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Door Knob & Industrial Pipe Curtain Rods

How to make a curtain rod using doorknobs as finials and install it on a window.

Now that the busy holiday season has passed, I am enjoying the downtime to reflect on the things that inspire creativity and nourish my spirit! Creativity is what makes me who I am. Without it, life for me would just be an existence. I need creativity to fuel my days and my mind with ideas. It is what makes me happy and passionate and gives my life meaning.

Some of the ideas that flit through my mind don’t come to fruition, but once I get an idea,  it becomes my mission to figure out a way to make it happen. Such is the case with the curtain rods I made using vintage doorknobs.

I came up with this idea when I started to decorate my house for Christmas and removed a basket of doorknobs I had on display. Trying to find a place for them and not wanting to hide them in a drawer, I said to myself, what else can I do with these?  Around the same time I was on the hunt for new curtain rods on which to hang the new Barn & Willow linen drapes I got for my dining room.

Repupose-old-doorknobs-into-finials-to-make-DIY-plumbing-pipe-curtain-rods

I could not find rods like ones I had envisioned.  There were lots of rods to choose from but to my eye they all looked the same. They were either black, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Gold, or Silver. Very nice but standard.  I had a vision in my mind and none of the rods were meeting my expectations.

The choice of rods was not about expense as most of them were affordable. It was more about style.

How to paint a chandelier

I wanted the rods to look a little vintage to coordinate with the chandelier I painted in the room.

Repurposing-ideas-for-curtain-rods

Being a DIYer lets one be a product designer. You get to create designs and customize them exactly as you want to bring your vision to life. That is what I did for these rods. I did save money, too,  but making these rods was more about style than affordability.

Quote-Make-it-Happen-free-printable

To get what I envisioned did take me more time than if I just bought ready-made rods off the shelf in a store.  Since I don’t have a contract with a major manufacturer to design a line of goods, I make my own in limited production… as in one set. :-)   This blog lets me share the ideas and designs with you. That is why I love this little piece of the web so much.

How to Make a Curtain Rod Using Doorknobs and Electrical Tubing Pipe

How-to-make-a-curtain-rod-using-door-knobs

supplies needed:

  • 1/2″ diameter electrical metal tubing cut to the length rod you need. I found mine at Ace Hardware.
  • 2 doorknobs
  • 2 curtain rod brackets and hanging hardware
  • 1 set of curtain rod clip style rings
  • Rustoleum Hammered spray paint in Brown and Gold
  • Screwdriver/drill
  • Rotary drill or rough sandpaper
  • Pencil
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sea sponge or a small piece of balled up paper towel
 

Repurposing-idea-for-old-doorknobs

I liked the vintage look of these fluted doorknobs. I left them just as they were – splattered paint and all. If you can’t find old knobs like this you can buy shiny new ones at the home improvement store for about $6-$10 a set.  I know Lowes and True Value have them in the store and Home Depot sells them online. You can use paint to age them.

How-to-attach-a-doorknob-to-a-pipe-to-make-a-curtain-rod

The size of the metal tubing pipe fit perfectly with the end of the doorknob.  It is snug and tight like it was meant to be.

Make-your-own-curtain-rods-with-doorknobs-and-plumbing-pipe

1. I had the guy at the hardware store cut the rods to the length I needed.  He used a pipe cutter that took less than 5 minutes for him to cut.

How-to-make-a-curtain-rod-using-a-metal-plumbing-pipe

2. When I got home, I noticed that the inside of the cut ends of the tubing got a bit smaller from being cut. The doorknob no longer fit as well.  I used my rotary drill with a mini sanding drum to open these cut ends a tiny bit. It took less than 10 seconds.  Once I did that the doorknobs fit in the end of the pipe again.

Place-rings-on-first

3. I spray painted the pipe, rings, and brackets with Rustoleum Hammered spray paint in Brown and then added a few sprays of Hammered Gold over it.  I added a few dabs of the color to the doorknobs using a sea sponge so that they blended in with the rods.  If you don’t have a sea sponge, a small bunched up piece of paper towel will work.   Spray the paint on a piece of cardboard and then dab the sponge or paper towel into the paint and then onto the doorknob.

