My friend once mentioned that her favorite designs include unexpected details. The bathroom is often a fairly predictable space, design-wise. But one way to increase the drama, sophistication, and height of a bathroom is to mount the shower curtain from the ceiling. Bringing décor strategies from other rooms into the bathroom is both unexpected and delightful, and a ceiling-mounted shower curtain is no exception.
The process is fairly straightforward with the Ikea Kvartal system, and this tutorial shares some tips that will help to make your own installation easier and faster.
- Triple track rail(s). Note: Number needed will vary based upon your tub surround / shower size; however, for the standard-sized tub shown in this tutorial, two (2) Kvartal triple track rails were needed.
- Ceiling mount brackets. Note: Number needed may vary based upon the placement of your ceiling studs. This tutorial uses four (4) brackets – two on the ends and two in the middle.
- Two (2) boxes of curtain glides.
- Screws for mounting mount brackets.
- Drywall anchors (optional).
Begin by finding the studs in your ceiling. If you have a popcorn or textured ceiling (I feel your pain), this can be tricky because a stud finder requires a flat surface to read accurately. Tip: Place a flat piece of thin cardboard, such as a cereal box, against the ceiling, and run your stud finder over that.
Mark your studs with a tack or pin. Or a pencil, if that’s what you prefer.
Because this ceiling had two studs reasonably spaced, it was decided to use two inner ceiling mount brackets on the studs instead of one in the center with a drywall anchor.
Wherever you don’t have a ceiling stud in the position you want to mount your track, you’ll need to install drywall anchors. To do this, drill a hole just large enough to fit the drywall anchor snugly – no bigger. Tip: If you’re drilling your end holes this way, be sure to allow for at least a 1-1/8” (Ikea recommends 1-3/8”) spacing coming in from EACH wall.
Push the anchor in with your fingers as far as you can, then hammer it in the rest of the way until the opening is flush with the ceiling.
If your anchor starts to bend or distort, your hole isn’t big enough. Pull it out and slightly enlarge your hole with your drill bit. The anchor should hold its shape and look like this, ready for a screw.
Because you will be cutting both tracks, loosen the metal brackets from the ceiling (top) side of your triple track by loosening the screws with the provided allen wrench.
Remove the brackets from the track.
Hold up a piece of the track between your two end points (which should be at least 1-1/8” away from the wall) to serve as a straight-edge. Using your stud-marked pins as a guide, mark the desired mounting points on the straight line between your two end points.
Measure the width of your shower curtain space. In most cases, this will be the wall-to-wall width of your bathtub.
If you haven’t already, determine the true length of your to-be shower curtain track. This involves the wall-to-wall width of your tub, minus the gap spacing (Ikea recommends 1-3/8” at least; this tutorial used 1-1/8” with some tweaking, described later).
Because the true length is longer than 55”, we’ll need to cut two triple tracks and join them together. Determine the best spot for a joint. You should place a joint on a stud, where possible, on the side where the shower liner and curtain will move the least (if applicable), and where it will be least visible, although the joint is hardly visible even after installation.
Once you’ve determined the joint position, measure the distance from one end point to the joint position. Add at least 1/2″ to this measurement. Tip: The amount you add depends on the gap distance you chose from your walls; this amount will be the track’s “overhang” from your end mount position. The larger your gap distance, the larger your addition can/should be so your track ends up about 3/4″ away from the wall itself.
Mark this distance on both sides of your track. This tutorial had a 19” space from the end hole to the joint position, plus 1/2″, making the cut mark on the track fall at the 19-1/2” point.
Grab a hacksaw (or Kvartal miter box and saw) and carefully cut a straight and perpendicular edge at your marked point. Carefully repeat the measurement and additions for the other half/side of your track rail, and cut your second track piece.
Two pieces cut.
As careful as you are, you’ll probably notice that the saw creates fairly raw, rough edges. That’s okay.
Place the two factory-cut edges together to form your joint; this will ensure the most precise alignment of the track, which makes for smoother curtain movement. The saw-cut edges will be covered by end caps.
Put the ends of a bracket into the grooves on the ceiling-sides of the track rails.
Unscrew the mounting bolt from the ceiling mount bracket using the wrench provided.
