How to Hang Curtains Without Drilling

Hanging curtains from a tension rod secured by adhesive hooks

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 5 - 30 mins
  • Yield: Install curtains up to 84 inches
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $15 to $45

Hanging curtains without drilling might seem impossible. If you've hung curtains before, you might be convinced that the project requires screws, drywall anchors, dust, and lots of frustration. Or does it?

No-drill curtain systems avoid wall damage, plus they usually go up faster than the kind that requires screws or nails. Most are portable, making them ideal for renters. So, whether you want to hang curtains temporarily or just prevent damage to the walls, find out how to hang curtains without drilling.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Tension Rod

  • 1 tape measure
  • 1 pencil

Adhesive Hooks

  • 1 tape measure
  • 1 sharp knife
  • 1 roll painter's tape

Pleated Shades

  • 1 tape measure
  • 1 putty knife
  • 1 screwdriver

Tap-In Brackets

  • 1 lightweight hammer

Magnetic Curtain Rod

  • 1 tape measure


Tension Rod

  • 1 tension rod

Adhesive Hooks

  • 2 self-adhesive hooks
  • 1 cafe curtain rod or dowel
  • 2 wood dowel caps
  • 1 spray paint
  • 1 wood glue
  • 2 self-stick broom and mop holders (as needed)

Pleated Shades

  • 1 self-adhesive pleated shade

Tap-In Brackets

  • 2 tap-in brackets

Magnetic Curtain Rod

  • 1 magnetic curtain rod


How to Hang Curtains With a Tension Rod

Tension rods are an easy, dependable, and inexpensive way to hang curtains without drilling or nailing. If you love the showy look of bracketed curtain rods and fancy finials, you'll get the opposite with curtain tension rods. Tension rods are all about getting the job done as invisibly as possible.

Built-in springs within the rod compress and extend, allowing the rod's sections to squeeze together, then push firmly against each side of the window frame.

Thin cafe tension rods are best with sheers or lightweight seasonal panels. Some thicker tension rods are strong enough that they can even be used with heavy blackout curtains. On average, a tension rod will hold 10 to 16 pounds.

  • Simple to install

  • Easy to adjust

  • Can be moved

  • Gap at top of curtain

  • Less stable

  • No middle support

Curtain Tension Rod

Marc Volk / Getty Images

  1. Measure the Space

    With the tape measure, measure the width of the window at the top.

    Measuring the window width with measuring tape

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  2. Purchase a Tension Rod

    Purchase a tension curtain rod that's from 1/2-inch to two inches longer than the window width. The thicker the curtain rod, the more distance it can span. Curtain rods 3/4-inch to one-inch in diameter can cover windows up to 90 inches wide. Longer, thicker curtain rods are often classified as curtain/shower rods.

    Still life of a white tension rod on a wood floor

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  3. Twist the Curtain Rod to Lengthen

    Rotate the smaller section counter-clockwise within the larger section to extend the curtain rod to equal the window opening. Further lengthen the rod so it is 1/2-inch longer than the width of the window for smaller windows (up to around 34 to 41 inches). For larger windows (between 41 and 90 inches), extend the rod up to 2 inches wider than the opening.

    Twisting the curtain rod to lengthen it

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  4. Compress the Curtain Rod

    Press one end of the curtain rod against the side of the window frame. Compress the other end of the rod so that it fits into the frame. Once, in the frame, allow the rod to expand to fit the opening. Test and adjust as needed. The rod should feel tight and firm within the window, but it should not be excessively hard to push it into place. If the rod's length is correct, remove it.

    Extending the tension rod in the window frame

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  5. Add the Curtain

    Slide the curtain onto the rod. Push the curtain toward the middle in order keep the ends two to three inches clear. Install the rod as before. Adjust and smooth out the curtain.

    Adding the curtain to the tension rod

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

How to Hang Curtains With Adhesive Hooks

Self-adhesive hooks come in a plethora of styles for practically any use. Whether you need to hang string lights, jewelry, organizers, pictures, brooms, or spray bottles, you will find a self-adhesive hook dedicated to that purpose alone. Self-adhesive hooks can also help hang curtains without drilling or nailing.

General-purpose medium plastic hooks, often used for hanging small towels, robes, or keys, can also be repurposed for hanging lightweight curtains or sheers on thin curtain rods. Medium self-stick hooks hold up to six pounds per pair.

Hooks hug close to the wall. So, thick curtain rods or rods with large finials (ends) will not fit. Use a thin metal cafe rod, adjustable up to 84 inches. Or use a 1/2-inch by 48-inch wood dowel. Cut to any size you need, the dowel should be capped with 1/2-inch wood caps as finials. The dowel can be painted any color.

