It’s that time of year again – the sun is shining and everyone wants to enjoy the weather in their outdoor living space.
Privacy (even if you love your neighbors) helps make a space feel a lot more relaxing. Luckily, building your own outdoor privacy wall doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
We recently updated our entire screened porch, and our DIY privacy wall with plants is by far the best feature. The beautiful wood adds warmth while the plants and design give it all the vacation vibes.
Let me just say that I’ll be taking a mini-vacation every day after work until the winter rolls around! Even our puppy is feeling more relaxed 😉
If you want to create a mini-oasis like this, you can shop our screened porch once you make your own privacy wall!
Let’s start DIYing!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more)!
- Miter saw
- Kreg jig
- Electric sander (you can sand by hand, but this makes it so much quicker)
- 3/4″ wood paddle bit
New to DIY? Check out our post on beginner woodworking tools to determine which tools to get!
What You’ll Need
- 3 – 1x6x8 common boards
- 6 – 1x4x8 common boards
- 3 – 1x2x8 common boards
- 3 – 4x4x8 pressure-treated boards (If you are having trouble finding these, sometimes they are outside the wood entrance of the store)
- 8- 5/8″ x 4.5″ hex lag screw
- 8 – washers
- 1.5″ outdoor Kreg screws
- Stain – we used Valspar One-Coat Stain and Sealer in semi-transparent Pinebark
- 7 – plant holders
- 14 – 1.5″ machine screws
- 14 – nuts
How to Make a DIY Privacy Screen
Step 1: measure your space
Determine where you would like to place your privacy wall and measure for the exact dimensions you need. I will put our exact measurements below, but you can easily adjust to fit your space. Just remember that 4x4s are actually 3.5″ wide!
Step 2: get your boards
Select your boards at your local home improvement store. If you need tips on selecting the best boards, check out our guide to buying wood. You want to choose boards that are as straight as possible and have grain patterns that will look good together.
If possible, bring your 4x4s home and let them dry out for 1-3 months. If you don’t want to wait that long, wait until they are at least dry to touch (a few days – a week). We waited about 2 weeks before starting our project.
Note: aside from the 4x4s, we used non-treated common boards to save money on this project. If you live in a very humid climate or expect your privacy wall to get wet a lot, I would recommend using pressure-treated boards for everything.
Pressure-treated lumber will last longer outdoors (40+ years!) compared to non-treated common board, which is generally expected to last about 5-10 years when used outside.
STEP 3: cut your wood
When cutting your 4x4s, be sure to wear a mask. There are chemicals in the treated boards that you don’t want to breathe in when you create sawdust. We kept our two posts the full 96″, the top 4×4 was 87″, and then we cut all the rest of our boards to 80″.
If you are securing your privacy wall to fit a particular space like we did, bring your 4x4s outside and make sure that your 4×4 frame will fit.
Step 4: drill pocket holes
Drill a pocket hole on either end of your 1x2s. Drill two pocket holes on either end of each 1×4 and 1×6. Before drilling, pick out the pretty side of each board and then drill the pocket holes on the non-pretty side.
step 5: prep + Stain
Remove any remaining stickers/staples from the ends of the boards. Fill any holes or imperfections with stainable wood putty.
Quickly hit the edges and side with the pocket holes with 80 grit sandpaper and then spend more time on the side without the pocket holes. Then sand with 120, 180, and 220-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.
If you’re going to go back at the end and fill the pocket holes with wood putty, then you don’t need to worry about staining those. If you’re not going to go back, you can grab a small craft paintbrush to quickly get the stain inside the pocket holes.
The outdoor stain is a lot thicker (and harder to work with) than a typical stain. It also dries quickly, which means you have to work faster. Work in small sections, quickly rubbing the stain on and off.
Since it’s a little bit thicker, it’ll take a little more arm power to get the excess stain off than a normal stain wood.
Check often for drips and make sure your stain is blending well as you work on different sections.
Step 6: assemble the 4x4s
Once your boards are dry, bring them outside. Pick your favorite side of each 4×4 and place them face down.
