pelmet or not pelmet?

by mark barrett

sitting room bay

sitting room bay

Hello Lee

Mark here in Cardiff.

A few months ago we had our Victorian bay windows replaced with duplicated sliding wooden sash windows. The originals had a pelmet, a wooden plank running along the top edge around the bay, protruding on both sides. A metal curtain rail was then screwed to the underside.

I am now looking to install new curtain tracks and have come across your excellent website.
I have two bay windows to work on of near identical size, one of which I have already duplicated the wooden pelmet (bedroom). The second bay (sitting room) is as it was after the window company left.

Do you recommend me continuing with this kind of pelmet arrangement or are there alternatives?

Some thoughts and explanations
I can’t fix the rail to the ceiling as it has plaster coving.

The sitting room window mouldings butt up against the plaster coving so no space there to fix track to but there is space above the window mouldings before the coving in the bedroom.

My thought is that the inclusion of a pelmet reduces light coming around the top of the curtain rail.




Hi Mark

In my personal opinion and I have nearly 30 years experience doing this kind of thing :-)

You are definitely going the right direction using pelmet top boards to support your bay tracks. Your curtains will open and close so much easier than other possible option. Such as fixing the tracks to the top of the window surrounds.

Using the top boards allows your tracks to move further out from the windows. So not dragging as much against the window surrounds. This is even more so on bay windows.

However having said that, some people just simply don't like pelmets. So the only other option is to wall/frame fix the brackets. This still works but just not as well.

What I would do is to add extra larger brackets to each side as per the image just below. just a larger version for the bracket you have used. Fix this one to the wall by drilling and plugging. Long bay curtains can often weigh a lot. So over time the small bracket may work loose. Or the top board may want to sag forward under the weight.

This is usually only a problem on the outside edges of the bays. This is because when the curtains are stacked back in the open position. All the weight is supported on the ends of the pelmet top boards.

It is not a critical to add larger brackets around the rest of the bay in your situation. However I would add an odd small bracket close to the bends. This will lock the top boards in place. You have the benefit of a the top boards resting on the top edge of the window surrounds. So this will go a long way to supporting the curtains and pelmets.

From what I can see even in living room bay. There is a slight gap between the coving and the top of the window surround. This should be just enough to wedge in the pelmet top boards.

I also like that at the ends of the bedroom pelmet top boards. You have filled the inevitable gap between the board and the wall. As you have obviously worked out this will block the light from peeping through the top when the curtains are closed. You often don't notice this when the curtains are open. This is especially important when you are trying to get a bedroom as dark as possible.

I think I can see a street lamp just out of the bedroom window. This has been a problem for many of my customers. So pelmets and floor length blackout lined curtains are the best solution to this problem.

As to the position of the track. In these situations under pelmets. I usually go for the central point under the fitted pelmet board. So if the visible underside of the board once fitted is say 12cm wide. then I would fix the track as the 6cm mark all the way round.

Then because you are covering track with a pelmet. I would hang the curtains so they sit under track. So the curtain hooks would fit in the top pockets on your curtain tape. that is assuming you have a gathered pencil pleat headed curtain. This allows the curtains the freedom to glide smoothly. As there is no friction between the curtain and the front of the track.

The other great option when fitting pelmets is the overlapping track option. I have put another image just below showing this on another bay pelmet I fitted. Rather than the dog leg overlap I use on visible tracks. This one is simple created by gently bending the track backwards on one side when fitting. Then bending the other track forwards. Then screwing in place to hold in position.

having overlapping curtains gives you the best look when the curtains are closed. Also the most light block. So I think it's a no brainer to choose this option when installing tracks under pelmets. I suspect your original old tracks did something similar.

Finally if you are interested in having fabric covered upholstered pelmet fascias to fit your top boards. Then please just ask me for a quote. These attach using hook and loop tape (Velcro). You would need to staple the supplied tape to the front edges of your top boards. Then simply present the pelmet fascias to this and press in place.

When it comes to ordering a new bay window curtain track from us. if you only want to order one track at this time. Then simply follow the following guide. If you want to order both together. Then email me and I will organise the details.

All the best,


(P.S. If anything is not clear or you have more questions. Then please just get in touch)

Single bay track ordering guide

You simply need to measure the total width your track needs to be. So in your case. This would mean measuring the total width of all three top boards.

Then selecting where your track is going to sit. In your case it would be "within the bay only, ceiling/top fixed"

Then selecting your bay shape from the drop down list. Yours would be "Splay bay 2 bends".

Then when it comes to selecting the overlap option. I would recommend you just select the "One piece track" option. Then send me a reminder by email that you want the tracks to overlap as per our previous discussion. That is assuming you do want them to overlap :-)

Then once you have complete a couple of other optional choices. You simply submit your order and pay by card.

You will then receive an email with a link to the form where you will submit all you exact sizes for making up your bay tracks. The page this form is on has a few tips for measuring up accurately.

In your case I would use the front edges of your pelmet boards for all measurements. Then select the option measurements from leading edges of windows sill. I don't have an option for front edge of pelmet top boards, sorry.

Then enter the halfway measurement in the box that asks for the "Space between window and track". I will use this to measure backwards from the front edges of your boards to work out the fixing point for your bay track.

If you only want to order new bay window curtain tracks and not pelmets. Then the way my systems are organised. You will need to order each one separately.

Comments for pelmet or not pelmet?

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by: Lee

Hi, This comes of having over 25 years experience of making, fitting and hanging curtains. You only learn by doing :-)

All the best, Lee

brilliant explanation and ideas
by: Anonymous

Seen this while looking at our options. really useful and full of great ideas and tips, particularly to the practicality of weight/friction etc, which is often missed by most design/idea sites.

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