What’s the Difference Between Curtains and Drapes? How to Choose the Right Look for Your Home

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When it comes to window decor, there are many treatments to choose from. Curtains, drapes, sheers, shades, blinds, shutters, valances – the list goes on. How do you know which option is best for your space? 

Today we’ll focus on the difference between curtains and drapes and how to choose the right look for your home.

The Difference Between Curtains and Drapes

If you don’t have an eye for interior design, selecting the right window treatments for your home can be challenging.  

While the words ”curtains” and “drapes” are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same. Both are window coverings, but do you know how they differ?  

Today we’ll explain common window treatment terms, the differences between curtains and drapes and how to decide which one is right for each room in your home.

Window Treatment Terms

Let’s start the conversation with some common window treatment terms:

  • Curtains: Fabric panels used to cover windows. 
  • Drapes: Window coverings made of thicker, more substantial fabric.
  • Valances: Decorative drapery hung across windows to conceal the top of curtains and fixtures.
  • Sheers: Window coverings made from translucent fabric that is almost see-through. Sheers are used alone or with drapes to diffuse light while providing some privacy.
  • Blinds: Window coverings with slats made of wood, vinyl or metal. Blinds are adjusted with strings to let in light, and can be horizontal or vertical.
  • Shades: Unlike blinds, shades can only raise up or down. They are made with many different materials that can let in light or provide privacy. Popular shade styles include roller shades, Roman shades and cellular shades.  
  • Shutters: Interior shutters are most often made of wood, and have louvers that can be opened or closed with a tilt rod.

Next, let’s break down the biggest differentiators of curtains vs. drapes.

What Are Curtains?

curtains-difference between curtains and drapes

Style: Casual and modern 

Functionality: Opened and closed often for light and privacy

Care: Most standard curtain fabrics are machine-washable, but delicate fabrics should be hand-washed or dry-cleaned

Curtains are fabric panels that are typically sold in pairs. The most popular choice of window décor, curtains are widely available in a variety of widths, lengths, fabrics, colors and patterns.

Learn more about different types of curtains.

Curtains (also called curtain panels) tend to be made of lighter fabrics like cotton and polyester and can be opened and closed quickly, making them an excellent option for high-traffic areas. Curtains are cost-friendly and easy to clean.

If you like the casual look of curtains but also want privacy, you can layer curtains with sheers, blinds or shades. Because of their versatility, curtains are used in everything from homes, apartments and dorm rooms to offices and restaurants.

What Are Drapes?

drapery- difference between curtains and drapes

Style: Traditional and formal 

Functionality: Mainly for decoration and to block out light, but can also help reduce noise, add insulation from cold and heat and block drafts

Care: Most drapes are dry clean or spot clean only

Elegant and formal, drapes make a statement. If curtains are light, casual and versatile, drapes are their more dramatic cousin, typically made of thicker, luxurious fabrics like damask, silk and velvet. Most drapes are custom-made to fit exact window specifications and considered to be a more expensive, high-end window treatment.

Drapes are usually operated with drawstrings that keep folds uniformly spaced, enhancing their stately appearance.  They can be hung just above the floor or “puddled,” pooling slightly on the floor. 

Consider using drapes for formal settings — such as dining rooms, living rooms and high-end restaurants and hotels — to create a swanky, sophisticated feel.

See how to hang curtains the right way. 

How are Curtains and Drapes Similar?

Now that we’ve talked about the differences between curtains and drapes, how are they similar?

  • Both curtains and drapes can lighten or darken a room even when open, depending on their color and fabric. For example, ivory window coverings light a room very differently than navy window coverings, whether they are curtains or drapes.
  • While only curtains can be short (like cafe-style curtains), both curtains and drapes can be long, touching or even pooling on the floor.

Most drapes are made of heavy fabric, blocking light when closed. Shorter, blackout curtains or curtains with liners can also block light and reduce noise.

How to Choose Between Curtains and Drapes

When it comes to curtains vs drapes, the window coverings you select will depend on the style, usage and size of your room.  

Here are a few scenarios to help you select the best option.

SCENARIO CURTAINS DRAPES
You want something fun and light. 

X 

You want to make a formal, dramatic statement. 

 X

You want to block out light and noise.   

X 

You’re looking for a sheer option. 

X 

 
You need versatile, washable window treatments that stand up to kids and dogs. 

X 

You adjust your windows throughout the day and want something that’s easy to open and close.

X 

 
 You want to add insulation to a room or block drafts.           X

 

You have a limited budget and want a worry-free option. 

X 

 
You want to invest in window treatments that will last a lifetime. 

X 

You’re moving and want reusable window treatments you can quickly take down and reinstall. 

X 

 

Still confused? Ping us with your curtain questions on Facebook. 

Hang Curtains and Drapes in Minutes With Kwik-Hang Curtain Rod Brackets

Whether you select curtains or drapes for your home, hanging them is a time-consuming, frustrating challenge — but it doesn’t have to be.  

Ditch the tools and try Kwik-Hang’s curtain rod brackets instead. With Kwik-Hang’s ingenious technology, you can install curtains in a matter of minutes without damaging your walls. Plus, Kwik-Hang brackets can hold up to 20 lbs., making them the perfect solution for both curtains and drapes.  

Can’t wait to install your new curtains or drapes? Try Kwik-Hang today.

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