Pre-drill four holes on the top of the top 4×4 (2 on each end). Using a 3/4″ wood paddle bit, pre-drill enough to countersink (or hide) the head of the hex lag screws. You will want to position the holes where the screws will go into the 4×4 legs.
Use a ratchet to insert the hex lag screws. Position the 4x4s that will act as the legs. Put a washer on the end of your hex lag screws before inserting, then have someone apply pressure to the opposite end of the 4x4s to make sure that they don’t separate as you insert the screw.
You can also put the end of the 4×4 up against something tough that won’t move to prevent the boards from separating. it doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure the boards stay flush! Lift your structure up again to make sure it fits into your space.
step 7: add your slats
Place some spare boards down as a spacing guide. We used 3 boards (all 1x4s, but it really doesn’t matter as long as they are the same width), one in the middle, and one close to either side.
These boards ensure that the 1x2s, 1x4s, and 1x6s that you are attaching to the 4x4s are set back the same distance from the corner of the 4x4s. We placed towels on the floor underneath the wood to protect the wood from getting damaged by our concrete floor.
13. Once you have the frame assembled, place the 1x2s, 1x4s, and 1x6s between the frame in the order that they will go.
Our pattern from top to bottom was: 1×6, 1×2, 1×4. 1×2. 1×4, 1×6, 1×4, 1×4, 1×4, 1×2, 1×4, 1×6.
Place the top board in the location that you want it to go (ours was 21″ from the bottom of the top 4×4) and then lay out the rest. You can estimate spacing for now, but this will give you a general idea of where the 4×4 legs are warped and which boards you might need to trim down. Laying out the boards in advance also help keep your structure square as you start to drill the boards together.
To get consistent spacing between boards, use a spare board as a spacing guide. We used the edge of a spare 1×3, which means our gaps were all .75″ apart.
Work your way down the structure, screwing in your pocket holes one by one. Be sure to put pressure between the board you’re drilling and the spacing board to make sure it’s tight and consistent.
If you need to make adjustments to certain boards, make extra cuts as necessary. Be sure to measure multiple times! After cutting, sand the ends again to make sure it’s smooth and there is no splintering. Don’t worry about the stain yet!
If you’re going to fill in your pocket holes, now would be a good time to do so. Overfill the holes with the wood putty since it will shrink. Once it’s dry, sand and stain.
Step 8: add your planters
Once you’ve screwed in all of the 1x2s, 1x4s, and 1x6s, determine where you want the pots to hang. We had a total of 7 planters. For the middle planters, we placed our holders 16″, 40″, and 64″ from the edge.
For the other boards, they were 28″ from either end. Drill holes where you want the plant holders to be. The planters should only hang from 1x4s or 1x6s. 1x2s aren’t sturdy enough to support the weight of the planters.
Lift up your structure, but leave enough room where someone can get on the other side of it.
Screw the plant holders into the holes you just drilled. Then have someone go to the other side of the structure and place a nut on the back of each screw. Screw it in until the washer is tight.
The structure should be pretty stable at this point, but make sure someone is always holding it until it is secured!
Step 9: install
If you are installing your privacy wall into the ground and not securing it to an existing wall/structure, you’ll need to dig holes and pour concrete around the 4×4 posts. This DIY pergola post has instructions on how to do this.
If you are securing your privacy wall to an existing wall, you can put it into position now. Pre-drill using a 3/4″ wood paddle bit (just enough to countersink the hex lag screw) and secure in multiple places.
Once your structure is secure, you can fill the screw holes with wood putty, sand, and do some touch-up stain. Once you finish the touch-up stain, it’s time to add plants!
Another weekend project in the books! We’re believers in the fact that “failure” (it’s not really failure, it just feels like it sometimes) is part of the DIY process.
For this project, our failures included picking the wrong stain color (Behr Chestnut was a little too Jersey Shore orange for me) and having to re-cut several boards to make them the right size. You live and you learn, right?
Once you finish your privacy screen, add some curtains to really give it that resort style feel. You can even make your own curtain rod! It’s inexpensive and super easy to make!
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