  • Easy to place

  • Inexpensive

  • Fast installation

  • Close wall projection

  • Weak attachment

  • Cannot be moved

Adhesive Wall Hooks

AlexWang_AU / Getty Images

  1. Clean the Wall

    If the wall is dirty, it will need to be cleaned for the adhesive to stick properly. Pour one teaspoon of all-purpose cleaner per quart of warm water into a clean bucket. Use with a sponge. Rinse with clean water. Let the surface thoroughly dry.

    Cleaning the wall before hanging adhesive hooks

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  2. Mark the Hook Locations

    Use short strips of painter's tape to hold the hooks in place on both sides of the window. Do not peel the self-stick adhesive strips yet. Stand back, check the positions of the hooks, and adjust as needed. When you are satisfied with the placement, add a light pencil mark above each hook.

    Marking the hook locations

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  3. Stick the Hooks Into Place

    Remove the protective backing from one of the hooks. Line up the hook with the pencil mark and press it firmly into place. Follow by doing the same on the other side of the window.

    Sticking the adhesive hooks in place on the wall

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  4. Let the Adhesive Cure

    Wait at least one hour. The hooks' adhesive needs one hour or more to develop maximum adhesion with the wall.

    Letting the adhesive backing cure on the hooks

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  5. Add the Rod to the Brackets

    Slip the curtain onto the rod. For a cafe rod, add the finials and place the rod into the hooks.

    Placing the rod on top of the brackets

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  6. Add the Wood Dowel Caps (Optional)

    If you are using a wood dowel as a curtain rod, it will need finials to prevent the rod from slipping off of the hooks. First, check to make sure that the curtain can slip over the finials. If so, add the finials with two drops of wood glue to the pocket of each finial. Then, force the finials onto the ends of the dowels and let the glue dry for at least an hour before mounting the rod in the brackets.

    Adding caps to the end of a wooden dowel

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  7. Add a Middle Hook (Optional)

    For cafe rods extended longer than 48 inches, add a bracket to the center of the window or door. First, place the extended curtain rod with the curtain into the left and right brackets. Standing on a chair, hold the third bracket at the center of the rod. Slightly raise the bracket up the wall until it is supporting the center of the rod. Mark the position. Remove the rod and curtain. Add the middle bracket in the marked location. Replace the curtain rod and curtain.

    Adding a center hook to support the curtain rod

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault


For heavier curtains: self-stick broom and mop holders hold up to eight pounds per pair. More importantly, rods up to one-inch in diameter can be clipped in, allowing longer runs without middle supports. The holders must be turned on the side to accept the horizontal rod. The rod snaps satisfyingly into place and resists lateral movement—no need for finials. Though a decidedly utilitarian look, it's a quick no-drill solution for large windows.

How to Hang Self-Adhesive Pleated Shades

If you're looking for quick privacy but also want gentle, filtered light in the room, self-adhesive pleated shades give you that privacy in just a few minutes. Made of paper, these shades are lightweight and easy to raise and lower. Child- and pet-safe with no cords, the shade is lowered or raised by pulling or lifting the bottom edge.

Width is easy to adjust simply by cutting one end with a utility knife or kitchen knife. Length is self-adjusting: raise or lower the shade to the desired height.

Self-adhesive pleated shades are a quick fix, especially if you've just moved into a new house or apartment. Yet shades will not darken a room. Plus, the top adhesive strip may eventually fail due to the frequent downward pulls to close the shade.

  • Fast installation

  • Child- and pet-safe

  • Width and length adjustable

  • Straight cuts difficult

  • Adhesive may fail

  • Non-transferrable to other windows

  1. Prepare the Surface

    Since the continuous adhesive strip attaches to the top of the window frame, the frame must be flat, painted, and clean. If there are curtain or mini-blind brackets, remove them with a screwdriver. Scrape away adhesives with a putty knife. Patch any holes with wood filler, then paint over.

    Removing brackets from the inside of a window frame

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  2. Measure the Window

    With the tape measure, measure the width of the window in three places: top, middle, and bottom. Write down the smallest of the three measurements. Subtract 1/8-inch to produce the final measurement.

    Measuring the inner width of a window frame with a tape measure

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  3. Transfer the Measurement to the Shade

    Use the tape measure and pencil to mark the measurement on the top of the pleated shade. Some paper pleated shades have shipping end caps that must first be removed.

    Transferring the window width measurement to the pleated shade

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  4. Cut the Shade

    Place the shade on a cutting surface like a kitchen cutting board or cardboard. Compress the shade with one hand. Holding the knife perfectly vertical, cut through the entire shade as a stack, from top to bottom. A sharp, large kitchen knife works best for cutting. Do not use a serrated knife. Slowly saw back and forth to cut down through each layer of paper. Be careful of your free hand as you cut.


