The Different Types of Curtain Rails Explained

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Have you just moved home recently or are renovating a room in your house? If you are looking for a new curtain rail to compliment the curtains that you have lovingly picked out to perfectly match the new room scheme, then you might want to know a bit more about the different types of curtain rails that are on offer.

For example, do you go for chrome or wood? and do you choose a track or pole? The choosing process might not be as easy as you first imagine!

Luckily, we have done the research for you and have compiled all the information you might need on which curtain rails will suit your room scheme. Taking into account the style of the room, the design of your curtains and the aesthetic of the design, you will be able to pick the perfect rail.

We’ve even got a few hints and tips on how to fit it properly and how to ensure that it lines up beautifully in your home. Let’s look a bit more in detail about the different types of curtain rails now and see which ones you think will help change your home from drab to fab!

Table of Contents

What are the Choices?

Curtain rails come in many different types and sizes. It will depend on your curtains as to which curtain rail would suit you best, but more on that later. For now, here are the different types explained:

Wooden Curtain Poles

Wooden curtain poles are the most common curtain poles in homes across the UK due to their simplistic nature and neutral appearance. Available in white or wood tones, these poles will work with almost all curtains including tab top, eyelet and pleated (with the addition of curtain rings).

Metal Curtain Poles

Similarly to wooden curtain poles, these are also widely available and will suit most room schemes. They come in a variety of finishes such as chrome, brushed steel and matte black so it will give your room a more modern feel.

You can also change the finials at the ends of the poles which are available in different designs such as metal balls, crystals and swirled motifs. Again, these poles are compatible with any curtains.

Curtain Tracks

Tracks a useful way to hang curtains in tight spaces, bay windows and large expanses. Curtain tracks are usually made from a strong plastic track that holds the curtains on with connecting hooks that hold the curtains taught to the track.

These tracks are usually fixed closer to the wall than a curtain pole and therefore allow less light in and less heat out. These tracks will only work with pleated curtains and the specific track hooks so are aware of this when buying your curtains.

Corded Curtain Tracks

The difference between corded curtain tracks and standard curtain tracks is the mechanism. With the corded option, you can pull a cord that sits beside the curtain (and within easy reach) which will operate the curtain track hooks and open/close the curtains. Again, you need to ensure that your curtains are compatible with the track hooks before purchasing.

Which Type Do I Need?

As we have discussed above, the type of curtain rail will depend greatly on the type of curtain you have already. If you are purchasing new curtain rails AND curtains, you simply need to ensure that the two are compatible with each other before buying.

If you are purchasing a new curtain rail for existing curtains, then there are a few things to think about.

What type of curtain do I have? If you have eyelet or tab top curtains, then you will need to use a curtain pole. Either wooden, metal or plastic curtain poles will work well with this type of curtain but remember that the smoother the finish on your pole, the smoother the action will be when you are closing them.

If you have pleated curtains (with interfacing at the top to allow space for curtain hooks) then you can either use a curtain pole with rings or a curtain track. Remember that in order for your curtains to hang well, you need to put in hooks every inch and a half.

What Type of Window Do I Have?

Different types of windows and composite doors benefit certain types of curtain rails. A standard curtain pole will really accentuate a stand-alone window or door whereas a curtain track is much better suited to recessed windows and bay windows.

Corded curtain tracks are particularly beneficial for those who have furniture underneath their window or a window that isn’t easily accessible as it gives you the option of opening the curtains from the edge of the window rather than physically leaning over.

How do You Fit a Curtain Rail?

Fitting a curtain rail is actually a bit more technical than you might imagine. In fact, the optimum width of a curtain pole when situated should protrude 15cm to 20cm either side of the window.

Additionally, when deciding how high to put your curtain rail, the optimum height of a curtain pole above the window or door is 15cm. Recently there has been a shift in this thinking with some interior designers choosing to place curtains rails 30-45cm above a window.

This can give the feeling of higher ceilings and a more opulent finish to the curtains but remember that this will depend on the length of your curtains!

When fitting a curtain rail, do remember to use a stud finder to make sure you are securing it in the right place. You need to fix it into a solid part of the wall (this is particularly important in new build houses) otherwise the weight of the curtains will pull the rail out of the wall. Additionally, make sure you check for wires and pipes before drilling.


So now that you have the facts and advice on the different types of curtain rails your home, we hope that you are able to find the experience of curtain rail shopping a little bit easier.

Remember to ensure your existing curtains are compatible and to check your walls before you install your new curtain rail. Happy shopping!