When it’s time to hang curtains, make your life tons easier with this simple inexpensive hack. You’ll never hang curtains without a laser level again!
This is the third in my Back to Basics series, where I’m covering all the basics on things like making art from color palettes, tools that make it easier to paint a room, and now hanging curtains with a laser level.
Hanging fresh curtains is a great way to change the look of your room. It may not be the most fun job but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be frustrating.
First I have a confession. This post is difficult for me to write because in my family, I have a reputation to uphold. I refuse to use a level when hanging things on a wall.
This drives my engineer husband crazy, but I swear I can eyeball something and tell you if it’s level or not. I take pride in not having to get the level out of the garage whenever I need to hang a picture.
So why am I writing an article on how to use a laser level? Because even I have my limitations. (Don’t tell my husband.)
For any project that involves a repetitive pattern, or is carried over a long distance, a laser level is a must. We used a laser level when installing our barn doors, because getting them exactly level is crucial. And I use a laser level anytime I need to hang curtains.
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Today I’m going to show you how to use a Black and Decker laser level to make it easier to hang curtains. I promise, for under $30 this thing will save your sanity, and maybe also your marriage.
Hang Curtains the Easy Way with a Laser Level
When we first moved into this house, all the beautiful wood windows were covered up with old vertical blinds. Literally the first thing I did after setting down our furniture and boxes was to start ripping out the blinds and hanging curtains throughout the house.
The day we loaded all those vertical blind carcasses into the back of the truck and took them to the dump was one of the happiest days of living in this house. (Not even the Habitat for Humanity Restore would accept them as a donation.)
After hanging curtains on every window, I had gotten the process down to a system, and now I’m sharing it with you.
First, you’ll need a few things.
Tools for Hanging Curtains
- Curtains. Obviously. I always start my curtain search at Tuesday Morning, followed by Ross and HomeGoods. I usually find a great selection and fabulous prices at all these stores. When you’re buying curtains, I say go for the longest ones you can fit in your room. I like 96″ length for a standard ceiling height. Hanging your curtains higher makes the room feel taller and the window feel more expansive.
- Curtain Rods and Hardware. Your curtain rods should be wide enough to overlap the edges of the windows by at least 6-12 inches on each side, to allow room to pull the curtains open. So if your window is 36″ wide, get a rod that will extend to 48 or even 60 inches.
- Laser Level. This one from Black and Decker is my favorite. It’s not too big or overly complicated, and it gets the job done.
- Measuring Tape
- E-Z Anchors. Do not, I repeat, do not put any other type of drywall anchor in your wall. Or if you do, don’t sell me your house afterwards. I have spent more time than I care to think about trying to remove squashed drywall anchors out of walls without damaging the wall. And then patching the giant hole they left behind. I know it’s tempting to use the cheap (free) plastic anchors that come with your curtain rod hardware, but do yourself a favor and just don’t. E-Z Anchors are so much easier to remove, but even better, they’re even easier to install in the first place. (No drill needed.)
- Hammer. You’ll need this for tapping in the E-Z Anchors.
- Step Ladder
Process for Hanging Curtains the Easy Way
The most important part of hanging curtains is measuring accurately. There are two directions you’ll need to measure: the height from the ground, and the width from the window frame.
Measuring the height can be done two different ways. You can either measure the length of the curtain from the bottom edge to the top edge of whatever hanging mechanism it uses (ie. tabs, grommets, or the rod pocket). This will be the height of the curtain rod that you’ll be hanging.
The other method, which I prefer, is to hang one of the curtain panels on the rod, then hold up the rod (with the curtain hanging down) as well as one of the brackets.
Have a friend stand back and tell you when the bottom of the curtain touches the floor. Then use your pencil to mark the height of top hole of the bracket piece.
The second method seems more difficult because you need a buddy and you’ll be holding up the curtain rod with one hand and marking your measurement with the other hand, but for me it always gives me a more accurate measurement than using a tape measure on a curtain and then the wall.
