What is the Difference Between Curtains and Drapes?

Drapes are often used used in dining and living areas.
Curtains are generally lighter than drapes.
Drapes are heavier than curtains.
Drapes tend to be used in formal rooms.
Most curtains are fairly inexpensive and might be made of thin, cheap fabrics that may be partially transparent.
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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2015
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Many people use the terms curtains and drapes synonymously, but in fact there are some differences between the two. Curtains and drapes are both made for the same purpose, which is to cover windows. Drapes, however, tend to be heavier than curtains and are typically used in rooms that are more formal. Curtains are often made of very lightweight material and are common in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of the home not typically used for entertaining guests. Drapes are often made with lined fabric and might be designed to open and close with a cord, while curtains are often unlined and sheer and are typically opened and closed by hand.

Drapes are often used in rooms where guests might be entertained, such as a living or dining area. For this reason, they tend to look more formal than curtains and might also be more expensive. Patterns and fabric options for drapes are also typically much more elaborate than what a person would find when selecting curtains. Drapes are often attached to rods with the use of hooks, which can be decorative. Another difference between curtains and drapes is that drapes tend to be pleated at the top, while curtains are usually gathered.


Curtains are common fixtures in kitchens, bathrooms, and occasionally over door windows. Most curtains are fairly inexpensive and might be made of thin, cheap fabrics that may be partially transparent. While drapes effectively serve the purpose of blocking out light and some sound from windows, curtains are not typically as useful for this. Patterns and fabrics used for curtains are usually much simpler than what a person may be able to find when selecting drapes. If a person is concerned about the cost of curtains and drapes, he may want to purchase curtains because they tend to be much less expensive than drapes.

Some people use curtains alongside their drapes. This is often done for the purpose of filtering light. A lightweight, sheer curtain may be installed underneath existing drapes so that the drapes can be left open to allow light in, and the curtain underneath the drapes can keep the room from becoming too bright. Ultimately, most houses could benefit from the use of both curtains and drapes in different rooms. These two very different types of window treatments may be used together or separately in a home to effectively cover windows as well as improve the overall appearance of a home's interior.


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Post 3

@ocelot60- You might want to consider buying curtains and drapes for window treatments for your dining room, and switch them depending on the season.

While curtains are great during the summer months for giving rooms a sunny feel, drapes are perfect for the winter months when a more cozy, formal atmosphere is appreciated. Drapes also help to keep out the cold, so this is an added benefit to using them when it is cold outside.

If you invest in both types of window treatment for your dining room, you can use your curtains when spring roles around, then switch to your drapes in time for the winter season and holidays.

Post 2

@ocelot60- I think that you should choose curtains for your dining room. Since they are made of lighter materials, curtains will allow more light into the room than drapes will, which will give your dining area the sunny atmosphere that you want and that your guests will enjoy.

Another good thing about curtains is that they come in a huge variety of styles. You should be able to find curtains that not only let the sun shine in, but make your room feel as formal and fancy as drapes would.

Post 1

I have a formal dining room with a large window, and I am debating between drapes and curtains. A lot of people gather in my dining room for special occasions, so I want to keep a formal feel to it. However, I also have a pretty outside view and want to create a soft, sunny atmosphere in the room. Does anyone have some suggestions on which window treatment I should choose?

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