From chatting with many of my customers they tell me how nervous they are to try and fit a bay window curtain track for themselves. So after a recent email exchange with one of my customers. I decided to just copy and paste the conversation we had here (with their permission of cause :-)
I think it makes for far better reading than a regular boring instruction manual. You know the kind I mean. Usually my wife shoves them at me and says "that's for you".
Hi Paul, Thanks for your bay window sizes and I will be looking them over later.However I have noticed an error on my form. I have not allowed a box for you to enter the sizes for the distance between the window and where your track will fit to the ceiling.
If you could check this size and let me have it later. Usually a minimum distance of 5cm is good as it allows the curtains to hang freely and possibly avoid window handles.
Sorry for the delay in replying, Lee, I was out all day yesterday and most of today, so I've only just had a chance to measure. Our existing track is about 3cm from the wall at its closest (it's plastic, and the bends are quite shallow, so it's further away in the'corners'). This strikes me as a bit tight (especially regarding screwing the track to the ceiling!), Also there's a picture rail on the first and last parts of the bay, about 18cm from the ceiling, that sticks out about 2.5cm, so maybe 4cm from the wall would be better?
I've only just noticed as well that the windowsill, although not very big (cheap plastic double glazing!), actually sticks out more than I had realised due to the odd design of the frame, so, maybe 5cm would be better? Although, as the windows are quite long (the sill is only 50cm from the floor), this doesn't really cause a problem with the existing track/curtains. I've never put anything other than a straight curtain rail up before, so I'm guessing at all this.
While I'm writing, maybe you could give me some advice about fixing the new track to the ceiling? Our house is late-Victorian, and the ceilings are lath and plaster, so I'm assuming the bay ceiling is too. I know from putting light fixtures up, that, unless you're very lucky and hit a rafter, it's very tricky to fix things up.
Although, having said that, the existing curtain rail has held a very heavy curtain up for years - so heavy that the plastic 'hooks' that go over the rail bend and come off, yet the rail has stayed up. So maybe it isn't lath and plaster - could it be wood? Anyway, any advice you might have, or tricks of the trade, would be most welcome.
Thank in advance, Paul
Sorry I did not get back to you yesterday evening. Ran really late getting back from curtain and blind fittings. I agree with you that fitting the track 5cm away from the window is the best option. As it gives you room to get behind the track for fixing.
Now to the fitting part of the track. Your track will arrive bent to shape and have all the ceiling brackets attached to the track. I put these where I think they will be best to support the track. However if you have problems fixing any securely. You can slide them to one side and try again.
I recommend you have 2 pairs of step ladders handy and an extra person to hold the track up to the ceiling on one side while you start on the other side. I usually start by putting some small pencil marks on the ceiling. Just a couple for each section of the window. In your case you want to mark 5cm away from the window. Then when you present the track to the ceiling. You know within a fraction it is in the right place.
Then when it comes to start the fitting of the track. I use my power driver to simply drive the screws I supply directly into the ceiling through the hole in each bracket. What I do is get a couple of brackets secured just with the screws on each side. Then I step back and have a look at how the track is sitting on the ceiling. If it looks good, then I move on to the next stage.
At this point don't worry if the first screws are not giving a firm fixing. Now carry on and drive the rest f the screws through the remaining brackets in to the ceiling. By this point you will know which brackets are securely fixed in place and which need some further attention. You should if you're lucky find the end brackets hit timber. There is usually a timber lintel across most older bays. If that is so then great as these brackets are the ones that carry the most weight when the curtains are stacked back.
Now to the other brackets that don't feel fixed firmly just on the screw. Leaving the track fixed to the ceiling. I remove the screw and push the bracket to one side. The brackets do move but sometimes need a firm push. Then I drill a hole where the screw went in using a 6mm drill bit. Then using the red wall plugs supplied, push in to the hole so the plug fits flush with the ceiling. Then slide the bracket back over the plug and drive the screw in to the plug.
