Difference Between Curtains and Drapes

When it comes to windowing, the terminology can be a little confusing – starting with the “windowing” itself. Is it a protective window coating or a process like woodworking? Are you referring to ways to fix broken or aging windows? (You get the picture.)

The term “window treatment” refers to a broad category of products that are designed to block, reduce, or better control light entering through windows while providing varying levels of privacy. They can also be an integral part of home decor and interior design. Curtains and drapes, for example, do all of the above.

And while we’re on the subject of terminology, we must mention that while they are often used synonymously, curtains and drapes are not the same thing. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between curtains and drapes and why it matters.

Curtains and drapes: similarities

One reason for the confusion over terms is that curtains and drapes have several things in common , including:

  • Both fabric panels.
  • Used to close windows
  • Usually sold in pairs
  • Hang on a rod located behind the window frame.

Curtains and drapes: differences

Despite the similarities, there are clear differences between curtains and drapes, including:


  • Available in any length (including to the floor)
  • More casual materials such as linen, wool, poplin and cotton. Sheer curtains are often made from lace, muslin, or voile.
  • They come in a wide range of sizes, styles, colors, patterns and materials, making them easy to buy “off the shelf” (no custom made).
  • Light sheer (or thinner) curtains are the best way to let natural light into the room.


  • Hang the window on top (or above it) all the way to the ground (in some cases with an extra pile of fabric on the floor).
  • Made from stiffer, thicker and higher quality fabrics such as silk, velvet, rayon, satin, satin and brocade (which make them more formal and luxurious).
  • Supplied with lining (available in different thicknesses)
  • More often custom made than curtains
  • Thick, lined draperies are best at blocking out natural light and also isolate and reduce noise in the room.

Why is it important

Previously, when most (or at least most) of the purchases were made in person, when you had the opportunity to touch various fabrics and bring them to the light and / or ask real, living human questions in real time, this is not the case. It doesn’t matter if we paid attention to the name on the package. But now that a lot more shopping is done online, that means product descriptions and labels indicating whether window frames are curtains or drapes are more important than ever.

Ultimately, understanding the difference between curtains and drapes allows you to make more informed decisions about your home’s décor and energy use. For example, heavy curtains that block drafts on older windows can help reduce energy costs. Likewise, choosing curtains or drapes based on the amount of natural light they let into a room can also help you cut down on the number of hours each day you need to rely on artificial lighting.


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