How to Spray Paint Clip-On Curtain Rod Rings Quickly

The-easy-way-to-spray-paint-curtain-or-drapery-clips

1. To spray paint the clip-on rings, I normally would have strung them clothesline style in my garage, but since it was freezing out I wanted a way to bring the “just-sprayed rings” into the warm house to dry.  I found some rolled up chicken wire in the garage and it ended up being the perfect way to spray the rings and keep the whole lot of them portable without having to touch them so I could bring them inside.

How to Install the Curtain Rod

I had to put up my industrial rod curtain poles in a slightly different way than I normally would hang a curtain rod.  I needed to place the rod into the brackets first then hang it while snug in the brackets. Normally you would attach the brackets to the wall first, then place the rod in.

How-to-hang-a-curtain-rod
I had to do it this way since the rod was a tight fit in the brackets I had, plus I wanted the rod right up against the ceiling line which left me no room above the brackets to be able to place the rod in.

If you can find larger brackets that fit the tubing pipe better then you can hang the rods the normal way. 

Use-painters-tape-to-help-hang-curtain-rods-level-in-a-few-easy-steps

1. My windows are 32″ wide. I didn’t want the curtain panels to block the window so I made sure the rods were long enough so that the curtain stack-back cleared the window.  I had the rods cut to 54″.  I like the panels not to puddle, but to slightly kiss the floor.  I placed the brackets 1″ down from the ceiling line and 6″ away from where the window ended.

  • I marked these measurements with painters’ tape so I knew exactly where the brackets should be placed.  Using painters’ tape also helps you get the placement just right without having pencil marks all over your wall.  Once the rods are up, you can simply remove the tape; no pencil markings to clean off.

3.  I placed 12 of the rings* on the center of the rod and then fit the rod into the brackets. Since it was a tight fit, the rods and brackets became one piece with the 12 rings in the center.

NOTE:  You have to place the 12 rings in the center of the rod before putting the rod in the brackets because the rings won’t go over the rod in the bracket once it is hung.  I kept the 7th ring off for each panel since one always should go outside the bracket.  I added these after the rods and brackets were mounted on the wall.

4. Hanging the rods is better with 4 hands, so I got the help of Ed to hold one side of the rod, while I screwed the other side to the wall. I used my power screwdriver and drill combo to attach the rod and brackets to the wall.

5. I clipped the curtains to the rings and then added the 7th ring for each panel on the outside of the bracket.  This lets the curtain fill in the area on the rod past the brackets.

Industrial-pipe-curtain-rod

Now I have exactly what I envisioned. Not too dark, not too gold, just vintage-y enough to go with the chandelier.   To see how I created the houndstooth stool in photo above – you will find the post here:  Houndstooth Step Stool 

I learned early in my display career that there is always a way to get a job done. Unconventional oftentimes saves the day.   It may not be the traditional way, but as long as it works…it works.  Right?

To see all the window treatments I have posted about, including the rods where I used tennis ball as finials  -check them out in my Window Treatment Project Gallery

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53 Comments

  1. You are very practical, which I appreciate. For my project, I was all set to use copper piping, but preferred a more sustainable rod material. Copper piping can easily be cut with a pipe tool, and our local hardware store is set up for the customer to make the cuts right there. In this case however, we went with another material. I regularly raid our local architectural salvage business (which has gone online for now), and that is exactly where I will return to for doorknob finials for our PVC pipe drapery rod (made in the US, and reinforced by bamboo from our garden on the inside). My daughter has decided that if the rod is not hidden or just not aesthetic enough, that she will paint it.

    1. Hi Kiri – PVC pipe makes great rods also in my previous house. They come in varying diameters so you can choose what looks best. Great idea to paint them. I hope your daughter loves the window treatment.

