Build A Slatted Timber Screen

  • Slatted Timber Screen

Do you have an outdoor area you’d like to cover up or a spot that needs more privacy? 

A timber screen is a cost effective, durable and decorative landscape cover-all that can be built in a day. 

This suburban home had a large underhouse area that was ideal for storage but open to the weather and visible from the garden. 

The solution was to install a screen to hide the area from view, protect it from the elements and provide security for the items being stored.

For this home, the screen was mounted between brick piers but the same techniques can be used for a freestanding screen or to create a wall trellis for climbers and espalier.

Measure the space

To build it you’ll need 90 x 20mm ACQ decking, $2 a metre, and 90 x 45mm H3 treated pine, about $5 a metre. The timber for this screen cost about $150. 

The only other costs are hardware, paint and aluminium core flashing, which can be bought in rolls, such as Sureform Lead Free Roof Flashing, $96 for 140mm x 5m, from Bunnings.

Measure the space, dividing the finished height by the slat width plus gap to calculate the number needed. 

The decking boards used for this project were 90mm wide and 20mm thick. A board was used as a spacer, so 110mm was allowed for each slat. 

TIP At 1.8 x 2m high, this timber screen needed 19 slats.  

Building with timber 

Use H3 treated pine above ground but for in-ground structures like posts, use H4 grade treated pine.

CHOOSE ACQ treated pine over CCA treated pine. It’s often sold as ‘safe pine’ and is arsenic-free.

ORDER the timber in lengths that will minimise offcuts and wastage.

BUY longer lengths to save money. If you need three 1.8m lengths, buy a 5.4m piece of timber.

USE stainless steel fittings or screws and bolts classed ACQ-safe.

SELECT the timber yourself, being careful not to choose any warped, bowed or damaged pieces.

PAINT or treat timber as soon as possible after installing, sealing all cut ends before applying the finish.

TIP You may find it easier to paint the slats for the screen after cutting, then touching-up after installation.

Screening options 

Whether they are part of another structure or freestanding, screens are extremely useful and very DIY-friendly to build. 

Here are a few ways to modify this project to suit your needs.

WALL SCREEN Secure 90 x 45mm exterior grade H3 timber battens to a wall and attach decking slats.

FREESTANDING SCREEN Sink 90 x 90mm H4 treated pine posts in the ground, then secure 90 x 45mm top and base plates. Add vertical studs spaced every 1000mm and attach horizontal slats.

PRIVACY SCREEN Extend the posts of balcony handrails, add a top plate then secure slats.

lemon espaliser against timber slatted screen, handyman magazine,
To espalier a potted lemon tree, attach decking slats to wall-mounted battens

Click here to watch the step-by-step video of this project

Step 1. Install the top plate

Cut 90 x 45mm timber for the top plate with a circular saw then trim flashing to length. Mould the flashing over the top plate with overlap at the front. Predrill the top plate, clamp in position with the flashing, securing with three 75mm treated pine screws.

Step 2. Prepare base plate

Cut 90 x 45mm timber for the base plate and predrill for screws. To mark the concrete, position the base plate and drill with a masonry bit. Remove the base plate, drill the holes in the concrete then hammer in masonry plugs, trimming any excess.

Step 3. Secure the base plate

Cut flashing to fit under the base plate and position above the drilled holes in the concrete, leaving 20mm extra flashing at the front. Secure the base plate with 75mm treated pine screws. Fold down the front flashing and fold up any excess at the back.

Step 4. Attach the studs

Cut the side studs from 90 x 45mm timber, predrilling to secure to the piers with 75mm screws. Measure from the centre of the top and base plates, cut a stud to fit and clamp in position. Check for plumb, securing with screws. TIP Install additional studs if required

Step 5. Add the slats

Mark 90 x 20mm decking boards to length then clamp, cutting with a circular saw. Starting from the base, position a slat against the frame then clamp, securing with two 50mm treated pine screws into each stud. TIP Use a slat spacer for even gaps.

Step 6. Paint the screen

Wash the timber screen then apply two coats of self-priming exterior acrylic using a roller, applying the paint along the grain and diagonally, to keep the coverage even. To paint the studs, use a brush to reach the timber visible between the slats.

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