Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Picking out new curtains for your home can be quite the process. There are material and patterns to sort through, light absorption, pleat style, and numerous other issues to consider. Then, when you think you have the perfect curtains, you have to pick out the size. Just how long should curtains be? Luckily, this part is fairly easy, as most decorators agree on the answer.
Curtains should reach the floor, or extend past it. Several common styles range from stopping half an inch above the floor to puddling excess fabric several inches onto the floor. Shorter curtains around window sill length are only preferred when something prevents the use of full-length curtains.
Continue to learn the different style options, the situations where short curtains might be necessary, and what style you’ll want for each room in the house. Then we’ll help you figure out what size curtain you need and how to hang them. This article will even cover unusual curtain styles – how long should sheers or blackout curtains be? Keep reading to find out.
Should Curtains Touch The Floor?
As a general rule, curtains should touch the floor (or at least close to it). There are a few different style options, but they all agree on one thing. Curtains should be kept about floor-length, with few exceptions. For further reading, see Should Curtains Touch The Floor? [Inc. two cases when they shouldn’t]
For this look, curtains stop about a half-inch above the floor line. These are great in high traffic areas since you won’t have to worry about the material getting underfoot. It also works well for cleaning – no pushing curtains around to vacuum or sweep. This is a less formal style for curtains, ideal for casual and cozy spaces in the home.
This may be the toughest style to pull off, as it’s very precise. Grazing curtains reach the floor, exactly. This means you need to be able to both measure and hang curtains for exactly the correct height. If you’re slightly short, you end up with floating curtains. Slightly too far over, and you have breaking curtains, the next look on our list.
In this style, the curtains gather slightly on the floor. An excess of an inch or two is left, just enough to create a slightly folded, uneven hemline. This is a much more relaxed style than the strict appearance of grazing curtains.
Cons of breaking curtains are that they tend to get dirty faster than the previous styles due to their contact with the floor. If you choose to use this look, consider machine washable curtains to save yourself some hassle.
This one is for high-stakes decorators that love embellishment and flair. Puddled curtains, like breaking curtains, extend past the floor line. Puddled curtains, however, do so in excess, creating pools of at least six inches of material on the floor. This is the origin of the name – the fabric puddles on the floor at the bottom.
Puddled curtains are used to create drama and intensity in decorating, ideal for an ornate space. Like breaking curtains, the biggest con is that all that material on the floor tends to get dirty. In the case of puddled curtains, it may even be stepped on by kids or pets. For this reason, puddled curtains tend to be best in out of the way spots.
Can Curtains Be Too Long?
While curtains can’t really be too long, they can be too long for your situation. Practicality should always be applied in home decorating. Long, flowing puddled curtains that gather on the floor may look great. They may, however, be a ridiculous choice for the window next to your exercise bike.
Curtains look best when they cover the entire width of the window and reach the floor. Naturally, there are times when this is unrealistic. In these cases, it might be necessary to consider shorter curtains.
How Long Should Curtains Hang Below Window Sill?
Sometimes, curtains stopping around the edge of the window sill may be preferred. There may be times when a radiator, countertop, or another piece of furniture interferes with full-length curtains. There are rooms where long curtains can be unhygienic, such as in the bathroom.
When curtains hanging around the length of the window sill are desired, there are two common options.
- Sill-length curtains are the shortest. These stop about 1/2 inch above the window sill.
- Apron curtains reach about one inch past the apron (or bottom edge) of the window.
Be careful to stick within these lengths. If you go any longer, it runs the risk of looking like a mistake. Curtains begin to look as though they were sized wrong for the window, instead of clearly being a deliberate choice for the decor.
Can You Use Long Curtains On Short Windows?
Long curtains are an excellent choice for short windows. Long curtains can make the window seem more proportional and fitting to the rest of the room. It can draw the eye to a window that might otherwise fade into the background.
Don’t let the size of the window affect the curtains you select. Pick curtains based on the style and use of the room, as suggested above. This will make sure that your room looks cohesive and will create unity in the overall design.
How Long Should Bedroom Curtains Be?
Bedroom curtains can, potentially, fit into any of the curtain lengths listed above. Full-length curtains, as always, are preferred. However, there may be situations where full-length curtains don’t fit. For example, if your headboard or a radiator interferes with the curtains. In this case, sill-length curtains may be the most appropriate choice.