By the way, don’t ever trust the measurements on the curtain packaging. A curtain panel may say 96″ on the package, but be slightly different in real life. Always measure!
Next you’ll measure the width of each bracket from the side of the window. I recommend 6-12″ but this can vary if you have thicker curtains, or less space between the window and an adjacent wall.
Just make sure these measurements are equal on both sides of the window. And if you have multiple windows on the same wall, be sure they all get the same spacing.
Match up your height and width measurements, and that will give you the measurement for the top hole of the curtain rod bracket. This will be the first hole you’ll put in the wall, but don’t go making holes just yet.
Once you’ve marked your first hole, it’s time to make sure all the other holes will line up correctly. Before you actually attach the curtain rod bracket to the wall or drill any holes, you’ll use this first mark as your set point for your laser level.
To set the laser level, you’ll first tack its wall bracket into the first hole you’ve marked. (The bracket comes with the level, and the level magnetically attaches to the bracket once you’ve got it set in the right place.)
This is easier if you use a simple thumbtack to put a small hole in the wall first before pushing the pin on the back of the bracket into the wall.
Once the bracket is in place, turn on your level by pushing the front switch from off, all the way to the right. (There is a stop in the middle for a locked line, but you don’t want to use this setting for leveling. Push it all the way to unlocked.)
There are toggle switches on the sides of the level that set the laser to shine to the left, top, or right. If your first hole is on the left of your window, you’ll want the laser to shine to the right, and vice versa. Simply push the toggle switch in from one side or the other until the laser aims in the right direction.
Then hold the level up to the bracket and it will magnetically “seat” into place.
Give the laser a minute or two to stop bouncing and level out. (If your laser isn’t bouncing, you may have the beam locked. Check the switch on the front of the level and make sure it’s pushed all the way to the right.)
Once the level stops moving, it will give you a perfectly level red line all along the wall. Now you simply mark along the red line where your next curtain rod bracket should be, according to the width from the window frame that you’ve already set for your first rod bracket.
If you have multiple windows at the same height, do all your measurements at this time. Also, if your windows are wide, you’ll need to mark where the center support bracket will go.
By the way, you can use this same process for hanging anything that needs to be level, such as art collections, shelves, or even barn doors!
Hanging Curtain Hardware
Now that all your holes are marked, you can remove your level and its bracket from the wall and put it away. (Be sure to save its packaging as it makes a handy carrying case!)
Using your E-Z Anchors, you’ll now attach the curtain rod brackets to the wall.
To use an E-Z Anchor, hold the plastic part up to the mark on your wall. Gently tap it part way into the wall with your hammer. The sharp tip will sink into the wall up to where the threads start.
Now use a Philips head screwdriver to gently screw the plastic part into the wall, until the flat flange on top is flush with the wall.
Now hold up your wall bracket to the front of the plastic anchor and screw the included screw into the anchor. (It’s best to use the screw that came with the anchors, rather than the one that came with the rod hardware, to make sure it will fit securely and not break the anchor.)
Perfect! Now do that as many more times as you have curtain rod brackets. Only attach the screws in the top holes at this point.
Check Curtain Length and Level
Once all your rod brackets are attached to the wall by their top holes, it’s a good time to check and be sure your measurements are right.
Thread the curtains onto the rods and set the rods into their brackets. Stand back and make sure all your curtains are hanging to the right lengths and everything looks level.
This way, if you need to adjust anything, you’ve only got half your holes in the walls!
Now you can go back and screw into the lower holes on your curtain rod brackets. If your curtains aren’t super heavy, you probably don’t need anchors on the bottoms holes of the brackets. E-Z Anchors are usually rated to hold 50, 60, or 75 pounds a piece, so one per each bracket should be sufficient.
Curtains can be a fun way to add color to your room, not to mention privacy and light filtering or blocking. Don’t be intimidated by the process of hanging them. With a laser level and some E-Z Anchors, this job doesn’t need to be difficult, and the finished result is so worth it!
As always, let me know in the comments below if you have questions. And if you have more tips for me on hanging curtains, I’d love to hear them!