Guide to Choosing the Best Outdoor Curtains

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Create an intimate open-air space with outdoor curtains, a stylish solution for adding privacy and shade to your patio, pergola or pavilion.

Outdoor living is one of the hottest lifestyle trends this year, fueled by the increased amount of time people are spending at home. From elaborate patios to pretty pergolas, homeowners are expanding and upgrading outdoor spaces to make them as comfortable and inviting as their home’s interiors.

Here’s a simple, all-weather accent that adds cozy appeal to your yard while also providing the shade and privacy you need for everyday use: Outdoor curtains. Tie them back for a soft decorative touch, or let them hang to block bright sunlight and prying eyes. Either way, outdoor curtains create the look and feel of an outdoor room.

About Outdoor Curtains

Outdoor curtains stand out for their durability. They’re designed to withstand the rigors of the elements without fading, tearing or developing mold. Made from weather-resistant fabrics that repel water and stains, many types are also UV-stable to retain their color over time.

For extra hardiness, outdoor curtains are often fitted along the header with reinforced hanging tabs or grommets so strong winds won’t carry them away. Heavier fabrics can offer UV protection and even keep temperatures in check under your porch or patio on hot summer afternoons.

Choosing the Right Outdoor Curtains

Whether you’re going for a breezy beach-house vibe or need some heavy-duty drapes to keep out the sun, outdoor curtains are the perfect mix of flair and functionality. Here are some basics to help you choose the right fabric and style for your outdoor space:

Types

Olefin: This synthetic fabric — also known as polypropylene — is colorfast and UV resistant, so it’s ideal for sun-washed outdoor spaces. Soft and lightweight, olefin fabrics also dry quickly, giving mold and mildew little time to take hold.

Acrylic: Vibrant solid colors and stripes that resist fading make acrylic fabrics an attractive choice for outdoor curtains. Unfortunately, these fabrics tend to build up a static charge that attracts fur, so are not the best option if you have pets.

Polyester: Less expensive than olefin or acrylic, polyester comes in endless prints and colors. It’s beloved for its elegant drape, but can fade or discolor in direct sunlight after a year or two.

Cotton and Canvas: These natural fibers are ultra-absorbent and slow to dry, so they often develop mold and mildew and its colors fade or bleed.

Colors

Neutral Solids: With subtle colors and “homespun” textures mimicking raw linen or cotton, neutral solids add softness to your outdoor space without drawing attention. Opt for a darker color to block harsh sunlight, or a sheer color to let the natural light filter in.

Bold Stripes or Solids: Add a timeless coastal look with wide beach stripes or make a bold statement with a bright solid. Coordinate your curtain color with the overall palette of your outdoor décor for a pleasing room-like atmosphere.

Botanical Prints: Emphasize the garden location with a floral or nature-inspired print that mirrors the surrounding greenery, from bright floral patterns to lush tropical prints.

Trends

Vintage: Match your curtains to the architectural style of your historic home by choosing a print or color that was popular in the same decade, from mid-century modern to ’70s hip. This is an especially striking detail if you own antique or period garden furniture.

Romantic: Flowing, gauzy curtains that shift in the breeze set an enticing “Lawrence of Arabia” mood, especially paired with glowing lanterns and an assortment of poufs and pillows strewn over the floor.

Eco-chic: Fabrics inspired by raw linen or cotton give your outdoor space a natural feel without the mold and sun-fading of real natural fabrics. Pair this look with patio furniture made of teak, rattan, bamboo and other natural materials.

Outdoor Curtain Price and Purchasing

Browse the selection online at The Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond for outdoor curtain panels that are pre-hemmed and finished with tabs or grommets for hassle-free hanging. Although you can adjust the hem and make other alterations, outdoor curtains are sold in various lengths and widths, so you should be able to find something ready-made that will work. Often you’ll find a set that fits your space and can be purchased and hung in the same day.

Double-check the product description before purchasing, as panels can be sold separately or in pairs. Expect to spend from about $20 to more than $50 per panel, depending upon the fabric quality and panel size.

If you want to splurge or have a unusually-sized sized space, OutdoorCurtains.com carries high-end Sunbrella and Tempotest curtains that are more expensive but can be made to order in the fabric and size of your choice.

Tips for How to Hang Outdoor Curtains

The easiest way to hang outdoor curtains — especially those that come with tabs or grommets — is by installing curtain rods directly onto your patio or other outdoor space. Keep the rods in place by screwing the hardware into the wood beams, or opt for a tension-style rod if you have an aluminum or other metal structure.

If your hardscaping doesn’t support rod installation, you can hang your curtains on heavy-gauge outdoor steel wire rope with a kit that includes the rope, hardware and turnbuckle tightening system. Affix one end of the wire rope to a nearby wall or beam with eye hooks and wall anchors. Run the length of the rope through the hanging tabs or grommets on the curtains. Then secure the other end to an opposite point, making sure to create enough tension in the wire to keep it from sagging.

Rebecca Winke
Rebecca Winke moved to Italy from Chicago in 1993 and shortly thereafter took a deep dive into country living by renovating a sprawling medieval stone farmhouse and running it as a B&B for 20 years. Today, she spends her time writing about travel, culture, and food (it's Italy, after all!) for publications like The Telegraph and Italy Magazine, as well as pondering the strange winds that blew an urban vegetarian to a farm in Umbria.