When we moved into our new home, we had nothing on the windows. No blinds. No curtains. No shutters. Nada. I knew that we had to have some kind of privacy yet I was stumped. Frankly, I didn’t want to shovel out the money for the custom shutters that are mighty beautiful and I’m not a blind lover. In actuality, blinds scare me more than anything. You always hear the horror stories about kids and blinds. Yeah… no dice. I know there are cord-less options out there and that’s what we have in our daughter’s room, but for the whole house? That’s a lot of dust collecting and not really my style. After I talked my husband into it, I decided to do the whole house with curtains with no blinds underneath. So, I went shopping! (wahooo?) No.
Curtain and curtain rod shopping yielded unsuccessful results. Why do they have to cost so much? Or why do the inexpensive ones have to be such poor quality? It doesn’t make any sense. Perhaps it’s changed in the past 2 years, but I’m not so sure. The real kicker was my back windows. I have nearly a full wall of windows (three windows altogether). It needed a minimum 12-foot rod. Eeekkkk.. The ones I found (that I liked) were too expensive to buy. Ding, ding, ding! Why not make?
I remember perusing through Pinterest and seeing plumbing pipes used as rods. What a brilliant idea! To the hardware store I went. Now… what no one tells you about piping is that there are different widths, lengths, some are already cut to certain lengths, and others not yet cut. Thank you kind worker at Home Depot for bearing with me while I muddled through the choices and fittings. After doing my homework, I decided on a ¾” diameter pipe for all. The fittings were plentiful and learned that most curtain rod hooks are a standard 1″ diameter. The ½” pipes looked too skinny and the 1″ ones looked and were too thick for my hooks.
And, have a mentioned that they are all super affordable? Even when Home Depot had to re-thread and make cuts to a virgin pipe, depending on who you got and how friendly you were, you may get one at a discount or free. The flanges are the most expensive. I think they were $6 each. The nipples were about $1.50 each and the elbows $2.50 each. And lastly, a 48″ pipe is $13.50. A standard window should be only about $33.50. Very comparable to a store! May be even cheaper… My 12-footer was roughly $60 to make. I couldn’t find that length in a store for less money. The one that I was in love with at Pottery Barn would have set me back hundreds. There’s other things I would want and did with that money spent.
Now, curtain rod hooks are tricky. The ones that I found that worked best were the rod clips from Target. They had them in stock and in multiple colors (bronze, black, and silver). So easy, almost too easy! I really went with the clips because once the pipes are up, they’re not coming down. If you want to switch up curtains, then there would be a whole lotta holes in your wall. Plus, with a kid running around, the clips “release” if pulled on. I don’t have to worry about that at all. They’ve been up for two years and so far, (knock on wood) none have lost their clamp. Word of the wise… I got 7 clips per curtain. Odd numbers always seem to look best. I’d make that your “magic number”.
It’s very, very important that you measure precisely and add a few inches to each side. The flanges that you’ll need to hang have about an inch extra slack diameter around. For example, if you have a standard window at 36 inches, I’d add an inch or two for trim on each side, a few inches for where your curtains will lie when open (side note: personal preference… I prefer to use every square inch of my natural light available to come through. You may not. It’s up to you), and give yourself about an inch and a half buffer on each side of the trim. Hint: 48 inches are the size that Home Depot has pre-cut! It seems pretty easy but measure each window casing. They may look the same but are likely not!
Back to the hardware store…. here’s what you’ll need for each curtain: two flanges, two nipples, two elbows and the main pipe. Keep in mind that longer rods like my 12-footer, need a center support or a third flange, extra nipple, and what I like to call a T-connection joint. Another thing to think about is how far you want off the wall, there are tons of different lengths for nipples. I like the 2″ ones for curtains. Remember, the elbows add about ½” and the flanges about a ¼”. It’s your call though! You don’t want them to come off the wall too much though.
To assemble, take a flange, tighten the nipple and connect the elbow, and then in to the elbow goes the pipe. Do the same with the other side. I highly recommend NOT over-tightening any of your joints. You will find that if you make too tight, your fittings won’t line up. Keep your flanges loose until hanging.
To make your piping pretty before you hang (unless you like the words printed on the side look), spray paint your pipes once they’re all put together before you hang. I personally like the Rust-Oleum paint. They have so many colors. I ended up with Galvanized Silver (with bronze clips) for the main floor and Hammered Bronze (with silver clips) for the second floor. It gives the metal pipe a bit of clean sheen without being overpowering. Make sure you spray outside or in a well-ventilated area. We found it easiest to do the pipes while they were hanging from say, a tree. If you can’t hang them, it’s all good, just turn often to make the paint even and on cardboard, so the grass blades don’t stick. Oh and don’t forget to wipe them down with something before hand! They’re awfully dirty, greasy, and grimy from sitting in the hardware store.
Always, always do a dry run. It’s extremely helpful that on the dry run, you have a level, a pen, a measuring tape, and another set of hands. Set one end where you think it should go, then swing the other one up. Use the level to make sure that it’s straight. There may be some give and take to make them lie flat against the wall. Measure the overhang on each side to make sure they match (or close to). No one is going to notice a ¼” difference but will likely notice an inch. Once you’re even and level, take your pen and mark your flange holes with a big dot. You won’t see them after the bolts are in, so don’t worry about being messy.
When hanging it’s imperative to use the right tools. If you’re not in a stud, you’ll need a heavy-duty wall anchor. The rods aren’t light… I’d recommend always more weight anchoring the better. I believe we used a 100-pound anchor in the ones without a stud. That being said most window casings will have stud around the proximity, so keep your stud finder handy! Once your holes are pre-drilled, hang them up! A drill is the easiest and fastest way. If you have an anchor… don’t use a drill for the whole thing. There may be some cussing involved (I won’t tell). But the end product is pretty and so worth the time! So much so that we even did it for my Mom’s house! How simple!
I never did find curtains I liked. I settled on a drop cloth curtain. For those of you that are unaware of what those are, it’s those big pieces of cloth that painters use to drape and protect. I love the color– being a canvas, it’s a nice light brown. Blocks the light but isn’t a heavy-duty blocker. Does that make sense? Plus, I love how imperfect they are. I took one and spread it out on the ground and started cutting. Each one is different and I made 9 curtains for basically $20! Can’t beat that! The best part.. oh yes, most curtains you can’t wash at home (or in my experience), BUT these are washer and dryer friendly! *cue the music* That coffee that spilt all over my eating space ones last Christmas, all clean!
Using piping in your house is super easy to do and affordable too! What do you think? Will you try it out?