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  • JDub

DIY Small Deck Privacy Screen

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Small back yard deck with privacy screen
Outdoor privacy fence design

Covid-19 Project #1

Privacy is a commodity when living in a town home complex. We have a beautiful view off of our back deck with no one living behind us, however the deck to the left of us, belonging to our neighbour, is higher than our deck and protrudes further out than ours as well so it often feels like they are on top of us. For years it made it uncomfortable to use our deck if they were already outside using theirs.

It resulted in our family reducing the amount of time we spent out there out of respect for our neighbours privacy and we really enjoy using that space in the summer.

Building a privacy screen has been on our list of "to do's" for years but it was always low priority to family, sports, school and vacation time. One more positive badge for this Pandemic, it has ignited that fire and provided us with the time to finally achieve some home project goals.

This is another really easy project and again, the results will blow your mind, especially when you have been starved of privacy for a decade. Such an easy solution that can be done in a couple of days, one if you are organized! We built ours to be 71 1/4 inches tall and 66 1/4 inches wide.

To build our privacy screen - You will need:

10 1x4's

16 1x2's

4 2x4's

To begin, I started exploring the internet and Pinterest to see what was out there for horizontal fencing designs. I actually found it very difficult to find what I was looking for, but I did learn what size of lumber I would want to work with, so I went to my local lumber yard and picked up some scraps to play with.

As every deck is built differently, what worked for us may not work for your space but these images will give you an idea of a few patterns you could consider for yourself. I highly recommend doing this yourself so you can get the actual measurements right for your space.

For instance, keep in mind that the above listed materials do not actually measure how they are sold. This tripped me up in my planning as I assumed that was their actual size but that is not correct. For more information regarding actual vs. nominal lumber sizing check out this article:

You also want to make sure that you are accounting for the spaces between each cut of lumber. The width you want that space to be will be another factor to consider when deciding the height of your privacy screen. We decided to go with a 1/4 inch gap.

Below is a gallery of lumber layouts I came up with before deciding on the final one. This was a lot of fun to do, and I liked all of them :)

Once we chose our pattern we went out to purchase the wood. We ended up purchasing 12ft pieces to cut down.

**Make sure to cut all of your pieces first before painting! We made this mistake and then we were left with a lot of scrap wood that was painted in exterior paint that cannot be composted! We have to turn those scraps now into something else to reduce our waste :(

Once your lumber is cut, paint first before assembling. This is so when you screw the lumber in place, the screw will go into the wood and a final, second coat applied after will help hide the screws. It is also difficult to reach all sides of the lumber once built so be sure to give it a good paint first before building. Even the end cuts of the lumber need to be painted.

We live in a complex that is run by a Strata corporation, therefore there are rules to follow regarding building anything on the exterior. Our rule states that nothing permanent can be built outside unless given permission by Strata. So our privacy screen had to be something that could easily be removed.

We were able to secure a 2x4 width across, to the post frame of the deck railing, just below the hand railing which allowed us to secure two more 2x4's upwards to the horizontal 2x4 we had installed above. This way, we didn't have to screw into the original deck, keeping the integrity of the original structure. It also made it very easy to explain to our neighbours that we could easily remove this privacy screen, and it did not impede the structure of the deck.

Once the structural frame of the screen was secure we could build our pattern! We began from the bottom up, making sure to stay square to the railing as the deck slopes down away from the house to aid in water/snow removal.

Eventually we got to the top of our 2x4's and had to decide whether we added a cap to the top of the screen or not. It looked great without it. We decided to add the cap and later we realized how glad we were that we did! Our bedroom window is above the deck, so we often look down onto it. It would look incomplete from above without the cap so most definitely include that piece of lumber in your design.

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