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Rods and brackets are typically sold separately from curtain panels, giving you more flexibility in style, finish, and size. Emerie Forehand, a designer at Decorist, recommends looking at fixtures in a room and continuing that theme in curtain hardware. "If the room is sticking to brass, then I go with brass."
We compiled buying tips from Forehand and Nicole Fisher of BNR Interiors, then researched standout options for different rooms and decor schemes. Our top choice is Pottery Barn's Curtain Rod & Wall Bracket, a high-quality, versatile set that comes in a range of sizes and finishes.
Here are the best curtain rods for every taste and budget below.
Best Overall: Pottery Barn Pewter Curtain Rod & Wall Bracket
Five finishes available
Finials sold separately
Pottery Barn carries our favorite curtain rods. Part of the Curtain Hardware Collection, the Curtain Rod & Wall Bracket is a high-quality set made of steel or cast iron. It comes in several finishes to match the fixtures in any home, including brass, antique bronze, pewter, cast iron pewter, and matte black. You can choose from two rod diameters (0.75 or 1.25 inches) and five sizes. Since each size expands, the adjustable fit can accommodate windows between 28 to 144 inches wide.
This rod and bracket bundle comes with all the mounting hardware you need for installation. You can select different decorative finials, too, like clear acrylic, marble, bronze balls, or vintage-inspired mercury glass. These end caps are sold separately, but you can forgo finials for a more modern, streamlined look.
Pottery Barn's curtain rods are on the pricier side. Still, it's hard to beat the durable design, adjustable sizes, and finish options—not to mention the versatile, customizable look.
Best Budget: Wayfair Basics Adjustable Single Curtain Rod
Six finishes available
Low weight capacity
We recommend the Wayfair Basics Adjustable Curtain Rod for households on a budget. This curtain rod is available in two adjustable sizes, offering a width scope between 28 to 86 inches. It comes in six finishes to complement a range of design schemes, including black, bronze, champagne, soft brass, dark brown, and white.
In addition to the telescoping rod, you get decorative spherical finials, brackets, and all the necessary mounting hardware. However, this set only supports curtain panels weighing up to 7 pounds, so it's not ideal for heavier drapery. And while we wish it came in more sizes, you really can't beat the price.
Best Tension: Cambria Premier Complete Curtain Tension Rod
Not ideal for heavy curtains
Unlike their hardware-mounted counterparts, tension rods simply extend within a window frame and are held in place by the tightness (tension) of the snug fit. We like the Cambria Premier Complete Curtain Tension Rod, which is made of plated metal and boasts a traditional aesthetic. It comes in four finishes, including brushed nickel, graphite, dark matte brown, and oil-rubbed bronze.
This telescoping rod is available in two sizes, fitting in window frames 30 to 90 inches wide. Since you don't need to mount it with a bracket, it's super easy to install—no tools necessary. While tension rods aren't ideal for heavier curtains, this is a great option for renters and anyone else who may not want to drill into their walls.
Best for Blackout Curtains: Umbra Twilight Expandable Blackout Curtain Rod
Panels hang flush
True light-blocking effect
If you're hanging blackout curtains, consider a wrap-around design, like the Umbra Twilight Blackout Curtain Rod. Also called a "French return," this rod curves inward at either end, allowing curtain panels to hang flush against the wall. As a result, you can enjoy a true light-blocking effect without any cracks or slivers of outside light.
Available in four sizes, the telescoping bar fits windows between 28 to 144 inches wide and supports 22 pounds of weight. You can choose from four colors, too, including nickel, brass, and bronze. Installing the screw fittings to the center brackets might be tricky, but if you buy from Amazon, you can add professional installation to your order.
Best for Heavy Curtains: Home Decorators Collection Mix and Match Telescoping Single Curtain Rod
Could damage flimsier walls
Only two sizes
This heavy-duty Mix and Match Telescoping Single Curtain Rod from Home Decorators Collection boasts an impressive 39-pound weight capacity. It's sturdy enough to support blackout curtains, velvet panels, and other heavy drapery. Just bear in mind that if your drywall is somewhat flimsy and you don't mount it to studs, the durable design could fall off and potentially damage your walls.
Though there are only two sizes, the telescoping poles can accommodate windows between 36 to 144 inches wide. This steel set comes in brushed nickel, gunmetal, matte black, and oil-rubbed bronze, with all the hardware you need for installation—plus two simple finials.
Best Wood: Bee & Willow Amos Single Curtain Rod Set in Natural Oak
Only one finish
"I love a wood rod," says Fisher, explaining that the material is sturdy but also aesthetically pleasing. If you're interested in outfitting your windows with a rustic-looking accent, check out the Bee & Willow Amos Curtain Rod Set. While it only comes in one finish, the natural oak offers a down-to-earth appeal.
