8 Different Types of Curtain Fabric - Home Stratosphere

8 Different Types of Curtain Fabric

Finding the right curtains for your home can help to put definite style and purpose in your home. Choosing the right curtain fabric depends on the total cost you want to invest, the level of privacy, the design, and ultimately the level of care and maintenance you want to commit to.

Gone are the days of long, lace, Grandma curtains adorning every window in the home. Now, curtains are fun and creative ways to help spread your style and personality throughout the house. Curtains, are certainly beautiful but can be practical and purposeful too. Just as a bright pop of color can transform a room, adding privacy curtains or blackout curtains can help you feel more secure in your own home.

Often, the style of the curtain is largely determined by the types of curtain fabric used to create the curtains themselves. Below, let’s take a closer look at the several types of curtain fabrics and understand the pros and cons of each.

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Types of Curtain Fabric

Sheer Curtain Fabric

A set of sheer curtains with a view of rooftops.

Sheer curtains are beautiful, airy, and versatile. These curtains are made with a very thin, almost gossamer, fabric that still allows some of the light to come through the curtain. Typically, sheer fabric drapery is made of voile or chiffon fabric. Sheer curtain fabric can be made of cotton, polyester, or a synthetic mix of the two.

Probably the biggest benefit to sheer curtain drapery is the ability to allow some slight to still shine through the fabric. This is the perfect way to protect your privacy in your home, without turning your home into a dark cave. Sheer curtain fabric comes in an unlimited number of colors and styles ranging from tab curtains to pocket curtains, to somewhere in between.

Sheer curtains can also be paired with standard, sturdy fabric curtains to add a layered look. Choose to couple sheer curtains with similar colored curtains, or choose a complementary color. This will allow you to have heavy drapery on the wall to block out light, but also give you the ability to slide sheer curtain panels over the window during the day to retain your privacy.

The biggest downside to having sheer curtain fabric is that the curtains do not block all of the light. It is still possible to see through sheer curtain fabric, making privacy only possible from a distance. Plus, the sheer fabric does very little to block cold air or drafts from entering your home, so the addition of fabric by the windows will not help to control the temperature in your house. Lastly, sheer curtains can be delicate. They must be laundered with care and cannot withstand harsh abuse, wear, and tear. Tiny snags and tears in the sheer fabric can easily lead to a full-length run that cannot be repaired.

Lace Curtain Fabric

A close look at a window with white lace curtains and a flower vase.

Although the image of lace curtains brings back memories of Grandma’s house, lace curtains do have a certain historic and country charm to them. These curtains are made from intricate lace panels that can help to bring elegance and grandeur to your home. The material used for lace curtains can be polyester, cotton, or linen, and can be man-made or hand created.

Typically, lace curtain fabric is white, although it is possible to find lace curtain fabric in other colors. Because the lace is so delicate, it usually is not used alone on the windows. The lace curtain fabric is often paired with solid fabric to help block some of the light and air from getting through the windows.

Some lace fabric used for curtains is a modified lace hybrid that is a half sheer fabric and half lace. Usually, the lace portion of the fabric is located toward the end of the curtain panel. This allows people to still have the look of lace, without the heaviness a full lace curtain panel may bring to the house. Lace is a beautiful material that is detailed, elegant, and soft. In recent years, lace has been modernized and can help bring a country-chic appearance to your home, without the dated weightiness of Grandma’s curtains.

Still, lace does have some notable drawbacks. Lace curtains are very delicate and can easily become snagged, torn, and damaged. They also must be carefully paired with other decorative items to avoid dating your home. Further, many lace curtains are made of white or ivory fabric that can quickly show staining and discoloration. Lace curtains must be laundered fairly regularly to keep them looking great. Depending on your particular lace fabric, this may mean taking your lace curtain panels to the dry cleaners, which can ring up a hefty tab.

Outdoor Fabric Curtain

An outdoor built-in bench outside the house with outdoor fabric curtains.

Curtains aren’t just for the indoors, and many people enjoy putting curtains outside too. This is common for people who want to enclose an outdoor pergola or patio to increase privacy. With the right outdoor fabric curtain, it may even be possible to keep out the weather, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space even on cloudy and rainy days.

Outdoor fabric is different from the fabric normally used for interior curtains. Often, outdoor fabric is thicker and more durable, usually made of a heavy cotton canvass. This is to allow the outdoor fabric to withstand Mother Nature and the many elements. When buying curtains for the outdoors, be sure to look specifically for outdoor fabric.

Outdoor fabric has several special qualities that make it well suited for the outdoors. Often, this fabric will have a special type of coating on it which will make it weather resistant. This coating can help repel water, mold, and mildew. Further, the outdoor fabric usually is sun resistant. This means that the colors in the outdoor curtains will stay bold, and not change color or fade from long exposure to the sun.

Even with the many safeguards and protective coatings applied to outdoor fabric, it is still necessary to remove the fabric periodically for cleaning. If you live in an area with changing climates, you will want to remove your outdoor fabric curtains through the winter to prevent snow and ice damage.

