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Curtain Track Info and Help

Curtain Track Info and Help

Hospital and Cubical Curtain Track Installation Tutorial and Help Page.

Welcome to MedicalProductsDirect.com 's curtain track installation tutorial.  Chances are if you found this page you are a little confused on what all the different parts are for and how you need to go about installing your cubicle curtain track system.  Rest assured that if you have a little bit of aptitude using basic hand tools and a drill, you will not have any problems installing our line of curtain tracking.

You can download this document in PDF format by CLICKING HERE to save and print out for a hard copy.

We will start off describing the 3 types of Curtain Track Installations. 

  • Flush Mount Installation:  This is where the track will be attached directly to a flat solid ceiling such as sheetrock.
  • Grid Ceiling Installation: This is where the track is being attached to the hanging ceilings that a lot of commercial buildings have, also known as acoustic tile ceilings.  There is a little bit more involved in the installation on a suspended ceiling, but easily handled with the proper attachment hardware that we sell.
  • Suspended Track Installation: This is where the track is suspended down from the ceiling using special mounting hardware.  A suspended installation might be needed because of very tall ceilings or if you need to run the track under an obstruction such as a light fixture or HVAC vent.

Next we will be describing the basic components and what their purpose is:

  • Track: This the main component of any curtain track installation.  It comes in 8' straight sticks, 4' 90 degree bends (2' x 2' each way) and 4' 45 degree bends (2' x 2' each way).  The curtain tracks purpose is to hold the carrier roller hooks that your curtains hang on.  Track can be trimmed to your desired length very easily with a standard hacksaw.
     
  • Carrier Rollers:  This is the second main component of any curtain track installation.  They are basically a small axel with 2 wheels on it with a hook hanging from the bottom.  These fit snuggly inside the curtain track and carry the weight of the curtain you hang on them.  They come in a standard model with a chain on them and also in a break-away model that allows the hook portion to separate from the roller body in the event someone falls and grabs the curtain.  This prevents damage to the carrier rollers and track mounting.  It is also a safety feature to use anywhere someone might try to use the curtain for suicide such as jails, detention centers and mental hospitals.
     
  • Splicing Clamps:  This is a necessary item.  The splicing clamp fits over the top of the track at any point where two pieces of track connect together.  Its purpose is to hold the track in alignment.  It does not actually hold the track together, it just prevents the ends from getting out of alignment which is important so they carrier rollers will roll from on piece of track to the next without snagging or hanging up.
     
  • End Stops & Snap Out Fittings: These two parts work together to provide you a place to remove the carrier rollers from the track to replace broken rollers. The end stop goes on the end of the track to prevent rollers from falling out the end of the track.  They are installed on the top side of the track with the open side down.  You leave a 1/2" gap between the end of the track and the end of the end stop.  This gap is so you can pop a snap out fitting in place.  This snap out fitting can then be removed or snapped out to remove rollers.
     
  • Joining Sleeves, Cross Brackets and Tee Brackets: These are attached to the top of the track at places where the track intersects with another track.  Its purpose is to hold the track in alignment.  It does not allow the rollers to transition from one track to the other, it simply holds the track in position from the bumps and jars they receive on a daily basis. You don't HAVE to have them on a flush mount installation if the track is anchored very sturdily but they are a necessity on a suspended installation or suspended ceiling installation to hold them steady and in place.  These are attached to the top of the track.
     
  • Ceiling Flanges, Suspension Tubes and Screw Inserts:  These parts are used in a suspended track installation.  You need to have a suspension tube every 2.5 feet or 30".  We will get into more detail further down in this tutorial but this is the basic ideal.  A ceiling flange is mounted to the ceiling, a piece of cut to length suspension tube is attached to the flange, then a screw insert is inserted into the end of the suspension tube.  You then install a screw through a hole in the top of the track and it screws into the hole on the insert.  When you tight the screw down it swells into the end of the tube proving a strong anchor point.
     
  • Ceiling Clips:  These are used to anchor a track to a acoustic tile (suspended) ceiling.  The suspended ceiling tiles lie in a T track, these clips are designed to quickly attach to this T track.  You drill a hole through the track, insert the ceiling clip screw from the bottom then into this clip.  The clip opens and closes like a set of jaws via a slot in the clip.  You then simply lift the track into place, close the jaws around the track and tighten the screw very easily and with no damage to the acoustic ceiling track.
     
  • Wall Brackets:  These are used in a suspended track installation.  These are placed anywhere a track meets the wall to prevent the track from moving or swaying. They also come in white to match the track if you go with our white powder coated track.
     
