Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Curtains are a decorative element and sun protection in one and give you the opportunity for more privacy within your own four walls. Especially as privacy screens, curtains are a quick and above all beautiful solution with which you can give your home a very special touch.

In our curtain guide, we have compared different types of curtains and listed when which curtain is the right one for you. Here you can find out everything you need to know before and after buying your curtains.




Summary

  • Curtains are privacy protection and decoration in one. They visually enhance rooms and also function as room dividers. Some can even be used as heat, sound and sun protection.
  • A distinction is made between rod, pane, thread and sliding curtains as well as drapes. They differ in material, hanging system, care requirements, appearance and more.
  • You choose the right curtain for you according to the size of your window, the pattern and colour of the wallpaper, the function of the curtain and the care level of the material.

The Best Curtains: Our Selection

Curtains: buying and evaluation criteria

As colourful as the selection of curtains you can buy is, as different are the requirements for them. With our criteria, we want to help you find the right curtain for you.

In the following, we explain what is behind these criteria.

Material

The choice of material is decisive for the type and function of the curtain. The amount of care required also differs depending on the fabric and whether it fades when exposed to strong sunlight.

Curtain fabrics are divided into natural and synthetic fibres, as well as mixed fabrics.

Natural fibres such as cotton, silk, wool or linen are easy to dye and tend to have unevenness in the fabric. They are more difficult to care for than synthetic fabrics, as they can shrink in the washing machine and crease easily.

Artificial fabrics are made from chemically altered natural materials or synthetic fibres. These fabrics are elastic and are characterised by high tear resistance. They are more flexible than natural fibres and easier to care for, as they are usually machine-washable. In addition, they do not fade even when exposed to high levels of sunlight. However, they can become electrostatically charged.

Synthetic and natural fabrics are often woven together to take advantage of the properties of both fibres. Tulle, voile, organza, batiste, chiffon and microfibre are lightweight fabrics and are suitable for decorative curtains. Brocade, velvet, satin, chenille are heavy fabrics from which long curtains can be sewn.

Length / cut

The length and cut of a curtain have an influence on how a room appears. Short curtains can make small windows look larger, while long curtains radiate cosiness.

You should choose the length of a curtain according to the size of the window.

In living rooms, curtain combinations of a decorative scarf and a decorative curtain fit particularly well. The combination consists of a heavy curtain fabric, the decorative scarf, which is hung on both sides of the window.

The deco curtain, which is made of a transparent fabric, is draped between the deco scarves. This curtain combination is usually floor-length at about 200 cm.

Bistro or pane curtains are usually 80 to 100 cm wide and about 50 cm long. Pane curtains only cover part of the window. They are good for small windows and let more light into the room than long curtains.

Floor-length windows need floor-length curtains, while small windows are best decorated with pane curtains. You can also make windows look bigger by placing the curtain slightly above the window. If you want your windows to look wider, we recommend opaque curtains that completely cover the sides of the window.

Appearance

Curtains come in transparent, semi-transparent, opaque and blackout versions. Transparent curtains are see-through from both sides. Semi-transparent curtains are opaque from the outside, but you can see out through them from the inside. Opaque curtains are opaque from both sides but still let light into the room. Blackout curtains, on the other hand, block out sunlight completely.

The colour and pattern should match the room in which the curtain is hanging.

Fabrics are given a special look by heat treatment and weaving techniques. Crash and crêpe are fabrics that have a crimped or creped surface. With burn-out fabric, a pattern is burned into the fabric - this makes the fabric alternately opaque and transparent. However, such patterns can also be woven, as in jacquard, lace or marquisette.

If a room has a patterned wallpaper, the curtain should be plain so as not to create a conflict between the patterns. You can brighten up dark rooms with light colours, while white rooms look more lively with coloured curtains. Children's rooms in particular can be transformed into a cheerful play oasis.

Hanging system

Depending on the size of the curtain and the weight of the fabric, different hanging systems are recommended. You can buy most curtains with sewn-on loops or eyelets in the shop, which are then pulled onto a rod. With heavy curtains, drilling is necessary because the rod must be able to support the weight of the fabric.

Drilling is also necessary for curtain rails.

You attach these above the window and hook your curtain into the rail with the help of eyelet or pleat sliders. The combination of a rod curtain and a sliding mechanism is a curtain rod with an inner runner into which the curtain gliders are hooked. Instead of a rod, the gliders can also be attached to a rope system. However, rope systems are only suitable for light fabrics.

Clamp rods are an alternative without drilling. These can be attached directly to the window frame and are extendable. They fit almost every window and are suitable for short pane curtains. Another option are vitra rods, which are attached to the window frame with adhesive labels.

We attach great importance to this criterion, as attaching hanging systems with a drill requires the right tools and manual dexterity.

Function

Besides framing a beautiful window view or using them as privacy screens, you can also use curtains as room dividers. You can even quickly make messy shelves disappear behind a curtain.

