How to Make a Shower Tension Rod

You may not want to drill holes in the tile surround of your shower, or you may not be able to find a tension rod long enough to span the space. Tension rods stay in place by the pressure of a spring pushing an internal rod out toward the enclosed ends of the exterior rod. They are adjustable, but at the outer limits of their expansion, they tend to lose their holding capabilities. The home handy-person can build a custom-made rod that is sturdy, paintable and inexpensive. All the parts are available at the local hardware store, and the tools are in most household tool boxes.

Things You'll Need

  • Electrical conduit
  • Carriage bolts
  • Nuts
  • Two 2-inch flat washers
  • Rubber gripper fabric
  • Two-sided tape
  • Crescent wrench


    • 1

      Measure the space the rod is to span. Electrical conduit pipe works best for these rods; purchase a piece of the 1/2-inch rod this length less 2-1/2 inches.

    • 2

      Purchase two 2-inch carriage bolts and matching nuts. The threaded end of the bolt must fit inside the conduit. It must turn easily with as little wiggle-room as possible.

    • 3

      Cover two washers with the rubber gripper fabric, using 2-sided tape.

    • 4

      Cut and apply a round of 2-sided tape to the gripper fabric on one side only of each washer.

    • 5

      Attach the washers, tape-side to the wall, at the desired height of the curtain rod.

    • 6

      Insert one carriage bolt into a nut and screw the nut all the way to the head of the bolt. Insert the threaded end of the bolt into one end of the conduit. Have your helper hold this end in position, centered on one washer.

    • 7

      Inset the remaining bolt into the remaining nut, and screw the nut to within a 1/2 inch of the bolt head.

    • 8

      Lift the rod up into position. Turn the nuts counterclockwise to ‘tighten’ the rod. The head of each bolt rests in the center of a covered washer. Turning the nuts exposes more of the bolt. In effect, this increases the length of the rod unit and pushes the head of the bolt against the washer. Tighten the nut finger-tight, then turn one more turn with a crescent wrench.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rubber gripper fabric is a webbed, plastic or rubber coated fabric often used as shelf liners, for glasses, in restaurants and as shelf liner in motor homes. It is available by the piece or by the yard at most large fabric stores.
  • The washer disperses the pressure out from the bolt head. Without the washer, the pressure is directed to one point on the wall and, if too much pressure is applied, could crack the wall.
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images

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