If you're like many of us "small potatoes" in the industry, you do it all from designing to fabricating and installing. I started out wearing many hats and my decorators also are installers, so I want to share some of the tricks I developed when installing alone.
The biggest problem when installing by yourself is how to handle large treatments. Especially when, like me, you're barely five-feet two-inches tall on a good hair day!
The Solution: Use cord to hold one end of the treatment.
There are a few solutions to installing large treatments, and some depend on the client. You may want to hire an installation assistant, or you may want to offer your client the option of helping you with the installation to save the cost of hiring help. But many times, the client is at work when you are installing, so here are some tips:
Traverse rods: Installing a large traverse rod alone can be difficult, especially when the brackets have to pop in at a nearly straight angle. Here's what I do to solve this problem:
Install all the brackets. Never be stingy with the center supports. Use all that come packed with the rod. Using a small piece of scrap cord (like the type you cut off when setting a spring tension pulley), string the cord through a hole in the end of the rod. Tie the cord in a knot to make a loop about four inches in diameter. Hook this loop over the end bracket. This end of the rod should hang just below the bracket.
Then go to the other side of the window and swing the other end of the rod up and pop it into the bracket. Return to the end with the cord loop holding the rod to the bracket, remove the cord and pop the rod into the bracket. Now you can lock-in the center supports and continue with the installation.
When installing a long standard or 2 1/2-inch wide rod, use the same technique, except you may have to tie the cord tightly around the end of the rod and then make a loop with the remaining cord.
Large board mounts: Installing large board mount treatments alone can be equally difficult. First, I mount all my L-brackets using the largest size I can considering the projection of the board. I like to install a bracket every three to four feet.
A great trick is to install both end brackets. Using a thin cord, like the type used for Roman shades, attach the cord to one end bracket and pull it across to the other end bracket keeping the cord tightly against the wall. This gives you a plumb line for installing the other brackets. Often when measuring from the ceiling down, if the ceiling is not even the brackets will not line up.
Using a larger bracket gives you a bigger shelf on which to position your board, but be sure that you designed the valance to be installed high enough on the wall. Then using your trusty double sided carpet tape (an item no installer should be without), place a piece of tape on each bracket to help keep the board in place.
At one end, string a length of cord through the bracket using the hole closest to the wall. Tie the cord in a loop large enough to fit over the end of the board. Lean this end of the valance up against the bracket. Swing the other end of the valance up onto the other end bracket and into the desired position. To make positioning the valance easier, first measure from the outside edge of one end bracket to the outside edge of the other. Subtract this number from the actual length of the board and divide by two. The result will tell you how much board will extend beyond each bracket so you will only have to measure the overhang at one end. Now loosely install one screw. Return to the tied end, remove the cord and secure it in place. Dress the valance as usual.
Have your own dilemmas? Send them to Pamela Damour, 220 Main St., #4, Colchester, VT 05446, (802) 872-2746, e-mail: Decor8d@aol.com.
Pam Damour is an award-winning designer and author known for her willingness to share her fabricating secrets with competitors and consumers. She travels extensively lecturing at both consumer and trade shows and has produced two step-by-step videotapes. Damour also offers consulting and in-house training to the trade.