In Episode 20 of the Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech (air date July 24, 2019) host Ceil DiGuglielmo and workroom expert Susan Woodcock share tips and techniques for attaching window treatments to boards.
You can listen to the podcast here: Board Mounted Window Treatments
Just about any style of window treatment can be board mounted including valances and top treatments, shades, and draperies. When board mounting, the most important part is to keep it neat. That is a standard for professional workrooms to follow. There should not be any frayed edges or staples showing, and the board should be covered in a matching fabric or lining. Mount boards can also be painted.
"There's something special about taking that extra step", Susan said, "even if it's not going to show".
One Option for Board Mounting
Susan uses this method for valances and shades, when the treatment is going to be attached to the board.
1) Cover the two ends (return ends) with fabric
2) Staple the treatment to the top of the board
3) Staple fabric to the top, near the front edge face down with tack strip and fold it over to wrap around the board.
4) Fold under cut edges and staple to the front of the board, under the valance or shade. The staples are hidden by the window treatment.
Valance with a Top Band
Another way to finish valances is to sew a top band, sometimes called a "waist band" because it resembles the waist band on a skirt. The top band can be stapled to the board, or attached with Velcro.
Sewing a Top Band with Velcro Step-by-Step:
1) Cut the banding piece two inches more than the finished valance width by 3 1/2 inches long. Finish one long edge on the serger. (You may have to join pieces of fabric together for a larger size valance).
2) Pin the strip face down to the top-front of the valance, turning under 1-inch on each end. You will pin the edge that is not serged to the top of the valance.
3) Sew the banding strip to the valance using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
4) Fold over to the right side and press.
5) Fold the band to the back, covering the stitching. Pin or glue baste to hold the band in place. The serged edge does not need to be turned under.
6) Sew the band by top-stitching with a matching thread.
7) The final step! Sew a mitered corner at the returns.
8) If using Velcro, sew the loop strip to the underside of the band and staple hook strip to the board.
Installing with Velcro
When using Velcro to board mount window treatments to boards, the key is to sew the loop strip to the fabric, and to staple the hook strip to the board. An adhesive sticky-backed loop strip or hook strip will not hold up over time.
With Velcro mounting, you can cut the board in sections. It's easier to pack and deliver with the boards cut to manageable sizes and the valance folded in a bag. It's easier to install without the valance attached and if minor adjustments are needed, you do not have to remove the valance from the board.
When sewing the loop strip, cut it in sections; butting the pieces end-to-end with a little gap. This will allow for a little ease if you need to pull to fit.
Ceiling Mounted Boards
For ceiling mounted treatments, Susan likes to add welt cord to the top. "That helps to fill any gaps if the ceiling isn't perfectly level and smooth". She sews the loop strip to the seam allowance, next to the welt cord, folds to the back and whip-stitch if needed to hold the loop strip in place. The valance is then installed to the front 3/4-inch edge of the board. You can also use this method for headrail tracks for shades that have the hook strip attached to the track like in the photo below.
The same method can be used without Velcro, by stapling to the front edge of the board. The valance, or shade is stapled face down and flipped over. Tack strip is needed to keep an even edge across the top. This is not always the best option for thick, heavy valance styles with pleats and horns, but it works very well for flat styles like the roman shade shown below.
Size and Types of Boards
For valances, the most common sizes used are 1" x 4" boards which project 3.5 inches, or if there is a drapery or blind underneath 1" x 6" boards for a 5.5 inch projection. Roman shades often have smaller projections using a 1" x 3" for a 2.5 inch projection which works well for roller systems, and you can even flip the board for a 3/4" projection if needed.
Susan usually uses pine boards, and will stock up if the lumberyard has a good supply of straight boards. Store extra boards flat to prevent warping.
Boards with Legs
Sometimes mount boards need a vertical board for support on each side. Add L-brackets to support the end pieces. Styles like turban swags require boards on the side so the valance can be wrapped around the return. Adding legs to boards also makes the mount board more stable because there is more contact with the wall; a good idea for heavy treatments that need more support.
Susan shared that there are times when she will make a small, straight cornice for installing a valance like complicated styles with horns, jabots, swags, rosettes or other elements. "The more wood underneath, the more places you can add staples, Velcro, double-sided tape or even stapled straps or ties.
When adding "legs" to boards, add for the thickness of the boards on each side so that the inside measurement between the legs will clear the window frame.
Boards for Bay Windows
Susan recommends making a paper pattern, using the template or measurements of the angles. "I use the paper pattern to get the inside measurement for the valance before the boards are cut", Susan said. The patterns are used to cut each individual board. For valances installed on Velcro, the boards can be covered and installed individually. If it's a style that needs to be stapled to the board, add mending plates that can be unscrewed so the valance can be folded together and then screwed back in place on-site for installation.
Stationary Draperies on Boards
An easy solution is to add screw eyes under the board, or to the front edge depending on where you want the draperies to fall. Drapery pins can be used on the drapery and hooked into the screw eyes. The right angle pin strip from Rowley Company is also a good solution. It can be bent for arched windows.
To Velcro mount a pleated drapery, sew loop strip to the spaces before pleating. Susan uses a double fold heading in the drapery and sews the pieces of Velcro before adding the lining. It takes a little pre-planning but when you sew the pleats, the Velcro meets up across the top and is very secure.
Sometimes the best solution is to staple the drapery to the board. You can hide staples inside the pleats, or sew a top band for waterfall or gathered drapery styles.
Arched Mount Boards
The arch shape (the front or face piece) can be cut out of OSB plywood, but the top dust board needs to bend to fit the arch. "I like to use FirmaFlex for the top board because it can easily be bent to the shape", Susan said. "FirmaFlex is a dense polyester fiber board supplied by Rowley Company. It can be purchased in pre-cut strips, so there is no waste, and joined together with staples and glue". The board below is constructed in this fashion. The wooden piece was painted white. It's ready to have the valance stapled to the top.
In the past, bendable plywood or "wiggle board" was readily available from industry suppliers and could be used for the top arch but it has become difficult to source You can make your own by kerfing plywood but that takes a great deal of skill, time and patience.
Another way to make an arched board for windows that are straight across the top, is to create an arched face piece on the front of a straight, horizontal mount board. This is sometimes called a "tiara" board. The space behind the arch is open. If you want a closed top then you can add FirmaFlex and cover with fabric, or add supports and use heavy buckram or skirtex covered with fabric, since there will not be mounting brackets used in this area. This is how many arched roman shades are made so that the shade system can be in a horizontal position.
Susan's final bit of advice... "think about the installation at the beginning. Knowing how the window treatments will be mounted from the start, helps to create a trouble-free installation".