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Drapes vs Curtains: The Basic Difference

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When shopping for window treatments, choosing between curtains and drapes can be overwhelming. Many are often confused between these both. Adding to the problem, even most interior decorators use both terms interchangeably.

While most think drapes and curtains are synonymous with each other, they are not. They have several important differences that distinguish these two types of window treatments.

In this article, we shall help you clear the air by explaining the distinct characteristics between drapes and curtains. Also, we will make you understand to select the right window decor that will change the look of the room.

Let us delve into the discussion to know what they are.

What Are Drapes?

Drapes are fabric panels for windows that are usually longer than the standard curtains. They come with a lining and hence, are a little heavy. The lining of the drapes can be either light or heavy, depending on the desired use. Often sold in pairs than regular curtains, drapes are available in many styles, patterns, and colours.

Drapes are long enough and extend from the rod to reach the floor. Sometimes, they are extra-long and even puddle on the floor. Drapes, also called draperies, are available in many patterns. The top of the drapery panel often comes in pleats like the pencil pleat, pinch pleat, box pleat, tuxedo pleat grommet, rod pocket, etc. These pleats when coupled with the heavy fabric, help achieve that formal appearance to the window covering. Each draper type has its own aesthetic appeal and enhances the décor of the room.

Drapes are mainly for decoration and are typically made of thicker and luxury fabrics like velvet and silk. Most drapes are custom-sized to fit the exact window specifications. Although they are more expensive, they are the best choice for having that formal and luxurious look in your rooms.

Characteristics of Drapes

Noise Reduction: Since drapes are typically made from thick and fabric and also have a lining, they help in reducing the noise. They dampen the sounds coming in through your windows and hence are a perfect fit for homes located close to busy streets.

Light Control And Privacy: Drapes help to block out outside sunlight coming through the windows to almost 95%. Blackout style is the most popular draperies in the bedroom that keep the room dark enough to ensure proper sleep. Besides, their dense fabric makes them act as a great window for improving privacy.

Highly Customizable: Drapes are highly customizable just like curtains. You can pair them with

valances to elevate the aesthetic appeal of your room. You can either choose from the same material and design or can mix and match from a myriad of options available like the fabric, size, and shape. Although they have a complicated structure than curtains, they are very simple when compared to other window treatments.

What Are Curtains?

Like drapes, curtains are also fabric panels that come in different lengths, widths, and sizes. Typically sold in pairs, you can use curtains individually or install them over blinds. They are usually lightweight than drapes and are often available in various styles, patterns, colours, and fabrics. They may typically made of lighter fabrics like cotton, linen, or sheer fabrics.

Curtains are the most popular option for many homes, unlike drapes. You have a myriad of options to choose from, like the simple, medium-weight grommet curtains to half-length sheer cafe curtains.

Comparatively, they are less effective to block out the light and noise. Hence, people often pair them with blinds or shades, to achieve a more fashionable look to the room, while blocking out the sunlight. You can also use individual curtains in spaces that do not require a blackout effect. Just like drapes, even curtains hang from a curtain rod, installed above the window frame.

Characteristics of Curtains

Great Light Control: As mentioned earlier, curtains come in various thicknesses, and hence you can choose the fabric accordingly to control the light. When you choose a sheer curtain, it lets the light in, giving your room beautiful natural light. It is always up to the user to decide the thickness that suits your needs the most.

Improving Insulation: Curtains are a great option for improving insulation too. Curtains made

with special thermal fabrics help to reduce the amount of energy seeping through the windows. Having energy-efficient curtains at home can help lower your energy bill in the long run.

Highly Customizable: Curtains are highly customizable, and you can choose from their large variety of sizes, shapes, designs, colours, materials, and patterns. Since they are affordable than drapes, you do not have to worry about the prices when customizing them as per your taste.

Choosing The Right Window Treatment: Drapes vs. Curtains

Below is a table containing the characteristic differences between drapes and curtains. This table shall give you a fair idea of what you should choose and why:

You want to have something lighter.    YES
You want to have that formal appearance in your room YES
You want to block out sunlight from outside and reduce noise. YES
You want to have a sheer option. YES
You need a window covering that is versatile, easy to wash, and stands up to the kids and dogs. YES
You keep adjusting your windows all through the day and want something you can open and close easily. YES
You want to improve in insulation to your room. YES
You are looking for a cost-effective option. YES
You want to invest in a window covering that is durable and lasts a long time. YES
You want reusable window treatments that you can quickly take down and reinstall. YES

Let us look at other significant differences between drapes and curtains:

Blocking Light

If you want to block the sunlight from outside, then thick-lined drapes are the perfect option for you. You can have them for your bedrooms or other private areas.

