How to DIY Dowel Curtain Rod Cheap
If you’re like me you love natural wood grain, custom-made, repurposing, and thrifting. This DIY Dowel Curtain Rod encompasses all of those things and so much more. Such a simple design and they add a ton of charm to any bathroom space without spending a lot of money.
DIY Curtain Rods – For Windows, Showers, & More
When I decided to add curtains to my entire house I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford traditional curtain rods. I have a lot of windows and two showers and a small budget. Necessity is the mother of invention and I knew I had to find a budget-friendly option.
I searched all the places for DIY curtain rod ideas and finally landed on using long wood dowels. I’m not an interior designer so my first question was, can I actually make a dowel curtain rod look good?
I took that great idea and decided to try to make wooden curtain rods using wooden dowels. And I discovered it is the easiest DIY to make your own curtain rods. It’s kind of crazy that more people don’t do it.
Nothing compliments new curtains (like IKEA curtain panels) like a beautiful rich wooden DIY dowel curtain rod. And can I just argue the point that it is a beautiful thing to do things your own way and get exactly what you want for a price that doesn’t break the bank?
Watch Me Build and Install the DIY Dowel Curtain Rod
Here Are The Benefits of Choosing a Wood Dowel Rod:
- Budget. One of the least expensive ways to get a quality new curtain rod. Each window cost less than $5. You can’t find that at a department store!
- Wood Grain. Have I mentioned I love a dark, rich, wood grain?
- Strength. I have 5 children, I need curtain rods that are built to last. They’ve gone through the few cheap curtain rods (metal rods) I tried first. So, just in case I have any more children swinging from the curtains they have to hold up to heavy abuse. These are solid wood and will likely last a lifetime.
- Easy Project. This is the easy DIY curtain rod. I’ve tried others and this is it.
- Stylish. Besides new window treatments (Ikea curtain panels, for me) these add just a little bit more style and compliments the white paint of the window frame and wall.
Tools & Supplies
This design does not require the use of any power tools. I use them because I have them, but you can easily do this project without them. Simply use a handsaw and a fine sandpaper block as a suitable replacement.
- A Saw – Miter Saw/Chop Saw, Handsaw
- 1 – 1-3/8 in. x 72 in. Hardwood Round Wooden Dowel (1 – 2 Wooden Dowel Rods per window, 1 Dowel Rod per Shower)
- 1-3/8 in. Wood Pole Sockets (2-Pack)
- A Dark Stain *optional (My favorites are Early American Stain, Dark Walnut Stain, and Special Walnut Stain)
- Lint Free Rag
- 2″ Angled Paint Brush, Foam, or Chip Brush
- 120 Grit Sanding Pad (or block) + Orbital Sander
- Drywall Anchor Pack
- Drill + Drill Bit
- Measuring Tape + Pencil
- 2″ Black Curtain Rings, Metal Rings, or Wooden Rings
- Shower Curtain or Window Panels or Bleached Drop Cloth Fabric
Check out my tutorial How to Bleach Drop Cloth for Vintage Vibes. And if you love DIY, check out this post Make a DIY Shower Curtain from Thrifted Panels.
Step One – Install Your Wall Brackets
For this step, you’ll need your Wood Pole Sockets, Drywall Anchors, Drill, Drill Bit, Measuring Tape, and Pencil.
In my video, you will see I did these steps to build and install my DIY dowel curtain rod somewhat differently. That’s because I did things the hard way and I’m going to tell you how to do this project in the most efficient way from hindsight.
Chances are you will need to use drywall anchors, if you don’t you can skip this step!
Note: Before you install the wood pole sockets you may wish to stain and coat them the same as the dowel so they match.
How to Install Your Wall Brackets & Drywall Anchors
- Measure on either side of your window or shower and ensure you’re marking the correct height for your curtain length.
- Also, make sure both sides are even. I chose to measure 11 1/2″ up and 1 1/4″ inset from the shower enclosure.
- With my windows, I measured from the ceiling down 4″ and 3″ out from my window frame.
- Drill your drywall anchors in and install the bracket with the drywall screw that comes with it.
Step Two – Cut Your Dowel to the Proper Width
For this step, you’ll need a Measuring Tape, Pencil, Dowel Rod, and a Saw.
It’s better to measure twice and cut once. And don’t expect to get it perfect on the first cut. I had to cut mine sliver by sliver, but I’d rather do that than cut it too short and have to purchase another one.
Steps to Cut Your DIY Dowel Curtain Rod
- Measure your space from the inside of the pole socket to the other side.
- Mark your dowel rod to that length and make your cut.
- Test it for proper fit.
- Measure the length of your windows and add on the 6″ (3″ for either side).
- Mark your dowel rod to the length and make your cut.
- Test it for proper fit.
Step Three – Sanding and Staining Your DIY Dowel Curtain Rod
For this step, you’ll need an Orbital Sander & 120 Grit Sanding Pad, or 120 Grit Sanding Sponge, Stain Color of Choice, Lint Free Rags, and Gloves.
How to Sand & Stain Your Wooden Curtain Rods
- Take a 120-Grit Sanding Pad & Orbital Sander or 120-Grit Sanding Sponge and sand your dowel smooth.
- Wipe any excess dust off of it.
