Putting up a curtain pole sounds like such a simple job, but in older buildings soft crumbly plaster and bricks make getting a secure fixing difficult. Curtain pole brackets will often be supplied with screws but consider using alternative longer ones to ensure that the pole is fixed well into the bricks and not merely the plaster.

Wattle and daub, clay lump and cob walls will also pose a challenge. In this case one solution is to insert a piece of two-inch diameter dowelling into the wall, held in place with plaster and filler. Once set it should provide a sound fixing.

To fit your curtain pole, you will need…

  • Curtain pole and brackets
  • Steel measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Bradawl
  • Drill and bits
  • Wall plugs
  • Masking tape
  • Screwdriver
Take some precise measurements; Decide where to put the pole

1. Take some precise measurements: Work out how long your curtain pole needs to be. Add 20 centimetres to each side of the window so the drawn back curtain will not block out light during the day. The heavier the curtain material and the thicker the lining the more room they will take up when pulled back, so factor this into your final measurement.

2. Decide where to put the pole: Now you need to mark up where to site the pole and decide on the distance above the window. Allow at least three inches above the top of the frame in order to make an attractive drop and to keep out cold air during winter. If you have the curtains already, hold them up in situ to see what height will work best.

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Check that the pole is level; Fixing the pole into timber

3. Check that the pole is level: This stage is a two person job as the level needs to be done by eye rather than using a spirit level. Mark up the position of the brackets using a pencil. When nothing is square it is probably best to fix the pole parallel with the top of the window rather than following the line of the ceiling or the result could look wonky.

4. Fixing the pole into timber: Make a guide mark with a bradawl, then drill a pilot hole and drive the screw in. If fixing into masonry, insert a wall plug first. Always choose a drill bit to match the plug and a plug to match the screw size. Wrap a piece of tape round the drill bit to indicate the correct depth that the hole must be drilled to fit the screw.

How to drill correctly; Attach brackets to the wall

5. How to drill correctly: Drill the hole. When dealing with soft bricks use a smaller diameter bit in case the hole ends up too big. Hold drill square to the wall. Start drilling slowly and build up the speed as the bit goes deeper. Before drilling make sure there are no electrical cables or water pipes in the wall that you may inadvertently pierce.

Drilling into a concrete lintel

Newer buildings and those that have been refurbished may have a reinforced concrete lintel over the window. Making a hole in this is usually way beyond the capabilities of a cordless drill. Corded ones are often more powerful; use a new, good quality masonry drill bit and select the hammer action.

If your drill still baulks at the concrete, borrow an SDS drill (Special Direct System), which has an even stronger hammer action. You may need to switch to a metal drill bit if you hit some steel reinforcing the lintel. Once you’ve made the holes, inserted the wall plugs and put up the brackets you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you have a really good fixing.

6. Attach brackets to the wall: Insert one screw through the first bracket. Just drive it three-quarters of the way home so you can swivel the bracket to one side to allow for drilling the second hole. Select a screwdriver to match the screw head. Too small and it may wring the head; too big and it can gouge the plaster.

Fix the opposite bracket; Add extra support for heavy curtains

7. Fix the opposite bracket: Now go to the other end of the curtain pole. Drill and plug one hole for the second bracket. Insert the screw three quarters of the way in. Before fixing the second screws, stand back and survey the window to make sure that you are satisfied with the position and level of the curtain pole.

8. Add extra support for heavy curtains: If you have a very wide window or heavy lined curtains you may need to support the pole with another bracket in the middle. Slide the rings on to the pole. At each end leave one ring to sit between the bracket and the end of pole to hold the curtains in place across the width of the window when you draw them.