Winner: Drapes

To Let Light In

If you want your room to flood with natural light, then go for curtains of your desired thickness. A sheer curtain lets the light inside and could be the one you need.

Winner: Curtains

Allow Light And Block When Needed

Do you want to have the option that enables you to allow the light inside and block it when needed? You can choose curtains and pair them with blinds by them underneath. You can raise or lower the blinds depending on your preference.

Winner: Curtains

Noise Reduction/Insulation

If you want to block out the noise that comes in through your windows and insulate your home, drapes are the perfect fit. Since they hang from the top of the window to the floor and have a lining as well, they serve the best output.

Winner: Drapes

For Privacy

If you want to improve privacy or control the light in your bedroom or other rooms, choose drapes with heavier fabrics.

Winner: Drapes


Styling your room with apt window treatment is yet another important thing we all look for. For a room, like a kitchen, lightweight sheers would be the perfect option. When it comes to other rooms like the living room or dining room, they need a more formal and sophisticated look. In such a case, draperies are all you need.

Winner: Both curtains and drapes seem to have an edge here


We all know that drapes are mainly for decoration and are custom-sized to fit the exact window specifications. However, you can customize them to have additional inches extending on the floor for a more formal and luxurious look.

Curtains are typically ready-made and come in specific lengths. They are ready-to-use window treatments that mostly do not require any customization. The available range of lengths for curtains is from 63 to 144 inches. If you want a curtain of your different length, you may need to customize them to the desired height.

Winner: Both curtains and drapes tend to get equal points when it comes to customization


We all know that drapes usually coming with a lining. It is a protective fabric that helps the drapes withstand any damage and allows them to last a lifetime. Some draperies come with a blackout lining that gives your room a darkening effect when you close the drapes.

In contrary to the drapes, curtains do not come with a lining. Hence, they are not as effective as drapes when blocking sunlight and do not have light filtering features.

Winner: Drapes

Small Details

Let us look into the small details of both drapes and curtains. We will talk about the drapes first. These are what you find in them:

  • Double hem at the bottom
  • Doubleheader at the top
  • Lead drapery weight at the seams and corners.

These customary specifications of the drapes help them to stay in position and hang correctly. They do not flare out or swerve when the wind blows.

On the other hand, this is what a curtain has:

  • Single bottom hem
  • Single top headers
  • No lead drapery weight sewn into the curtain

As opposed to drapes, curtains do not have that luxurious and formal appearance. They are a casual option for choosing the window treatment.

Winner: Drapes

Similarities Between Drapes and Curtains

Till now, we were discussing the differences between drapes and curtains. Let us now try to learn the similarities between the duo here.

  • Both drapes and curtains are available in a wide range of designs, colours, styles, fabrics, etc. You can choose from the plethora of options according to your décor style and preferences.
  • You can get both of them in pairs.
  • These window treatments may or may not come with ties to hold them back.
  • You can custom-order and custom-design them to your preferences and needs.
  • Both are available in specialty measurements.

Curtains Vs. Drapes: Which Is Better?

When it comes to answering which one is better, I don’t think anyone can answer that. Because both drapes and curtains have unique characteristics that make them exceptional in their own way. Both curtains and drapes are highly customizable.

It is all dependent on your requirements. If you choose to have natural light inside your room, curtains are the best. Opt for a sheer panel if you want to have a more relaxed look in your living room without sacrificing your privacy. If you want to have great light control, opt for curtains with the desired thickness.

If you want to have a complete block out of light, drapes are the best suitable choice.

In our debate between curtains vs. drapes, the drapes are the clear winner because of their superior light control and noise reduction capabilities.

When you consider specific characteristics in the curtains vs. drapes argument, curtains stand out as a superior option because of their relaxed and elegant look.


I hope this article gave you the necessary information on the two popular window treatments. With the comparative analysis, you should now be aware of which will work for you. In the end, it is always up to the user to decide the right window covering depending on his preferences.

What is your choice? What would you prefer – drapes or curtains? Let us know your answer in the comments section below. Write to us if you need more information or have any questions on this topic. If you have any inputs, do not hesitate to share them with us. We would love to hear and learn more from you.

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