Journal Insight #14: Measuring and Installation of curtains and blinds.

In a previous post I explained the importance of the installation process when hanging curtains to achieve the perfect look. Today I’m going to explain the measures we take in order to be able to quote on curtains and blinds and also set out the guidance we ask homeowners and clients to read before we attend.


Let’s start with blinds, as they are far simpler. We measure for the finished size of the blinds, so what you want is what you get.


The decisions needing consideration are where to fit the blind track, how you can achieve blackout/dim-out if required and to ensure we can make sure any chains and controls fully meet the child safety regulations.


I was once told that during the 3-year Health & safety review into blinds, seven children in the UK died. To me, there is no need for further debate on whether this was just Health & Safety gone mad. We won’t install any blinds in a way that doesn’t meet the regulations, even if no children are planned to be in the location; the rules are clear and we have to follow them. Not just because it covers us for legal reasons, but more simply because we don’t want to harm children, or worse. That may sound like a mini rant, but you’ll be surprised just how often installers are asked to circumvent the rules to suite the client. It can feel very awkward in a client’s home saying you won’t do something, that to them, seems reasonable, so we ask people not to put us in that position.


Measuring blinds


For roman blinds, vertical, roller, really any type of blind we need two things – the width and the height. Firstly, for blinds within a recess - Plasterers in particular can sometimes leave us with little surprises where apparently straight walls are bowed. So, we take measures at the top, middle and bottom of the height and record the smallest measurement. This is called a recess size as it’s the actual space we have available to fit the blind into. The blind will then be manufactured slightly less than these sizes to fit neatly but with a small amount of room to manoeuvre. You can also take the finished blind size measurements, which is the exact size you want the blind to be. Sometimes, this makes more sense, especially if the recess is well out of square. Either type of measure is fine as long as we know which it is.


The final measure we need is the Installation Height. This is where the top of the blind will be fitted from the floor (and not from the top a kitchen worktop). This is so any controls can be made to the right length for child safety and is required before any manufacturing can take place.


We then need to decide which side chains or controls are to be; usually dictated by convenience.


Curtains


Regular readers of these Journal insights will already know this, but I think it's worth a short recap here. If a pole or track is already in place - this measure is easy. We take the width of the pole between any finials, and the drop from the bottom of the pole to the floor (or finished drop if you want them shorter such as above a radiator).


The trickier measures are where there are no poles in place yet as you need to decide how far outside the windows you want them to extend. This goes back to our Journal insight on Stack-back and rather than regurgitate it, maybe pop over there and remind yourself. Sometimes you will want the tops of curtains in front of poles, and for eyeleted curtains above poles, so in these instances we get either centre or top of pole. If a pole or track is corded we need to know the installation height to meet the child safety regulations.




A critical measure for a professional fitting is the return to the wall. This is the distance from the middle of the pole back to the wall, and allows the curtain maker to make the curtain fit perfectly and remove light bleed around the edges as the curtain is held back with a small eyelet hook on the wall.


So, measuring isn’t so bad, certainly for quoting. Most designers ask the maker or fitter to do a check measure so the final exact measures have been clarified and the risk shifts away for the designer – quite right too, it's what I’d do if I were them. Not all makers offer a measuring service, so be sure to check what is in their offer and if you are measuring - the key is to be accurate and clear on what each measure is.


Fitting


When preparing for measures and fittings we send a document out which includes the following which we find helps everyone.


Fitting curtains and blinds requires attention to detail and concentration to ensure safe, solid and accurate installations. If possible, it is helpful for our fitters to be left to work quietly on their own in the room. Curtains and blinds will be made to measure for the space assessed and quoted for. If you have any work undertaken after the measures are taken, please let us know. If you decide after ordering that you want them fitted in a different way then this may affect the look of the finished curtain or blind. Rectifying these issues will be charged for where required.



To help us please:

  • Advise us in advance of any parking and/or access restrictions.

  • Remove any delicate or valuable objects from the vicinity of the fitting.

  • Allow our fitters the space to lay out their tools and equipment safely.

  • Keep children and pets clear of the work area until we are tidied away; for their safety and to ensure the products do not get damaged/dirty.

  • Feel free to offer a cold drink or tea/coffee to our fitters. It can be thirsty work and they will appreciate it.

We will:

  • Use dust sheets and leave your home as clean as we found it

  • Remove all of our waste and packaging at the end of the fitting.

  • Wear clean over-shoes to protect your carpets and floors, enabling our fitters to wear appropriate protective footwear while using tools.

  • Discuss and agree with you any details of the fitting locations that may be different to expected upon arrival. This may be due to structural issues with walls etc.


While every effort is made to assess the walls we plan to fit to when measuring, there are occasions where while fitting we discover the structure of the wall is not good enough to fit to. We will endeavour to resolve this at the time of the fitting, but it may require extra work or fixings. Where this is beyond that which is reasonably expected we may charge extra to cover any additional time and/or costs.


Some fabrics, particularly wool, are affected by moisture and temperature and there is a naturally occurring change in lengths throughout the year. This is to be expected and does not require re-hemming.


As you can imagine all installers will operate in a Covid secure way. Masks can prove an issue when up a ladder drilling, so usually they ask to be left alone in the room with masked removed so they don’t have misted up spectacles. The work area will be wiped down with antibacterial wipes at the end.


Finally… half way through a fitting it can look a LOT worse than you imagine. Curtains may be creased and messy after being carried up and down ladders, and slung over shoulders. Its only at the end when they have been adjusted and dressed in (and steamed where required) that they will look the business, so if you pop your head in half way through don’t panic. Let the fitter do their work and it will all look amazing when done.


If you’ve found this helpful, please share.