Easy, DIY Privacy Screen for Your Patio

Posted by: on April 4th, 2012 | 30 Comments
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DIY Privacy Screen

Porches and patios are a great way to add an extra space to your home without having to take on an addition. One common problem with porches and patios, however, is their proximity to the neighbors. While you may enjoy their friendship, it’s still nice to have a little privacy as you sip your coffee on the front porch reading the Sunday morning  newspaper. Fortunately, there are easy ways to create a division between your outdoor space and theirs.

We’ll show you how to craft this easy, striped privacy screen from a drop cloth, and this DIY privacy screen cost only $48.84 to create!

DIY Privacy Screen | Supplies

First up, our supplies:

-1 9×12 8oz canvas dropcloth, $21.98
-1 1/2″ grommet kit, $7.96
-1 package 1/2″ grommet refills, $3.96
- 2 3″ flat paintbrushes, $7.47 each
-at least 1/2 gallon of latex paint
-2 measuring tapes
-painter’s tape
-scissors (not shown)

A couple of notes, before selecting the drop cloth, measure your space. We ended up using a panel that was almost exactly the size of the stretch of wall the privacy screen was going to be against. These panels will be fairly stiff once they’re painted, so you won’t be able to easily tie them back. Plan on them hanging straight against the wall. We ended up trimming the drop cloth to have it fit perfectly, so you may need to do that as well.

First, you’re going to measure and mark up the canvas drop cloth before adding the painter’s tape. This is definitely the most time consuming part of the whole process, so begin when you’re in a patient mood. I began by taping the drop cloth to the floor so that it wouldn’t move while I was taping away (that would have made it easy for the stripes to become crooked).

DIY Privacy Screen

Once the drop cloth was taped down, I used two measuring tapes to mark out a 6 inch grid all over the drop cloth, making small dots with a marker. I did this so that when I began taping the stripes with painters tape, I would have a guide already marked out. Without the grid, the stripes could become crooked very easily!

DIY Privacy Screen | Tape off stripes

Once the grid was created, I used the dots at every 6 inches to be sure my lines were staying straight. In the image above, you can see that the painters tape was just hitting the little green marker dot in the bottom left corner.

DIY Privacy Screen | Painting stripes

Once the lines were fully created with the painters tape, I began painting the drop cloth. I used some leftover paint from an old house project for these stripes. One fantastic surprise from this project was how crisp and clean the lines came out. Often with painters tape, you’ll have some bleeding underneath the tape. Because these drop cloths are so thick, they absorb the paint very well, and I didn’t see any trouble at all with leaking. I also ran out of the green Frog Tape halfway through the taping portion, and I used blue ScotchBlue painters tape for the second half. For this project, I didn’t see any difference between the Frog Tape and ScotchBlue tape, so use whichever one you are comfortable with. I let the paint dry overnight before removing the painters tape.

Once the paint is dry and the painters tape is removed, there are two ways to move onto the next step. Either you can add the grommets into the canvas and add the hooks to your space later, or you can do it the other way around and add the hooks to your space, then determine where the grommets will go. I already had hooks hanging from the ceiling of the porch, so I measured where the grommets should go before cutting and adding them to the canvas.

DIY Privacy Screen | Adding grommets to canvas

After attempting a few trials of the grommet kit on a spare scrap of canvas, I came up with a process that worked best for this project. It does deviate slightly from the directions listed on the grommet kit, but this is just worked best for me. I would definitely suggest doing a few trial runs before attempting this on the final canvas. With that said, once the marks are made, cut a small hole on top of the mark. Also, note that in order to create a kind of hem, I folded over the top inch and a half of fabric. This way, the grommet will go through twice the fabric, though this makes for a more secure grommet.

DIY Privacy Screen | Cut a hole

Be careful not to cut the hole too large, or the grommet will slip through.

DIY Privacy Screen | Cut a hole

With the backside facing up, place the wood square backer, the bottom setting tool, and the front piece of the grommet.

DIY Privacy Screen | grommet kit

The hole in the canvas should fit very tightly around the top portion of the grommet.