- Stir your stain and put on your gloves.
- Using a lint-free rag (I use an old kitchen towel cut up) apply an even coat over the entire dowel rod. It is raw wood so the stain will soak in, be sure you’re getting an even coat.
- Wipe off the excess stain after 10 minutes with a clean lint-free rag.
- Let it dry for 1-2 hours.
Step Four – Applying a Protective Top Coat
For this step, you’ll need a protective top coat appropriate to the environment. You’ll also need a brush or a rag depending on your top coat, and gloves.
Choosing An Appropriate Top Coat
For my shower rod, I used Polycrylic, for the window rod I used furniture wax.
Since the shower has humidity and water I chose to go with a waterproof top coat for maximum protection.
However, rods hanging above a window will not necessarily need that kind of protection. So a simple coat of furniture wax will suffice.
How to Apply a Protective Top Coat
- Stir your polyacrylic with a paint stir stick thoroughly, never shake Polycrylic.
- Use a 2″ Angled brush to apply the polyacrylic evenly and quickly over the entire piece.
- Let the dowel dry for 20 minutes.
- Come back and do a light scuff sand when it’s dry.
- Apply a second coat.
- Using a clean lint-free rag apply the wax evenly on the entire surface.
- Let it cure for 10 minutes.
- Come back and wipe off any excess wax and buff it until you’re satisfied with the finish.
- You can apply 2-3 more coats if you feel it’s needed.
- Let it cure for 1-2 hours.
Step Five – Install Your DIY Dowel Curtain Rod
For this step, you’ll need your Curtains, Curtain Rings, and Finished DIY Dowel Curtain Rod.
- String your Curtain Rings (1-2 Packs, 10+ per curtain) on the Dowel Rod.
- Slide the dowel rod through the brackets or into the wood pole sockets.
- Hang your curtains and enjoy!
DIY Dowel Curtain Rod Q & A
What About Using Dowels on Larger Windows?
If you’ve got a long window, as I do, there are ways to actually put two dowels together to create extra long curtain rods. There are windows in my living room that are two windows long that I actually did this with.
Steps to Create an Extra Long Rod for those :
- Drill a small hole on one end of the dowel and insert a dowel pin into one end (match your drill bit with the pin size).
- Use a small bit of wood glue in the hole and at the tip of the pin and press it firmly in.
- You may also want to use a rubber mallet to get it in there good.
- When the glue is dried you can cut your dowels to length for your window (not the ends with the drilled holes).
- Drill a hole into the end of the second dowel for the pin to fit into. Ensure you’re drilling in the center of the dowel so they line up perfectly.
- And simply stick the pin end into the other dowel with the hole to connect the two together. Therein creates a custom curtain rod that has the extra length.
Is there a Difference Between Curtain Rod Brackets for Windows vs Shower Curtains?
While the rods are 100% the same, whether a window or a shower, the curtain rod holders or brackets do change.
To use with windows you will need a bracket that protrudes from the wall or hangs from the ceiling. I chose to use metal brackets similar to these metal brackets 1 1/4″ Ceiling Mount Brackets. But there are other options like these 1 1/4″ Adjustable Curtain Rod Holders.
There are also other creative ways to hang curtains rods like leather straps.
For Wall to Wall Showers:
For this application, I chose to use the wooden pole sockets so they would match the wood of the dowel curtain rod.
Note: Whatever bracket you choose just ensure you’re buying the proper dowel size to fit in the brackets or vice versa. You can also sand the dowel if it’s a tight fit.
What Are Some Other Curtain Rod Options Besides Dowels?
Yes, there are a plethora of other budget-friendly options and I had considered them all. None of them really fit everything I was looking for, but I will share them with you in case they’re exactly what you’re looking for!
- PVC Pipe. Can be spray painted any color, very inexpensive.
- Copper Pipes. Not the most budget-friendly since copper can be quite pricey. But they are gorgeous.
- Electrical Conduit. Very cheap and easy to cut with a pipe cutter to fit custom lengths. If you have a large window, this could potentially work great for that. You can also spray paint these any color as well (including to make your own DIY copper curtain rod at a portion of the price).
Note: All of these options can be purchased at Home Depot or your local hardware store, including wooden dowels.
Well, friends, I hope I have given you plenty of inspiration, tools, and resources to complete a DIY Dowel Curtain Rod of your own. Or a house full!
Thanks for stopping by!
This is a good idea, I have been wanting to change out curatin rods, but they are so expensive. These are lovely!
You’re absolutely right! They are terribly expensive. Thank you so much! I’m always trying to find low-budget ways to get that gorgeous charm we all want for our homes. I hope it helps you out!
Very nicely done 😉
Such a great idea!
Thank you! I appreciate that.
How did you determine the diameter of the rod you needed? Did you use the weight of the curtains you were going to use?
It depends on the wall hardware you’re using. If it’s for a bathroom or regular bedroom curtain you would get one that matches the hardware using to install it. My window hardware allowed for up to a 1″ diameter dowel rod. I believe for my bathroom curtain hanger I had space for a larger dowel rod. The weight of my curtains will definitely not cause an issue as they’re very light, however, if you were using heavy drapes you may want to ensure you’re using a dowel rod that can hold up to that weight. Perhaps the max diameter your hardware would allow.