Drape hardware for top treatments
You can use a mounting board for your drape hardware whenever you plan to have a top treatment.
I've seen (and used) most of the alternatives. Sure, they work ok, and often they look inexpensive. Usually they consist of a track with a front support which projects out to hold the valance, etc. But we're talking about professional looking drapes.
So why use a board?
The advantages of using a board and track
- You'll get the most secure method of supporting your drapery.
- It can be used for small or large installations.
- It's adaptable for all top treatments.
- You can adjust where your drapes finish (within an inch or so), and for uneven floors.
- You can fit any kind of track.
- It prevents daylight from reflecting onto the ceiling which can look unsightly.
What type and size wood to use for drape hardware
The best wood is planed softwood. One size I've used more than any is known as "6 by 1", meaning 6 inches wide by 1 inch thick. This is only a nominal size, as the actual size is ¾" by 5½" (19mm by 140mm). You can get the same thickness wood in widths ranging from 2" to 12" (38mm to 286mm).
The "6 by 1" size means you can have the track set in the middle, giving adequate clearance for drapes providing there are no features in the way such as sills or radiators. If these do exist, you can use a larger width of board.
Slotted angle bracket and "T" bracket
The most useful brackets are 'cold formed' slotted metal angle brackets (see illustration). 'Cold formed' means they are very strong and will easily support your drape hardware plus drapes and top treatment.
Beware of using thin brackets! They may not be able to take the weight, especially if used for large windows and heavy drapes and top treatments.
Having slots makes it much easier to get the board set correctly. No matter how carefully you measure, it can be difficult to get a board looking perfectly horizontal. Having slots allows just enough adjustment to be made.
If the length is over about 6'0" (1.9m) then you'll need a center bracket. You can use another angle bracket for this if it will fit (perhaps a smaller sized one), or more usually a 'T' bracket, as shown in the illustration.
Metal track with cording action
Yes, I'm going to say it again - use metal tracks whenever possible as part of your drape hardware. The telescopic Superfine range from Kirsch, or the equivalent from other makers are fine for most purposes.
When you select a telescopic track, don't go for the smallest one which will open out to the size you want. Go for the largest size. Why? In my experience these tracks perform better and don't have as many problems if you open them out as little as possible. The brackets also seem more secure to me when they are in position when both sections of track are being used.
These tracks also incorporate a cording action, which means you don't have to keep handling the drapes to pull them open and closed.
Position of brackets, board, track and vine eyes.
To install your drape hardware first cut the wood to the right length. This will be the length of your track plus a couple of inches.
One advantage of using this method is that you can place your brackets where you get the best fixing. For example, the outside brackets can go as little as 2" from the ends, or as much a 1'6" in from them.
Fit both outside brackets first. Then place the wood on the brackets and adjust them so the wood looks level. If you need a center bracket, make sure the wood is lying correctly on the two outer brackets, and mark the position of the holes for the center bracket. Remove the wood, fix the center bracket, replace the wood and screw to the brackets.
Vine eye used for last hook on drape.
The track won't be able to go directly onto the wood because of the thickness of the brackets. So use 'spacers' as shown in the illustration. These are pieces of plastic about 3/8" (1.0cm) deep with a hole in the center. They go between the track bracket and the wood.
If you can't find a supplier of these spacers, you can easily make your own. Mark out rectangular squares about 1" (2.5cms) across from 3/8" (1.0cm) thick wood. Drill holes in the center of each square large enough to pass a screw through easily, then cut out the squares.
Completed installation of drape hardware
Use 'vine eyes' on the ends of the wood. These are for the drape 'returns', where the drapes will be hung around the sides of the wood.
This method of fixing drape hardware will give you a secure and stable support for all your drapery. It often works out less expensive than buying dedicated tracks for valances, etc.