12 Popular Curtain Tops: A Guide to Understanding Different Styles
Curtain tops are a distinguishing characteristic of various curtain styles. From structured pleats to industrial grommets, there are such varied designs that you can choose from. Curtain tops have a significant impact on the style of the room, but you shouldn’t feel confined by this.
It is important to understand what style you like, but curtain tops affect much more than just the look and design of your room. They impact the light in the room and the functionality. So, deciding which curtain top style is right for your room should be determined by careful thought.
Curtain Tops: How Do You Choose?
- Decor Style – The style or look you want for your curtains is one of the most important factors in what type of curtain top you choose. For example, if you want to create a formal room, choose a formal curtain header like pleats or a pelmet top. According to House and Garden, many of the old design rules don’t apply anymore. Designers are more willing to use every kind of curtain top in both traditional and contemporary design. So, don’t be afraid to think in unconventional terms when considering possible types of curtain tops.
- Function – The number of times you need to open and close your curtains per day should factor into the type of curtain header you choose. For example, rod pocket curtains are easy to install, but these are more difficult to open and close than curtains attached to a rod by hooks.
- Light – People who require full darkness should consider curtain tops that go to the very top of the window. This would not include tab top curtain types or types of curtains hung with grommets that allow in light. A better choice for blackout curtain tops would be curtains with back tabs or pleated curtains hung above the window frame.
- Material – The type of material you want for your curtains will influence the type of curtain top you choose. For instance, a light floral voile will look best with a small pinch pleat or gathered top rather than a formal goblet pleat. Also, the weight of the fabric will influence the types of curtain tops that will work. Light fabrics like sheers do not form ideal pleats.
12 Popular Types of Curtain Tops
Here are some of the most popular types of curtain tops that you can choose from. This is not an exhaustive list, but we will cover curtain tops of every style. This is a great starting point as you build your knowledge and understanding to choose a style that is right for you.
Pinch pleats are a classic curtain header style that works well for classic as well as formal contemporary style.
With pinch pleats, you can choose a double or a triple pleat. This curtain-style header requires more fabric than other headers and will create fuller curtains.
Choose a curtain header with a buckram if you want your pleats to maintain their crisp shape. You can hang pinch pleat curtains with back tabs but they look best when hung below the curtain rod with hooks and rings. This curtain header style works best with medium-weight fabrics.
Pencil pleats are a pleat style that resembles pencils placed side by side at the top of the curtain. Pencil pleats are a more casual pleat style header than pinch pleats. This style also requires less fabric.
Like pinch pleat headers, you can hang pencil pleat curtains with back tabs on the rod. But, these curtains open and close easier and look more stylish when you hang them with curtain hooks and rings.
Rod or pole pocket curtains are a popular curtain top style for ready-made curtains. For this curtain header style, there is an opening at the curtain top that you slide your rod through.
These curtains have a casual and unaffected style that is perfect for farmhouse and cottage decor. The downside of these curtains is that they can be more difficult to open and close. They are most problematic to open and close on a large pole rather than a small one.
Tab top curtain headers are another common style header for pre-made curtains. These have flat pieces of fabric that loop over the rod.
Like rod pocket curtains, these have a more casual style. Also, like rod pocket curtain tops, tab top curtains are more difficult to open and close on a regular basis. Therefore, these curtain tops work the best with light and medium-weight fabrics.
Grommets, also called eyelets, are metal rings inserted into the top of the curtain. These allow you to thread the curtain rod through the top of the curtain. These have a casual style that produces a wave-like look when the curtains are open and have a flat appearance when the curtains are closed.
Unlike other casual-style curtain headers, the rings provide an easy way to open and close your curtains.
Tie top curtains are one of the most casual curtain header styles. These are similar to tab top curtains, but rather than a flat piece of continuous fabric over the rod, these curtains feature two pieces that tie above the rod.
This style works well for casual home decor styles like cottage and country style. Tie tops are more difficult to close. Therefore, these are best reserved for windows where you don’t need to open and close on a regular basis.
