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Drapes vs. Curtains: How to Tell the Difference and Choose Wisely

Decoding Drapes vs Curtains How to Tell the Difference and Choose Wisely

Many people use drapes and curtains interchangeably for window treatments. However, there are differences between these two products, and they are two separate items. Read on to learn about the differences between the two window coverings and how to make the best choice for every room in your home.

What Are Drapes?

Drapes are fabric panels of thicker materials such as silk, damask, or velvet as the most common drapery fabrics. Fabrics can be purchased for custom window treatments in a huge variety of colors, themes, and patterns, and you can add embellishments to them as well. 

Fabric drapes most often have a thick lining on the rear of the fabric panels to add extra insulation to your windows and increase your home’s energy efficiency. This will also act as a room-darkening effect to block out all the heat and UV rays associated with sunshine.

Drapes are an excellent choice for windows that get a lot of heat and sunlight in them to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. 

Drapery panels are considered to be quite formal in the line of window coverings, and they are used in formal dining room and formal living room windows.

Adding more to the formality is the type of heading you choose for custom draperies. Pleats at the top of the drapery panel make them the highest form of formality of any type of window treatment. You can choose from pinch pleat drapes, goblet pleats, double pinch pleats, Euro pleats, four and five-finger pleats, and so many more!

What Are Curtains?


Curtains are also made of fabric like drapes, but most often the fabrics used are thinner and can even be sheer, lacy and flowing. Most fabric curtains don’t have a liner on the rear of them, but when customizing curtains, this can be added.

If you have windows that don’t get a lot of heat and sunlight in them, then curtains are a good choice if privacy isn’t an issue. Thinner fabrics don’t offer as much privacy as thicker fabrics do.

Differences Between Drapes and Curtains

Drapes 1

Drapery panels are usually mounted above the window, and they span the entire length of the window and down to the floor. To make your windows look larger, drapery panels can be mounted several inches wider on each side of the window than the window itself, so it looks wider. You can also hang the drapery rod just below the ceiling and have floor-length drapery panels to make your window look taller and your entire room looks larger.

Curtains come in many different lengths, and they may only cover a portion of a window, such as the quaint café curtains, or they may cover the window from top to bottom, or they can be the full length as well. Curtains are not generally hung extra high or wide like drapes.

Blackout drapes are made of more luxurious, thicker fabrics and hold their shape well in any style of drapery panel, such as velvet drapes. These types of fabrics are more expensive and make drapes overall more expensive window coverings

Sheer curtains are made of thinner fabrics, commonly chiffon or voile for sheer panels that are made of polyester, cotton curtains, or a mix of these two, or they may be lace. If you are on a budget, you’ll find that curtains are less expensive than drapes because the fabric is less expensive, so your overall cost will be less. Curtains are a much more informal window covering that can be used in any home window.

Drapery panels usually include a lining to add another layer of insulation to your windows and make your home more energy-efficient all year round. Thermal drapes also offer complete privacy when they are closed. On the other hand, curtains offer a small amount of privacy depending on which fabric you choose, and they don’t generally include a lining.

Both privacy curtains and drapes give you many choices in fabrics that are solid, textured, or have a pattern on them in a huge number of colors. Most often, drapes are made of a solid color, while curtains are more playful in nature and often use patterns. Most often, drapery panels have pleats at the top, but decorative curtains may have informal headings, such as tab top, rod pocket curtains, or grommet curtains.

Curtains and Blinds

Choosing Between Drapes and Curtains

When deciding between drapes and curtains, you should determine your exact needs so you choose the product that best suits your needs. Ask yourself some questions to make an informed decision. Is privacy a concern? Do you need extra insulation for your windows? Is the window treatment for a formal area of your home? Are you interested in room darkening or light filtering?

Answering these concerns will help you choose the best product for each window in your home. You will also need to determine your budget for your new window treatments and choose curtains for a more affordable option or drapes for a more expensive option.

Your home decor also helps you to decide which of the two products will match best. If you have antique furniture, fine furniture with carved detailing, oil paintings, crystal chandeliers or light fixtures, and fine rugs, then the more formal, elegant drapes should be chosen. If your home doesn’t include these types of regal items, then casual curtains should work fine for you.

Curtains and Drapes

When you choose custom window treatments, you get the most different types and weights of fabric available to make your windows shine with personality. The main differences between drapes and curtains are the thickness of the fabrics, the insulating factor, and the formality level of your home. It also helps to know how much sunlight and heat comes in through your windows at different times of the day to make the best choice. 

At Tampa Blind Pro, our highly experienced staff is happy to assist you with custom drapery of all types. Contact us for a FREE in-home consultation with one of our professional designers to attend to all of your needs.

Picture of Abe Mummau

Abe Mummau

Experienced professional and owner of Tampa Blind Pro, specializing in window treatments and smart home automation. Committed to enhancing homes with quality products and personalized solutions.