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Installing a Traverse Curtain Rod

Updated on August 15, 2017

Traverse Curtain Rods

A traverse curtain rod is a curtain rod that allows curtains/drapes to traverse across a window. They contain a hidden pulley system with a cord. When the cord is pulled, the curtains/drapes open and close. The biggest advantage of a traverse rod is that instead of touching your drapes each time you want to open or close them, you use the cord instead. This helps keep your drapes cleaner. Installing a traverse curtain rod is not any more difficult than installing a regular curtain rod. These instructions are for a Kirsch two-way draw curtain rod.


Gather your tools: Stepladder or step-stool, drill, drill bits, hollow-wall anchors, screws, screwdriver or screwdriver bit.

Determine Rod Width

Measure one of the drapes from the outside pleat to the outside pleat. Multiply this by two. Add 3 1/2" for the overlap in the middle. Then subtract 1/2" for each panel to allow for "ease". (If the "ease" is not subtracted the curtains will bounce back and not want to stay shut.) This measurement is the rod width - outside bracket to outside bracket.

Determine Rod Height

For floor length drapes: subtract the drape length (from top to hem) from the wall height (from ceiling to floor). Subtract an additional 1" (the amount they should be off the floor) and add 3/8" (amount the bracket is lower than the rod). Measure down from the ceiling by this amount to install the brackets. For any other length: Measure from the ceiling to where the hem should fall. Subtract the length of the drapes (from the top to the bottom of the hem), from this number then add 3/8" (amount the bracket is lower than the rod). Measure down from the ceiling by this amount to install the brackets.

Do Not Use a Level!

You're probably thinking you should go get your level at this point - do not! If you use a level and the ceiling is not perfectly square, the curtains will look uneven. Draperies look much better when hung in line with the ceiling. Most people won't even notice if the drapes don't hang correctly against the floor, especially since most guests would see them stacked against the wall.

Mark and Drill

Measure and mark the brackets at these distances. Drill holes. If not drilling into studs, be certain to use hollow-wall anchors. Place brackets/supports at least every 40". If the span is over 40" and you choose to not use extra supports, there is a risk of the curtains and traverse rod drooping or completely falling down potentially hurting someone.

Centering Carriers

Once the traverse rod is installed, use the cord to put the carriers into the open position. Push both carriers to each side and make certain the cord is wrapped around the "finger" on the master carrier. Bring the carriers back to the closed position. They should be perfectly centered. Find the knot on the master carrier and pull the cord until the other side is the length you want. (It is nice to have a second person helping with this.) Tie a new knot and cut off the excess and place the cord back in the "finger". Put the cord inside the cord pulley or cord guide and install using a hollow-wall anchor, if necessary.


A mistake often made when installing a traverse rod, is using a level. Traversing curtain rods should be hung in line with the ceiling. Measure down from the ceiling to install the rod. If a level is used and the ceiling is out of square to the wall, the curtains will look crooked.

Another frequent mistake is installing the curtain rod onto the molding. This was a common practice pre-1980. Curtains look better if rods are hung (when possible) above and outside of the window molding. It is always best if the hems, both top and bottom, are not visible from the outside.

If you have purchased a new curtain rod, there should be instructions inside the box--if not, check the company's website.


CAUTION!!! Young children can STRANGLE in curtain cords. Be certain to use a cord pulley or cord guide for your cord.

CAUTION!!! Keep furniture that children can climb onto away from curtains!

CAUTION!!! Use support brackets every 40".

© 2011 LydiaBlogg


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    • LydiaBlogg profile image

      LydiaBlogg 5 years ago from New England

      You're welcome, Maggie! Installing with a cord is much easier than you would think, but the batons are nice, too. It looks like Blindsparts has a good supply of brackets. Make sure you space them less than 40". If for some reason you still cannot find the correct brackets, send me a picture via email. My address is my full name at gmail dot com and I will take a look for you. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Maggie 5 years ago


      Thanks for getting back to me!

      (1) I just like the baton and that satisfying "swish" and I am a little intimidated by installing the cords.

      (2) I need to do some investigating to figure out the specifics of the rod. It is definitely a traditional transverse rod that previously was installed on the ceiling. I want to mount it on the wall below the crown molding.

      Have a great day!


    • LydiaBlogg profile image

      LydiaBlogg 5 years ago from New England

      Hi Maggie,

      1. I do not see any reason you would not be able to remove the cord from the rod and use a 'baton' ("sticks that are common on hotel curtains") to traverse the curtains across the window. Batons are available from Rowley Company DIY website: I’m curious though - may I ask why you would want to remove/not use the cord and replace it with a baton?

      2. To recommend which support bracket you would need, more information about the curtain rod would be needed - specifically the brand and is it a decorative rod or a traditional?


    • profile image

      Maggie 5 years ago


      Can you answer 2 questions about traverse rods for me? I plan to use an old traverse rod to hang new drapes that I am making. (1) Can I remove the string from the traverse rod and use it as a track to pull the drapes closed (by attaching one of those sticks that are common on hotel curtains)? (2) do you know where I can buy support brackets for a traverse rod?



    • LydiaBlogg profile image

      LydiaBlogg 5 years ago from New England

      Thanks Roger for the nice comment!