Tabs constitute hanging mechanisms that comprise a part of the curtain specifically designed for hanging. Back tabs constitute cloth rings extending from the back of the uppermost portion of a curtain. Hanging curtains by back tabs entails little more than running a curtain rod through these back tabs. Two primary types of back tabs exist, hanging and stationary. Hanging back tabs resemble cloth hoops from which the curtain hangs. Stationary back tabs remain invisible when looking at a curtain from the front – they stick straight out from the back of a curtain, rather than extending beyond the top line.
Curtain rings are exactly what they sound like, rings used to hang curtains. Common materials used in the construction of curtain rings include wood, metal and plastic. Rings appear frequently on shower curtains and also support curtains in living spaces. Rings generally comprise a hanging system in addition to the actual hanging ring, Manufacturers sew a support ring into the fabric of the curtain to prevent the weight of the cloth from ripping under the strain of hanging from the ring.
The obvious fundamental difference between curtain tabs and rings lies in their relationship with the curtain itself. All curtain tabs, including back tabs, comprise a part of the curtain. Rings, on the other hand, constitute separate units that thread through curtains. However, curtains must contain reinforcement rings or some other form of additional support sewn into the fabric in order to hang from rings. Some manufacturers sell curtains with rings included. If you purchase curtains with no hanging mechanisms, you can sew tabs from the same fabric or install reinforcement rings for hanging from rings.
Back tabs and rings distribute the weight of a curtain in different ways. With back tabs, the fabric of the tab and the strength of the seams connecting the tab to the curtain bear the entire weight of the curtain. Curtain rings hold the weight of the curtain suspended from a rod, though the curtain supports its weight as it hangs from the rings. You can design either of these systems for supporting curtains of varying weights, though keep in mind that with curtain rings, the rings and the curtain both feel the strain of the weight.
Curtain tabs, sewn from the same fabric of the curtain, add no aesthetic value to a space not already present in the form of the curtain. Curtain rings, on the other hand, add texture with their material and design. For instance, if a room contains furniture all made from the same type of wood, hanging a curtain from rings made of the same wood adds to the aesthetic cohesion of the space. The same holds true for plastic or metal rings.