Drapery Fabric Curtain

A close look at colorful drapery fabric curtains.

Finally! We have reached the type of curtain fabric that is designed and intended to be used for curtains. It is all in the name, and drapery fabric was designed with the pure intention of making curtains. Drapery fabric is common, and often you will find high-quality, custom made drapes made from drapery fabric.

Drapery fabric can be made of several types of material including cotton, damask, linen, polyester, velvet, and any combination of the above! Drapery fabric is heavy and thick, which allows the fabric to hang and lay nicely. Plus, drapery fabric has a strong fabric memory, holding a pinch pleat, standard pleat, or pencil pleat well. This means that after you set your curtains in place, your drapes and curtains will continue to look great for years to come.

Probably the biggest benefit of using true drapery fabric for your curtains is the fact that you will be getting a high-quality fabric. Drapery fabric comes in several colors and patterns allowing you to find something perfect for your home. Plus, drapery fabric is readily available at most home goods stores which means the DIYers in the group can get their sew on.

The downside of drapery fabric though is the care and expense. Because drapery fabric is of high quality, it often comes with a higher price tag. This can be cost-prohibitive when you think about the several yards of fabric necessary to make curtains. Plus, drapery fabric usually is a dry-clean only material which means that it will be an added expense to launder the curtains.

Silk Curtain Fabric

A close look at a silk curtain with details and a rope.

If you want the ultimate luxury, consider adding silk fabric to your home with beautiful curtains for your windows. Silk fabric is a natural fabric, made from spider silk. This luxury fabric is surprisingly durable and comes in several patterns and colors which are well suited to home decor. Many silk curtains have intricately woven patterns and designs sewn into the silk, which gives great subtle detail to an otherwise solid color curtain panel.

The biggest benefit of silk fabric curtains is the weight and durability of this fabric. Silk is a heavy fabric that hangs and lays nicely. This means that each tailored pleat will hold its shape through the curtain.

Further, silk curtain panels will pool nicely at the bottom of the window, allowing homeowners to leave their curtains intentionally long to create a luxurious pool of extra fabric. Silk does a great job at blocking out light, and can even help to keep cool air out of your home. Plus, the silk panels for curtains are thick enough to help keep the house warmer through the winter.

With the several benefits that accompany silk curtains, there are also some drawbacks. Because silk is a natural fabric that takes a great deal of time and energy to produce it can be extremely costly. Once you start to shop for added integral woven patterns in the silk, expect to pay a hefty price. Although durable, silk also requires some pretty specialized care. Expect to have these curtains laundered at a specialty cleaner to keep them looking great for years.

Velvet Curtain Fabric

A set of brown velvet curtains on a white window.

Velvet curtains are soft, decadent, and exude luxury. Velvet is a very common material that is used for curtains that is made from cotton. Velvet is soft and thick, making this an ideal curtain fabric to use. Although in the past velvet curtains have tended to be formal, it is perfectly acceptable to place velvet curtains anywhere in the home. Velvet comes in several colors and patterns making this a well-rounded and versatile fabric to use for your curtains.

Velvet is a great material to use for curtains. The material itself is a heavy weight. This means that velvet curtains will hang beautifully and keep their shape. The weight not only helps to keep the curtains hanging correctly, but it will help to keep pleats firmly in place. This helps to give an overall finished and polished appearance.

Plus, velvet is a very thick fabric. The thick fabric helps to block out light, increasing your privacy. Thick fabric can also help to block cold and drafty air from entering your home. Placed around the windows, velvet curtains can help you keep warm air in your home and cool air out of your home during the long winter months.

The downside to velvet curtains is that they do require some level of care. The long fibers that makeup velvet can be a virtual magnet for pet hair and dust. This means that the fabric will have to be laundered fairly regularly to keep the color and fabric looking great. To avoid some of the maintenance, look for high-performance velvet fabric. This fabric has shorter fibers and is often stain-resistant. Finding high-performance velvet can help cut down on cleaning costs and reduce the amount of maintenance required.

Linen Curtain Fabric

A close look at a set of gray linen curtains.

Linen is a natural fabric made from cotton. This play on cotton fabric is denser, and a wonderful selection for your curtains. Linen curtains come in a range of colors and styles, allowing you to find a natural fabric that is light, airy, and perfect for your windows.

One of the biggest benefits of using linen curtains is that some amount of light is still able to permeate through the fabric. The fabric is thicker than sheer options but light enough to keep light in the room. The thicker natural fabric gives you the privacy you want, with the brightness you crave. Linen curtains are perfect for areas of the home where you are frequenting often, such as the family or living room.

Probably the biggest downside of linen curtains is the fact that, like other high-end materials, these curtains require a certain level of care. Their rough texture can make dust and pet hair cling to them, which can require fairly regular cleaning. Many linen curtains must be taken to a specialty dry cleaner to launder them correctly. Plus, linen is a high-quality material that often carries a pretty hefty price tag. Expect to pay more for these curtains, but also expect them to last for years with the right care and maintenance.

