How to Choose the Best Curtains for Your Sliding Glass Door

Tackle both form and function with this simple curtain guide.

By Kelly O’Roark

 

If you have a sliding glass door in your living room, you know that it’s a wonderful source of natural light, and is a great way to bring in fresh air when Spring arrives. However, sometimes the sunlight is a bit overwhelming, especially when you want to watch TV, take a nap on the couch, or just generally avoid having the high noon sun shining directly into your eyes. This is where curtains come into play because they not only provide a way to adjust the amount of sunlight that comes into your room but also provide much-needed visual interest to your door frame. Choosing curtains for a living room can be a bit overwhelming since they come in a wide variety of lengths, styles, and colors, and it’s hard to know what the standard is.

 

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If you’re unsure how to choose curtains for sliding glass doors that’ll enhance your door and living room from a practical and visual standpoint, here are three factors that will give you a fail-proof solution.

 

1. Length and Width

Before choosing a style and pattern for your living room sliding door curtains, it’s of utmost importance to know the dimensions of your sliding glass door, as these measurements will determine the measurements for your curtains. Unless you have a custom-made door that extends beyond the normal two-panel glass door measurements, your door is most likely about 6.8 feet high, as the standard sliding door height is 80 inches. If you’re not able to eyeball it, you can measure from the top of the door to the bottom to make sure that you have a standard door height.

 

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When it comes to the standard sliding door width, it’s usually either 5 feet or 6 feet (60 inches or 72 inches), although most are 6 feet wide. Again, you may want to grab your measuring tape if you can’t tell just by looking at it. Now that you know the length and the width, you’ll be able to choose the proper curtain rod and curtains. Since the width of most two-panel sliding doors is 72 inches, choose a curtain rod that gives about 4 inches of room on each end (past the door frame) to bunch up the curtains when they’re drawn on either side.

 

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Since you’ll need 4 inches on each side, you should find a rod that’s 8 inches longer than the width of the door. The door is 72 inches wide, so that means you’ll need an 80-inch curtain rod. In regards to the length of the curtains, you’ll want curtains that extend 3 inches above the door frame and 1 inch below the door frame, so that the curtains are grazing the floor, and not covering the top of the door frame. That means your curtains will need to be 4 inches longer than the door height (80 inches), and 84-inch curtains will work perfectly!

 

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If all of this math is making your head spin, here’s a quick recap of the standard sliding door, curtain rod, and curtain dimensions:

 

Component Dimension
Sliding Door 72 inches high, 80 inches wide
Curtain Rod 84 inches wide
Curtains 84 inches long

 

2. Material and Style

Now that you have the technical part out of the way, it’s time to move onto the practical and aesthetic function of the curtains. Before you look at curtains that have your preferred color and pattern, it’s important to decide on the style of the curtains and what type of fabric you’ll need to narrow down your search. When it comes to the style, the most common ones are single panel, double panel, and triple panel. This means that you can have one large panel of fabric (single), two panels so that there’s one on each side (double), or a combination of the two, where you have a panel on each side and one in the middle (triple).

 

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As shown here, this triple-panel curtain set is very unique, as it provides a different type of visual interest compared to the more traditional one or two-panel curtains. When pulled together, it’s hard to tell that there are three panels, and when they’re separated, you have the freedom to let the right amount of light come in depending on the position of the sun. Also, these curtains have a medium thickness to them, which still allows some light to shine through even when they’re closed. Sheer curtains won’t provide any shade from the sun, and thick “blackout” curtains will make the room extremely dark (and are only recommended for bedrooms of theater rooms).

 

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For a living room, it’s usually best to choose a material that isn’t too heavy or too light so that you can still have some soft light coming in when the sun is too bright to have the curtains fully drawn.

 

3. Color and Pattern

Once you’ve chosen the best style and material density for your sliding glass door curtains, you can choose a color scheme and pattern that complements your décor. Since this living room has a greenish-gray standard sectional sofa with a cream-colored area rug, these curtains are a perfect contrast as the pattern enhances the solid-colored sofa and rug while complementing the color scheme with greenish blue, gray, tan, and cream.

 

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Now that you know how to pick the right size curtains for a sliding glass door, you’re sure to enhance your living room by not only upping the visual interest but also creating a comfortable environment where you can adjust the sunlight level to suit your needs. What’s your favorite style, color, and material? Do you have any unique ideas regarding the aesthetic appeal? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of Kelly O'Roark

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