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Decorative Privacy Screens

Simple straight cuts and whitewash give these screens a serene contemporary touch.

Decorative Privacy Screens

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Tape measure
  • Portable circular saw
  • Combination square
  • Clamps
  • Jigsaw with fine-tooth wood-cutting blade
  • Cordless drill and driver bit
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Straightedge
  • Painting supplies
  • Post-hole digger
  • Level


  • See the Project Diagram for lumber required.
  • Exterior wood glue
  • 4d galvanized finish nails
  • 2-in deck screws
  • Masking tape
  • 3 - 50-lb bags of drainage rock
  • 1-qt HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams exterior latex paint and primer, white
  • Olympic semi-transparent exterior stain, Cedar Naturaltone

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Before You Start

These instructions show you how to make a screen with decorative cutouts and a paint scheme that combines colored surfaces with natural wood tones. Screens can be made without the cutouts and painted patterns to save time.

Make the Slats

Step 1

Draw the cutouts on the slats.

Cut the slats (A, B, C, D) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Mark the cutouts on slats (B, C, D) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1) using a combination square.

Good to Know

The boards used for the slats have one rough-sawn face and one smooth-planed face. To add rustic texture to the project, orient the rough-sawn face to the front.

Step 2

Jigsaw the slats.

Install a fine-tooth wood-cutting blade in a jigsaw and cut the openings in the slats (B, C, D).

Assemble the Screen

Step 1

Mark the post for the slats.

Clamp the two 2 x 4 posts (E) (Project Diagram, Cutting List) together edge-to-edge with the top ends flush. To align the top edge of each slat (A, B, C, D), draw lines spaced 6 inches apart across both posts. (This will leave 1/2 inch between the slats.)

Step 2

Secure the screen slats with nails.

On a flat surface, lay the posts with the outside edges 30 inches apart and the ends flush. Apply waterproof glue to the posts and arrange the slats on the posts, starting at the top (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Align the top edge of the top slat with the tops of the posts and the top of each remaining slat with the lines on the posts. As you place each slat, tack it to the posts with two 4d galvanized finish nails. Let the glue dry.

Step 3

Attach the slats with screws.

Carefully turn over the screen. Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes through the posts, centered on each slat, and drive 2-inch deck screws through the posts and into the slats.

Paint and Install

Step 1

Turn the screen face-up. Using a straightedge and pencil, lay out the painting pattern on the slats (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Apply masking tape along the layout lines and paint the slats. We mixed equal parts white exterior paint and water, and washed the exposed surface of the slates with the mixture. Remove the masking tape and let the paint dry.

Step 2

Dig two 8-inch-diameter holes 24 inches deep with the centers 26-1/2 inches apart (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).

Good to Know

When referencing the location of repetitive parts, the dimension from center to center is referred to as “on-center.” These posts are spaced 26-1/2 inches on-center.

Step 3

Before lowering the screen posts into the holes, place 3 inches of gravel in the bottom of each hole.

Good to Know

Placing the ends of the posts on gravel instead of on dirt in the bottom of the holes will prolong their life by allowing water to drain away.

Step 4

Lower the posts into the holes and temporarily prop the screen in place with the help of a friend so it is level and plumb. Fill the remainder of the holes with gravel.

Step 5

These easy-to-make screens can be installed individually or in groups.  --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

Apply an exterior wood preservative in the color you prefer -- we used a semi-transparent deck stain (Cedar Naturaltone shown).

Find more privacy screen ideas: