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Installing Cable Wire for Hanging Curtains

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I had to bring in the big guns for this project as my own 'power tool' experience leans more towards sewing machines than drills. So, I asked my husband Bob (who is always a good sport and really tall) to bring his years of experience as a builder to the table to show you how to install this very cool cable wire system. It's a great option for hanging lightweight, decorative curtains, which add height and drama to our Pretty Prints Teen Room. This type of system would also work well to create a room divider or even to hang a curtain for an especially long run of windows.

The items shown here are a Dignitet system from Ikea. Other systems are available. We found a very similar system at Pottery Barn.

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Supplies

  • Human helper
    Note: This is NOT a one person project; you definitely will need a helper - and it would be best if your helper was 6'7" or taller .. cuts down on the step-stool-moving!
  • Dignitet Curtain Wire
    Note: The Dignitet system comes with 196¾" of cable. You may need longer cable. Our installation required more; and found the same size cable in bulk at our local hardware store.
  • 2 Dignitet Corner Posts
  • 2 sets Dignitet Curtain Rings
  • Fasteners and screws
    Note: Fasteners shown above used for layout. Due to the high tension of the wire, we do not recommend these simple expansion fasteners. Once we laid out and positioned our posts, we replaced the expansion fasteners with a nylon fastener that expands behind the drywall for a more secure anchor, like the ones shown below.
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  • Bright colored twine or yarn
  • Masking tape: we used the blue painter's tape kind, because it won't pull paint from the ceiling
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Ice pick, awl, or large nail to make a marking hole
  • Wire cutters
  • Measuring tape or ruler

A few things to know and remember before you start

  1. Layout the post brackets with the posts screwed in to each one. This is important. It is easier to handle the bracket when marking mounting holes, and the position of the hole the cable runs in is critical.
  2. The Dignitet Corner Posts are marked "R" and "L" to indicate right-hand and left-hand threads. Mount the right posts on the right side of the bed and the left posts on the left side of the bed.
  3. When mounting the posts, make sure the post holes are aligned in the direction the cable goes.
  4. As we mentioned above, but it's important so we'll say it again, you need a good anchor that expands behind the drywall. The cable can create a lot of tension, and will pull out simple anchors.
  5. Take special care to lay out your posts on the ceiling to get as close to a true rectangle as possible.
  6. Diagonally measuring your marks and getting the same distance between them means you are accurate.
  7. Unscrew the adjustable cable post to its full extended position. You'll need it this way to tighten the cable.

Determine Your Layout

  1. We worked with a rather unusual layout. Our bed was king-sized and set into a corner diagonally. This made mounting the wire posts a little more challenging since we could not locate rafters to screw into for a better anchor. Also, our curtain needed to go behind the headboard, because we wanted to hide the tubs and stuffed animals secreted away there.
  2. You may decide to simply put your headboard against a wall. If this is the case, you may be able to have your posts mount right into a rafter behind the drywall with just some screws, giving you maximum strength when you tighten up the wire. Keep in mind that rafters are 16" to 24" apart; if you can locate one, you can measure against the ceiling to find the others you need. A stud finder can come in handy here.
  3. Once you determine where you want to place your bed, decide how much curtain you want. Do you want curtains on either side or on three sides? If you decide to have curtains only on either side of the bed, you can delete the two corner posts, and just buy two curtain wire kits.
  4. We wanted our curtains to fall 4" from the sides of the bed and 2" from the headboard to avoid interference. Once you determine the curtain run, roughly measure the perimeter to see if you will have enough cable. The cable length from the Ikea package is 196¾", which should be plenty for most installations. If you need more, your local hardware store should carry the same diameter wire. Just buy the exact length you need from their large reel.

