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How to put up a curtain pole

Looking to hang a curtain pole but don’t know the rules? This guide will hold your hand through the steps and ensure it all goes smoothly.

Curtains are great for adding warmth, comfort, and a sumptuous ambience to a room. Putting up a curtain pole might not be as easy as you thought it might be. There’s a lot to riding on that pole being, firstly, straight, and secondly, secure enough to hold your curtains. You’d be surprised how heavy curtains are, so your curtain pole needs to be secure.

This guide will take you through to fit your curtain pole successfully. If you’re unsure your DIY skills are going to stand up to the job, take the pressure off by calling a professional handyperson to complete the task without any disasters.

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How to put up curtain pole in 4 steps

How do you hang a curtain pole on a solid wall?

Want to give this task a go yourself? Here are the tools you’ll and the steps to follow:How to put up curtain pole

  • Drill – Check the instructions for your pole to find out the drill bit-width required.
  • Step ladder
  • Curtain pole
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Level
  • Jigsaw if you need to cut the pole to size

Before you start: This job involves drilling into a wall, so you’ll need to check there are no pipes or cables nearby. You can use a cable detector, or you can call in a handyperson if you are unsure about drilling into a particular wall.

Step one – how to measure to put up a curtain pole

To measure up accurately for your curtain pole, measure the width of the window recess. Then add at least 15cm on each side of the recess to allow the curtains to gather and fully block the light. So you need to be adding a total of 30cm to the recess measurement. This magic number is the width of the pole that you will need.

As curtain poles tend to come in lengths between 100cm – 400cm, choose the one nearest to your requirements and cut to size using a jigsaw. Again, if you don’t feel confident about this part of the job and are worried you might make a hash of it, put in a call to an experienced pro who can help.

You can also purchase extendable poles. These are easy to lengthen and shorten to the desired width. They however are not as secure and tend to fall whenever they’re knocked by someone or even the breeze coming in through the window.

Step two

To ensure your pole is centered above your window, or to measure up for a centre bracket if your pole has one, you need to find the middle of the window. To do this, measure the width of your window and divide it by two, then use a tape measure and pencil to mark the middle.

To get the right height for the pole above the top of the window, use the centre mark and measure between 10cm-15cm above the window.

Step three

To measure for the brackets at either end of the pole, take your total width measurement – the magic number from step one – and mark the endpoints on the wall with a tape measure. Then mark 10cm in from each endpoint to find the perfect position for the brackets.

Step four

This is the fiddly part that will need some DIY skills. Drill the holes for the brackets at each of the marked points, making sure you have the appropriate bit and fixings for the type of wall you are drilling into.

Your pole should come with wall plugs (also known as the brand Rawlplugs), so add them at this stage, again checking you have the correct type for the material you are drilling into. Then fix the brackets using a screwdriver.

You can now fix your pole to the brackets by following the instructions to secure it in place.

If this all sounds a bit too tricky to tackle on your own, then an experienced handyperson is your answer. They will get this job done for you in no time. 

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Tips on how to put up a curtain pole on plasterboard

Don’t be fooled by plasterboard or drywall. It may look solid enough, but it won’t hold a screw, and if you mount a curtain pole incorrectly, you could end up with a hole to patch.

If you bear these tips in mind, you should have a successful window dressing.

  1. Locate a stud to drill into by using a stud detector. If you don’t drill into a stud, the weight of the curtains could tear down the plaster.
  2. To safely secure the brackets in a plasterboard wall, use extra-long screws. This longer length helps spread the weight of the curtains deeper into the plasterboard.
  3. Studs are usually only found every 40-60 cm, so it could be likely there won’t be one where you want to put a bracket – that’s where wall anchors come in. Designed for plasterboard or dry walls with no studs, they will support whatever load is required. Once you’ve attached your first anchor, double-check the position of the second one to make sure they’re aligned correctly, avoiding the need to fit them twice. Then, simply place one end of the curtain pole into the bracket. While holding the other end against the mark while you check it’s straight by using a spirit level.
  4. Not sure if you need a bracket in the middle? It’s worth noting that curtain poles typically require a support bracket every 70 – 90 cm. If your window extends longer than 1.5 metres, you will ideally need two support brackets.

Caution: Be sure to choose your screws and wall brackets carefully – you don’t want to keep drilling and causing more wall damage.

