How to cover a staircase with curtains

Lower level staircases are sometimes not the most attractive features in a home, and they can cause cold drafts to reach the upper floors. One way to address both of these issues is by hanging an insulated curtain that can screen off the lower floor from the upper floor at the staircase. Installing this type of ceiling mounted drapery isn't difficult, and your heating and cooling savings in a single year may pay for your curtains and more.

Measure the wall along the railing side of the staircase to the opposite wall. Cut the curtain track to this length with a hacksaw. Most curtain track systems include a U-shaped track that hangs upside-down on the ceiling, plastic slides that fit inside the track that have a hole in them for drapery hooks, mounting brackets to hold the track to the ceiling and end caps to cap off the ends of the track. The kit should also include screws and anchors.

Move a stud finder along the ceiling to locate the direction of the upstairs floor joists. The floor joists may run parallel with the staircase. In this instance you will find the closest joist and mount the brackets all to the same joist. If the joists run opposite of the staircase, then mark each joist location on the ceiling.

Screw the curtain track bracket 2.5 cm (1 inch) from each opposing wall directly into the floor joist using a drill and screwdriver. Drill a pilot hole if the screwdriver cannot push the screw fully into the joist. Measure the distance between the two end brackets and divide the measurement, allowing for a bracket every 90 cm (36 inches) or less. Mark the locations of each bracket. It is sometimes helpful to draw a straight line on the ceiling between the brackets to mount all of the brackets in a straight line.

Attach your track to the ceiling brackets. Include a slider for every 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) of track. The exact number depends on the spacing of your drapery pleating or gathers. Add one extra slider for a pull rod. Most curtain pleats are around 10 cm (4 inches) apart. Insert the end caps on both ends of your track.

Buy insulated curtains of the height from the ceiling to the floor. Slide a curtain hook into the fabric behind each pleat so the top of the hook is the same measurement from the ceiling to the bottom of the track. Hang your curtains. Sew a tack stitch connecting each panel 5 cm (2 inches) from the top edge of adjoining panels. Attach a pull rod on the last slider. This will allow you to slide the curtains on the track easily without pulling on the fabric, which can tear the fabric at the hook locations.


Insulated curtains are heavy, which is why you want good support from your curtain rod. Select a fabric that fits well with your decor and avoid very dark curtains, as they may make the room feel too cave-like.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Curtain track
  • Hacksaw
  • Stud finder
  • Brackets
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Slides
  • End caps
  • Curtains
  • Drapery hooks
  • Curtain pull
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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.