Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

Adding curtains to a rental

Many renters have the issue of how to keep warm in winter when your landlord has not provided adequate curtains, so we asked SEE-Change members what their thoughts were on how to add curtains to a rental property.

QUESTION: What tips do you have for rigging up some curtains that someone can take down when the tenancy finishes – I was thinking of using velcro on the metal curtain tracks and on the back of some ready made curtains – ugly but more effective! All ideas appreciated! ?

Following are answers from SEE-Change members in response to this question:

  • If the aim is to get better window insulation than some existing curtains (or no curtains), rather than for the cosmetic benefit of the curtains, but to be completely reversible when the tenant leaves:
    1. Blutack some bubblewrap to the glass, the sort with large bubbles. It lets in light but acts like double glazing. Good for windows you don’t need to look out such as a frosted bathroom window. Also good to lay flat on the other side of a skylight diffuser.
    2. Make a ‘picture frame’ that can sit neatly inside the window frame and attach special clear plastic shrink film to it. Double glazing on the cheap and removable. I have some I put up 20 years ago and it is still fine. See www.clearcomfort.com.au. Under DIY window options you can find comments on making a supplementary frame.
    3. Make a solid insulating rectangle to fit into the window frame at night. It could be a slab of polystyrene with or without some cosmetic skin to face the room such as a sheet of thin plywood painted however you like and a handle fitted for easy placement and removal.
  • If there are curtain tracks or rods in the house it is only a matter of changing the curtains for the duration of the tenancy and storing the supplied curtains, and then swapping them back when you leave. I have found very good curtains with insulated second layers, and attached hooks to hang them, in second hand shops and fetes (in more upmarket suburbs), at very cheap prices. Some people dispose of very good (expensive and as new) curtains, so it’s worth checking these places out if you want better curtains. Perhaps a long layer of thick cloth or cardboard over the top could act as a pelmet. You might be able to make a complete pelmet out of cardboard. If there are no means of hanging curtains, ask if you can attach curtain rods or tracks, or see if the owner will do this for you. Have you considered plastic shrink wrap over the windows? It’s like double glazing. You can find it on the internet. It involves using double sided type tape around the window frames and then cutting out the plastic shrink wrap and sticking it to the tape. Then using a heat source shrinking the plastic until it is taut. A hair drier is recommended, but as I have never owned one of these, I used a blow heater (carefully – it’s hotter). With the right tape it will stick for years. Mine was still stuck after ten years. However, the window frame has to have enough depth between it and the glass to make enough gap to be effective. The house that I did this to the windows, half the windows were wooden framed and half were aluminium framed. The plastic wrap worked well on the wooden frames as they had enough depth, but the aluminium windows didn’t. It would have been necessary to build a frame for these windows to use this plastic, which you could do, at least in the rooms that are used. The frame can be very basic. Close the doors to any unused rooms. The plastic film was on the wood of the opening window, not the surrounding frame, so the window could easily be opened. Check with the owner and see if they mind this being done. Perhaps offer to demonstrate on one window you can do a neat job. I used to have a rental property and if my more capable tenants had asked permission to do this I would likely have agreed, so it’s worth asking. Apparently there’s also a more temporary tape for tenants. I was told that would last for about a year and then start to come off. But I would use the permanent one if the owner agreed, or it’s a waste.

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