DIY Mid Century Inspired Exterior Screens

Let’s talk these wacky front yard screens! I routinely get requests for constructions plans, and although I shared a bit of the process when we put the first one in last year, we’ve since built a second and I’m here to give some additional info! Pardon our June gloom whiteout conditions… First things first, we put these in to break up a long boring stretch along the front of our house (and to kinda hide a very ill-placed electrical panel). This project was 100% inspired by a 60’s Sunset book, Entryways and Front Gardens. We tweaked the original design, which you can see here, to expand to a larger screen.

Our screens are 7′ tall by almost 4′ wide. Each screen cost approximately $150 and took a few hours to build.

Supplies for 1 screen:

 

Enjoy this very beautiful and professional diagram showing the basic construction:A few notes…

This probably isn’t a beginner level project, but it’s not complicated if you have some basic building knowledge. We used a only a drill and a chop saw. Each screen is HEAVY, so a two person job in that regard!

Our design and site informed our final dimensions. This is easily customizable to your own needs but make sure you plan out dimensions to save money on the wood pieces you need to buy.

The square blocks are cut from a 10′ 2×6 (into 5″ pieces, making each actually 5″ x 5.5″) and set towards the back of the screen. The slats are scrap 2×4 pieces cut 5″ long and placed on their sides.

We found it easiest to screw the blocks (and 4 rogue slats) to the 6′ and 10′ boards first according to our design pattern, then start screwing those layers together, and then add in the bottom framing pieces as we went along (measuring and cutting those as needed from our 8′ board), if that makes sense? Lastly, we screwed on the top horizontal frame also cut from that 8′ board. We used 3′ exterior screws to attach the top and bottom horizontal boards to the frame (above). And 8 x 1 5/8″ exterior trim screws for attaching the blocks (below).We added angle brackets underneath the frame along the 10′ boards for added strength. Here you can see one bracket on and one about to be screwed on.We brushed wood preservative on the post bottoms before setting them in the ground (you might want to skip this or be careful to keep it below ground level if you plan to stain your screen…the preservative changes the color of the wood!)The screens are quite top heavy and need to be set in-ground with concrete. We used one bag for each hole. The general rule for posts is to place them in the ground at a depth a third of the height that the project is above ground. Ours are 7′ tall above ground, 7′ divided by 3 is 2.3′, so we went 2′ deep for the posts, making our total post height 9′. We probably should have gone closer to 2.5′ or even 3′ deep because our original one has settled and is slightly off now nooooooo! But, for us, the hardest part of this entire project was digging post holes in our ridiculously hard clay ugh. (Tip if you are in the same situation: utilize a 1″ spade drill bit on your drill to help you dig!). If your ground permits, you probably want to keep the full 10′ length of the posts to give you 3′ in ground.Screw stakes to the frame while the concrete sets. Fill all the screw holes with wood filler if you plan to paint. I skipped this step on round one and it showed. I went back this time around and filled everything in before painting!Now if your wondering why in the world I painted my screens boring white when there are a rainbow of possibilities…indecision got me bad. Black was an obvious contender but I wasn’t sure on such a formal (tuxedo!) color scheme. And I really, really like the view of the bright white screens from the kitchen windows. The screens desperately needed a coat of paint (one survived the rainy winter with just a coat of primer) and I had a gallon of this paint sitting in my garage. Had I known we were going to paint our house white also, I probably would have stained these instead and kept a wood tone. Oh well. Future next color TBD when I make up my mind. In a few years.

Please let me know if you have any questions and I want to see pictures if you attempt this project!

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