How to install a shower curtain rod: A step-by-step guide

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It’s common to want some privacy while bathing, and for many, a shower curtain can solve this issue. But if you’ve moved into a new place without any shower curtain rods pre-installed, or your old one broke down, then you’ll probably want to call on a handyman or learn how to install shower curtain rods yourself, stat.

Well, we’re here to help! In this guide, we’ll teach you how to install two main types of shower curtain rods: fixed rods and tension rods.

What’s the difference between fixed and tension rods?

A fixed shower curtain rod is mounted onto the wall through drilling. Since it’s already fastened permanently, this makes for a secure and stable option that will stay in place even when tugged on.

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering how to install a shower curtain rod without drilling, then a tension rod is the answer. This type of curtain rod is a pre-assembled adjustable bar wedged in place between shower walls. Unlike a fixed rod, you won’t need any special equipment to install this as it’s an incredibly easy process. However, tension rods are less secure and tend to fall off.

If you want a quick, hassle-free solution, go for the standard tension rod. But if you prefer the sturdiness and aesthetic value a fixed rod brings, then ready your tools and yourself—you’ve got a weekend bathroom project ahead.

What do I need to install a shower curtain rod?

woman installing shower curtains at home

While tension rods do not need equipment to be installed, gather anything that might help you make the process easier than it already is (e.g. a stepladder to reach a higher point where you’d want to hang the rod).

General tools:

  • Tape measure and pencil/dry-erase marker

  • Stud finder

  • Level

  • Wall patching essentials (if needed)

Tools for fixed shower curtain rods:

  • Drill

  • Screwdriver

  • Drywall anchors

And of course, don’t forget the shower rod of your choice (whether tension or fixed, including its hardware) as well as the actual shower curtain and rings.

How do I hang a shower curtain rod?

For easier reference, we’ll split this guide into two, covering both types of shower curtain bars we’ve discussed. But if at any point you feel like you need someone more experienced to do the job, better connect with an expert curtain rod installer instead.

Hanging a fixed shower curtain rod 

fixed shower curtain over a tub

Step 1: Measure and identify the location

Grab a tape measure to determine the height of your brackets. As a general guideline, the shower curtain rod installation height has to be 15cm higher than the curtain itself. You can also try holding it up to an ideal height to identify where to hang your shower curtain rod.

With a pencil or dry-erase marker, mark the chosen spot on either side of the shower walls. Then, bring the rod up to the marked spots and use a level to ensure that your rod will be installed straight.

Step 2: Check the marked location for studs

Get a stud finder and slide it thoroughly past the spots you’ve marked. If the device lights up or beeps, that means there are studs behind the drywall. Areas with studs are ideal since they can hold screws better. If there are no studs, get additional support by pre-drilling holes and screwing hollow drywall anchors into them.

Step 3: Fasten the rod’s mounting brackets

If you found studs behind the drywall, secure the mounting bracket by drilling holes directly on the wall and screwing the hardware in place. But if you had to pre-drill for drywall anchors, fasten the mounting bracket onto the anchors instead.

Step 4: Mount the shower curtain rod

Once the mounting brackets have been affixed, it’s time to place the rod into the holes. Depending on the type of brackets you have, you’ll either have to twist it to lock or simply lower the rod. You can attach the shower curtain rings before installing the rod so you can easily hang the curtain right away once in place.

Hanging a tension shower curtain rod 

tension shower rod installed in the bathroom

Step 1: Hold up the rod to gauge the height

Bring up the tension rod, stick one end against the wall, and identify where you want to install it. You can also insert the shower curtain rings as early as now so you won’t be troubled by them later. 

Step 2: Extend the rod 

How are tension shower curtain rods mounted? It’s pretty simple. Keep holding one end of the rod against the wall, and then start extending the rod either by pulling out or twisting the other side ‘till it meets the parallel wall. 

Step 3: Check if it’s level

What’s great about tension rods is that they’re adjustable. Even if it’s already wedged in place, you can still move it by loosening the rod a bit and repositioning it. Once you’re happy, make sure to tighten the attachment.

Step 4: Give it a tug to test

Before placing the shower curtain, put a little pressure on the rod to check if it’s sturdy enough to hold some weight.

Step 5: Hang the shower curtain

How do you install a shower curtain? With the curtain hooks placed on the rod, simply thread them through the curtain holes at the top.

Time to install your shower curtain rod!

As you can see, it’s easy to install a shower curtain rod. But if you’re missing some tools or you’ve got no time to spend on it, then you can call on a curtain rod installer—and maybe have them put up some more rods around your house too! Luckily, it’s easy to do that by booking an expert through Airtasker. Post a task today!

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FAQs on installing a shower curtain rod

For fixed rods, it’s generally advised to stray away from tiles and instead attach the brackets to the drywall. For tension rods, there shouldn’t be an issue wherever you place yours so long as you tighten it.

Generally, this question applies to tension rods as a fixed shower bar will stay in place when attached right. Try tightening the rod first before anything else. You can also replace your shower curtain with a lighter one to offload some weight. For more support, you can also attach no-drill stick-on brackets.

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