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How to Properly Measure Your Windows (Free Download)

You’ve envisioned new drapery or blinds for your home’s windows. You’ve found a store that carries the styles you love. You’ve added what you want to your shopping cart and you’re about to hit the checkout button or pay at the register, but you freeze and think, “Did I measure for these correctly? Do I have enough fabric? Will this even look good? Will I have to send them back?” You’re in panic mode and you’re second guessing your choices. If this is you (or has been you in the past), you’ve come to the right place.

We’ll walk you through some helpful tips and guide you through the process of remeasuring your windows, whether you want to incorporate drapery panels, shades, or blinds.

First things first, download our window measuring form. You’ll need to print a page for each window you will be dressing. Or simply screenshot and use your smart device to screen write over top of the form.

Window measuring form

Let’s Get Started

The biggest mistake people make when dressing windows is not spending enough time plotting out each window area. Don’t rush the process. As designers, we sketch our vision out before we begin measuring and we suggest you do the same. Flip over your printed measuring form or find a scrap sheet of paper and draw your vision for each window. This will help focus your time and energy when measuring. 

When it comes to the measuring tape you’ll be using, you’ll want a specific type. You should measure with a 25 foot steel tape that is one inch wide. This is because it is less likely to bend and skew your measurements. It’s important to hold the tape straight while measuring for accuracy. If you find your tape measure is wobbling with wide or long windows it’s a good idea to have a second person available to help you.

Don’t overlook the following details when measuring:

  1. Measure in inches from left to right.
  2. Measure width first and then length.
  3. Measure each window separately even if they seem to be similar.
  4. Start with frame to frame. This is the outside of the window’s molding to the opposite side.


What to Keep in Mind with Drapes

The space available above the frame to your ceiling will help determine the length of the drape. Ready-made drapes typically come in lengths of 63, 84, 96 and 108-inches. Unless you have very low ceilings, we recommend using 96in or 108in length drapes. In most cases you will want your drapes positioned no more than ½ inch above the floor. While you may be drawn to puddled drapes, this style tends to be more formal and doesn’t allow for easy cleaning of your floors. 

Determine if you have enough space on either side of the wall to clear the stack. The stack in design refers to the fabric when it is bunched up and pulled to either side of the rod.

In most cases, if you’re buying ready-made drapes you won’t need to consider what in the design world we call a return. A return is an additional amount of fabric added to the width and is hooked back to the wall to eliminate gaps. As designers, we always incorporate a return of about 3 ½ inches when measuring to ensure a seamless look. If you’re incorporating a layered design with two drapes, a minimum of 4 inches should be added to the width for the return. If you will be layering a sheer panel underneath a thicker panel, the sheer should be 1 inch shorter than the front panel so that it doesn’t peak out at the bottom.

When it comes to hardware, all drapery rods should be installed close to the ceiling and not to the top of the frame. In a room with windows of varied heights, mount your window treatments all at the same height to create a unified appearance. You will want to extend the hardware brackets by at least 4 inches from the frame to help with privacy and lighting. If you’re using hardware rings you’ll need to accommodate the drop and deduct that from the length of the drape you’re purchasing.

What to Keep in Mind with Blinds or Shades

Inside mounts are preferable, but may not always be possible. When measuring for an inside mount always provide the exact window opening size. Don’t take any deductions because most suppliers will deduct about 3/8″ or 1/2″ from the width you designate so that the product won’t rub against the sides of your window. Remember to measure in three places: top, middle, and bottom and use the narrowest measurements. In the form provided, simply draw three lines within the opening of the window to indicate your top, middle, and bottom opening measurements.

If you’re moving forward with an outside mount, consider adding a few inches to the sides, top and bottom for additional privacy and to block more light.

Need More Guidance?

The possibilities with window treatments are endless which can often be overwhelming for many people. Jewel Marie Interiors can step in, whether you are stumped with what to do with specialty windows like bays, arches, and trapezoids or are just wanting a unified space.

Schedule a discovery call today and let us help you with consulting hours or a full-service design to bring out the best in your home.

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