12th Nov 2021

How to Measure a Bay Window for Curtains

 How to Measure a Bay Window for Curtains

A bay window is a gorgeous feature for any room, but it can make measuring for curtains a bit daunting. Do you use separate tracks and panels for each section? Can curtain poles or tracks be bent or shaped to fit? Should you use poles or tracks in the first place? We’re here to answer all of these questions and more in our bay window measuring guide.

Should I Use Curtain Poles or Curtain Tracks?

In short: it depends. The shape of your bay, the style of your home, the weight of your curtains - these will all affect whether you choose curtain poles or curtain tracks. Curtain tracks are more subtle than poles, so if you’re looking for something simple, they might be the best option. Many of them are also flexible enough to be bent to the shape of your bay.

What is the best curtain pole or track for a bay window?

As mentioned above, curtain tracks are a good bet for bay windows as they are flexible enough to be bent to the shape of your window.

However, you can buy metal bay window curtain poles. These use a series of slots cut into the pole to create flexibility and a smooth bend. Alternatively, you can buy bay window curtain pole kits which use a knuckle joint system. In this, straight poles are joined by a series of bendable joints to create the angles needed. This enables you to use either wood or metal curtain poles. As they are smooth and curved, the curtains can be pulled over them easily.

An alternative to the above is to treat each window of your bay as a separate window and buy separate poles or tracks accordingly. This may be a better option where the individual windows have wider spaces or sections of wall between them. In this case, you can just measure up each one as you would any regular window. 

It’s really up to you, whether you choose poles or tracks, but if you want to hang heavier curtains, you’ll need to use poles, as they tend to be able to support more weight.

How to Measure for Bay Window Curtain Poles

What you’ll need:

  • a tape measure (use one that has a flexible metal strip)
  • a step ladder or step stool
  • a protractor to measure the angles
  • a pen or pencil and a piece of paper to note down your measurements

Start by measuring the distance from the ceiling to where you want your curtain pole to sit. If you have 15cm or more, you can use a wall bracket or ceiling bracket. If less, then you’ll need to use a ceiling bracket.

The next step is to start measuring your windows. Measure above the window where the poles will be fitted, rather than the windows themselves. Measure the width of the first window up to the angle with the next one, then keep going until you’ve measured all 3 (or 5 if a 5-sided bay). Add an extra 20-30cm to the first and last sides to give you space to pull the curtains back when they’re open.

Add up the total and you’ve got your full measurement for the width of your curtains.

The final step is to measure the drop. Here you need to measure the distance from where your pole will be installed to where you would like your curtains to finish. So, here you need to consider whether you want your curtains to graze the floor or sit just above it. You’ll also need to take into account any furniture or radiators in your bay.

How to Measure a Bay Window for a Curtain Track

If you’d prefer to use a curtain track to hang your curtains, the process of measuring for a track is much the same as measuring for a pole. Take the full measurement of all windows in the bay and add an extra 20-30cm each side. Then measure the drop - the distance from where the track will sit to where you want your curtains to finish.

How to Measure a Curved or Circular Bay Window for Curtains

The above processes are for bay windows with 3 or 5 distinct, angled sides. But what if you’ve got a curved bay window instead? In this case, as we’ve mentioned, curtain tracks can easily be curved to fit the shape of your bay. You can buy curved curtain poles, but it’s likely that you’d need to have one specially made to your measurements.

To measure your bay, if using a pole, first measure the distance straight across from one side to the other. Then, measure the distance from the centre point of this line to the centre of the curve of your bay. If you’re using a track, one way you could measure would be to run some string round the curve of the bay, allowing the extra 20-30cm for the curtains to be pulled back, and then measuring the string.

Voila! Now you’re ready to choose your curtain pole or track and hang your lovely new curtains? 

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If you need more helpful advice or some inspiration, check out our blog for more!

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