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I'm planning to build a privacy screen to be attached between two posts of the pvc railing of a composite deck. I want the attachment to be temporary so that it can be removed and stored during winter months. The privacy screen will be approximately 6 feet wide and 6 or 7 feet tall. I would like it to be made with boards 4" to 6" wide by 6 feet long placed horizontally across the 6 foot width (like a horizontal fence). There will be a space of an inch or two between each board.

I'm looking for material suggestions. I would like to use composite decking for this but the boards are very heavy. I'm considering using PT pine boards but I don't know if I'm overlooking better options in lumber or in a lightweight composite material that I am unfamiliar with.

I prefer to see the wood grain so stain rather than paint and prefer the wood to be free of excessive knots. The boards can be as thin as possible while remaining sturdy. I would guess no less than 1/2 inch thick. Over the 6 foot length, I'm planning to have 3 or 4 vertical supports - something like 2x3s.

I would also like some suggestions on temporary fasteners. I am considering heavy duty wire ties to avoid drilling into my posts. Any other ideas?

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I would stick with plastic rather than wood. It will last longer, retain its appearance, it's cleanable, it's lighter, it doesn't warp or split, and it's easy to work with. Most of the external trim on houses is cellular PVC. You can get thin planks or cut them from a sheet. Companies like Azek and CertainTeed make endless varieties and are sold at building supply stores. Chains like Home Depot and Lowes have in-house brands.

A slightly different design: use PVC slats made for "faux wood" window blinds. The slats are very thin and light, and 2" and 2 1/2" are commonly available widths (you would just need more of them). They are much thinner than the thinnest available trim boards and sheets, so they flex a lot more. You would probably want a solidly made frame to mount them on, with a vertical support maybe every 2' or so.

In terms of mounting the screen, wind will be a problem. That amount of surface area will result in a lot of force when the wind blows. It will need securing at many points, and best at the top and bottom. I've used very heavy duty zip ties, but they deteriorate in the sun, become brittle, and break after a few years (probably sooner if under heavy stress from the wind). You'd need to replace those each season.

Another idea: use vinyl siding for the planks. Trim off the mounting strips so you only see the "planks". If you are concerned about the appearance on the back side, use another set there. Alternative: use PVC cement to glue the siding back to back to create a hollow "board". If you don't want to see the ends, which would give away the illusion, cover the sides with a trim strip. You can get the siding in any finish or color you want.

  • I've used Azek but only in white. Is it (or comparable) available in other colors? I would like to give the screen a more natural look and, because the sun would hit it directly from the deck side for much of the afternoon, I worry that white might be blinding. Interesting idea to use the faux wood blinds. They may be a little too flimsy and pricey at 6 foot lengths but the idea is worth investigating especially if I can find them at 3". – user1843640 Jun 14 '17 at 16:39
  • Just took a look at the Azek site and see they have a trim finish called Frontier. Painted a softer color, this may work. Think I'll pick up a sample piece to experiment. azek.com/products/trim#frontier-trim – user1843640 Jun 14 '17 at 16:45
  • Some brand do have it available in different surface textures, like wood grain, and I think even some colors other than white. But the material is paintable, so you can make it anything you want. The faux wood slats come in wood colors as well as white. You don't necessarily need 6' lengths. Use two 3' lengths with a vertical support in the center. They're flimsy in terms of flexing, but securing them to verticals every 2' or so will solve that. They're surprisingly strong. – fixer1234 Jun 14 '17 at 16:55

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