Drapery hardware is a huge mystery to those who do not manufacture or install it. Many clients of mine will stare up at their windows and look at me, a blank look on their faces, and say “I don’t know what to do. How do we hang it?” I generally smile back and respond with a bunch of technical information and then let them know that I’ll just email them some finial options for their decorative rods, or I’ll pull a piece of I-beam out of my bag and hold it up for them. The explanation of the hardware ends up taking up more time than deciding on the actual style of the drapery and its glorious fabric. Here are some basic hardware options, and their applications.
I-beam is generally made of aluminum and comes in white for most drapery applications. Any pleated drapery can be hung on I-beam through the rings that hand off of it. While the hardware itself isn’t considered decorative, it’s very versatile. This type of beam can be clipped together to virtually any length imaginable. It’s pliable, so can be bent around corners and along rounded window areas such as bay and bow windows. It’s quite narrow and while it can be installed on a wall or ceiling, it’s not super noticeable so long as it’s installed against a light coloured wall or white trims or ceilings. I-beam is also easily used in layers, for instance, for sheers and drapery treatments, without taking up much space. They also allow full motion, meaning there is nothing to obstruct a drapery panel from moving freely along the entire length of the track.
I-beam is the least expensive of all drapery hardware options. That being said, any good designer isn’t going to suggest I-beam for very visual areas. I use it often under bulkheads where the hardware is hidden, or under valances, where it is also hidden. In budget conscious homes, this is a good solution, so long as the hardware isn’t too obvious. For side panels, this is also a great idea as the ends can be turned towards the wall and the drapery can completely hide the beam.
KS Track is a great option for a slightly nicer version of an I-beam. It is very narrow, so perfect for tight spots, and isn’t as unsightly as an I-beam overall. I use this track in situations where we have very little space between the top of a window and a ceiling. In so many homes and condos now, the windows are literally floor to ceiling. This track is the perfect solution as it fits snugly against the ceiling, leaving no necessary gap above the top of the drapery. I love this for blackout drapery. Who needs a line of sunshine sneaking in above the drapery when sleep is so desired?
Traverse rods come in specific adjustable lengths, starting at 30”-48” up to 160”-300”. They have rope pulley systems, which can either pull one way (left or right) or split in the middle and pull drapery to both sides. These are very traditional but functional drapery tracks. BUT, really not very sightly. In most cases, these tracks are used in ‘hidden’ applications, such as suggested above in I-beam tracks. The function of these makes life easy. No worries about dirty hands touching drapery and no one pulling drapery too hard and inflicting damage on your fabric or rod. The many sizes do make this track versatile, yet if your project is any larger than about 300” (rare J) then you might not go this route.
Decorative rods are just that! Decorative wood or metal poles with pretty finials and lovely rings that hold up your drapery in style. These rods are the most popular rods for drapery installation now. They are available in multiple colours and finishes. You can even get unfinished wood and stain it to match your décor! They can be used in bay and bow windows, on walls or ceilings and can enhance your drapery and style. Some issues with drapery rods are space and weight restrictions. When installing above a window, you need enough room between the top of the window frame and the ceiling or crown moulding above, to install the brackets, or you need to install on the ceiling. The rods also can bend if enough weight is hung on them, and so extra brackets are needed and may obstruct drapery movement. In the right application, drapery rods are great, and if they aren’t a simple option, the Gods of Window Coverings have invented the hidden track decorative pole!
Hidden Track Decorative Rods
These are amazing! They look just like rods, except instead of using rings to hang drapery, an I-beam or traverse rod can be installed into a cut out section of the rod, with special rings that allow full motion. Therefore, you get the ease of use of an I-beam or traverse, and the beauty of the decorative rod. The options are a bit more limited, but the solution is just fabulous!
The best way to go about doing window treatments is to get a professional involved. We measure, calculate and ensure that no costly mistakes are made! For a consultation, if you live in the GTA or nearby, give us a shout!
Have a terrific day!