  2. Love this!! Just now researching curtains and I have some nice old door knobs with no job! Would you mind if I asked you what color your walls and trim are?? I want to do a white on white with contrast but am struggling with that now. thanks!

    1. Hi JoAnne – The paint color on the walls is Valspar Bistro White in a flat finish. The trim is Sherwin Williams Pure White #7005 in a semi-gloss finish. Depending on the amount of light you get you should also consider Sherwin Williams Natural Choice for the walls or Creamy White. Get a sample pot of each and paint on white poster board to find which one looks the best in your room.

  3. Thank you so much for this idea!! I used antique glass doorknobs I already had, then copper pipe which stole my heart when I saw it. I have a loooong window (160”), and this was a lovely and frugile way to dress it. Tips from my project: I hesitated to glue the knobs, so hubby drilled holes in the ends of the pipe, then I secured the knobs in by inserting the knob set screw through the pipe, into the knob. Also, Ace Hardware cut the pipe in half for free (it was 168” long!), then we purchased a copper connector to connect the two rods together at home.

  4. As always you came up with the idea for what you wanted and achieved it remarkably. This is why I always read your posts. You always inspire me.

  5. Hi, I love the idea of the vintage glass door knobs being used as finials on curtain rods. Here is my question: Did you use different door knobs or are they identical door knobs at each end of the curtain rod? I am going crazy trying to find 4 of the same knobs . . . unless of course I purchase new ones. I would prefer using vintage door knobs. Any info would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Jan – I think if you used different knobs the rods would look great…lots of character. They do not need to match. My doorknobs are the same style, but the cut glass on each is a bit different. I bought them at different places.

      1. Thanks, Diane. That is reassuring to know the cut glass can be different. That wi!l make my search a lot easier b\c I could find 2 or 3 identical knobs, but never 4. I need to think out of the box more often than my OCD allows! Ha. Thank you for taking time to answer my question and providing me some direction regarding the door knob curtain rods. I purchased smocked curtains and am anxious to hang them in our bedroom.

  6. Diane
    You are such an inspiration! Thanks for providing the instructions in such detail.

    I came across a problem when I bought my house 3 years ago. I had a HUGE 150″ window to dress. I bought copper pipes (one was a size larger to fit inside the other). I painted them with Bronze Rustoleum and bought curtains with the large metal eyes. I was very happy I found cheap curtain rods.

  7. I love the Vintage style you created. This a great project for my apartment while my home sales. Thanks for the instructions. … can’t wait to get started. I have spent so much money on rods and finials for my different moods and styles that I was literally upset that I left my expensive rods at the old house never again will I do this.

  8. I realize that this post is over a year old, but I just found this on pinterest. WOW!!!!! I have all the glass door knobs that were part of my parents home where I grew up. My parents are both deceased now and I knew that when my dad passed away 14 years ago that we had to move my mom out of the house and would have to sell it. I also knew that I was going to salvage every single door knob. So glad I did!!! I knew that there had to be some way to repurpose those. I have been going back and forth between curtain rods or some type of board used to hang coats or towels. I have enough that I can probably do all of these projects. Thank you so much for such detailed instructions.

  9. I loved your idea for the door knobs. How did you get them to stay in the rod and not fall out?

    1. Hi Mary – They were too tight a fit at first. I used a Dremel drill bit to open the hollow end of the pipe just a teeny bit and the end of the knobs fit perfectly. Once they fit I ran a thin line of E6000 glue from the craft store just to make sure they stayed in place.

      You could also do what I did when I wanted wood finials to fit into the end of a PVC pipe curtain rod I made. I used corks. Here is the link to the post:
      https://inmyownstyle.com/2011/04/how-to-make-a-curtain-rod-and-finials.html

  10. Hi, loved your idea. Glad to read your blog…
    I wish to know if the spray paint would stay good for long , after pulling (open/close) curtains in the rods a few times.

