Curtains and drapes are one of the most versatile window treatments out there. They can meet every need, from function to fashion.
Curtains are also easier to install and come in a greater variety of materials than any other window treatments. When you purchase blinds, you can only choose from wood, faux wood, aluminum, and a couple of other materials. For shades, as well, you’re limited to fiberglass, polyester, cotton, and a few linens. In comparison, curtains offer more colors, patterns, and textures to choose from. The variety is endless.
Whether you’re crafting diy curtains for home, making and selling curtains for profit, or just trying to make a smart window treatment purchase, it’s helpful to know the differences between your many options. It’s also important to distinguish high from low quality fabrics if you want your curtains and drapes to last.
Are you looking for a sheer finish? More transparent fabric options work well for curtain dividers or to layer over thick drapes for flexible lighting options. Or, are you on the lookout for a more opaque material? If that’s the case, you’ll want a more durable decorator fabric with a tighter weave and a higher thread count.
There are so many considerations to sort through. To streamline the process, we’ve crafted a miniature guide to materials. Here you’ll find the benefits and drawbacks of the most commonly used curtain fabrics and blends.
Pros: Curtains made from cotton hang well and have a crisp finish to them. Plus, they are easy to clean, which is ideal for kids’ rooms or if you have pets in the house. Choose a tighter weave to block light in bedrooms, or opt for a more open weave to achieve a breezy finish for living rooms.
Cons: Because cotton is lightweight, you may need to add a lining to weigh the fabric down so that the curtains hangs straight.
Damask or Brocade
Pros: Damask and brocade are fabrics with intricately woven designs. Thanks to their sophisticated detailing, they are one of the fanciest looking curtain fabrics.
Cons: Due to their elaborate nature, curtains made from damask and brocade are probably the most expensive fabric option. Furthermore, they will need to be lined before hanging them in direct sunlight.
Pros: Eyelet cotton is fantastic if you want to add a bit of texture to a dull room. The embroidery looks classy while the open weave has a more airy look than drapes made from heavier materials.
Cons: Being such a timeless design, eyelet does not come in as many patterns and colors as other fabric options.
Pros: Faux silk, made from silk rayon blends or cotton sateen is durable and practical, and unlike real silk, it can be put in sunlight.
Cons: Depending on the blend, some faux silks don’t last as long as the real thing. Most of them require special laundering, as well.
Pros: Gauze is made using an open leno weave. This makes for a light and playful curtain choice.
Cons: Because gauze is so sheer, it offers little to no privacy or UV protection.
Pros: Lace curtains do a beautiful job of diffusing natural light to create a soft glow in a room. They have an airy feel, and are sometimes machine washable, making for easy care.
Cons: Lace won’t offer complete privacy or light filtering, so they work better as stylistic layering pieces rather than as primary window treatments.
Pros: Linen curtains are known to hang very nicely. They feel billowy and organic, yet durable. In addition, they allow for plenty of natural light while still offering privacy.
Cons: Linen is a dry clean only fabric that wrinkles easily. And while it creates beautiful warmth in a room, it can’t block out light completely like thicker fabrics can.
Pros: Muslin is inexpensive and pleasantly lightweight. Although it is sheer, it is not as see-through as other fabrics such as voile and nylon. In that way, it finds a happy medium in terms of light filtering.
Cons: While offers enough coverage for privacy, muslin will not block out light completely.
Pros: Nylon is more durable and less expensive than its cousin voile, but it is just as sheer. If the curtains are going in a kid’s room or a high traffic area, nylon is a sturdier choice than other open weave fabrics.
Cons: The open weave of nylon net provides limited privacy and light protection.
Pros: Polyester is both sturdy and affordable. And unlike many other fabric options, it won’t wrinkle or change shape.
Cons: Polyester holds its shape a bit too well. Because of this, it limits air circulation, absorbs odors, and stains easily.
Pros: Silk is probably the most romantic and luxurious fabrics on this list. If you’re looking to impress, this is a no-fail option.
Cons: Silk is a dry clean only fabric. Furthermore, it is easily damaged by the sun, so it can’t be placed in a window without a lining. Also note that it isn’t the most billowy of fabrics due to its weight.
Pros: Blends are inexpensive, washable, and wrinkle-resistant. Some blends even come with UV protection.
Cons: Because they are synthetic, they do not last as long as the real thing — a few washes, tops. Also, you should avoid putting synthetic fabrics in kitchens or near outlets since they are highly flammable.
Pros: Velvet hangs nicely and stays in place due to its weight. One of the most plush options, velvet is also great for insulation and privacy, blocking everything from light to sound.
Cons: Velvet is a notoriously expensive fabric. Also beware that it is the heaviest, so you’ll have to find extra sturdy hooks and rods to hang it.
Pros: Voile is an open weave fabric made from cotton or polyester thread. It is lightweight and sheer, making for a delicate finish.
Cons: Voile looks nice for decorative purposes or as a curtain top layer, but it blocks almost no sunlight on its own.