A Guide to Shower Curtain Sizes & How To Measure

When it comes to having the right shower curtain in your bathroom, it’s more than just ensuring it fits in with your current decor. A properly sized shower curtain is important for keeping water off the floor and properly draining back into the shower stall or tub. Let’s go over how to measure your space for the right shower curtain sizes.

What Size Shower Curtain Do You Need?

what size shower curtain do you need

According to Bed Bath & Beyond, shower curtains come in a variety of sizes straight from the manufacturer. The most common size is 72 x 72 inches. Measurements of 70 x 70 and 70 x 72 are also commonly found. 

Determining the proper sized shower curtain will first depend on what style of tub you have. If it is set against the wall, you won’t need as large of a curtain as if it were a freestanding tub. Freestanding tubs need a curtain that can wrap around the entire circumference of the tub to prevent water from splashing out and making a mess.

When measuring the width of the space you have, always be sure to add 12 inches to your final measurement. This will ensure there is enough curtain to rest against the wall gently and not leave gaps when closed. Even a small gap can create a big mess on the floor.

You may not think a little water on the floor is such a big deal, and while it will dry quickly it can cause problems over time. A bathroom is a normally humid room in your home, and humidity can cause mold and mildew to form on various surfaces. Water that leaks out of the shower may start to cause water damage, mold, and mildew to form along the floor baseboards or other edges.

Measuring Curtain Width

measuring curtains width

Measuring the curtain width is rather straightforward. Simply measure the horizontal opening you have for your shower area. Whether this is a walk-in shower or a shower installed in a bathtub. This width will give you the base measurement to work with.

However, once you have this width measured, you don’t want to just go out and purchase a shower curtain in that exact size. If you did this, there would not be enough shower curtain covering the opening and leaks could happen. Instead, add 12 inches to your base measurement to give the curtain a little bit of extra room when pulled closed.

When the shower curtain is closed, it should still have some room to spare. This is good for being able to pull it a bit more snug at one end or the other depending on where your shower may be hitting. The bottom line is you don’t want openings or gaps to create drafts or allow water to escape and pool on the floor.

Having the shower curtain pulled taught just to reach both ends of the shower area is not a good idea. One bump from your elbow can create an opening that lets water splash onto the floor. This can lead to water damage, mildew, mold, or even a slip and fall hazard.

For showers installed in free-standing bathtubs, you may need a shower curtain that encircles the entire tub. This can be a bit more difficult to measure, however, there are extra wide shower curtains measuring up to 144 inches in width. These would be the style you need to look for if you are encircling a freestanding shower or tub.

For extra wide shower curtains, you may have more luck looking for a shower liner instead of a curtain. The names will change depending on the width. The basic liner is normally made from thin vinyl plastic, but fabric and other materials can be found as well.

Measuring Curtain Height

measuring curtain height

Measuring the curtain height is slightly more involved than measuring the width, and will take some personal preference on your side. You don’t want your measurement to span from the ceiling to floor for a standard tub-installed shower, as this is simply too much curtain. Leaving an open space at the top is your choice, though it can help remove moisture and steam during a hot shower.

Additionally, you don’t want to have any of the shower curtains laying in the bottom of the tub. This causes a tripping hazard as well as being a place where water can pool and create mold or mildew. You want the curtain to hang freely but remain well inside the bathtub to prevent water from leaking out onto the floor.

Don’t forget too that you will be hanging the curtain from curtain rings, which will add to the overall length. Once you have determined where you will place your curtain rod, measure from the curtain rod to the floor of the tub. This will give your base measurement.

Once the base measurement is determined, subtract 10 inches. This will ensure the shower curtain hangs above the floor of the shower or tub, while also taking into account the extra two to three inches of length added by the curtain rings.

Installing the Curtain Rod

installing the curtain rod

Curtain rods are normally installed at the same height of the showerhead. However, there are some people who prefer placing the rod higher or near the ceiling. If you are not sure where you want to place your curtain rod, try first selecting your favorite shower curtain to see its base measurements.

Once you have the base measurement of the height in your chosen shower curtain, you can work backward to determine the best placement for the rod. This allows you to go with the design of the curtain that fits perfectly into your decor instead of having to work with what is available for your height measurements.

Some shower curtains can measure in height from 72 inches to 96 inches. Normally, the longer shower curtains are reserved for installation at ceiling height. They usually won’t work for curtain rods placed at the same height of the showerhead. 

You never want to have excess shower curtain material resting on the shower floor at your feet. The wrinkles and folds can collect water which in turn can harbor bacteria, create mold or mildew, and create more problems over time.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are in need of a shower curtain for a shower installed against the wall, or one that is freestanding, getting the right measurements in advance can make the whole process much easier. According to Home Depot, shower curtains can be found in a wide range of standard sizes, styles, and materials. Finding the right one will take only a short amount of time beforehand.

For a general rule of thumb; whatever your width or horizontal measurement for your shower opening is, add 12 inches to it. This provides enough extra curtain to prevent any splashes or leaks.

For the height or vertical measurement, first determine where your curtain rod will go, then measure from the rod to the floor of the shower stall or tub. In this case, subtract 10 inches. This subtraction will ensure there is no curtain dragging on the floor once curtain rings are added.

After that, you are done. Enjoy your new properly measured and installed shower curtain and rest assured knowing you won’t have problems with mold or mildew due to a poor fitting or leaking shower curtain.

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