I live in the desert and a local bud of mine used landscape grade timbers that he attached vertically onto the cinderblock wall every 8ft. Then he laid outdoor rated privacy fabric over the timbers and stapled them along the wood timbers. And apparently, the fabric isn't drooping between these the studs as they is no horizontal structure supporting the fabric between the studs he placed every 8ft. So now his privacy went from being only 6ft tall to being 8ft tall. I'd like to do something similar but when I was at Home Depot I discovered that the 2'x4'x96" rated landscape timbers were over $10. I have approximately 300ft of length I want to cover so at that price it's going to get costly. Especially when you consider the cost of regular 8ft long 2x4's for interior use are about a fourth of the price.

Since I live in the desert and we only get on average 4-5" of rain per year can I get away with using interior wood and painting it with exterior grade paint to seal it? It does get hot here in the summer (can get to 121 degrees in summer) so not sure if I would have to worry about warping due to extreme heat. But since the timbers are going to be attached with tapcon like screws along a six foot tall wall only 2ft will be up above and unsupported and that would be the only area that could warp.

Would my idea of painting the wood to seal it work or are they more affordable suggestions?

By the way, here are two photos of his project. The first one was before and the second is after.

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In my case, adding two feet of additional height will block all of my neighbors windows from looking right into mine.

  • 1
    You may want to ask your Planning Department if there is a height regulation.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 3:11
  • heck for that price, i would replace $1 8' furring strips every 5 years as needed.
    – dandavis
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 3:46

3 Answers 3


Install 1/2" or 3/4 inch EMT tubing by drilling a 5/8" or 1 inch hole on top of the wall. Conduit cost under $4 and under $6 respectively for a 10 foot length.

the 3/4 inch can be spaced further than the 1/2". You could probably getaway with cutting each length in half (or 3rds) so as to get additional posts. Sink them 8-10 inches.

Attach the shade cloth with self tapping pan head screws.

Be aware of wall and fence maximum height codes in your municipality.

  • Thanks for the EMT suggestion. I was actually looking at that today and took a snapshot of the price for a 10' long rod. I would rather try attaching it to my side of the wall as that's something everyone here says they can get away with more or less. I would prefer to stick to the side. Are you suggesting using the pan head screws to screw into the EMT tubing to hold the fabric onto the EMT rods? I wondered how I would attach the fabric to the metal rods when I was at Home Depot earlier today.
    – Adrien
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 3:19
  • The other thing I wondered about is if I cut into the EMT and if this is going to be outdoors do I have to worry about corrosion or rust over the years? It looks like I'm finding conflicting information about this.
    – Adrien
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 3:22
  • 1
    Rust would be minimum ( not a problem) in a dry environment Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 17:23
  • @Adrien- EMT is a ferrous metal so it will rust when it gets wet. Paint if your concerned. And regarding the screw's, yes I suggest screwing the shade cloth directly to the EMT.
    – ojait
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 23:55

While I do agree somewhat with ojait (I definitely agree on the Code Violation potential), I question whether EMT would be strong enough. I would rather see Galvanized threaded pipe used with a bracket attachment.

Alternatively, PT 2x4's were used because of their strength and versatility. Wind on a sail is very strong and I'd rather see a double-sided lattice assembly or cut-down fence panels go up. Beautification fencing, trellises or art could be easily mounted to the bottom of the privacy supports...just saying.

I realize the current cost of things is outrageous, but aesthetics, resale, renewal and longevity are big things to ignore or reject. How about doing a section at a time? Starting with the most intrusive areas of concern.

  • Thankfully the wind tunnels along the fence where I will be placing this fabric. In other words the wind that blows around the house can only blow parallel to the fence. My friend whose photos I supplied has more wind coming from behind his fence toward his home. It's been two years since he did his project and the fabric is holding up well.
    – Adrien
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 0:35

What about some landscaping? Add some planter boxes on top of the wall or attached to the face. Or combine Iggy's lattice/trellis suggestion with some kind of ivy or other trellis-loving plant. I realize you live in the desert, but with the right plant selection and some irrigation it could work.

Probably not the most economical option, but one of the more attractive options, and if you buy the plants small enough or grow them from seeds, it wouldn't be too expensive.

  • Nice idea, Aaron but you're right. It would be more costly. But not even sure what I could plant in a flower bed six feet up in their air during the summer months when it reaches 120 degrees quite a bit throughout the season. I'd probably have to irrigate several times a day just to keep the plants from drying out. It's a south and southwest facing area so it gets very intense sun.
    – Adrien
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 0:41

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