    Deviating from a completely vertical cut will result in an uneven edge when the shade is down. Keep the cut straight and vertical.

    Cutting the pleated shade to the correct measurement

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  5. Install the Shade

    Peel off the protective strip from the top of the shade. Standing on a chair or ladder, stick the shade to the top of the window frame, carefully centering the shade.

    Installing the adhesive pleated shade to the inside of the window frame

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

How to Hang a Curtain With Tap-In Brackets

Screwing curtain rod brackets into window frames or trim creates large holes that are difficult to patch. But what if you could shrink those holes and shift them to the top of the trim, where no one will ever see them? That's the clever concept behind tap-in curtain brackets.

Two brands of tap-in curtain brackets, Kwik-Hang and Tap Brackets, work much the same way. For windows up to 60 inches wide, two brackets, one on each side, support the curtain rod and curtain. Resting on top of the window trim, each L-shaped bracket has two thin pins on the bottom. Lightly tapping the tops of the brackets secures them to the trim.

Each pair of brackets holds up to 30 pounds. For windows over 60 inches, one center support is needed. For windows over 120 inches, two supports are necessary.

  • Attaches without adhesive

  • Appearance similar to permanent fixtures

  • Heavier weight capacities

  • May separate trim from wall

  • Creates tiny holes on top of trim

  • Might crack trim

Curtain Rod

kschulze / Getty Images

  1. Clean the Trim

    Use a soft cloth to clean off the top of the window or door trim. While this is also a good opportunity to clean the entire length of trim, you only need to clean off four inches at each end.

    Cleaning the top of a window frame

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  2. Place Bracket

    Each kit comes with a left and a right bracket. Start on one side. Standing on a ladder, fit the vertical side of the bracket against the vertical trim. Slide the bracket down until the pins touch the top trim.

    Placing a bracket on the top ledge of a window frame

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  3. Tap Bracket Into Place

    With a lightweight hammer, gently tap the bracket into the trim. Do not tap too hard since trim is fragile and might crack.


    To protect the wall from the hammer, hold a thin piece of cardboard or plastic against the wall or add a protective layer of painter's tape.

    Tapping the window bracket into place

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  4. Tap Other Bracket Into Place

    Switch to the other side of the window or door. Tap the bracket into place in the same manner.

    Tapping the second bracket into place

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  5. Add the Curtain and Curtain Rod

    Separate the curtain rod into two pieces. Slip the curtain onto one side. Reassemble the rod. Standing on a chair or ladder, rest the curtain rod into the brackets.

    Adding the curtain to the curtain rod

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

How to Hang a Curtain With a Magnetic Curtain Rod

For curtain rods that require no drilling, no tiny nail holes, and no adhesive, magnetic curtain rods are the perfect solution. Magnetic curtain rods look just like regular, screwed-in curtain rods: metal, adjustable, two side brackets, and projecting from the wall by about 1-1/2 inches. Magnetic curtain rods are easy to mount on the wall or the door and equally easy to remove—leaving no damage behind.


Magnetic curtain rods come in adjustable widths from 28 inches to 48 inches. Basic finishes such as white, bronze, matte black, and satin nickel are available.

One catch is that they do need to be mounted to a metal surface, and metal is often lacking above or to the side of windows. Plus, only ferrous metal like steel counts; magnets do not stick to aluminum, copper, or brass. Nor are the magnets strong enough to stick to the drywall screws or nails embedded in walls.

Yet magnetic curtain rods will stick to metal trim or any metal elements around windows. They also work well on metal exterior doors with windows that need to be covered.

  • No drilling, no adhesive

  • Easy to install

  • No damage when removed

  • Must be stuck to metal

  • Low weight bearing—2 pounds

  • Short—48 inches maximum


niuniu / Getty Images

  1. Clean the Surface

    With a soft cloth, clean the metal surface. Scrape away any loose paint or dried adhesives.

    Cleaning the area where the magnetic curtain rod will hang

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  2. Separate the Curtain Rods

    Most magnetic curtain rods are telescoping, with one piece inserted into the other, wider piece. Pull the two apart and separate them.

    Separating the magnetic curtain rod

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  3. Add the Curtain

    Slide the curtain onto the larger of the two rods. Slide the narrow section back into place.

    Placing the curtain on the magnetic rod

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  4. Stick Curtain Rod to the Surface

    Telescope the curtain rod to the desired width. Stick the two brackets to the surface. Adjust width as needed. Check level with a bubble level or by eye.

    Mounting the magnetic curtain rod to the door

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault