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Home | how to measure for a valance
Custom Board Mounted Valance with Trim< go back to custom valances

How to Measure for a Valance

To measure for your new custom valance, you will need a metal tape measure. Outside-mounted window treatments need approximate measurements, but inside-mounted window treatments need to be measured very accurately. Also note that there is no such thing as a standard window. Even if your windows appear to look the same, you should still measure each window individually.

In order to measure for your custom valance, make sure that you understand the following terms:
How to measure allowance and return
A - allowance:
the total extra width that a window treatment covers past the actual window. In other words, valance width minus window width.
B - return:
how much a window treatment projects away from the wall.

Choose how you will layer your treatments:

layering option

layering option

layering option

layering option

layering option

outside-mounted valance outside-mounted valance with draperies underneath outside-mounted valance with draperies over inside-mounted valance inside-mounted valance with draperies over

layering optionOutside-Mounted Valance

First, measure your window from the outermost left edge to the outermost right edge. If your window has a frame, you should measure it as well. Write this measurement down.

Then, consider how much of an allowance you need. The allowance generally depends on the style of the valance. Some simple valances, such as our scalloped valances, need an allowance of only a few inches, whereas richer valances with wide jabots can have an allowance anywhere between 3 inches to as much as 12 inches.

The next thing to consider is a return if you'd like one. But before you can do that, you need to decide whether your valance will be installed onto a continental rod or a decorative pole. Decorative poles have finials on each side, so the return comes from the bracket. Valances do not cover brackets on a decorative pole, so there is no need to add extra width for a return for your valance. Continental rods also have brackets, but unlike decorative poles, valances do cover the bracket of a continental rod. Make sure to note the projection of a continental rod and add more width to your valance to accommodate the return.

One of the most commonly made mistakes when it comes to measuring and installing valances is that they are installed too low. Custom window treatments are installed high above the window. Some valances that need to clear a French door or casing window are installed high enough so that their bottom hem ends at the top of the door or window frame.

layering option Outside-Mounted Valance With Draperies Underneath

Measure the same as noted above for outside-mounted valances. However, there are a few differences. The main difference is that your window treatment can be very wide to make your window appear larger. Allowances as large as 30 inches are common with this layering combination to allow more light in. If you don't need more light or don't need to make your window appear larger, but instead, wish to add height to your room, consider a smaller allowance for your valance and draperies of only single widths.

It is also very important to understand that your draperies have to fit underneath your valance. Your valance needs at least a 5-inch return to clear a pair of custom draperies. Again, for a continental rod, a 5-inch return can be achieved by adding 10 inches in extra width to the valance and for a decorative pole, a 5-inch return is achieved by purchasing brackets that project 5 inches from the wall.

layering option Outside-Mounted Valance With Draperies Over

The idea is the same as in the previous layering style. Only this time, the draperies need to clear the valance. Valances with a return are fine, but the return must be minimal.

Also, try to keep the valance short to keep the proper scale, unless you have a tall window. The only exception is a valance that mimics a shade. For example, if you'd like, our stationary London valances can cover about two thirds of your window.

layering option Inside-Mounted Valance

For this style, it is very important to measure accurately. Measure your window depth, first of all. Inside-mounted valances work best when the window depth is at least 2 inches. Don't forget, if your valance is board-mounted, the board depth cannot be larger than the window depth. For all other valances, you don't need to worry about a return as inside-mounted valances have none. Instead of a continental rod or decorative pole, you will need a tension rod.

Measure your window at several places inside your window. If your measurements are not within 1/4", an inside-mounted valance is probably not for your window. Measure within 1/8" accuracy. To make sure that your valance will fit, subtract about 1/4 to 1/2" from your inside window measurement.

Follow this same procedure for palladium windows, bay windows, or bow windows.

layering option Inside-Mounted Valance with Draperies Over

Measure for your valance just like you did above. Install your draperies right underneath the crown molding close to the ceiling for added interest. For palladium windows, draperies can be either installed right underneath the crown molding or at the same height as the base of the arched part of the window.

Some Important Notes to Remember:
  • Allowances exist on both sides of your window. If you measure that you'd like your valance to have an extra 2-inch width on each side of your window, the allowance is 4 inches, not 2 inches.
  • When measuring, you are measuring the area that needs to be covered, not the actual valance width. Remember that especially if you're interested in purchasing a gathered valance.
  • Oddly shaped windows like bay windows or arched windows can be covered. You just have to look at it in window sections instead of one big window. And remember, an inside-mounted valance can fit virtually any window as long as it has enough depth.


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