Know your synthetics from your naturals: a quick guide to curtain fabrics

curtain fabrics

The durability of materials is always a consideration when you are furnishing a guest cottage or guest room. And when you start looking at rub-counts and coatings, things can get pretty overwhelming. Here’s a quick to curtain fabrics so that you can make an informed choice when it comes to your window dressing.

Natural Curtain Fabrics


A natural and sensible choice, cotton is lightweight, durable and inexpensive. A thicker fabric will last longer, especially if your window is getting a lot of direct sunlight. Adding lining will make sure that light is being blocked effectively, and will also improve the fade resistance and longevity of the fabric. Cotton comes in a vast variety of prints and colours, so you really are spoilt for choice.

  • Pros: Available as both tighter and looser weaves to accommodate the required level of light
  • Cons: tends to fade in strong sunlight


curtain fabric

Style Lovely

A firm favourite, I use linen as much as possible. It is heavy so it hangs really well, and linen sheers have the most magical quality when hung in front in French doors, softly blowing in the breeze. While more expensive than cotton, it is a natural fiber that has great durability and a beautiful course texture.

  • Pros: Hangs extremely well and suitable to both formal and informal rooms.
  • Cons: Dry clean only and wrinkles easily


This is Glamorous via Flickr

Another gorgeous natural option, silk curtains are typically expensive and suitable to a more luxurious setting. Their airy, billowy fabric drapes well, especially when the curtains are made longer to puff up on the floor.

  • Pros: Extremely luxurious and stylish
  • Cons: The fabric will naturally degrade over time, especially when exposed to harsh sunlight. Silk is dry clean only.


Cocon Decoration

While traditionally being made from silk, modern velvets are made from cotton or even wool to make it more affordable. A beautifully lush and thick fabric, velvet drapes beautifully and is perfect for formal rooms. Because of its thickness, velvet curtains have superior sound, light, and heat insulation properties making it perfect for bedrooms.

  • Pros: Great insulation properties
  • Cons: Velvet curtains tend to be very heavy. This fabric is dry clean only.

Synthetic Curtain Fabrics

Faux Silk

Curtains to Go

While it looks like the real deal, faux silk has improved durability and colour fastness.  These curtains drape equally as well as well as their natural counterpart and retain that shimmer that you want from a silk curtain.

  • Pros: affordable and machine washable
  • Cons: these curtains can sometimes look too shiny, which takes them from looking stylish to looking cheap. Rather choose silk curtains with a slight slub to avoid this.

Faux Linen

SF Girl by Bay

Another great alternative, synthetic linens has the lovely texture of linen without improved crease resistance.

  • Pros: Affordable and comes in tighter and looser weave for light control. Machine washable.
  • Cons: This fabric sometimes tends to pill.

Inspired By Charm


Not pretending to be anything other than what it is, poly curtains come in a massive range of prints, colours and textures. It drapes well, is resistant to fading, stretching, wrinkling, and shrinking. It can be washed in the machine and is affordable as well. A lot of fabrics are being made by combining natural fibers with polyester, thereby marrying the best qualities of both and making it more affordable.

  • Pros: It’s virtually indestructible. Except for 1 thing (see cons)
  • Cons: Polyester is basically a type of plastic, so it is highly flammable, doesn’t breathe well and tends to retain odours.

  1. Multicoloured Paisley Print linen Curtain  |  2. Suede Eyelet Charcoal  |  3. Striped Lined Eyelet Curtain  |  4. Melange Slub Taped Self Lined Curtain  | 5. Iris Print Linen Curtain  | 6. Floral Print Cotton Curtain  |  7. Anna Duck Egg  |  8. Diana Multi  |  9.  Textured Karoo Eyelet Curtain  |  10. Floral Taped Curtain  |  11. Large Floral Print Linen Curtain  |  12. Longer Eyelet Sheer Curtain

While I tend to think that natural fibers are generally superior to synthetic fibers, you have to consider the level of care you are willing to offer your window dressings. If I have to take the curtains down to be dry cleaned every time after we have a guest in the cottage, it’s going to become a complete drag and stupidly expensive. I also don’t want to be ironing curtains (when was the last time you ironed a curtain? It’s a huge job!) so for me, poly and poly-mix fabrics are going to win hands down in guest accommodation.

A curtain doesn’t hang by itself though, so here is a roundup of the best curtain poles and tracks from Finishing Touches. For a reference guide on curtain headings, click here!

  1. Designer Pelmet Pole Range  |  2. Elements Range  |  3.  Half Round Double Track   |  4. Classic Wood Range  5. Designer Wood Range  |  6. Galaxy Range

Let me know what you have in your guest room – I’d love to know!

Happy Hosting!

This post is sponsored by Finishing Touches.

Feature image: Homes To Love

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