How to Install Window Fashions

Susanne Clemenz | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

Should you attempt installing blinds or new drapes? Knowing how to install window fashions doesn't mean it's the safest thing to do. Window covering installers have the necessary equipment and experience, especially in high or tricky places. Weigh these considerations:

  1. Does your balance, weight, mobility or height aversion limit you? If so, stay off ladders.
  2. Juggling awkward and heavy blinds or drapes requires a capable helper, not just a willing one.
  3. If the new drapes or window blinds will be installed at the limits of your reach when standing well below the top of your ladder, call the experts. Stairwells and high entry windows can be dangerous.
  4. New drapes can be very heavy. Rods are long and unwieldy. Becoming off-balance or tangled in cords or drapery hooks are hazards.

Tips for installing blinds or drapes

With a pair of six or eight foot step ladders, good lighting, and a competent helper, installing window coverings eight to ten feet from floor level is doable for able-bodied homeowners. Read this installation overview plus online installation guides from Hunter-Douglas, Levolor, and others. Then decide whether you should install your new drapes or window blinds.

  1. Blinds: Tools include pencil, drill, level, shims, tape rule, flat and Phillip's head screwdrivers and drywall expansion bolts. Keep cords bundled close to the head rail. Place blinds below their appropriate window with controls at the appropriate end. Note whether extension brackets (to clear window crank handles) must be installed. Blinds that will be mounted outside the window frame will use holes on the back of the mounting brackets. Inside mounted blinds will use the top holes for installation to the window frame. Use all the provided support brackets to prevent sagging. Follow manufacturer's instructions one step at a time. Measuring and leveling the brackets and snapping the blinds into place are usually quick and easy.
  2. Drapes: Tools include pencil, stud-finder, drywall expansion bolts, tape measure and a level. Off-window stacking space is required so that open drapes don't cover the window. Unlined draperies should be 133 percent of the window width; lined draperies, 143 percent. Example: Rod brackets for a 72-inch-wide window will be 103 inches apart. Rod types vary depending on use of traditional draw drapes versus grommeted, tabbed or other manually-closed systems. Use drywall expansion bolts to anchor the rods or find a stud. Have your helper hold the weight of the drapes as you attach each hook, grommet or tab to the rod.

Window glass is another hazard to installing window decor. When in doubt, choose safety.