Set the bracket aside; you just need the bolt for this step.
Set the mounting bolt into the groove on the ceiling-side of the track rail directly over the metal bracket’s center.
Slide the track rails together so the mounting bolt sits directly at the joint.
Use the wrench to tighten the screws on the metal bracket, to hold it in place. The mounting bolt will be able to glide back and forth slightly between the two middle screws; this is fine.
If you are installing other middle mounting bolts on your track rail, repeat these steps for those. Measure the middle bolts’ positions based upon the marks on your ceiling. There will be some wiggle room (about 1/4″ to 1/2″), so these don’t have to be dead-on, but they should be fairly accurate to save you time in the long run.
Slide your end metal brackets onto the track rail, but don’t tighten them yet. Push the end caps onto the saw-cut ends of your track rail.
Slide the bracket up next to the end cap attachment.
Before you tighten your end brackets too severely at this point, you should be aware of where your mounting bolt hits in relation to the end of your track rail. You can remove screws from the metal bracket as needed to make space for the mounting bolt. For example, you could remove one of the middle metal bracket screws so the bolt can slide closer to the edge of the track rail.
Another configuration idea, if you need the mounting bolt to be particularly close to the end of your track rail, is to remove the very end metal bracket screw and install screws on the other four threaded holes instead. This is the configuration used by this tutorial, but yours may vary based upon your measurements and setup with your ceiling’s end-holes.
Install a ceiling mount bracket at one of your marked points. The screw for this is not provided by the Kvartal system, but pretty much any drywall screw (that fit into the drywall anchors, if applicable) with a raised screw head will work.
Adjust the mount bracket so that the tightening screw faces toward the bathtub or shower.
Repeat this for all the mount brackets.
If you are not ready at this point to install your actual shower curtain and liner, skip ahead in this tutorial to the actual mounting of the track rail itself. However, if you’re ready to go with your curtain and liner, now is the time. Take two glide pieces from your box, one that has a hook and the other that looks like a miniature train.
Join them together.
Slide the open hook onto the top of your shower curtain or shower liner. Repeat for as many as your curtain/liner needs.
Lock the glide hook closed.
Taking care to keep your track oriented correctly so the joint falls on the correct mounting spot, determine which of the three tracks will hold your shower liner (or curtain). Remember that the liner goes closer to the bathtub, and the curtain goes on the outer track. Remove the end cap from one end of your track rail. Slide a metal end-stop (included in your glide box) down into the appropriate track to the far end.
Slide your shower curtain or liner glides onto the track. (Speaking of shower curtains…check out this article on how to customize pretty shower curtains.)
Position your second metal end-stop at this end of your track, and tighten in place using the provided wrench. Tighten your first metal end-stop at the other end of your track as well. Complete this process for both your shower curtain and shower liner. Replace the end cap onto your track rail.
Have a helper hold the track up to your ceiling mount brackets. Position the mounting bolts so they all slide into their respective brackets at the same time. Tighten the tightening screws on the side of your ceiling mount brackets.
Tip: As you’re tightening, I recommend working from the center mounting brackets outward to the ends. This makes it easier to keep all mounting bolts in place without falling out as you tightened the tightening screws.
Notice the tightening screws are all facing toward the bathtub/shower, which makes for a cleaner look from the rest of the bathroom.
Here’s what your installed track rail looks like without the shower curtain and liner, if you went that route.
Here’s what your installed track rail might look like with the shower curtain and liner. Notice that a gap was left intentionally at the top of the shower curtain for venting; you may choose to raise your curtain higher to cover the track completely.
Check to make sure your shower curtain and liner glide smoothly, particularly across your joint. The shower liner will get lots of movement. The beauty of this system is that the shower curtain, really, can stay put if you’ve opted for the unexpected, and dramatic, split-curtain look.
A ceiling-mounted shower curtain looks so beautiful, with all its height and formality. It really increases the grown-up feel of the bathroom space.
It also draws our eyes upward…sadly, to this unfortunate lighting fixture. Which will be replaced ASAP for something less of an eyesore.
Note: The author is an experienced, although not professional, DIYer. Neither the author nor Homedit is responsible for any injury or damage that may be a result of following this tutorial.