Most people worry that every bracket has to be super secure and has to always go in to timber. This is not the case. What you want is that if you're lucky some screws will hit timber. Then the rest as long as they feel firm. Then that is usually good enough to hang all but the heaviest of curtains. I know after fitting thousands of bay over 25 years :-) Usually you find that tracks start to fall down when the curtains don't glide smoothly. Then people tend to drag the curtains open and closed. This over time causes the brackets & fixings to fail.
In your case this won't happen as your track comes supplied sprayed with silicone. Your curtains will glide open and closed like a dream. Then once a year just give it a spray to keep it running smoothly.
I hope that all makes sense to you and if you have anymore questions please feel free to ask.
Just a note to say the track arrived yesterday (Tuesday) - excellent service! Quite the oddest 'package' I've ever had though! It made me think how much courage it must have taken to set up an online curtain track making service when delivering the finished product would be such a problem'. Some nice bits of spare timber too - you can never have too much of that!
I've only roughly checked the fit so far, but it seems to be OK. I won't be fitting it until mid-April, as we're away for two weeks from Sunday, but I'll let you know how I get on.
Thanks again for the speedy and friendly service.
Thanks for your kind words and you're right. It can occasionally be challenging. Just like life in general. Enjoy your holiday and update me with progress.
Hi again Lee.
Somewhat later than planned, the curtain rail is finally up! It was actually a lot easier than I expected. As I can't lift my left arm above shoulder height, I was expecting a lot of hassle, but my wife helped hold the rail in place, while I put the first two screws in, as per your instruction - and, less than an hour later, it was up!
I was impressed at just how good a fit it is too. Even with all the measurements, I still find it amazing that you could bend it to the exact shape required without ever having seen the bay.
I was lucky and hit wood (or something similar!) for all the screws, but I ended up using slightly shorter screws, as I didn't need the length and was screwing them in by hand. The one modification I would make to your instructions is to fix the two ends first, then the back supports - then, if the track isn't quite in place, you can still adjust it size to side before fitting the last (side) supports. I imagine this is obvious to you, but unfortunately I didn't do it this way, as it was simpler to do all the supports on one side first, before moving the ladder, so ended up with a very slightly smaller gap on one side of the angled part of the track. Luckily this was slight enough not to be obvious.
Our curtains are full length and lined, so they are pretty heavy, but the track holds them easily. They also move incredibly easily and smoothly. We used to have to stand on the settee so we could pull the curtains from the top (otherwise they came off the track), but now they can easily be pulled normally without all that fuss.
Once again, thanks for all your help, and good luck with your company for the future.
Thank you so much for your feed back and I will add your experience to my fitting guide. I have been fitting bay tracks for 25 years. The real challenge was to translate that experience in to a system to allow anyone to do it for themselves.
Most of the time it works very well. Like any business there are the occasional issues. My biggest challenge is being a one man band and covering all the jobs needed to run this business without losing a good customer experience. Would you mind if I use your reply as a customer testimonial on my website.
That would be fine, Lee. I'd also be happy for you to give my email address to prospective customers who want to contact existing customers. Yours is such an unusual business, that I imagine a lot of prospective customers probably hesitate because they can't quite believe that buying a fitted curtain track online really works. I can reassure them that it does!
The other thing that I imagine creates a certain amount of resistance amongst potential customers is the cost, especially when compared to buying the track yourself. I remember the shock of seeing the price increase so much when I realised that our bay had two more corners than I had realised! I think the crucial point here is that, not only you are paying a professional (with the knowledge, skill - and correct tools!), so, like anyone you employ (plumber, builder, etc) you should expect to pay for their time and labour, but also, and perhaps more importantly, this is the sort of thing you only do/buy once. So, not only do you want to get it right, but you're paying for something that will give you years of use.
Incidentally, one of the things that persuaded me to use your service was the video of the track being bent. Any ideas I might have had of doing it myself went out of the window at that point. Your website in general is also well laid out and easy to use (and it works!) - I was in IT for 30 years, so I can tell you this is far from the normal case.
All the best for the future, Paul
If you found this fitting guide useful, then please let me know here. If you liked the format used here then all the better. Paul has been very kind with his recommendation of my service. So much so that I have trouble leaving the house in the mornings. As my head is almost too big to fit through the door :-)