How to Hang a Curtain Rod Without Drilling into the Wall
A few years ago, I went through a phase where I didn’t want to do “fake” things to our rentals. I wanted our solutions to not just “look” like the real deal, but also be the real deal. But my perspective has changed in recent years. The reality is that we live in a rental home (and likely will for quite some time!) And while there are a lot of things I can do “for real,” there are still times when we just need a clever rental hack. I really wanted curtains up in our Master Bedroom; but for a bunch of reasons, I just didn’t want to install a curtain rod. So I decided this was a great time to experiment and figure out if you can hang a curtain rod without drilling into the wall. Spoiler: you can! And there are some easy and clever things you can do to still make it look amazing. Let me show you!
If you’ve been coming around here for any length of time, you likely know I have a pretty serious passion for hanging some sort of window treatments on our rental windows (you can read why here). When we first moved in 2 years ago, we immediately hung curtains in almost every single room. The one exception was our Master Bedroom simply because I ran out of curtain rods. I bought a curtain rod shortly after (these are my favorite inexpensive rods) but it sat and sat and sat in our garage while I tended to other rooms and projects.
Once in the final stages of finishing up our Master Bedroom, I (of course) wanted to hang up my curtains. But here’s the reality: we are less than a year away from moving again (can you believe that?!?!) Although this has rarely stopped me in the past, I just didn’t have it in me to do a full-fledge rod installation with drywall anchors, screws, etc. So I decided to embrace my inner “rental guru” and attempted to hang a curtain rod without drilling into the wall.
It is likely no surprise that I turned to one of my favorite renter-friendly products: Command Hooks. And while this really is a simple and clever way to hang curtains in a rental, there are a few tricks I learned along the way to make it look and feel like a “real” curtain installation.
I’m not going to lie: this project actually took me a few tries to get juuuuust right. As such, you might see some variations as we move through the tutorial. But the good news is…since I’ve troubleshot everything, you won’t have to; and now you should be able to hang a curtain rod without drilling into the wall in no time!
Here is what you will need to hang a curtain rod without drilling into the wall:
- 2+ Large Command Hooks – More on this below.
- Curtain Rod – To fit most Command Hooks, you will need a rod that has a diameter of 0.75″ or less.
- Curtains – Ideally, you want ones that are hung via rod pocket, back-tabs, or rings.
- Optional but recommended:
- Scrap Cardboard – To make a template
- Masking or Painter’s tape
- Matching Wall Paint & Paintbrush
Picking the Right Command Hooks
In an effort not to drill into the wall to hang a curtain rod, my next best option was to use Command Hooks. But not every Command Hook is created equal. Some are too small to hold a rod, and others can’t hold the weight of fabric panels. I spent a lot of time researching options and even looked at a few in the store. All the hooks options below are both big enough to hold a rod and strong enough to support the weight of several curtain panels, but range in price-points, finishes, and weight.
After much hemming and hawing, I decided on these Jumbo Command Hooks. Although they are bulkier and not quite as “pretty” as the other options, I liked the way the rod fit into them best. And since I was trying to hang 10 lbs worth of curtains (2 panels on each side), I liked that each hook could hold up to 7.5 lbs on its own. Finally, they were also the cheapest and came in bulk sets, making it the most economical option for adding extra support as needed.
NOTE: I am very happy with my hook choice, but did choose to “hack” them a bit to make them look less chunky. If I wasn’t hanging such heavy curtains, I likely would have gone with these.
Determining Rod Height
When you hang a curtain rod in the “traditional” way, the rod is usually even to the top of the bracket. In the case of Command Hooks though, the rod nestles into the hook, making the rod even with the bottom. This can be a little tricky to gauge visually, so I suggest first taping the Command Hooks to the wall (as shown below) to test different heights.
Even though I originally placed my hooks at what I thought was “high and wide,” it wasn’t near high enough once I placed the rod and tested a panel.
I personally prefer my curtain rods halfway between the ceiling and the window trim. So once I figured out that placement, I made a quick cardboard template using this curtain hack from Young House Love. Using a cardboard template allows you to skip the measuring and leveling and can really save so much time and hassle!
How to Hang the Curtain Rod With Command Hooks
Once you have your rod and hook placement settled, it’s time to hang everything up!
I can’t overemphasize enough how important it is to follow the package directions on whatever Command Hooks you’re using. Especially if you are hanging something big and heavy like curtains. So although it’s a bit of a pain to 1) clean the wall, and 2) wait the designated “cure” time…it will make a big difference in your hooks actually staying put!