    1. Hi – If you use a quality spray paint in a gloss or shiny finish and let it cure for a few days before using, the paint will last a long time. If your drapes are heavy and the rings don’t slide over the rod easily, you could use a clear sealer over the paint. Use either a spray or brush on poly/sealer. One to two light coats will help the paint from chipping. Use water-based if your painted rods are a light color. Non water based poly will yellow your paint.

  11. Oh I love your post today! I have a few glass knobs and I would have never thought of doing this with them! :) Thanks so much for sharing! :) I also love old glass drawer knobs and pulls….they are so pretty! Right now I just have all of them on a shelf in my old cabinet displaying them along with a beautiful old brass door knob. Such beauty inn things from the past!

    Linda

  12. I’m so glad you posted this – I’ve been at a loss as to what to do for curtain rods in our front room – the store options are not in my budget since I need rods for 4 large windows – I’m excited to try this – but first I’ll have to find my old knob collection! I bought a few of them at Habitat for Humanity just because they are pretty. Now I’ll use them!

  13. You’re so talented! Your directions are really helpful – I’ve been working hard to hang new curtain and blinds all over our new home. It’s hard work but I LOVE doing it!

  14. I have ADJUSTABLE curtain rods up in the living room and in my studio. The one thing that keeps bugging me is the joint where the two curtain rods meet. It prevents me from being able to smoothly pull the curtains open and closed. With your tutorial, I have been inspired to replace my curtain rods with a length (+6 inches on both sides) of electrical tubing. You are a creative genius! Thanks for all that you do!

  15. Wow, your rods and curtains look so wonderful. I have already copied you on so many things. I did use the electrical conduit also for my bedroom, just cheaper and sturdier to my thinking. No need for a center support if using light weight fabric for curtains. I looked and looked (you probably do not remember me asking you where you got those beautiful door knobs), but in the end I could not afford those….. so I copied your idea for finials using tennis balls (3 for $.97 cents at Walmart) and covering them with white fabric. And punching the holes in the balls and placing on the rods was SO easy, thanks to you! I did not need any wood, no cork or anything, just pushed the tennis balls over the rod, so easy.

    With me, it is all about money and you always have come through for me in that department. Plus, even if I had the money, which for my double windows would have been a LOT…. I like this way so much better!

    And oh yes…… I like those brackets, but again not enough money….. soooooo I used screw eyes!!! Since I could not afford crown molding, I used just the cheapest 1 x 4 lumber to mount at the very top of my one wall (valuted celilings in this tiny home)….. and that was the most difficlut for me, cause no one to hold for me. I did some damage the first time I tried….. I broke the wall outlet……. grrrrr. But after a point, I nailed some nails in the wall to hold the lumber up while I nailed it up and that was by hand, no power nailer or such, so not easy….. but finally do able… is that proper grammar? lol

    1. Hi Sheryll – What a great idea to hang your rods with screw eyes – very clever and inexpensive. I am going to try that the next time I make and hang rods. I forgot all about the tennis ball finials. Thanks for reminding me about them.

  16. Diane, I love learning how to use unusual objects to solve a problem as you did with this pipe. I am confused by one thing. You said your windows are 32 wide and you went out 6 inches more on each side. 32 + 12 = 44. But your rod is cut at 54inches, 10 inches longer than what I understood you to go out with the drape What am I missing here?

    1. Hi Kim – Sorry for confusing you. I should make up a drawing to show it. The window opening is 32″ wide, I forgot to add that here is molding on each side of the window. This plus the section of the rod on each side that passes the 6″ placed brackets make up the difference to equal the 54″. I hope this makes sense.

      1. thank you for clarifying. I love these and I will be attempting to make these this weekend myself. How do you attach the door know to the pipe?

        1. Hi Patty – The ends of the doorknobs fit snugly right into the end of the pipe. Nothing more. If your doorknob ends are too big and you have a Dremel rotary drill tool, you can use the grinding tip to either shave down the the outer part of the doorknob end or inside of the tube until you get it to fit. If the doorknob end is too small, you can use hot glue on the end of the doorknob and then place inside the pipe. Hold in place until the glue is dried.