Tightly woven curtains that consist of several layers of fabric can also be used as soundproofing. These curtains also block sunlight.

Some fibres with synthetic content also have a heat-retaining function. They ensure that the heated interior air does not come into contact with the cold windows and thus cool down.

Care requirements

The care required for curtains depends on the material. Some curtains made of natural fibres are not suitable for the washing machine, but must be cleaned by hand.

Before washing, the hanging mechanisms must be removed from the curtains. After washing, curtains made of natural fibres must be ironed, while synthetic curtains are best dried on the rack.

There are special curtain detergents for synthetic curtains that are designed to prevent the curtains from turning grey over time. They also contain brighteners that counteract the yellowing of white curtains.

Curtains: Frequently asked questions and answers

In this section you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions. We present the most important information about curtains and what you should consider before and after buying.

What is the function of curtains?

Curtains are popular mainly for their decorative properties, which give a room that certain something. They are also used as privacy screens to create privacy within your own four walls.

In addition, curtains can also be used as room dividers or to cover shelves. Curtains can also be used as canopies or bed canopies.

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Curtains not only create a cosy atmosphere, but are also good sun and light protection.
(Image source: Justin Schüler / unsplash.com)

Curtains made of natural and synthetic fibre blends have thermal properties. In summer, they help against heat by blocking sunlight. This keeps the room dark and refreshingly cool.

In winter, curtains keep the heat in the room and can thus reduce heating costs. The curtain forms a wall between the warm air from the heating and the cold window, which means that it is less often necessary to reheat.

Dense fabrics are also suitable as noise protection. The dense fabric slows down sound waves and thus softens outside noises.

What types of curtains are there?

You've probably seen them all before - the lace-trimmed window curtains, thick bedroom curtains or panel tracks. In this section we explain what is behind these terms and what advantages and disadvantages they have.

Type of curtain Advantages Disadvantages
Pole curtain Easy to hang and unhang with loops or eyelets, privacy and sun protection, lets natural light into the room, decorative, can be combined in many ways Curtain pole must be drilled into, children and pets play with long curtains and break them
Curtain Opaque, privacy and sun protection, blocks natural light, sound absorber, heat accumulator Drilling into the hanging system, no natural light incidence, unsuitable for people with house dust allergies
Pane curtain short, allows view to outside, easy to hang with clamp or vitra rods, does not get in the way when working in the kitchen, easy to machine wash due to small size little privacy protection, only suitable for small or narrow windows
Sliding curtain or panel track slides through track or panel, floor-length and elegant, stable, no draping or creasing, motor can be fitted in some panels little flexibility, tied to rails, suspension system must be drilled
Thread curtain airy and modern, can be used in many ways as room divider, window decoration, door replacement, insect screen threads can get tangled, depending on material threads attract dust

This list should give you a first overview of the different types of curtains and drapes. You can also combine some of these curtains to create a new look.

How much do curtains cost?

Depending on the length and material, the prices for curtains also vary. According to our research, the following prices are representative:

type price
pane curtain between 5 and 35 euros
rod or rail curtains between 15 and 100 euros
sliding curtain between 20 and 200 euros
thread curtain between 5 and 110 euros
curtain between 20 and 130 euros

These prices change, of course, if you sew the curtains yourself or commission an interior decorator. Interior decorator prices vary according to the size of the window, the material of the curtain and more. It's best to get a quote from several decorators first to get an overview of the necessary budget.

Which curtain fits which room?

What is the "right" curtain for which room depends on many factors. When do you spend time in this room? What do you want to do here? What function do you want the curtains to fulfil?

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Especially in the workplace, it is important to have light-coloured curtains that let a lot of natural light into the room.
(Image source: Raphael Schaller / unsplash.com)

The requirements for curtains change depending on the room in which you hang them. Therefore, the same applies here: Be careful when buying! To help you with your choice, we have prepared a few tips here:

Room Recommendation
Living room If you like to look outside, we recommend a transparent to semi-transparent curtain. Alternatively, you can use long curtains to frame the view outside and thus bring it into the foreground. Light, friendly colours and transparent fabrics create a feel-good atmosphere.
Bedroom For the bedroom, we recommend thick curtains with a darkening effect. This ensures a deeper sleep. Thick fabric keeps you warm in winter, dampens outside noise and protects you from draughts.
Study Two things are important in the study: Avoid distractions and promote natural light. We therefore recommend semi-transparent curtains without patterns that cover the entire window.
Kitchen Our recommendation is pane or bistro curtains that are fitted close to the window. They provide partial privacy, but also allow you to look outside. For the kitchen, we recommend an easy-care version that can be cleaned in the washing machine.
Bathroom Curtains for bathrooms must dry quickly and provide privacy. For the bathroom, we recommend opaque curtains made of synthetic fibres that require little care.
Children's room For children's rooms, we recommend tear-resistant curtains made of synthetic fibres or blended fabrics that are easy to maintain. Colourful patterns offer your child a lively play atmosphere and create privacy.

