DIY Outdoor Privacy Screen

I chatted with my BFFs at Online Fabric Store and was provided some product while writing this post. I was not compensated otherwise and my opinions are my own. Now you know, and knowing's half the battle. :)
Don't you want to cuddle with it? My "new" porch screen looks OMG-where-did-you-get-that good.  I'm starting to see a theme with all of my DIY projects where I revamp crap from around my house. I finish the project and then think, why did I live with it so ugly for so long? Same case with the screen. Sucker was bleh before. At the risk of sounding weight-loss informercial on you: I should have done it years ago!

This is almost the final project in the great porch makeover I sweated through this summer. Just a couple projects left to show you how I went from this to some place you might actually want to sit down and have a margarita (without using hand sanitizer). So far I finished the hanging plant chandelier, built an outdoor storage box, crafted some herringbone shim art, and revamped the entire dining area. On to the screen!

Here's the before.
I bought this screen probably 10 years ago at a garage sale for $20. (I remember that because as a poor gal in her early 20's, $20 was a lot for a decor item... who am I kidding, still is. #cheapandiknowit) It sat in various apartments and houses I had through the years and basically hid my crap. Once I got married and got "a real house", it got banished to the back porch and has since lived it's life out hiding our plunger :) It still needs to hide the plunger, but we can at least make it pretty.

  • Old Screen
  • Small scrap pieces of wood trim
  • Fabric (about 3 yards as long as it's wide enough to get 3 panels out of it) The fabric I am using is P. Kaufmann Outdoor Silsila Poolside Fabric from Online Fabric Store. Click here to get it!
  • Screws/Screwdriver or drill 
  • Sewing machine and regular sewing stuff
Step 1:
Remove any of the old stuff that is in your way. I'm my case, this paper stuff was moldy and ripped and needed to go.  I just ripped it off. I also did a few small repairs to the wood frame at this point.

Step 2:
Prime. Some regular old spray primer always helps the paint stick better.

Step 3:
Paint. Once the primer was dry (took about 30 seconds in the blazing 95ยบ Florida heat/direct sun), I gave everything a couple coats of spray paint. Same Rust-Oleum teal I used on everything else.

Step 4:
Now head inside and get some water and an ice pop while that dries. Good? Let's keep going. Time to cut the 3 fabric panels. To do this I folded my fabric lengthwise in 3rds and cut on the folds. Doing this just happened to give me three even panels slightly larger than I needed to allow room for hemming. Doesn't really matter how you arrive to this step... you just need as many fabric panels as you have screen panels and they need to be about 2" wider and about 6" longer than the size of the panels on the screen frame.

Step 5:
Press and hem. After the panels were cut, I folded the sides under twice (not the top or bottom... that's the next step), pressed, and sewed. I made sure my finished panel width was going to fit inside the frame I had drying out in the yard.

Step 6:
Cut pieces of scrap wood or trim for the tops and bottoms and sew pockets for them to fit into. That sounds complicated, but it's really not. You're essentially making "curtain rods" and sewing pockets on the tops and bottoms of the fabric panels for those to slide into. Like this...
Those are my 6 pieces (1 for the top and bottom of each panel) of scrap trim I had laying around in the garage. I cut them to fit inside the width of my screen frames.

Then I hemmed the top and bottom of each fabric panel leaving a large enough pocket so the trim pieces could slide inside. If you end up using a really wide piece of wood for this, you're going to need a longer piece of fabric the make a larger pocket. I allowed myself 3 extra inches on either end.
 Slide that sucker right in there.
And, to make sure I was hemming everything to the correct length, I made the top pocket first then clamped it to my screen to determine where to make the bottom one. Like this... (Note we are inside at this point and the kids are not snoozing. I was way too hot and naps are like a mythical creature of the past)

Step 7:
Attach the fabric panels to the screen frame.  Again, I cut small scraps of wood to fit inside the width of my existing screen frame.

Then screwed through those scraps from the back, into the screen frame, into the scraps I cut for my curtain rods on the front. Make sense?

Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting. Just go right through the fabric from the back into the scrap wood that's in the pocket on the front. The important part here is to make sure your screws are the perfect length. Not too short so they don't grab the fabric panel on the front, but not too long so they don't poke through the front.

And that's it; you're done. I can't tell if it looks a hundred times better than it did before or a million times better.  Hmmm. 

Besides hiding our plunger (lovely, I know) and larger yard crap that doesn't fit in the bench, it makes a really sweet backdrop for the dining area and all of my accessories.
The other fabrics pictured here: 

So maybe you don't have a screen to revamp, but something else? Either way I hope you're inspired to just try it! It might just work out. Life's too short to live with ugly stuff.


  1. Wow! This is beautiful Sarah. You are quite talented- using all sorts of tools- sewing machine, power drill, a saw!? Geesh. You are a Super DIY Woman.

    1. Aww, thanks. :) When you're cheap like me, you have to figure out how to do things yourself. haha