Cotton Curtain Fabric

This is a close look at various cotton curtains with a green tone.

Last on our list is the tried and true cotton curtain. Cotton fabric can take many shapes and forms and is a great all-around, economical fabric choice for your curtains. Cotton comes in several thicknesses, weights, and care levels allowing you to find just the right cotton fabric curtain for your application.

Cotton can be as thin and simple as the cotton in a typical t-shirt, or as durable and long-lasting as a canvas. Usually, for curtains, you will find thick canvas cotton used. This is because the weight helps the fabric to hang well, and will often hold a pleat well. The cotton canvas can be dyed and printed to any number of specifications allowing you to create a one of a kind curtain in your home.

The most desirable aspect of the cotton fabric is the affordability. Cotton is easy to make and is pretty cost-effective. It is possible to outfit your entire home with cotton curtains and still maintain a suitable budget. Plus, cotton is forgiving.

Many cotton canvass curtains can easily be laundered in a conventional washing machine, making it super easy to care for your fabric at home. Lastly, cotton curtains are thick and can help block out light. This helps to increase privacy and keep your home warm all winter long. The only true downside to cotton is that it does not have the same feel and luxury associated with some other high-quality fabrics on our list.

FAQs

Choosing curtains for your home is a big decision, especially if you are considering having custom curtains created. You want to think about the overall look and feel of your curtains, but also consider the amount of ongoing care and maintenance that will be required to keep your curtains looking great.

Before taking the plunge into purchasing curtains, be sure to read through some frequently asked questions about curtains so that you can choose the best curtain fabric for your home.

How much privacy do you need and what can your curtains provide?

Curtains go on the outside of your window and can help to add color and texture to your home. Of course, curtains are also intended to allow for a certain amount of privacy. Different curtain fabrics will have different levels of privacy, so be sure to choose your fabric carefully.

First, think about the level of privacy you need for your room. Are the curtains for a bedroom where you plenty of privacy, or for a sunroom that rarely gets used? Next, think about the location of the room. Is your room on the first floor next to the street? Or is your room on an upper floor where few onlookers can see into your home?

Deciding on how much privacy is needed in your home can help dictate the type of curtain fabric you will need. If you want to still allow natural light into your home with minimal privacy, consider adding a lightweight fabric such as a sheer curtain panel. This is the perfect way to keep your room light and airy.

For a room that requires ultimate privacy, think about adding a thick drapery fabric, velvet, or thick canvas curtain. All of these fabric types will help to block out the light and keep privacy at an all-time high. For something in between, consider using linen curtains. Or, you could use a combination of a sheer curtain panel with thicker fabric to give yourself options.

Which fabric is best for curtains?

When thinking about the best fabric for your curtains be sure to consider both the application for the curtain as well as how much maintenance and time you want to dedicate to your curtains. A high-quality velvet curtain will certainly exude luxury and can help to block out both light and cold air. But, velvet can also be difficult to maintain and must be laundered regularly.

Alternatively, adding a cotton curtain can be very cost-effective and the cotton canvas can be cleaned at home in a conventional washing machine. Cotton canvas often does not have the same texture and feel as a drapery fabric and will not have the same high-quality connotations associated with it.

What’s the difference between blackout and thermal curtains?

Blackout and thermal curtains are growing in popularity because of the additional benefits they bring to your home. Blackout curtains contain a solid backing to the curtain fabric. This solid blackout lining fabric will help to block out any light from entering through the fabric. The blackout fabric is a great addition to curtains in the bedroom, allowing you to sleep peacefully in a completely dark room.

Comparatively, thermal curtains also contain a backing to the fabric. The difference though is that thermal curtains contain a special backing that helps to keep the cool air out of your home, maintaining the overall temperature in the room. Thermal curtains can help lower utility bills and make your room more comfortable to live in. Many thermal curtain options are also blackout curtains, however, every blackout curtain option is not also a thermal curtain.

How long do curtains last?

Curtains can last for years if given the right care and maintenance. Much of how long your curtain lasts will depend on the type of fabric used and the way you care for your curtains.
Many high-quality curtain fabric type options such as velvet, damask, drapery fabric, and linen will last for years.

This is what makes them a great option for people who are making custom curtains for their home. These fabrics require routine care at a specialty cleaner to keep them lasting for years.

Alternatively, cotton curtains can last for years as well. Although the fabric is not as thick and high-quality, cotton can hang on the walls for 50 years or more. Routine care and maintenance will be required to keep these curtains looking great. Keep in mind that routine laundering, especially in caustic soaps can start to degrade the fabric over time.

When considering outdoor fabric curtains the real test of time will be your weather conditions. Curtains that are in the elements year after year will not last as long as curtains that are brought indoors for the season.

Additionally, homes in high-humidity or high-sun areas will tend to fade and damage outdoor fabric curtains more quickly, even though outdoor fabric will withstand fading and cracking for a longer period. With the right care, most outdoor fabric curtains will last for at least 5 years.

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