Tip: Before buying a curtain, think about the function it will fulfil and the environment in which it will hang. In particular, you should consider the size of the window.

What alternatives are there to curtains?

Sometimes curtains are just not the right thing. If that's the case for you, here are the five best alternatives to curtains:

  1. Blinds have slats made of wood, metal or fabric. The slats allow air to circulate, making it easy to regulate the amount of sunlight. However, blinds cost significantly more than curtains, especially if your windows are not a standard size.
  2. Roller blinds consist of a continuous piece of fabric and a ball and chain system that is used to pull the blind together or loosen it. The roller blind comes in different variations that you can choose from, such as the Roman shade or the double roller blind. The roller blind makes it easy to regulate the amount of sunlight. However, they need to be washed by hand.
  3. Window films are applied directly to the window and are particularly suitable for bathrooms and children's rooms. They are inexpensive, easy to clean and can be removed without leaving any residue. However, they can only be used once.
  4. Waterjet-cut metal canvases are an expensive but unique alternative. Here, a pattern is milled into a canvas metal fabric with a water jet. The result conjures up a unique play of shadows in your living space. However, you can usually only get these canvases from a specialist, which is why this alternative can be quite expensive.

When it comes to alternatives to curtains, the same applies: what do you want the roller blind, the venetian blind or the film to do? It's best to make a list of the features you want your window curtains to have.

What do I need to attach curtains?

Most curtains and drapes are hung from eyelets or loops on a curtain rod that you drill into the top of your window. You do the same with sliding panels and rope systems. You will need a drill and a spirit level to align the rod.

For rod, cable and panel suspensions you also need the appropriate screws.

In most cases these are supplied, but this is not always the case. Always read the product description carefully and, if necessary, buy the right screws at the DIY store.

You can hang pane curtains on the window with clamp or showcase rods. You don't need any additional tools for clamping rods, but can simply clamp them in the window. You need special hooks for glass curtain rods, which you glue to the window frame. Then place the rods on the hooks.

How do I wash curtains properly?

The right way to care for your curtains depends on the material they are made of. Natural fibres are often more delicate than synthetic fabrics and should therefore be washed by hand.

If your curtains are machine washable, we recommend washing them at 30°C for easy care. Remove all hanging mechanisms before washing and use a curtain detergent if necessary. The detergent prevents the curtains from turning grey. A fabric conditioner makes it easier to iron your curtains after drying and they stay clean longer.

Synthetic curtains should be hung damp at the window to prevent creasing. Natural fibre curtains, on the other hand, need to be ironed.

Large curtains that do not fit in the washing machine can be washed in the bathtub. Put the curtains in warm water and then add detergent. If you want to remove strong odours, add baking soda to the water. Soak the curtains for half an hour and remove stains by rubbing gently. Then rinse thoroughly and hang to dry.

In difficult cases, you can also take your curtains to a professional cleaner.

Which curtains are suitable for house dust allergies?

If you are allergic to house dust, two criteria are important for you: the amount of care required and how quickly the curtain attracts dust. Both are a question of the material - we recommend synthetic fabrics or fabric blends that you can wash with curtain detergent. The detergent contains inhibitors that delay the dusting of the curtain.

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For people who are allergic to house dust, it is especially important to wash curtains regularly. This is the only way to prevent dust from accumulating in the fabric.
(Image source: Memories on 35 mm / unsplash)

In terms of maintenance, sliding or pane curtains are the best choice for you. The lightweight material swallows little dust and is easy to clean. Mite sprays also help to prevent the spread of dust mites in your curtains. Curtains, on the other hand, should be avoided.

How do I dispose of curtains properly?

You can dispose of a clean, well-cared-for curtain in an old clothes collection. Second-hand shops or charities such as the Tafel are also happy to accept old curtains. Online second-hand sales are also an option.

If your curtains are very dirty or torn, you can dispose of them in your household rubbish bin. If you have a large quantity of curtains, the recycling centre is the right place to go.

If the fabric is still usable, there are environmentally friendly alternatives - for example, you can reuse your old curtains as cleaning rags.

If you want to throw away your curtain rods or other hanging mechanisms, take them to the recycling centre. Alternatively, you can dispose of them in the bulky waste. Curtain rods made of metal or wood should be recycled at the recycling centre.

Conclusion

Curtains are real all-rounders. They come in a variety of shapes and materials to suit any window. Before buying, you should consider what function you want the curtain to fulfil, what length is suitable for your window and whether you are prepared to drill the hanging system.

Pane curtains are easy to hang and are particularly suitable as kitchen curtains because of their length. String curtains also work as room dividers, while rod curtains capture a living room look particularly well. Sliding curtains are a real eye-catcher for floor-length windows and are very suitable for people with house dust allergies. Curtains give you the best sleeping experience. After buying your curtains, take good care of them and wash them regularly.

Photo source: Kuprynenko/ 123rf.com

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