If you select full-length curtains, you can pick a length that suits the rest of the room’s decor. For example, puddled curtains work well in a bedroom with a more romantic or dramatic flair. Floating curtains, on the other hand, are a more playful and casual style. Read more here: Should Bedroom Curtains Be Long or Short? and How To Choose Curtains For The Bedroom.
How Long Should Curtains Be In Dining Room?
The essence of a dining room tends to be a more formal and defined space. For this reason, dining room curtains would almost always be full-length. It’s hard to picture a setting where sill-length curtains would be appropriate unless, for example, a heater prevented their use.
Grazing or puddled curtains create the most formal appearance. These styles make the best choice in a dining room. This means that curtains would either touch the floor precisely or pool on the floor for a more ornate look if preferred.
How Long Should Curtains Be For 8 Foot Ceilings?
In standard window construction, there are about 18 inches of space between the ceiling and the window. Curtains generally start somewhere around six inches above the top of the window frame. This means that there’s about one foot between the ceiling and where the curtain rod hangs.
For this reason, curtains come in standard sizes. An eight-foot ceiling will, in most cases, need a curtain that is 84 inches.
How Long Should Curtains Be For 9 Foot Ceilings?
In standard curtain sizes, a nine-foot-high ceiling will use a curtain that is 96 inches. Just like eight-foot ceilings, curtains are basically one foot less than the total height of nine feet.
How Long Should Curtains Be For 10 Foot Ceilings?
Ten-foot ceilings correspond to curtains of 108 inches. As you can see, the pattern is to add 12 inches for every extra foot of ceiling height. If you need to find another size, you can follow this pattern.
There may be times when standard curtain sizes do not work. For example, sometimes curtains hang much higher than the typical 6 inches above the window. This can be done to make windows or walls seem larger or make room for a complicated, layered window treatment. Sometimes the windows themselves are not standard sizes (like in floor to ceiling windows).
If standard curtain sizes do not work for your space, you’ll just have to measure it yourself. For more information on curtain sizing and specifics, read: How Long Should Curtains Be For A 10′ Ceiling.
How Long Should Sheer Curtains Be?
Sheer curtains, in most cases, hang along with another curtain. If they go as part of a window treatment with other curtains, sheers should never be longer than the curtains they are paired with. In fact, it looks best if they are about an inch less than their partner curtain. Read more about How To Layer Curtains And Sheers [6 Suggestions]
In other words, if sheer curtains hang together with grazing curtains (which hit the floor line, exactly), the sheers should be about an inch above floor level. Sheers with apron curtains should be no longer than the window apron, and so on.
Stand alone sheers, used independently from any other curtains, can be as long as you like. Sheers are a good choice for a romantic, wispy look that naturally lends itself to long, flowing, puddled curtains swirling on the floor.
How Long Should My Blackout Curtains Be?
Blackout curtains follow the same rules as decorative curtains, for the most part. Select ones long enough to reach the floor when appropriate. If you are using short curtains, make sure they hang at least 4 inches past the window sill for maximum light-blocking. Ideally, select full-length curtains instead (while you may not filter out any extra light, they still help retain more heat).
If you are looking to install a blackout liner with your current curtains, the liner should be the same size as your current curtains. This liner on Amazon comes in 3 sizes.
Do Curtains Usually Drop After Hanging?
Curtains rarely hang the way you envisioned, straight away. You spend all that time picking them out, doing careful and thorough research. Then, you finally hang them up at home, just to feel a little underwhelmed by the final result. Something just doesn’t look right.
If you’re lucky, curtains might drop after hanging for a day or two. However, it’s more likely that they won’t hang the way you want until they are trained. This involves laying them out, pleating, and gathering the folds as you like. Then, you tie them together at the top, middle and bottom.
After a week or so, the curtains learn to hang this way naturally. They will „set“ as you arranged them, and finally, give you the finished look you desire. You can learn more about this and other common curtain problems here: Do Curtains Usually Drop After Hanging?
The preferred look for curtains is hanging to the floor (or even longer, as a stylized option). Sometimes, it may be necessary to hang shorter curtains about the length of the window sill. This may be because something interferes with full-length curtains (for example, something like furniture, a counter, or a radiator). Shorter curtains may also be necessary for rooms where full-length curtains are unhygenic or impractical (like the bathroom).