Curtains vs. Drapes vs. Draperies – What’s the Difference?

Curtains vs. Drapes vs. Draperies – What’s the Difference?

Curtains and drapes or drapery are just fabric panels or names for fabric covering a window, right? Even designers sometimes get this wrong and assume the two are interchangeable. Not so much. While the difference is subtle, it can make a big difference when choosing window coverings for your home.

So really, what is the difference? Let’s break into drapes vs curtains…



drapes vs curtains

Both drapes and Curtains, of course, are fabric window coverings, usually hung from a curtain rod or track and fabric sleeve, but the majority of box-store purchased fabric window treatments will be sheer curtains that are not customizable. Drapes and curtain terms interchangeably do not work as the two are distinctly different.

Curtains can come in a wide variety of luxurious fabrics, colors, patterns, and materials but are limiting. Often they come in just a few set sizes, like lengths of 84″ or 54″. As they’re sold with either one fabric panel or a set of fabric panels. This means you will usually need to purchase multiples in order to create the fullness you need for an attractive style to match your home decor.

Drapes Vs Curtains

What makes curtains different than drapes is you get no customization meaning it might be difficult to size and match curtains to a particular room such as a living room with multiple window sizes. There are different styles of drapes, but you purchase these based on the fabric available from the manufacturers, in the inch measurements they provide versus the way curtains are purchased.

If you have unique architectural features in your home that are in need of light control, you may be unable to find curtains that can meet your needs and cover windows completely. Further, if your window sizes vary, there may not be matching options in different sizes or shapes. Curtain and drapes are not the same things.

Curtains are mass-produced and often only quickly examined by QA in a long line of products, and may have loose threads, uneven hems, varying color in batches, or other discrepancies that custom design would catch and prevent from making it into your home.

Some articles and even experts in our field label “curtains” as lightweight, sheer curtains, or other fabric- or style-related options. The truth is curtains are simply mass-produced, non-customized box store window treatments made from fabric, and hung on a sheer curtain rod. That’s it.


Drapes – or drapery – are the same idea as curtains, but made with care. Drapes offer distinct differences. They’re customized for the window they will be installed in. They can be made from any material from thicker fabrics or more luxurious fabrics, any opacity, and any length. They can even be made to fit custom hardware for unique or unusual windows.

Most importantly, they are made with YOU in mind. When we create draperies, we’re not just covering your windows. We’re taking into account how much natural light comes in through the window and if insulation from heat gain or loss is needed. If your room gets hot when the sun hits it, or cold when it doesn’t, we’re going to find a solution perfect for you and your room.

Drapes Are Customizable

Every drapery panel is customized to work with each window frame as opposed to how curtains hang. Visual appeal, along with taking into account a room’s aesthetic, such as floor length, and window height means with drapes you are getting the right window treatment. This is what makes the difference between drapes vs most curtains.


custom draperies layered with shades

We consider if you have pets or children that may require easy-to-clean fabrics or fur removal. Your personal tastes and your home’s style matter. After all, no one wants draperies that clash with their couch! If your home has a traditional style, we’re going to help choose traditional fabrics and even hardware that matches in with your existing room’s features.

Small details matter. We match the hardware to existing metals in your room. The exact height of hardware and length of the fabric, and even the weight of the fabric itself can evoke different emotions and also offers many styles.

Fuller, rich fabrics with solid, darker colors can make a bedroom feel more romantic. Plus you need darker materials in a bedroom anyway for optimal sleep hygiene anyway. If you’re in a family room or home office, you need glare to stay off your screens.

Draperies Can Also Be Motorized

If you have a smart home system, they can even be integrated. If you don’t, though, phone apps, tablets, Google Voice, or Amazon Alexa devices can control your drapes.

Don’t want any of that? That’s fine! We can also install a wall button much like a light switch that allows you to simply open or close drapes with the push of a button (also shades, blinds, and even awnings!).

There are many options when it comes to motorized drapes that can suit your needs and lifestyle. These types of motorized drapes or smart drapes, create visual interest, allow light in or block light, reduce noise from the outside, and can also help control energy costs when set on a timer.

Are Curtains Just Cheaper Drapes?

Basically, yes. Curtains are essentially mass-produced, non-customized, lower-quality drapes that can usually only be purchased in pairs. We understand not everyone is ready to or wants to invest in custom draperies, and there’s nothing wrong with having curtains.

We’re obviously biased in favor of high-quality and custom design solutions since that’s what we do and we love it! New window treatments can make a homeowner smile, which we love to see.

Sometimes curtains and drapes aren’t the right solutions for your room too, and when shopping online for premade solutions, it’s even harder to find blinds, shades, or especially shutters that aren’t custom and will still fit correctly, prevent gaps, and last for years to come.

Layering drapes with shades or other options is a client favorite as well, since then you can get really creative in both design and functionality. Drapes hang nicely when layered and fit to custom window sizes.

Last but not least, nothing beats the look on our client’s faces when the custom drapes are installed to perfection and complete the vision they had all along for their homes. Drapes tend to have a lasting effect on a room’s sense of style. Ready to transform your home with new custom drapes?

 Window Treatments

The difference between curtains and drapes can be a bit confusing. At Galaxy Draperies, we believe in quality drapes that stand the test of time.

Ready for a free consultation with one of our experienced designers to discuss adding your favorite drapes to your home? Simply fill out the form below!


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