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The Outdoor DIY That’s 100% Still Worth Doing This Summer… Malcolm’s Mobile Privacy Wall

The creative process is a funny thing. This is usually how it pans out for me:

  1. This thing is a great idea! Let’s make it happen!
  2. Ok, this might be a bit harder than I thought…
  4. Alright, now we’re getting somewhere…
  5. This thing was a great idea! I made it happen!

The process behind this DIY privacy wall for my deck was certainly no exception to the rule! You should definitely read all about the overall plans for my deck makeover, but stay here for the full story about how the privacy wall came to be and a tutorial if you are in the DIY privacy wall market.

Let’s start by reviewing my general expectations for this project:

This was my initial schematic for the privacy wall, which was based on nothing but my desired outcome and purely aspirational. Backward design is a powerful and widely-applicable thing, folks!


Since my backyard is shared with about a dozen other units, my personal deck is in very close proximity with my neighbors’. Generally, that doesn’t bother me very much, but some slight privacy every now and then is welcome! My goals were to create something that provided a little bit of separation from my immediate neighbors without completely blocking view of the yard, and to make the deck feel more like a “room” and a true extension of my dining room and kitchen.


There isn’t enough lighting on the deck for nighttime chilling (a necessity!), so additional lighting is a must. The verticality of the privacy wall will give me plenty of options for draping string lights around the perimeter in a way that feels natural to the environment.


I decided that I wanted to try to make the overall privacy structure a mobile aspect of the deck for a few reasons: in case I want to reposition it, in case I want to remove it from the deck entirely (during very windy/inclement weather, for example), and so that I can easily carry it and store it away whenever necessary. This became the biggest and most interesting challenge of the project, but I figured out a good solution, I think! More on that in the tutorial below! I’m so excited about this! So much exclamation!

Step One: Measure the space to determine the specifications for the wall.

I promptly hopped into Adobe Illustrator to plan out the exact specifications for the various pieces of wood that I would need. I decided that I wanted my wall to be six feet tall and about 2 feet wide on each side. That way, it would be tall enough to meet my privacy needs, but not so wide that it would impede views of the backyard.

Step Two: Gather the things!

Once I determined how much wood I would need, I set off on a masked trip to my vacation home (Home Depot) to gather my supplies. I settled on standard 2x4s for the horizontal slats and 2x2s for the vertical leg components. I don’t own the necessary equipment to cut wood at home (yet!), so I always rely on Home Depot to cut pieces of wood for me.

At this point, I started to think hard about stability and mobility. I was SO HAPPY when I thought about using door hinges to keep the two pieces together, for so many reasons! Primarily, the hinges would keep the two panels perfectly perpendicular for additional stability. The hinges would also allow me to fold the wall in like a door, which would allow for easy mobility and storage. Crossover appeal! However, I still felt as though I needed some additional stability to support the wall and keep it securely in place.

Whenever I’m stumped on an idea, I peruse Home Depot or Lowe’s to find inspiration. The staff surely thinks that I have too much time on my hands (I don’t) and/or that I live next door (I don’t). I stumbled across these u-bolts, which come in a plethora of sizes, and are made exactly for this type of project! And they’re cheap! All they needed was some black spray paint to match the matte black door hinges.

Step Three: Assemble the aforementioned things!

I’ve done enough belaboring at this point… so here’s a cheeky little diagram to show you how everything came together. Am I IKEA?

I used deck screws to attach the horizontal slats to the vertical posts (four screws per slat, two on each side), and subsequently installed the three door hinges to attach the two panels together.

Which led us here!

Step Four: Apply stain, if your heart desires.

I honestly think the structure would look perfectly fine without stain, but regardless, it’s probably a good idea to finish it off with some sort of deck sealant to protect it from the elements. Personally, I opted to stain it a darker color to make it more consistent with the rest of the deck. It isn’t a perfect match, but I’m planning to stain the entire deck down the road, so I’m not too particular about it at this point. I chose Behr chocolate semi-transparent deck stain, which is one of three deck stain colors that my HOA allows.

See how she moves!

For those of you curious about the cost breakdown, this is where I landed.

  • Deck screws: $10
  • 2x2s (four 8′ pieces trimmed to 6′ each): $8
  • 2x4s (seven 8′ pieces cut down to 14 3.5′ pieces): $33
  • Door hinges: $11
  • U-bolts: $4
  • Deck stain: $38

Grand total: $102

The priciest item was the deck stain, but it was still a reasonably priced project for a pretty big statement!

And there we have it! What do you think? I’m super excited to see this project come to life. Next steps: furnishing, styling, and ENJOYING. I’ll be back for the final reveal soon. Stay tuned!

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3 years ago

Congrats, Malcolm! Here’s to backwards design + embracing the process!

Sonia Quinones
3 years ago

This is fabulous! I live in a rental apartment with a patio and have been looking for affordable, easy to DIY ideas to add additional privacy (but that wouldn’t get me in trouble with my landlord). This is perfect! Love everything about it. Thank you!

This is a GREAT idea! Love that it’s mobile/temporary. Also, the visuals on the tutorial were perfect. I hate reading instructions and I could totally figure it out based on the pictures. Very cool.

3 years ago

This is super cute but also SUPER smart. So simple! But so effective!

Kate Zane
3 years ago

So good! I love that you decided to go horizontal, really makes it 👌. I can’t wait to see how you style this deck!

3 years ago

This looks awesome, Malcolm! The door hinges were a smart solution, and your illustrations were really effective at explaining the build.

3 years ago

So simple and clever and good-looking!! I love how practical this is for so many situations! Inspired to make something similar as an outdoor divider for our yard while we save up for a pergola 🙂

3 years ago

I love this idea because another panel could be added that folds in the opposite direction when needing to move it if you wanted more privacy.
These instructions are so good that even an all thumbs person such as myself could possibly accomplish this.
Looking forward to the reveal.

3 years ago

it looks great! can’t wait for the fun part…styling!

3 years ago

This looks so good! This post was well put together, too. Nice visuals, clear instructions. Congrats, Malcolm!

3 years ago

looks great and very clever!

3 years ago

Love this idea! And looking forward to the final reveal!!

3 years ago

This is cool and a real possibility for people with exposed balconies that need some privacy in a rental!
Removable, movable…. doable! 😃

3 years ago

Nice! Your HOA sounds crazy. But they all sound crazy to me. Question: where do the ubolts go in the end?

3 years ago

This is brilliant! I’m not in need of a privacy screen, but I’m now trying to find a way to implement this somewhere.

Kelly P
3 years ago

This a very clever idea and you executed it flawlessly. Well done! Can’t wait to see the deck finished 🙂

3 years ago

This is so smart!!

3 years ago

I might even try something like this myself. I love it!

3 years ago

This is terrific. I love how it really does create a sense of privacy, yet it still leaves you with a view of the garden beyond, and also isn’t a solid barrier against your neighbours (which might have given off an unfriendly vibe). With the stain it looks almost integral to the deck, and I love the flexibility and storeability you built in with the hinge. I also can’t believe the cost, for something so spot-on it’s amazing. I can’t wait to see how you finish off the deck now.

3 years ago

I am very impressed to see your work and you exploring ideas and knowledge to share with us its very impressive.
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