5 Types of Curtain Rods and How to Choose the Right Kind

Glass doors with a long curtain rod and curtain panels on either side

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Correctly sized and properly hung window treatments can make or break a room. Hang curtain panels too low and the ceiling will feel like it's caving in, hang them too high and they won't touch the floor the way they're meant to, but hang them just right and they will be the finishing layer that makes your space feel polished and complete. When it comes to window treatments, it's not just about the curtain panels.

The role of the curtain rods is just as important; there are five types of rods that are commonly used, each serving a slightly different purpose. To choose the right rod, consider the room that it's going in, the size of the window, how heavy the curtain panels are and whether they are going to be taken down frequently to be washed, and if you want a single or double layer of curtains.

  • 01 of 05

    Decorative Curtain Rod

    Silver and brown curtain rod with grayish blue curtain panel hanging on it

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    Best for: any window in your home as well as sliding doors

    A decorative single curtain rod is available in countless styles, sizes and finishes, and is a great way to add an extra decorative touch to your windows. This type of rod is often extendable to fit a range of window sizes and common materials include wood, brass, iron or brushed nickel to name just a few. What makes it unique are the finials on either end of the rod, which come in many shapes and sizes, from sleek, minimalist ones to more ornate and vintage-style ones, and even kids' themed finials. They are removable and simply screw onto the ends of the rod. Their practical purpose is to help keep the curtain panels in place, but they also help dress up the windows and add a nice accent.

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    Tension Rod

    Window with tension rods holding white lace curtains and plants on white stands in front of windows

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    Best for: small windows such as a kitchen window, to hang cafe curtains and other lightweight curtains

    A tension rod, sometimes also referred to as a cafe curtain rod, differs from other standard curtain rods, because it is not a permanent fixture that needs to be screwed into a wall, ceiling or window. Similar to a shower curtain rod you would use in a bathroom, this type of rod is adjustable in length and stays in place by tightly fitting between two walls, or in this case, either side of the window frame. A tension rod is best suited for lightweight curtains used on small windows, such as classic cafe curtains on a kitchen window. Because the rods aren't screwed into the wall, they're easy to "install" and take down, and they're also less expensive than other more permanent options.

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    Double Curtain Rod

    Black double rod with sheer and gray curtain panels hanging on it

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    Best for: larger or double windows

    A double curtain rod is similar in style to a classic decorative rod, except that it consists of two rods to allow you to layer two types of window treatments on one window. It consists of two rods, the front one sometimes being thicker and more ornate. The main benefit of using a double rod is that you can use both sheer curtains as well as thicker panels at the same time, which is especially helpful on very sunny days as well as during the cold winter months. The visual benefit of this type of rod is that it creates extra depth and a more dramatic effect, especially if bold or contrasting colors and patterns are used.

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    Traverse Curtain Rod

    Person attaching curtain panel with pins onto a traverse curtain rod

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    Best for: bedrooms

    Traverse curtain rods have built-in clips that attach to loops on the back of your curtain panel, and a mechanism in the interior of the rod that allows the panel to slide when you open or shut the curtains. This type of rod can be hung on the wall or ceiling and comes in a single or double design, depending on whether you want a single layer of panels or want to layer two curtain types together. It's a great way to create a clean and streamlined look, as the rod is more hidden than a classic single or double rod would be.

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  • 05 of 05

    Motorized Curtain Rod

    Modern living room with beige floor to ceiling curtains

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    Best suited for: living rooms, bedrooms

    The most modern of all the curtain rod types, a motorized rod may make you think of an upscale hotel decorated in a contemporary style. This type of rod is becoming a more popular choice for homeowners, both for its sleek look as well as the convenience. It's remote-operated, so you can open and close your living room or bedroom curtains from the comfort of your sofa or bed, and some higher-end models also come with voice control options. It's also the most expensive of all the rods, and has weight limitations that need to be kept in mind when shopping for this type of rod.

Choosing a Curtain Rod

When choosing a curtain rod for your home, there are a couple of factors to consider and questions to ask yourself. What room is it for? What purpose will it serve? Are you installing curtains for practical reasons or will they be purely decorative? What style and material are the curtains? Answering these questions will help you narrow down what type of curtain rod is the best fit for your space and needs.

For example, say you are looking for a curtain rod for your kitchen window. If it's a relatively small window and you're planning on using a vintage-style lace cafe curtain, a tension rod is the best option, both because of the size of the window and the style and weight of the curtain. A double rod would make no sense, and neither would a traverse rod. Answering the above questions will help you narrow down the right choice and pick the best option for your window.