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How to put up a curtain pole without a drill

Whether you’re renting and can’t make holes in the wall, or you simply don’t have the right tools, here are some creative ways of hanging a curtain pole without drilling:

  • A tension rod is the easiest solution for hanging curtains without drilling. It will expand to the width of the window recess, or even across a doorway, and will just stay put.
  • Got metal windows or doors? Use a magnetic curtain rod to hang your curtains. The rod will stick to the metal so you can easily open and close your drapes without worrying about them coming down. Then when you move house, you can take the window dressing with you.
  • 3M Command hooks are an option for slim curtain rods. Simple stick the Command hooks where you would normally fit a curtain bracket (10cm beyond the end of the side windows) and hang the curtain rod on the hooks.

Where people can go wrong: All these fixtures are only suitable for lightweight curtains, such as voiles or linen. If you hang curtains that are too heavy to support, the fixture could pull the plaster off the wall and make a huge mess.

To avoid any costly mistakes ask a handyperson for advice. 

Hanging a curtain pole on a hollow wall

If you have a hollow wall with no studs for fixing the brackets, your options are to use the no-drill solutions above or attempt to fix a drywall anchor and a screw to reinforce the brackets.

Without a drywall anchor, the screw won’t be able to hold the weight of your curtain pole, and you run the risk of pulling the brackets out of the wall. Disaster! Don’t attempt this unless you’re a confident and experienced DIYer.

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How to put a curtain pole up in a bay window

5 steps to put up a curtain pole

These steps are for a bay window with three windows – two side windows and a larger one in the centre. Make sure you purchase a bay window curtain pole set that consists of 3 poles of varying lengths one for each window, 7 brackets, 2 corner joints, and finials if you need them.


  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Drill with a drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Small hacksaw to shorten poles if needed
  • Step ladder

Step one

Using a pencil and tape measure, mark the height where the curtain pole is to be fitted. We recommended between 10-15cm above the top of the window. This is also the height at which the brackets will be fitted.

Step two

Mark the position of the end and centre brackets. The centre one needs to be fixed in the middle of the main window, while the end brackets need to be fixed approximately 10cm beyond the end of the side windows. Drill pilot holes for these brackets and fix them into place using screws.

Step three

The four brackets remaining can now be fitted. Two go towards the bends of the bay  – one at either side of the corner joints, ensuring that they are not too close to the corner joints that they will obstruct them. We suggest placing the brackets at least 15 cm away from the corner joints. Mark and fix these four brackets into place.

Step four

Measure and cut the longest pole first, which is usually for the middle window. Once you’re happy, you can attach the corner joints.

Attach corner joints onto each end of the main curtain pole, but don’t tighten the angles of the corner joint just yet.

Now you can sit this pole on top of the three brackets above the main window. Make sure the center of the pole sits nicely in the center bracket. Tighten the grub screws in the three brackets to hold the pole in place.

A common mistake at this point: Measuring and cutting poles down to the correct length can be challenging and people often cut the poles too short so they don’t reach the brackets.

Step five

Time to measure and cut the remaining side poles. Measure the distance from the end of the corner joint to where you would like the curtain pole to end, and cut the pole to this length. Then push each pole onto the corner joint and sit the poles onto the two brackets which are fixed to the wall.

Adjust the angle of the corner joint as necessary so that the pole sits snug into the brackets. Tighten the grub screws in the brackets to hold the poles in place.

Your bay window pole is ready for your curtains!

A common mistake at this point: Measuring and cutting poles down to the correct length can be challenging and people often cut the poles too short so they don’t reach the brackets.

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How much does a curtain pole cost to be installed by a professional?

Curtain pole installation takes a few hours, with the costs varying depending on how many curtain poles are being fitted. A handyperson will often work on a day rate for larger jobs, which can vary between £60 – £120The average curtain pole fitting cost is £75.

For more information, read our comprehensive guide on curtain fitting costs.

Do you need a drill to put up a curtain pole?

No, there are a few different options you can use instead of drilling the wall, such as a tension pole, magnetic pole, or command hooks. However, these solutions are all for lightweight drapes.

How high do you put a curtain pole above the window?

It’s recommended to fit a pole between 10-15cm above the window, depending on your preference and the space available. Double-check the height from the floor to the pole before drilling any holes, to ensure it is enough for the curtain to drape. You don’t want it gathered up on the floor.

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