  17. Hi Diane ~ I am a new follower and had to comment on this project. I love it! You had me at the door knobs. I will definately being using your solution in my dining room. I have been searching for weeks for a curtain rod I like and yours fits my vision exactly. Thanks for the chicken wire spray paint idea also. Can I ask exactly how you spray painted the rod? I may need more practice with spray painting but I find it difficult to spray paint rods. Any tips or tricks you can share on this step? Thanks again for the great idea!

    1. Hi Hillary – When I spray rods I usually tape a large piece of cardboard to a wall in my garage. I also put a piece on the floor. I lean the rod against the wall and spray. I turn it with a gloved hand to get to all sides and then let it dry. When it is dry I turn it so the bottom is at the top and then spray it again. I do leave it in place to dry. Another way to do it is to string a rope across your garage or outside between 2 trees clothesline style. Cut a long piece of medium to heavy gauge wire about 10 inches longer than the rod. Thread it though the rod. Use a pair of point nose pliers to turn one end into an L shape. This will hold the rod in a vertical position. Make the other end of the wire coming out the top into a hook shape and use that hook to hang the rod on the clothesline. You can then walk around the rod to spray.

  18. Another clever idea from you! You always come up with great ideas which are not too costly and not to hard to do! Saw you in HGTV Magazine! I believe you were the best at the challenge! Congrats!

  19. I feel the exact same way about creativity and my creative juices. If you lived nearby, we would ge best friends! I love your blog as one of my favorites and I read a lot. I hope to start one soon too!!!,

    1. Hi Lisa – How exciting to be starting a blog. It is the best thing I have done for myself. Best job I have ever had. Let me know if you have any questions and write to me when you are up and running.

  20. You never stop amazing your followers Diane. Im curious though at the step stool which looks like one I have from Ikea. I painted mine but stained the steps, but looking at your check covering I wonder what you used to cover them? Is it some form of vinyl shelf covering ?
    Thanks Pat

  21. I’m still excited by that fact that you had a basket of doorknobs on display! Beautiful. Where do you shop for vintage doorknobs?

    1. Hi Pamela – I look for them whenever I go to thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets. I have paid $1 – $3 dollars a piece for them. I have black, brown, white, the faceted glass, and even a glass purple one that I have on my desk. I will be showing how I use that this weekend.

  22. You are a very clever lady! That is a brilliant idea and looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Nikki – I appreciate you taking the time to comment. You made my day :-) Since I began blogging I have learned a lot about photography. I am always striving to learn as much as I can so I can get the best images possible. As with anything, the more photos I take, the better I have gotten over the years. XO

  23. OMG! Diane, when I read the first paragraph of this post I screamed… Hallelujah!! I’ve been a follower of yours for quite some time and love all of your post. Your words translate my feelings 100%. :-). I created my blog as a creative documentary. Anyhoo, I could go on but getting back to your DIY decorative rod. I must say, I’ve been looking for antique knobs and love this post. The rods look great. My profession, (retired now) as a fabrication specialist for custom window treatments; When we went to homes to measure rod hardware placement….Blue tape was what we used. So when I saw the blue tape, I hollered again…You got it right girl! Well your rod, curtains and blog is just wonderful. Thanks for making me smile and sharing your great DIY’s as always!

    1. Hi Linda – My dad always used masking tape when he hung stuff on the walls, so I did learn that trick from him. It comes in handy and as you know from doing custom window treatments there is nothing worse than drilling a hole in the wall in the wrong place. The tape gives you a visual that you can move until you get it right. You know the saying of Norm Abrams – “Measure twice, cut once”. Same for hanging rods, except its “Measure twice, drill once”. :-)

  24. Perfect! I love this design! Thank you for the insight about the cut ends of the tubing/pipe!!!

    1. Thanks Donnamae – I really enjoyed making them so I could get exactly what I wanted. I have a few more doorknobs and am thinking up a few more ways to use them. When I do, I will be sure to post them.