Curtain rails and poles buying guide

When it comes time to hang curtains, there are two simple, convenient solutions: a curtain track or a curtain pole. While they may sound very similar, there are some important differences to consider in terms of how they will look in relation to your furniture, and how they work.

All curtains and blinds need something to hang from, and the curtains you choose are what decides whether you need a curtain pole or a curtain rail. Pencil pleated curtains tend to require a curtain rail or track, while more contemporary styles of curtain like tab tops or eyelet curtains require a curtain pole

Fortunately both styles are easy to fit and our range of curtain poles come with all the fittings that you need. Have a look at Tesco's buying guide to find out more.

Curtain poles

Curtain poles can bring a more modern look to your room. The design ensures that the pole itself is a feature as opposed to curtains tracks which are hidden. The uncluttered style easily enhances any room, and they are perfect for any home with a contemporary style.

Curtain poles can be used with a wide range of different curtain headings, such as pencil pleat curtains, eyelet curtains, and tap top curtains. The poles can be cut to size, or connected if they are metal. They are also available in wood and plastic as well.

Poles come in a range of sizes, and most can be easily shortened if you have non-standard window sizes.

Curtain pole finials

Curtain pole finials offer a little extra finishing touch to your curtain pole. Finials are the ornamental ends of the curtain pole, they come in all shapes and sizes, as well as materials. From wooden, to metallic, to glass to crystal, you are sure to find a style that matches your curtains perfectly.

How to fit a curtain pole

Fitting a curtain pole is an easy process. You don't need a lot of equipment, just the curtains and pole, as well as:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Drill

The first step is to measure at least 10 cm above the window frame. This decides where the pole is placed. The pole should overlap the window frame at each side by around 15-20 cm, this means that the curtain covers the window and won't block sunlight when the curtains are open. Choosing an oversized curtain pole is also an easy trick to make a small window seem larger.

Use the spirit level along with the tape measure to ensure that the pole is straight. Mark the positions where you want the fittings to go. Now drill the holes in the wall and screw the fittings in place.

As a general rule of thumb, curtains should be measured to be one and a half times the width of the curtain pole or track. Some ready-made pencil pleat curtains are designed to match the fullness of your window, so should match the span of your window.

If you are fitting pencil pleat curtains you need to attach curtain rings to the pole. You need to have one ring for around per 10 cm length of curtain pole. The hooks on the pencil pleats should be place through the curtain rings, and the curtain should hang below the rings, this ensures that they hang evenly.

Eyelet or chrome ringed curtains and tab top curtains are fitted directly to the curtain pole.

Curtain rails

Curtain rails offer a more traditional way to hang curtains and have the major advantage of being completely hidden by the curtain fabric. One crucial concern when fitting a curtain rail or track is to make sure that the track can withstand the weight of the curtains.

For lightweight unlined curtains and voile or net curtains a plastic track should be perfectly capable of holding the curtain, whereas thick-lined blackout curtains may require a metal rail to hold them up.

If you have a bay window, some types of curtain rail can be bent into the appropriate shape should the material be sufficiently malleable, such as aluminium or PVC.

Curtain headings

One of the defining features of any set of curtains are the curtain headings. These fasten the curtain to the track or curtain pole. Ranging from the traditional to the contemporary there are many different types of curtain heading. Read our guide to learn more.

How to fit a curtain rail

Fitting a curtain rail is very similar to fitting a curtain pole. To ensure that the curtains can open fully make sure there is at least 15cm of space at each side of the window. If the curtains are especially thick or full then it may be advisable to have further space still, so there is space to have them fully opened. The equipment you need is:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Drill

Use a measuring tape and a spirit level to mark where the rail should go. As with curtain poles, this should be around 10cm above the window frame. There are three primary ways that you can use to fix the rail to the wall:

Ceiling fixing: This fixes rail to the joists in the ceiling. If joists are not in the correct positions you can also fix it to a wooden batten above the window.

Wall fixing: This allows you to fix the track to the brickwork by using raw plugs and lengthy screws. Or you can opt to fit the rail to wooden battens above the window frame.

Wall brackets: Most of curtain rails come with universal brackets that can be fixed either to the wall or ceiling. Check the information on the specific details of your product.

Fitting curtain rails or poles is an easy process. And with the right choice, they can even add to the aesthetic of your window area. Take a look at the curtains, curtain rails, and curtain poles available from Tesco and you can add some extra colour and style to your home in no time at all.