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What Is the Difference Between Curtains and Drapes?

Curtains are generally lighter than drapes.
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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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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.

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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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