  • Drop Chain & Drop Strips:  These perform the same function, it just depends on your personal preference on looks which one you choose.  They are just an extension to hang the curtain on for tall ceilings.  For example if you have a 9.5 foot ceiling but you wanted to use an 8  foot tall curtain you can either suspend the track down or use these drop strip / drop chains to accomplish the same thing.  Rather than hang the curtain direct on the carrier roller hook you hang a drop strip/chain on the carrier roller. The drop strip has a hook on the end that you then hang the curtain on.
     
  • Curtain Tie Backs:  These are a convenient way to hold the curtain back against the wall when not needed or during cleaning of the area.  A very long curtain will bunch up into a pretty small area against the way but if you don't have a way of holding it there it's natural tendency is to spread back out.  You can use a bungee or something similar to hold them in place but these mount to the wall permanently right where you need them.  They are nickel plated and look sanitary and nice.
     

Determining Curtain Size & the number of carrier roller hooks you will need:

First you need to determine the size of curtain you will need. 

  • Your curtain needs to be 20% wider than the opening you intend to cover to give it the proper fullness or bunch.  A more complete explanation of curtain sizing can be found HERE.
     
  • For example if you have a 10' by 10' L-shaped track and you want to be able to cover the entire length of track you will need 288" width of curtain.  This can be a single curtain but it easier to launder two 144" curtains than it is a single large one.  It is also usually more economical to buy 2 curtains as opposed to a single large one. 
     
  • How did we come up with 288" width needed?  We added the two 10' sides together to get 20'.  Multiply 20 foot times 12" to get 240" of track length.  Then multiply that by 20% (240 x 1.2 = 288)
     
  • Standard commercial curtains have a grommet for the hooks every 6".  So in the example above we are going to order two 144" curtains.  So each curtain will need 25 carrier rollers.  (144 / 6 = 24) plus you need a roller at the start of the curtain.  So you would need 50 rollers total.  I would suggest buying a few extras for replacements in the event someone falls and grabs the curtain and damages 1 or more rollers.
     
  • To determine the height of the curtain you need to know the height of the track, the distance you want the curtain off the floor.  Take the height of the track, subtract the distance you want the curtain off the floor, then subtract and additional 3.5" for the length the hooks hang down.  Round up to the next size taller or shorter curtain.

Installation Instructions:
You now know the installation types and have a general working knowledge of the different pieces and parts.  Now we will go into detail on how to actually install the track along with some tips and suggestions that will make your installation a breeze.

Some basic instructions that relate to all track installations.

  • Always wear the proper safety equipment.  Safety glasses at a minimum.  You will be working overhead with fresh cut metal and you don't want metal shavings falling into your eye.  Work gloves and a hard hat is highly suggested.  This prevents cuts and painful bumps on the head from doing overhead work.
     
  • On the inside of the track there is a line that runs down the center of the track.  Make sure and drill your mounting holes in the dead center.  If the mounting screws is off to one side the rollers might bump into it causing the curtain to hang up or damage the carrier rollers.
     
  • Regardless of how you anchor the track to the ceiling make sure that you use a screw with a low profile head.  A pan head screw or flathead countersink screw works the best.  If the screw head sticks out too far into the track it might impede the rollers from traveling up and down the track.  You can check this before you start by inserting a roller into the end of a piece of track then holding your chosen screw up beside the end of the track to ensure there will be plenty of clearance.
     
  • You need a mount or attachment point every 30 inches along the entire length of track.  This is the manufactures minimum requirements for a safe installation that will not sag, bend or fall.  If you have a very heavy curtain you may even want to put them closer together.
     
  • When cutting the track with a hacksaw use a square and mark the cut on three sides.  Use a hack saw with a fine tooth metal cutting blade.  Cut from the top (flat side) first and take long slow controlled strokes with the saw.  Constantly check both side to make sure you are not veering off the cut line.  This track is aluminum and it cuts very easy so use light pressure and it will still cut very fast. To prevent scratching the track & suspension tube during cutting you can place masking tape over the area to be cut, this will prevent scratches and also give you a very smooth cut finish.
     
  • After making a cut remove the burrs with a file, de-burring tool or sandpaper.
     
  • Always place cut ends against the wall leaving factory cuts to match up together.  This will hide any imperfections in your cut and also prevent any imperfection from impeding roller movement within the track.
     
  • Cut the track as you go, don't cut it all beforehand.  If you make a slight mistake or the installation is not 100% square you can often make up the difference by adjusting the length of the final piece slightly to fit the opening.
     
