/swags

Finials and end caps are placed at each end of the curtain rod. End caps give the rod a simple, clean finish, while finials create a dramatic, decorative look. Common designs for finials include balls, spears, knobs, arrows, leaves, stars, scrolls, flowers and abstract designs.

Brackets are the supporting hardware that hold the curtain rod in place. Sconces are a type of decorative bracket that sometimes have fabric threaded through them. Brackets and sconces can be made from a different material than the rod and have different decorative designs such as plants, animals and abstract designs.

Holdbacks, tiebacks and swags can shape drapes and top treatments without being seen, or they can add to the window treatment decor the same as finials and brackets. Curtain rings are usually visible and should complement or contrast with the rest of the hardware. Decorative cords and tassels help complete the look.

Window Treatment Options

There are so many great options for window treatments. It's a good idea to browse through magazines, catalogs or websites to decide which type of window treatment appeals to you the most. The type of window treatment option you choose will be the biggest factor in deciding what type of curtain rod will not only be functional but also serve the decorative purposes that you have in mind.

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Types of Curtain Rods & How to Make the Right Choice