a living room with drapes and curtains

Drapes vs curtains: What's the difference?

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It may come as a surprise to most people that curtains and drapes are two different window treatments altogether. To many, these terms are used interchangeably. But what are the differences between drapes vs. curtains? Continue reading to learn more! 

What are drapes?

heavy drapes in the living room

Drapes are made from heavy, thick fabric material. Drapes are used to completely block light and even reduce external noise from entering a room. For this reason, drapes are lined with fabric such as silk, velvet, or damask.

Some people also get confused about the difference between drapes and draping. Drapes refer to the drape itself while draping refers to whatever material is used as a drape.

While curtains are dropped until just below the window sill or hang above the floor, drapes are generally longer and floor-length to create a puddle effect. Also, unlike curtains, drapes mostly come in solid colors to give a more formal look to a room or windows. 

Drapes aren’t as easy to install by yourself. Due to the weight of the drapes and the sturdiness required to hang them, you may need to hire a professional handyman to help you out.

What are curtains?

living room with curtain treatment

Curtains are used to soften the amount of light, natural or otherwise, that illuminates a room. They are often paired with shades, blinds, and even drapes.

Curtains are often made from lightweight fabric materials such as cotton, linen, or sheer. These fabric panels are sold in pairs and come in a wide array of colors, patterns, and designs. Though their length and width may vary, curtains can be used in all sorts of rooms.

Some people opt for blackout curtains vs drapes instead. These also block out light to a certain degree but weigh less and are thinner than drapes.

Installing curtains is easy to do by yourself using curtain rods, metal or fabric rings, or metal grommets. If you plan to use curtains with blinds, shades, or drapes, you may need the help of a professional curtain fitter.

Regardless if you’re choosing curtains or drapes, having an idea of the most popular styles in the market helps. Here are the 3 most common types of curtain and drape panel styles. 

curtain hanging on rods

  • Panels with rings - these panels are hung from rings attached to the top fabric of the panels. These are also called grommets. 

  • Rod-pocket panels - these are hung by slipping the rod into a hollow, fabric channel at the top of the panel. 

  • Tab-top panels - panels with loops of fabric sewn on the top team of the panel. To hang, the rods are slipped into the loops.

Curtains vs Drapes: Which One is For You?

Still don’t know whether you’re going for curtains or drapes? Here are a few pros and cons to help you decide. 

Why use Curtains?

Use curtains in common areas of your home or where you want to have more natural light. 

Curtains are great for the windows in your living room, patio, and kitchen. They do enough to soften the sunlight that comes in and gently flow with any cool breeze. 

woman opening the curtains


  • Flexible and can be used in different rooms in a home or office.

  • Available in different colors, patterns, and designs.

  • Easier to install, replace, and take down.

  • Most curtains are machine washable.

  • Curtains are light and move with the breeze.

  • It lets in more light.


  • Most curtains aren’t ideal for bedrooms to block out light.

  • Most curtains can’t be steam cleaned, unlike drapes.

  • Not ideal for colder climates or during the colder months of the year.

  • Sheer curtains have lesser privacy.

Why use Drapes?

Drapes are great for bedrooms since they effectively block out light, reduce noise, and keep the room insulated. It’s also ideal for night shift workers and keeping your home nice and toasty during the colder months. While drapes somewhat look a little more formal, you still make it work for your home.

dim room with drapes


  • Blocks out sunlight and reduces noise.

  • It keeps your room insulated.

  • Perfect for your home during winter.

  • Drapes offer added privacy. 

  • Drapes have formal, aesthetic appeal.


  • Difficult to install.

  • Cleaning requires a trip to the dry cleaners.

  • Not ideal for summertime use in common areas.

Get help in putting up your curtains and drapes

It’s recommended to use curtains on windows in your living room, kitchen, or patio. While for privacy and better sleep, you can opt for drapes on the windows of your bedroom. But at the end of the day, it’s really all up to you.

Installing curtains or drapes shouldn’t be a problem, and anyone can do it. Curtains are by far easier to install, while you may need to put a bit more effort into installing drapes. If you need some help, you can always hire a window fitter on Airtasker to save you time and all that extra work. Post a task today!

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