A Concise Glossary of Window Treatment Terms

Shopping for window treatments but confused by all the technical terms? Let this guide help you while searching for the perfect window treatment for your New York City apartment, loft or condominium.

Panel Width:
Panel width refers to width of one drapery panel. Medium-sized windows, which can be anywhere from 35 to 60 inches wide, usually require two drapery or curtain panels to adequately cover them. Larger windows will need panels with longer widths if you only want two panels. Alternately, you could choose panels with shorter widths for aesthetic purposes if you want four panels to comprise your window treatment.

To accurately measure panel width, start by measuring the entire width of the window, adding any extra wall space you want covered by the drapes or curtains. If you plan to use a rod that “returns” or bends toward the wall, add that as well.

The “break” is simply the amount of space between the bottom of the window treatment and the floor. Most breaks are around 1/4 of an inch above the floor so that the drape or curtain does not gather dirt and avoids being accidentally stepped on. However, in rooms that are not often inhabited, breaks that overlap the floor by an inch or two provide a striking appearance, especially if the drapes are velvet, brocade or other heavy material.
Pleat Style:
Pleat styles may not seem that important but the way a pleat is incorporated into a curtain can transform a window treatment from appearing feminine and dainty to one that is formal, casual or even eclectic. Styles for pleats include pinch, French, inverted, box, pencil and goblet pleats. Some pleats work better with lighter fabrics while other pleats, like goblet pleats, work well with fancier, heavier fabrics.
Headings are the customized tops of window treatments and include styles such as box-pleated headings, cased headings, eyelet headings, tab-top headings and goblet- pleated headings. Headings often dictate the type of curtain rod you use to hang your window treatments because they can either conceal or visibly display the curtain rod.
Weights are metal discs sewed into a curtain or drapery hem in order to force them to hang in a perfectly straight manner. Frequently used with heavy fabrics that tend to wrinkle slightly due to the thick threading within the fabric, weights are also a way to insulate a room by preventing heat or cold from escaping through any breaks.
This term refers to how much space is left when you pull drapes or curtains away from the window. For example, the stack-back of a set of sheers will be minimal, perhaps only one or two inches. However, the stack-back of a set of heavy drapes could be up to five or six inches. Knowing the amount of stack-back afforded by window treatments is important when deciding how much the curtain rod should extend past the window frame.

Hopefully, knowing a little more information will make it easier for you to purchase new window treatments for your New York City home.

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