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What Is a Tension Rod?

What Is a Tension Rod?

With so many different types of drapery and curtain hardware on the market, it can be hard to decide which is best for your window.  A tension rod can be a great, non-permanent option for many applications.  Read on to learn more about it…

A tension rod uses (you guessed it) tension to stay in place – no screws, hooks or other fasteners of any kind.  Tension rods are spring loaded, and they can be adjusted to exactly the right width for your window.  They need to be adjusted to create a tight fit, which keeps the rod in place.  The rubber tips on either end help to keep the rod from slipping and also serve to protect your wall or trim from damage.  And, they are typically very affordable, coming in around $5 each for many sizes!

Kirsch Tension Rod

Tension rods work well for installing a window treatment inside the window frame (inside mount), as well as installing a treatment between two kitchen cabinets.  Anywhere you have a “wall-to-wall” installation, a tension rod can be a hardware option for you.

Tension rods are typically about 1/2″ in diameter, either round or oval in profile, and white in color.  Since they are hidden inside a rod pocket on the curtain or drapery panel, they aren’t meant to be fashion statements.  Shower curtain tension rods are usually more decorative, and come in an array of finishes from chrome to oil-rubbed bronze.  Larger tension rods, often called dauphin or continental rods, can be as large as 3″ or 4″ high.  These require a particular rod pocket to accommodate the large profile of the rod.

tension rod valance

A 4″ h Dauphin Tension Rod Holds This Valance Between Two Kitchen Cabinets

Be aware, however, that tension rods work best on narrow windows and spaces, typically 48″ wide or less. On wider applications, a rod with a smaller diameter tends to sag in the center. Using a rod with a larger diameter (think, shower curtain rod), can help you span wider areas without sagging.  Tension rods also work best with lightweight window treatments; a very heavy drapery panel can be too much for a tension rod to support securely.

Cafe Curtain

This Cafe Curtain is Held In Place With a Standard Oval Tension Rod

Tension rods are best used with rod pocket window treatments, whether those are curtain panels or valances. They create little, if any, damage to trim and walls, making them a solid hardware choice for homeowners and renters alike.

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