  • Before you cut ANY track, lay everything out on the floor exactly where it is going to go.  Place the track with the slot down in the same position it will be in when installed.  Snap the end stops into place.  Put the snap out fittings into the end stop.  Mark all of your cuts with it laying on the floor in position with all fittings & parts in place. Measure twice and cut once.  It is easy to get the cuts flip flopped when working with anything but a square layout.
     

Instructions for installing a flush mount ceiling track where the track is attached directly to a solid ceiling .

  • Lay out your track face down where you intend to install with all pieces including end stops in place.
     
  • Mark your layout on the ceiling with a pencil or chalk line.
     
  • Start your installation against a wall.  Try to place any track that you have to cut to length with the cut end up against the wall. This will give you smooth factory cuts to work with where the track meets.
     
  • Determine where your mounting screws should go.  There should be an attachment point every 2.5 feet (30 inches) at minimum.  It is suggested you place attachment screws into ceiling joist or studs if possible.  Sometimes you will need to use drywall anchors when the planned layout runs lengthwise between the joist.  Depending on your needs you may want to install additional bracing in the ceiling for the track to attach to.
     
  • Once you have determined where you should anchor your track mark the first piece of track for mounting holes.  There is a line in the middle of the inside of the track that marks the center.  Drill a small pilot hole, then drill with the proper size bit for the fastener you are using.  Drilling the pilot hole first with make it a lot easier to keep the holes in the center.
     
  • After you have drilled the mounting holes place the track against the ceiling and mark your holes on the ceiling.  If there are studs to mount to, attach the track directly, if not drill holes and place your anchors.  Place your end stop & snap out fitting on the track and start all your mounting screws.  Make sure all the screws are started before tightening them.
     
  • Leave the last mounting screw a little loose to give you room to install the splicing clamp over the end of the track.
     
  • Mark your next piece of track for length and mounting holes, cut to length if needed and drill holes as before.  Put the track in place and butt it up against the end of the previous track.  Slide the splicing clamp up over the track joint, center over the joint and tighten the last screw from the previous piece of track.  Then place all the screws in the track you are working on.
     
  • Spend some time making sure the alignment is perfect before tightening down the screw next to the splicing clamp / joint.  Finish tightening down the rest of the screws leaving the last one loose for the splicing clamp for the next track section.
     
  • Repeat till you reach the end of the track layout.  Cut & measure the last piece of track carefully with the proper amount allowed for the end stop & snap out fitting.
     
  • After you are satisfied with the track layout & installation run a small self drilling screw up through the track into each end stop and splicing clamp to bond them together.
     
  • Pop the snap out fitting out and place the proper amount of carrier rollers into the track. Replace snap out fitting. Hang curtain.
     

Instructions for installing a ceiling track where the track is attached directly to a suspended ceiling (grid ceiling, acoustic ceiling) .

Installing on a suspended ceiling is very similar to a flush mount installation.  But rather than anchoring directly to the ceiling you install ceiling clips onto the top of the track where you would normally place an anchor.  The ceiling clips are designed to clamp around the grid on the suspended ceiling.

  • Lay out your track face down where you intend to install with all pieces including end stops in place.
     
  • You may need to adjust your layout so the track runs in alignment with the ceiling grid which you will be attaching to.
     
  • Start your installation against a wall with any cut track ends up against the wall.
     
  • Determine where your ceiling clips should go.  There should be an attachment point every 2.5 feet (30 inches) at minimum.
     
  • Once you have determined where you should anchor your track mark the first piece of track for ceiling clip mounting holes.  There is a line in the middle of the inside of the track that marks the center.  Drill a small pilot hole, then drill with the proper size bit for the fastener you are using.  Drilling the pilot hole first with make it a lot easier to keep the holes in the center.
     
  • After you have drilled the mounting holes place the ceiling clip screw through the hole in the track from the bottom& thread it into the ceiling clip leaving it slightly loose leaving the ceiling clip on top pf the track.  Place the track against the ceiling and slide the ceiling clip closed around the ceiling grid track.
     
  • Leave the last mounting screw a little loose to give you room to install the splicing clamp over the end of the track.
     
  • Mark your next piece of track for length and mounting holes, cut to length if needed and drill holes as before.  Then place all the ceiling clips in the track you are working on.  Put the track in place and butt it up against the end of the previous track.  Slide the splicing clamp up over the track joint, center over the joint and tighten the last screw from the previous piece of track.  Close all the ceiling clips around the ceiling grid and tighten, leaving the last one loose to allow for installation of the splicing clamp.
     