DIY Privacy Screen | grommet kit

Next, put the inside portion of the grommet on top of the fabric so that the two grommet halves sandwich the canvas.

Place the setting tool on top of the inside grommet, and pound the tool with a hammer so that the ring of the bottom grommet is folded. After this step, the two pieces of the grommet should be folded together, though they will still be fairly loose.

DIY Privacy Screen | grommet kit

Once the initial fold in the grommet is made, remove the setting tool, and tighten the fit by hitting the grommet with a hammer.

DIY Privacy Screen | grommet kit

After this step, the two halves of the grommet should fit together tightly. Now, you should be ready to hang the privacy screens!

DIY Privacy Screen | grommet kit

We hung them from simple hooks screwed into the porch ceiling. That’s all!

In addition to creating privacy, this would be an easy way to give your porch or patio a new look for spring or to decorate for a party!

Would you try this easy, DIY privacy screen project? What other ways have you tried to give your porch or patio extra privacy?

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  1. [...] painted privacy screen from Home Depot was made with drop cloths. I like the idea of adding the color and the DIY [...]

  2. Mollie says:

    Great idea for both privacy and decorative application and simple!

  3. Terri says:

    Great Idea as we used drop clothes as well. Downfall: These will mildew in 1 month!!!

  4. patti says:

    The drop cloth idea is genius and painting it also. I like the idea someone submitted of using a pvc pipe at the bottom to be able to roll it up….How about using a pvc pipe to hang it? You could either make a rod pocket in the fabric or put tabs on top or strips on the top/back in order to thread it through. You could hang the pipe by using hooks on the ceiling of the porch. Not sure how all this looks from the back…even the painted drop cloth….but I love the idea.

  5. Sheila says:

    I don’t suppose there is anyway to find out what paint and color you used? I realize this was posted quite some time ago. I just found the post via Home Depot’s Instagram page. I want to use this idea to cover up the brick wall of our screened in porch. The earthy/orangey colors are seriously limiting my décor options. This will be the perfect solution. That color is just what I’m looking for.

    Any information would be appreciated.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Sheila,

      Unfortunately I don’t know the name of this paint color because we mixed it using several different leftover shades of paint. I’m sure you could find a similar color by visiting the paint department of any Home Depot.

      I think you’re right, this shade of aqua would nicely compliment for earthy, warm colors. It will add in a youthful, bright pop of blue so a screened-in porch.

      Best of luck,
      Senior Editor, homedepot.com

  6. kathy says:

    Looks great,,,,,,…how easy huh

  7. Linda says:

    This is a great idea that doesn’t “break the bank” and still looks stylish. I’ve been trying for days to find a company that would make something like this, but I was trying to also find a way to create a panel that could be rolled or folded up, sort of like a swagged roman blind. I never thought to paint fabric or to use a drop cloth but this will definitely help give my deck a summery and updated look.

    Thank you for the great ideas!!!

  8. Michelle L. says:

    I have a balcony with a privacy dividers but my neighbors peek through the space between the wall and where the divider starts. You just don’t know how much I love you for this!!!!

    Thank you!!!

    PS. Looking at the comments below I’m going to write vertically in the space that faces my nosy ‘neighbors’ PRIVACY PLEASE. LOL!

  9. Joe says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m looking to make a hanging/sliding privacy screen and plan to use these instructions as a starting point. I also plan to string some light-weight cable from the house to a nearby tree and then thread the wire through the grommets. Then, as it will be relativelly high, I will get a long pole with a righ-angle “fitting” of some sort to reach into a grommet to slide it back and forth. Finally, something easy to secure it to the side of the house when it’s retracted.

    Now, to decide what to put on the side that faces the nosy neighbors….

    • Craig Allen says:

      … a giant DO NOT DISTURB sign?

      Sounds like you have a great plan. Leave us a comment here when you have some photos you can send us!

      Thanks for commenting.

      Craig, from The Home Depot

  10. Amanda says:

    I think it would be great fun and you could decorate the backside so your neighbors could have a fun view or you could reverse when you felt the need for change.

