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How to choose the right curtain track

By admin on May 25, 2013 in Guides

Track Guide

The right curtain track, correctly fitted, will make a big difference to the hang of your curtains and the whole look of your room. We have a wide selection in our shops and hope this guide will assist you in your selection.

Types of Curtain Track

To begin with, ensure that the track is suitable for the weight of the curtains which will hang from them.

PVC is inexpensive, flexible and suitable for light and medium weight curtains. A corded option is not available with this type of track.

Aluminium is more expensive but stronger and more durable, as well as being bendable. It is also suitable for light and medium weight fabric and gives you smoother drawing curtains. Corded and uncorded options are available with this type of track.

Steel is suitable for heavy weight curtains. This type of track is not bendable and is always corded.

Heavy duty aluminium can be made to exact lengths and can be ordered ready bent.

We also sell Valance tracks. A bendable valance track is available for use with our PVC and Aluminium tracks (sold separately) and a track/valance combination in steel, which is not bendable, is also available.

Corded and Uncorded Track

Uncorded curtain tracks

Uncorded curtain tracks have nylon gliders which slot into the bottom of the track. You manually pull the curtains to open and close them. We recommend 1 pair of draw cords to aid pulling curtains

Corded curtain tracks

Corded tracks are threaded with nylon cord at the back which connects to a system of gliders and pulleys. You open and close the curtains by using a pull-cord, without having to handle the curtain, protecting more delicate fabrics from damage. Corded tracks are also useful for heavy curtains and for tall windows, making drawing your curtains easier. Corded tracks over 3m (9 feet 10 inches ) in length will have cords at both ends rather than just one (see diagram).

Windows Shapes

Inside recesses

To fit a curtain track inside a recess, the overall length of the track should be slightly sorter than the actual width of the recess. Standard size PVC or slim aluminium tracks can be cut to fit using a hacksaw.

Outside recesses

When measuring, allow a minimum of 15cm ( 6 inches ) each side of the window to let in the maximum amount of daylight. For very full curtains allow even greater width. Again, PVC and aluminium tracks can be cut to fit. Heavy duty aluminium tracks can be ordered in exact lengths.

An extendable steel track can be used where you are unsure of the exact measurements. Narrow windows can be made to appear wider by extending the track on either size (see diagram).

Bays and corners

When measuring, allow for bends. The gentler the bend, the more smoothly your curtains will run. Most PVC or aluminium track can be bent to fit. If the track is heavy duty aluminium you will need to order it ready bent – just fill in one of our measurement forms in store and we’ll do the rest. We can also supply and fit the track if your bay has several bends or if you are unsure about measuring tracks yourself. Measuring and estimating is free of charge but there is a charge for fitting.

Fitting Tracks

Brackets: Most tracks come with universal brackets that can be fixed either to the wall or ceiling.

Wall fixing: Fix the track to a wooden batten above the window frame, or fix to brickwork using long screws and rawlplugs.

Ceiling fixing: Attach track to ceiling joists or, if joists are not in the right positions, to a wooden batten (see diagram).

Cutting and Bending Tracks


PVC tracks are easy to cut with a hacksaw. When bending, work with care and make sure the track is at room temperature. Follow the pack instructions which will tell you the angle of bend you can achieve.


Aluminium tracks are also easy to cut with a hacksaw. Aluminium can be made into tighter bends but you will need to work carefully since, once bent, an aluminium track will not spring back. Follow the pack instructions and bend in stages, regularly checking the angle of the bend against the shape of the window.


Steel tracks cannot be bent.

Heavy duty aluminium

Tracks should be ordered cut to length or cut by professional fitters. Some can be bent outwards as well as inwards while others cannot be bent so check with an assistant before you order. Tracks can be bent to your own measurements or our professional fitters will bend them as part of our fitting service.


We have everything you need to fit, fix and maintain curtain tracks:

  • Spares: Tracks come complete with all fitting apart from curtain hooks but we stock additional gliders, end stops, brackets, runners and roller runners.
  • Extension brackets: These can be used with deep windows or radiators to bring the curtains further out from the wall.
  • Draw rods: For drawing curtains on uncorded tracks. Choose from 3 lengths to suit the height of your windows.
  • Header tape; John Lewis shops stock a full range of Rufflette tapes and hooks.
  • Spray lubricant: This silicone based spray ensures curtains run more smoothly, prolonging the life of corded curtain tracks.


Occasional cleaning will improve the performance of your track and help prolong its life. Wash with a household detergent, allow to dry, then spray with a silicone based lubricant.