After adding the Command Strips to the back of my hooks (shown above), I used the cardboard template to place my hooks on either side of the window.
Once I followed all the instructions and the hooks were fully “installed,” I hung my long, thin curtain rod across the two hooks.
The curtain rod is now in place…let’s add the curtains!
The Best Curtain Styles to Use
One of the biggest challenges in using Command Hooks to hang a curtain rod is that the rod ends up significantly closer to the wall than when hung with standard brackets (which usually hold a rod out from the wall a good 4-6″). Below is a picture of the underside of the rod. As you can see, there is less than 1″ of clearance between the wall and the rod.
Years ago, I invested in a ton of grommet-topped curtain panels so that I had enough for our entire house. However, when you place a grommet-topped panel onto a rod so close to the wall, the rings project way forward and the panels don’t hang nice and straight. I really didn’t like the way it looked, so I explored other options.
One great option is to use curtain panels that either have a rod pocket or tabs across the back. This allows you to thread the rod across the top of the curtain, but all the excess fabric either gathers or pleats toward the front (as shown below). Many stores sell both rod pocket and tab-style curtains, and I’ll have a tutorial showing how to add tabs to any panels coming up in a few weeks.
One of the biggest benefits to using back-tabbed curtains is that it camouflages the Command Hooks really really well. However, using either rod pocket or back-tabbed panels causes them to sit fairly wide on the bar (because they are essentially squishing an entire curtain panel together horizontally). This can be great in some instances; but since I wanted to hang two panels on each side, I needed something a little more compact…which lead me to curtain rings!
Panels on Curtain Rings
I was 99% sure I was going to hang my panels with back-tabs; but on a whim, I hung a set up with some curtain rings I had on hand. The result looked so much cleaner since it allowed me to make crisp, clean pleats and easily adjust how wide the entire arrangement sat on the rod.
Although the curtains themselves looked (and hung) so much better on the rings, the large, chunky Command Hooks were suddenly in plain view, which really, really bothered me. Had I picked more decorative hooks, it likely wouldn’t have been an issue. But my eye kept getting distracted by the big black blobs on the wall!
“Camouflaging” the Command Hooks
This next step is 100% optional; but if your eye gets easily distracted like mine does (and you really want to use rings to hang your curtains), it’s well worth a little paint and time to camouflage the hooks with some matching wall paint.
Start by using some painter’s tape around the edges of the hook. If you work carefully, you can likely slide tape between the wall and hook itself.
Then paint the exposed areas of hook with matching wall paint. If you use dark hooks, it may take a few coats to get good coverage (when using a light paint color).
Once you remove the painter’s tape, the hooks fade into the background and become much less noticeable. An added bonus is that the bottom (non-painted) parts of the Command Hooks almost appear like finials at the end of the rods!
Is this a perfect solution for a “forever home”? Probably not. But is this a great way to hang curtains in a rental home without inflicting a lick of damage to the walls? Absolutely!
A Few Other Things
By using Command Hooks to hang a curtain rod without drilling into the wall, you do have some flexibility. I experimented with hanging my curtains fuller and wider, and all I needed to do was simply extend my bar past the hooks. So far, my rod hasn’t sagged at all…but if it did, I could easily add another hook along the middle.
You will likely notice that I still used my grommet curtain panels…they are just hung upside-down. I hemmed and hawed about whether I should “doctor” my photos so you didn’t see them, but I opted to keep it real instead.
In all honesty, I thought they would be hardly noticeable once hung and would even serve as curtain weights to keep the pleats looking nice. Although they seem fairly obvious in photos, I don’t even notice them when I’m actually in the room. I’m not sure I would do this in a space where we host guests; but for now, it’s just another example of “making it work.”
Our curtains have been hung for a few weeks now, and I have the utmost confidence they will stay put for the remainder of our time here. However, I do want to point out that these curtains are 100% decorative. Thanks to the blinds on the windows, we never have to pull these curtains open or shut. If you need your curtains to be a bit more “functional,” I would suggest adding an extra hooks to the center of the rod to absorb some of that weight down the bar.
Although this was a project I really had to figure out, I am so glad I took the time to work through it. We’ve never shied away from hanging curtain rods in our rental homes the “real” way; and I’m not sure we will abandon that method entirely. But it’s really nice to know we still have options should we ever find ourselves in a home where we can’t put holes in the wall. If you can’t or don’t want to add holes to your walls too, I hope this tutorial proves useful in getting some curtains up on your windows!