Easy and Cheap DIY Curtain Rods
Want to make a custom-length curtain rod, or can’t afford the pricey store bought ones? Learn to make your own DIY Curtain Rods with this full tutorial!
I’ve talked a lot about curtains lately, since the front of my house has about a hundred windows (okay, fifteen.) I find them difficult; thick, long curtains are expensive, and the DIY options are difficult to work with.
But I eventually came up with something inexpensive and attractive for my sunroom, and have moved on to consider this dilemma once again in the living room.
But I have a smaller issue to tackle first: curtain rods. This seems easy, since I am not opposed to purchasing curtain rods (I did in the sunroom!) In my living room, however, I have a wall with 12 feet of continuous windows.
Do you know how much 144″+ curtain rods cost? The few I could find tended to be labeled 120″-170″ rods, and cost around $50.
Plus, they required four support brackets, which prevents you from storing your curtains on either side and fully drawing them. In this situation, the two middle brackets form a mid-section that can’t be reached from side curtains due to the brackets blocking the curtains from moving in.
So I decided to make my own curtain rods. I needed something sturdy enough to stay level with only three brackets, but that could be purchased in small enough pieces to fit in my car. Thus, I came up with these DIY Wood Curtain Rods.
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- 3/4″ Dowel Rods- These come in 4 foot lengths. You’ll need to get enough to cover the distance of your windows. For example, one set of windows was 11 feet long, so I purchased 3 dowel rods to span this distance. The other set of windows was 7 feet long, so I purchased two dowel rods for that space.
- Curtain Rod Brackets– I used 3 per window since my windows were really wide. If you have narrower windows, you could probably get away with 2 braces per window.
- Table Legs– These will be used as the finial/decorative piece on the end of the rod. Therefore, you’ll need two per curtain rod.
- Dowel Screws- Enough to connect all your dowel rods together.
- Wood Glue
DIY Curtain Rods
Step 1: Prep the Dowel Rods
I didn’t need to do anything to my dowel rods, since together, they were the perfect length for my windows. But, if your dowel rods together are too long for your windows, you can cut them down to size.
Step 2: Connect the Dowel Rods
The dowel rods will be connected using a dowel rod screw. The ones I purchase were 1/4″ diameter screws that were each 1 1/2″ long.
Therefore, I drilled holes in each edge of the dowel rod that would have a connection. I used a slightly smaller drill bit, 3/16″, so the screw would still have opportunity to grip the wood.
Then I screwed the screw into one of the rods as much as I could by hand. For the record, this wasn’t very much.
Finally, I inserted the other side of the screw into the other dowel rod, and screwed the rods together.
This is really awkward, and you feel like you’re doing a terrible job, since the two rods don’t really seem straight. But they straighten out once the rods came together, and any crookedness can’t really be seen.
At the point where the rods are almost together (see above), I added some wood glue into the space between them. This just adds some extra support to the joint.
I let the wood glue dry for 20-30 minutes before repeating this process for a third dowel rod.
Step 3: Prepare Finials
Those decorative balls on the end of curtain rods are apparently called finials, and I used table legs to make them on these curtain rods. I got these ones for about $3 a piece at Home Depot.
They were 6″ long, which was a bit too long for my purposes. So I cut them down using my miter saw at a point that felt natural.
Then, on the newly cut edge, I used a spade bit to drill a 3/4″ hole. Theoretically, this would be the exact same size as my dowel rod, and the dowel rod would fit snugly in the hole.
My holes weren’t perfect, so the fit was a little looser than I’d hoped. I put some wood glue in each hole to keep them in place.
The downside of this is that the finial is no longer removable. Therefore, traditional curtain rings that slip over the rod before the finial is attached won’t work with this setup.
To get around this issue, I spray painted these two inch binder rings black, and used those as curtain rings. This had an unrealized benefit: binder rings are way cheaper than actual curtain rings, which are priced around 6-7 dollars for a set of 8. I got 50 binder rings for just a couple dollars more.
Step 4: Paint
If you’re wondering if you could stain the rods instead of paint, the answer is yes. However, the seams will be a bit more obvious, since there won’t be paint covering them up.
Also, I’d recommend staining before assembling the rods instead of after, since wood glue can discolor the wood a bit, and staining really brings that out.
For more on wood finishing, be sure to check out my Fabulously Finished Reference Bundle. If you’ve ever had projects become disasters during staining and finishing, this is the guide for you!
Step 4: Install Brackets and Add Curtains
It’s specifically for people with plaster walls, but drywall is not significantly different (you just have to use the provided drywall anchors a lot more often…)
How much do these curtain rods cost to make?
This depends on how long you want your curtain rod to be (the longer the rod, the more materials you’ll need to purchase,) but generally these curtain rods cost between $15-20 each.
Can these rods hold really heavy curtains?
My curtains are pretty heavy – they each contain a thick curtain layer and a thick blackout layer. The shorter rod had no weight issues whatsoever. The longer, 12 foot long rod started to sag in the middle after a year or so of use.
I used 3/4″ dowel rods for this project, but if you’re building long (10’+) curtain rods for heavy curtains, consider a thicker dowel for more stability.
I love your curtains! Where are they from?
I am so pleased with how these turned out. I was a little concerned about if they’d hold the weight of my curtains; they’re blackout curtains, so they’re pretty heavy, but the curtain rod handles them just fine!
I did this process for my smaller curtain window too. I actually think it looks even better there, since the seam is completely hidden by the middle support bracket!
I’m so glad I did this process; it was simple, and definitely cheaper than purchasing the super-long $50 curtain rods!
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