The many types of curtain rail systems provide a selection of tracks and poles for mounting draperies not only at windows but in many unusual places. The simplest system consists of a pole held in place by brackets, mounted across a window frame. Drapery panels are affixed to the pole by way of a rod-pocket, tabs, clips or rings. A drawing system, either with or without cords, can be added to facilitate opening and closing.
Poles are made of wood, metal or plastic in a variety of textures and colors. Decorative end-pieces, or finials, keep the panels from sliding off the rod and hold the rod on the brackets. Because the poles and accessories are ornamental, they need not be concealed, but can contribute to the decorative elements in a room.
Special two or three-pole brackets accommodate multiple sets of draperies at one window. This avoids mounting a series of brackets on the wall. Brackets and poles are sized to support a defined weight. When choosing rail hardware, it is important to make sure that the particular system will support the weight of the drapery.
Corded and uncorded curtain rail tracks provide another way to hang drapery. A compact aluminum or metal frame houses a concealed track into which gliders are inserted. Special hooks are inserted into the panel and through the eyes of the gliders. The panel is then suspended from the hook which slides along the track on the gliders. Uncorded systems are drawn by hand or with a wand. Corded systems are operated by drawstrings that are threaded through the track. Drawing can be one-way, to either the left or right, or two-way, from the center to the sides.
Tracks come in standard lengths, although many manufacturers provide custom-made tracks for unusual lengths. Some brands feature telescopic tracks that allow adjustment; others can be cut to size. Track systems may be single, double or triple. As each layer of curtain is added, brackets must also be added along the run to support the weight.
Track systems are not only white, but brass, gold-tone, silver and wood. Most tracks are small enough that when closed, the drapery conceals the bar. When the fabric panels are opened, the rod is exposed. Using valances, cornices or pelmets conceals the hardware and adds interest to the window treatment.
Special hardware enables curtains to be mounted on ceilings, bay windows or corners. Several track systems are designed to bend, accommodating installation as room dividers, around beds such as in hospitals for privacy, or around bathtubs to hang shower curtains.
Curtain rails provide solutions for hanging draperies in problem areas. Hardware can be integrated into the decorative scheme to achieve a polished look.