  11. Sandie L says:

    I had bought some nice size painters cloth from harbor freight last year when they were on sale, with the purpose of using it for ‘curtains’ on my porch. I am still going to do it, but now have issues with a nosey neighbor. SOOO.. Buying the biggest Drop cloth I can find and attaching it to house and string it out as far as possible into the trees. My question would be.. how long do you think this would hold out in the outside weather, if sheltered under/in trees? I dont know if i will be painting the cloth as it may blend in well with the trees. Nosey Neighbors, BE GONE! My other option is to buy fence panels and hope they fit between the trees and chain link fence (pricey)

    • Hi Sandie,

      It’s hard to say how long it would last, as the weather where you live would really determine that. In the South, for example, lots of rain and humidity may cause the dropcloth to mold, but in California where it’s dry, that wouldn’t be an issue. The great thing about this project is that these drop cloths are washable, but they’re also fairly inexpensive to replace! So, worst case scenario, you could just replace it in the beginning of next Spring/Summer.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you try it! I’d love to hear how it works for you.


    • Sherri says:

      I used drop cloths around my covered patio not only for privacy but mainly so we could enjoy the patio a bit longer, as the nice heavy material kept the Autumn winds at bay. After the first season the rain had them molding. Even though they were tied back when not in use, they just didn’t weather well I still love the idea and have wondered if there wasn’t some soI’m sure her sort of sealant or spray that could be applied? Also, after washing the fabric shrunk considerably. But if they cld be sealed or treated with a water repelant then they could simply be hosed down when needed.
      We strung cable, dog run type then used aligator clip style rings to hang so they could be slid open and closed. I’ll be trying this project again because they gave a very homey feel to our outdoor space and now love the idea of painting them!

  12. Robbie says:

    I see a whole back yard play area use for this type of drop cloth project…playhouse roll up “patio awning” Portable PVC and canvas tent for pool and sandbox playtime. OH YEAH and I have a swing that needs a new cover! Off to THD for some drop cloth material and PVC! ~~~

  13. Linda Enriq says:

    I like this! I think it can be done way cheaper tho’. Use paint you have around the house and make random flowers on it…(no need for the painter’s tape) and any old paintbrushes will do! Or, let the kids put their handprints all over it! So fun!

    • Hi Linda,

      If you’re an avid DIY-er, I’d guess you have most of these supplies around your house already — like the painters tape, paintbrushes, etc. So, you’re right, it could be done cheaper. But, we wanted to give you an estimate if you had to go out and buy ALL of these products.

      Glad you like the post!


  14. [...] A DIY project to add some fun privacy to your porch Be Sociable, Share! Tweet Filed under How To | Leave a comment [...]

  15. Mona says:

    Wow. I can imagine all kinds of ways to use this info like also covering your porch cushions and making them to match your new screen. Also, I think this could be used for a shower curtain. I wonder if this screen would be more durable if put in the dryer after the paint drys for I know that is what you usually do to fabric paint. Just be careful it doesn’t shrink. In fact, the drop cloth should probably be washed first before painting, don’t you think?

    • Hi Mona,

      I’m so thrilled you liked the project! As far as washing, you’re right, it would probably be a good idea to pre-wash the drop cloth if you’re planning on washing it every so often. However, I would be sure to get the 8 oz. drop cloth over the lighter-weight options, as it will hold up better in the machines.

      Thanks for your comment!


  16. Makalani says:

    This is also a great idea to create a holiday themed ‘screen’, that can also be uses as a backdrop for portraits. Looking for a way to store your screen? Try rolling it on a piece of PVC.

    Excuse me….. gotta run to The Home Depot to pick up supplies!

  17. This is awesome! I some fabric I’ve always wanted to add grommets to–now I think I can actually do it.

    • Billie says:

      They do sell waterproof white canvas tarps at Home Depot…They are a little more expensive, but you won’t have to worry about mold and mildew. Great idea by the way I am going to put it to good use.