Inverted Box Pleats
Inverted box pleats are a curtain header style that reverses the pleat so that there is a front with just regular vertical panels side by side. This kind of pleat has a formal but a simple style that is perfect for contemporary decor.
Inverted box pleat curtains function best when they are attached to drapery hooks and rings. These are a good choice for heavy fabrics like velvet and lined silk.
Goblet pleats have a look that resembles a goblet on the top of the pleat. These are more stylized than other pleat headers. Thus, goblet pleat curtains are more formal in style. This curtain style top will hold its shape best with a buckram attached to the back of the curtain header.
Goblet pleats are a more delicate curtain top shape. Therefore, this pleat style should be reserved for curtains that you don’t have to open and close on a regular basis.
Flat panel curtain tops have no distinguishing elements that differentiate them from the bottom of the curtain. The way that you attach flat panel curtains to the rod depends on the design of the back of the header. For most flat panel curtains, you would attach them to a rod with rings with clips or drapery hooks attached to rings. When the curtains are open, they resemble more formal pleated curtains.
These are great DIY curtain headers as they require less expertise to make than pleats. They also require less fabric to cover the window.
Euro pleats, also called Parisian pleats, are a type of pleated curtain header that are gathered at the top of the pleat rather than the middle. These are a more contemporary style pleat that works well for modern home decor, or for Parisian curtains that blend old and new world styles together.
This curtain top style functions in a smoother way than more casual styles like tab tops. They also allow you to block more sunlight than curtains that hang below the rod.
A pelmet is a wooden frame that is covered with fabric that covers the top of the window and the curtain. Pelmets are a traditional style that is making a comeback in cozy styles like English country house decor.
When used right, pelmets lend a cozy charm to your room and help insulate drafty windows. They also allow you to cover the top of the curtain. Therefore, you can mount your curtain on a track for easier maneuvering.
A valance, also called a soft pelmet, is a short curtain panel hung at the top of the window. You can use valances alone or use them to create a curtain header.
Valances and pelmets have gotten a dated reputation, but many designers are using them in the current design. They add a touch of whimsy to your room and help to frame the window.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
What type of rod should I use with my curtains?
The type of rod you use should be determined by a few different factors: home decor style, curtain header type, and curtain function needed. Manufacturers create curtain rods using different materials like metal, wood, and plastic. You should choose a rod material and finish that works with your home decor. Also, different curtain tops require different sizes and types of rods. Make sure that these complement one another before buying them. Some curtain rod materials function better than others. For example unfinished wood curtain rods look charming with country decor, but curtains do not slide well on this material. Metal or glossy wood makes curtain functionality easier.
What is the easiest curtain top style to make?
The easier DIY curtain top is flat front curtains. All that is required for this curtain top is basic seams like the bottom edge. If you attach the curtain to the rod with clip rings, there is no other curtain header element that you need.
How many curtain panels should I buy for my window?
The two most important numbers for determining the number of curtain panels you need for your window are the width of the window and the width of the curtain panels you have chosen.
Measure the width of the window and divide the number in two if you want curtains on either side. Then, measure the width of your curtain panel (if your panel is pleated, measure the panel across the pleats rather than laying them flat). Buy the number of panels you need to cover the window. If you want a fuller look, round this number up by one panel per side.
What is the difference between a euro pleat vs pinch pleat?
A euro pleat and pinch pleat are similar, but a euro pleat is gathered at the top and a pinch pleat in the middle. Euro pleats and pinch pleats both have double and triple varieties. Euro pleats have a more modern look than pinch pleats, but both create a full and luxurious look.
Curtain tops are a vital part of curtain design and help set the tone and functionality in your home. As important as curtain headers are, there is so much room for variety.
Designers are offering new ways to reinvent historic styles with fresh and modern appeal.
Therefore, while this is a style decision you will need to make, there are such gorgeous options available, any curtain top you choose can look beautiful.