  • Spend some time making sure the alignment is perfect before tightening down the screw next to the splicing clamp / joint.  Finish tightening down the rest of the screws leaving the last one loose for the splicing clamp for the next track section.
     
  • Repeat till you reach the end of the track layout.  Cut & measure the last piece of track carefully with the proper amount allowed for the end stop & snap out fitting.
     
  • After you are satisfied with the track layout & installation run a small self drilling screw up through the track into each end stop and splicing clamp to bond them together.
     
  • Pop the snap out fitting out and place the proper amount of carrier rollers into the track. Replace snap out fitting. Hang curtain.

 

Instructions for installing a ceiling track where the track is suspended down from the ceiling

Suspended track installations are often used when you have a very tall ceiling heights.  Basically they are similar to a standard track installation but you have to also use ceiling flanges, suspension tubes & screw inserts to suspend the track down from the ceiling.  You will need 1 ceiling flange, 1 screw insert and one length of suspension tube cut to you desired length for each 30" of track.  You will also need to anchor each end of the track to the wall using our wall brackets.  The wall brackets are to brace the track steady in place and do not actually hold the weight of the track up.  The suspension tubes are what bears the weight of the installation.

  • Lay out your track face down where you intend to install with all pieces including end stops in place.
     
  • Start your installation against a wall with any cut track ends up against the wall.
     
  • Determine where your suspension tube mounts should go.  There should be an attachment point every 2.5 feet (30 inches) at minimum.
     
  • Once you know the number of tubes you need you can now cut the suspension tubes into the lengths needed to suspend the track at your desired height.
     
  • Attach the ceiling flanges for the first piece of track to the ceiling. There is a hole in the center of the flange that can be attached to a ceiling joist or drywall anchor.
     
  • Cut the suspension tube to the desired length.
     
  • Insert a screw insert into the end of the tube. The best way to install these is to lay the insert on the floor with the star tension washer up and place the tube over the end and use the weight of your body to push the tube down onto the insert. You may need to tap the insert with a rubber hammer to fully seat the insert after pushing it in.  These are very strong and impossible to remove once installed in the end of the suspension tube so make sure your tube is the right length before installing.
     
  • Attached the suspension tube to the ceiling flange. 
     
  • If you are using the white ceiling flanges screw 2 self drilling screws into the tube through the provided holes in the flange or alternately for a stronger installation you can drill a hole all the way through and use a long bolt & nut to attach the suspension tube to the flange.
     
  • If you are using the silver ceiling flange you will need to insert the tube up into the flange and mark the tube with a marker.  Then drill a 5/16" hole in the tube at the mark.  The supplied 1/4-20 is then screwed into the threaded hole in the flange - through the tube & tightens against the inside of the tube.
     
  • Now hold the track up against the suspension tubes & mark the holes.  There is a line in the middle of the inside of the track that marks the center.  Drill a small pilot hole, then drill a 5/16" hole in the track.  Attach the track to the suspension tubes using a short 1/4-20 pan head bolt or other bolt with a low profile head that will let the carrier rollers clear inside.
     
  • Now place your wall bracket between the track & the wall and attach the bracket to the wall.  Install snap out fitting in place then use 2-4 small self drilling screws to attach the wall bracket to the track.  You track should now be very stable on the end  nearest the wall and the weight of the track will be hanging on the suspension tubes.
     
  • Mark your next piece of track for length and mounting holes, cut to length if needed and drill holes as before.  Mount onto suspension tubes.  Put the track in place and butt it up against the end of the previous track.  Slide the splicing clamp up over the track joint, center over the joint and tighten the last screw from the previous piece of track.  Now screw a small self tapping screw up through the track into the splicing clamp on both sides of the joint to bond the 2 pieces of track together to the splicing clamp.
     
  • Spend some time making sure the alignment is perfect before tightening down the screw next to the splicing clamp / joint.  Finish tightening down the rest of the screws.
     
  • Repeat till you reach the end of the track layout.  Cut & measure the last piece of track carefully with the proper amount allowed for the wall bracket, end stop & snap out fitting.  Put these in place on the end of the track before you attach this last section of track to the suspension tubes.  Anchor the wall bracket to the wall.
     
  • After you are satisfied with the track layout & installation run a small self drilling screw up through the track into each end stop and splicing clamp to bond them together if you have not done this as you went..
     
  • Pop the snap out fitting out and place the proper amount of carrier rollers into the track. Replace snap out fitting. Hang curtain.

If you have any further question please contact us at 1-800-804-9549 8am-6pm M-F CST and we will be glad to help you.