Layout The Posts

  1. Working over your head on the ceiling, is a bit difficult. So, now's the time to round up your helper.
  2. Our layout was made easier thanks to a handy plumb bob we made on site with mason's twine and small weight (we used the mounting plates from the wire kit, but you could also use a washer, thread spool, or spoon ... really anything that will hold the line straight). Make the plum bob line about 12" shorter than the ceiling height, tie on the weight, and get on the ladder.
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  3. Locate your first corner by having your helper lay the measuring tape or ruler out from the edge (or headboard) of the bed. Then hold the string on the ceiling until the string just touches the measuring tape or rule.
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  4. The string is going to want to swing, so take care to calm it down to perfectly still. When you get the correct position, tape the string to the ceiling.
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  5. Now, double check the measurement. When you are satisfied you have the correct position, move on to the other posts and repeat the same process.
  6. After you complete the last post layout, you should have 4 strings hanging from your ceiling.
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  7. As a double check for accurate placement, measure diagonally between each corner string: top left to bottom right and top right to bottom left. The two diagonal measurements should be the same. If they aren't, something is not positioned correctly. Adjust accordingly. If they are off just a bit, don't worry, but don't accept 2" or more; you'll be able to tell the curtains are not square to the bed.

Marking

  1. Go back to the first post, and put the ice pick/awl/big nail into the ceiling right where the string meets it under the tape.
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  2. This mark will be the center of the post bracket.
  3. Remove the tape and string.
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  4. Place the bracket base with the center over the hole you just made. Make sure the hole in the post where the cable goes is lined up in the same direction of the next post! If you need to turn the post on its threads a bit to line up, that's okay. But don't loosen too much.
  5. Mark the first mounting hole.
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  6. Note: Remember as we mentioned above; the posts are designed to have a right and left position, and are marked accordingly.
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  7. The post marked "R" is a standard thread, and it screws in clockwise. The post marked "L" is a left-hand thread and screws in counter-clockwise.

Mounting

  1. Drill the first hole and insert the temporary anchor.
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  2. Now, mount the post bracket in the correct position with a screw. (Some folks just mark all at once and drill. I like to do this step, because it makes the layout of the other two holes in the bracket easier, and is very accurate.)
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  3. Once fastened, make sure everything lines up, and mark the other two holes. Then, remove the bracket and the temporary anchor, and install the permanent anchor of your choice.
  4. Mount the post bracket with post and slide the cover plate over it.
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  5. Complete installation of remaining posts.
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Threading and tightening the cable

    1. Insert and fasten one cable end into the anchor post.
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    2. Thread the cable through the holes in the corner posts.
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    3. Trim the other cable end at the adjustable post, and fasten cable.
    4. Note: I had already extended the post screw to its furthest position in order to be able to adjust and pull the cable tight. I then put tension on the cable, and trimmed it so it would seat into the holder all the way.

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  1. Attach the cable, and tighten it.
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  2. While tightening, keep an eye on the other posts. It's easy to get carried away and exert too much force on them. I suggest you only get the cable taut to begin with. After your curtains are installed, you can tighten a bit more if you need to.
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  3. Attach the clips to the top your curtains, spacing them evenly. Hook the clips on to the wire.
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Comments (32)

Liz Abrasion said:
Liz Abrasion's picture

Looking at installing this system but I, too, need more cable wire. Any idea what the specifics were on the cable wire you purchased in bulk from your hardware store? Like type, size, etc? 

Mila said:
Mila's picture

Thanks for tutorial. We tried to install our cable wire on ceiling, but cable creating a lot of tension, and  pulling out anchors. I am from Serbia, and I can't  find anchors like on your foto above :( Fixtures are skewed, and that don't look nice :( Could you please tell me the right name for anchors, or send it on my address and I will make payment to your account. Thanks in advance!

GinaB said:
GinaB's picture

I don't know if anyone else mentioned that, and it's not that obvious from the instructions, but when you go to screw the left (L) post into the base, you have to do it counter-clockwise. Took me a while to figure out!

tiziana said:
tiziana's picture

Excuse me  one more question, dignitet is good for heavy curtains as Indian textiles or does it the hump?
thanks again

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ tiziana - we are not experts with the product, having only used it for this one project. I would recommend asking the manufacturer or distributor as we haven't tested it on anything except the light guaze fabric.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ tiziana - we only used the Diginet product for this one project. I'm afraid I don't have any additional expertise in uses for it. In general, it seems to be able to be mounted in several configuations. The main issue is making sure you have a strong stable surface to drill into - a stud, molding, etc.

ryan said:
ryan's picture

Hi Liz, what could you tell me the type, size, and store information for the screws and fasteners that you used?  I understand you used two types of fasteners (one type to set up and one type afterwards).  Did you also use two types of screws?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ ryan - The links for the systems are at the very top of the article. I no longer have notes on the exact screws and plugs, but IKEA does sell a set of screws and plugs as well. It is shown on the page along with the hanging system.