The rustic aesthetic is balanced with traditional carvings and round finials at each end and comes in three sizes. The adjustable rods can fit window frames between 28 to 144 inches wide and support curtains up to 15 pounds. In addition to the pole, the kit comes with decorative finials, brackets, and all the necessary mounting hardware.
Best Double: Crate & Barrel End Cap Finial and Double Curtain Hardware Set
Adjustable filtration and privacy
High weight capacity
Double curtain rods allow you to layer window treatments such as sheers and light-blocking panels, offering customizable light filtration and privacy. If you're a fan of the layered look, we like Crate & Barrel's End Cap Finial and Double Curtain Hardware Set, which is made of a durable iron-zinc alloy and supports up to 40 pounds, depending on the size you get.
Three sizes are available, each with a telescoping rod to accommodate windows between 40 to 170 inches. You can also choose from two pole diameters (0.75 inches or 1 inch) and four finishes, including brushed nickel, matte black, brass, and chrome. While this set is priced pretty steeply, it comes with four finials, double brackets, and all the necessary installation hardware.
Best Customizable: The Shade Store Steel Hardware Curtain Rods
Ample design options
Nine finishes available
If you want complete control over your curtain rods, the Steel Hardware Curtain Rods sets from The Shade Store are totally customizable. They come in single or double-rod bundles with poles as small as 12 inches or as long as 360 inches. You can opt for a wall- or ceiling-mounted design and choose whether to include matching rings in your order.
Nine different finishes are available, including chrome, nickel, stainless steel, satin brass, polished brass, and antique bronze. Beyond that, you can choose from three finial styles. When all is said and done, this set is undoubtedly expensive. However, you can request a free window measurement before ordering for more peace of mind about your purchase.
What to Look For in a Curtain Rod
When buying curtain hardware, Fisher says to consider whether your drapes are light-blocking or more decorative. "The best blackout rods are a French return that totally seals the window," she explains. "For a decorative rod, anything works."
Fisher personally likes the look of wood rods, though metal can be lovely too. "I use metal rods on a cafe curtain where it's a lightweight fabric and a daintier look."
Forehand looks at the finishes of doorknobs, drawer pulls, lights, and other fixtures throughout a home to decide which color curtain rod to get. "If the style of the room is modern, I go with sleek looks and less ornate styles," she says. However, Forehand notes that some spaces feature multiple metal finishes, which gives you "a wider range of selections."
Lastly, be sure to measure (and re-measure) your windows before ordering curtain hardware. Many rods are telescoping, meaning the length is adjustable. Still, they often come in multiple sizes, so there's a chance you could accidentally order one that's too small or too large.
How do you hang a curtain rod?
First, figure out whether you're going with an inside or outside mount style. For outside mounting, you need to determine how high you want the rod to go (a few inches below the ceiling or a few inches above the window frame is usually good).
Use a pencil to mark where the brackets will go, either inside the frame or at least four inches out on either side. Next, attach the brackets with a screwdriver or electric drill. Then extend the pole to your desired width, and place it onto (or through) the brackets.
Can you hang curtains without a rod?
It's possible to hang curtains without a rod. Fisher explains how she pulled it off in her office space to hide an "unsightly" wood-paneled wall. "My solution was to cover it with curtain panels and use nail heads to secure it in place. No damage was done, and it was simple to do."
However, Fisher's technique would likely limit your ability to open and close the drapes. Another option is to get a tension rod. Instead of mounting to the wall with drilled-in brackets, the telescoping poles just extend within a window frame. They stay in place due to the tight fit, similar to some shower curtains.
How far should a curtain rod extend past your window?
"I like to extend my rod at least 4 inches past the window," says Forehand. "This will allow the curtains to open for the daytime light." But if you're going for a fuller look or want to fake a larger window, both Forehand and Fisher suggest extending the pole 8 or 9 inches outside the window frame on either side. On a similar note, we recommend longer curtain panels to create the illusion of taller ceilings.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a commerce writer and product reviewer specializing in home improvement, interior decor, and textiles. Theresa covers window treatments, bedding, and sleep products at The Spruce. You can read more of her work on Travel + Leisure, MyDomaine, People, Verywell Mind, and Byrdie.
For this article, she interviewed Nicole Fisher, owner and principal designer of BNR Interiors, and Emerie Forehand, an interior designer at Decorist, who offered buying tips and styling guidance. She then looked at dozens of options from a range of brands and retailers. She has a Pottery Barn curtain rod at home and is all-around pleased with the quality and value.