How to hang fabric from a ceiling

Updated November 21, 2016

Whether you want to hide an ugly ceiling, provide subtle ambience for a party or recreate the feel of the kasbah, hanging fabric from the ceiling can add new dimensions to your decor Lightweight fabrics work best, so to start look to tulle or sheer and semisheer fabrics -- especially linens, cottons and silks. You can hang heavy fabrics as well, but you will need sturdier hardware to keep it where it belongs, and it may need adjustments around, instead of over, ceiling mounted light fixtures.

Ultra-light fabrics and tulle

Screw cup hooks or screw eyes into the ceiling at each corner of the room and at intervals of 90 cm to 1.8 m (3 to 6 feet) along the ceiling at the top of the long walls and precisely parallel to one another across the room.

String a single line of heavy monofilament fishing line tightly between each pair of hooks, so that you have multiple lines parallel to one another across the entire ceiling.

Measure out fabric twice the length of the room for medium depth swags. Use less for shallow swags and more for deep swags.

Drape a few feet of cloth across the first line and carry the rest across to drape it over the next line in the sequence. Repeat draping the lines in sequence, one after another to the last line.

Adjust the depth of the swags and the lengths of the ends to balance the look.

Repeat the entire draping process with other strips of cloth as needed to cover the width of the room.

Medium to heavy weight fabrics from joists

Find the joists in the ceiling using a stud finder. If they run perpendicular to the direction you plan for the length of your fabric, proceed to step 2. If they run parallel, you will need different hardware and should skip to the next section.

Drill pilot holes in the ceiling joists at regular intervals near the tops of the walls and parallel to one another across the room, as for hanging lightweight fabrics. Measure using the spacing of the ceiling joists -- usually 40 cm (16 inch) intervals -- to determine the locations for your hanging hardware. For example, every 80, 120 or 160 cm (32, 48 or 64) inches.

Follow the process for hanging lightweight fabrics, but substitute medium to heavy duty screw eyes attached directly to the ceiling joists at the pilot holes, and substitute decorative chain or strong cording for the monofilament lines.

Medium to heavy weight fabrics from plaster

Follow the procedure for hanging lightweight fabric to decide the locations for your hardware.

Drill holes at the marked locations all the way through the plaster of the ceiling.

Insert one toggle bolt with decorative hook through each hole and tighten.

Use decorative chain or strong cording to support draped fabrics.


You may drape lightweight and sheer fabrics beneath ceiling lights for diffused illumination, but you will need to leave gaps around lights with heavy fabric swags, which may block light from ceiling fixtures.


Allow plenty of space between fabrics and hot lights to avoid creating a fire hazard. Consider installing fire alarms near obscured ceiling lights as an extra precaution, or use fire-retardant fabrics such as those recommended by the European Flame Retardants Association and other organisations.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Cup hooks or small screw eyes
  • Monofilament fishing line
  • Stud finder
  • Drill and small bit
  • Medium to heavy duty screw eyes
  • Decorative chain or cording
  • Toggle bolts with decorative hooks
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