Trish Koby said:
Trish Koby's picture
Do you know what the Pottery Barn may name their system? I was on their website but the name "Dignitet" doesn't match. I wish IKea shipped smilies/sad.gif

Thank you for the demonstration. Very helpful!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Victoria T - there is a special part you seat the cable into and they provide a special allen wrench to tighten the wire to create the tension. The kits come with good instructions and drawings for that particular step. They can be installed into the wall. The biggest thing to remember is to try to mount into a stud - especially if you are hanging something with any weight. They won't be stable enough if you just try to mount them into the drywall. That's about the limit of my knowledge on this particular product. smilies/cheesy.gif For more details, I'd suggest going to the IKEA site.
Victoria T said:
Victoria T's picture
Forgot to mention, I just want to hang them on the area just above the curtain panels, on the wall, not the ceilings. Any thoughts?
Victoria T said:
Victoria T's picture
I did not understand how the wire cable is tightened. Could you explain somewhat? Does one just pull it? What causes the tension so things wont droop?

Answer when your time permitssmilies/wink.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ LizzieL - hmmmm - you got me. There was only one kind of hook in the package we used.
LizzieL said:
LizzieL's picture
do you have any idea why there are two different types of hooks in the package of clips? I was just planning on clipping them like you did, but wondered what in the world the others were for?
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home's picture
@ Gabi - We used gauze curtains, so I don't have any direct experience with the weight limits. You might try looking on the packaging or on the IKEA site for that information. But the most important thing isn't really the tensile strength of the cable -- it is really very good -- it's what you are screwing the anchors into. You should make sure you are going into a joist, stud or moulding; if you try to just screw into drywall, I don't think you'll have much luck at all. Hope that helps a little bit.
Gabi said:
Gabi's picture
I just bought this cable kit from Ikea and plan on hanging curtains with it. My curtains are pretty heavy (made from silk and lined)-do you think it will hold them?
Brynne S said:
Brynne S's picture
This idea is great! I have plaster walls. How would you advise changing the anchor method? Thanks!
someone said:
someone's picture
thhaannkk yyyyyoouu soo muchh!! i couldnt of done it without u!
Kath said:
Kath's picture
Thanks for posting this! I am using this method as a room divider and havent been able to really figure out how to do it. Your pictures and step by step instructions just made my life easier!
Susan B said:
Susan B's picture
Looks like the perfect solution for draping my not so pretty aluminum patio awning. It should make an industrial-looking space resemble a fancy cabana.
Admirer said:
Admirer's picture
I need to drape the 8 ft high storage space above my 8 ft closet. This is the best idea so far ....
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Kathio -- there isn't a real rule for width, it will depend a lot on the look you are going for and how many of those clips you want to buy -- the more fabric - the more clips you need. The bed in our sample is a king headboard, which is apx. 76" -- we used three panels across the back - our starting panel width was 45" with an 1" hem on either side - so 43" finished -- that's 135" of curtain across 76" of bed -- just over 2x. Did you see the curtain tutorial?

http://sew4home.com/projects/bed-linens/456-pretty-prints-please-cotton-...
Kathio said:
Kathio's picture
I'm tempted to buy this unique set-up for my laundry room windows. I'm confused about how much fabric to use? For regular gathered valances, you use 2 1/2 times the window width. What times amount did you use in your project for the wall curtain? thanks.
Zoe said:
Zoe's picture
Thank you soo much for this! I am doing this to divide a room on the cheap and will be off down Ikea tomorrow! thanks again
Sherree said:
Sherree's picture
Love this! for sure going to put some up in the garage. Ive been looking at curtian tracks but I like this SO much better. Thanks for the easy directions!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Lacie -- that sounds like a very interesting project! So glad we could help.
Lacie said:
Lacie's picture
Thanks for the awesome picture tutorial....which I totally plan on having my hubby look at and follow to the T. I'm planning on doing this around my son's room to hang vintage license plates. smilies/smiley.gif

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