How to Build a Privacy Screen/sun Shade




Introduction: How to Build a Privacy Screen/sun Shade

About: I am happily married with one daughter. I was an MP in the Army National Guard for 6 years including 3 years away from home. I am now a civilian police officer.

First off this is my first instructable so please be gentle. LOL

My wife and I recently bought a new house. Our neighbor has a very large 5th wheel that he parks in his back yard. It is positioned so that it reflects the afternoon sun onto the back of our house and into our living room. We never had a problem with it until he took it for a trip this summer. Despite ambient temperatures being roughly the same as the week before, our house was MUCH cooler and our air conditioner cycled on fewer times. I would estimate about 6-7 degrees cooler.

So I decided to do try and build something to block some of the sun. I though about using trellis to obscure it but that would violate city ordinance for fence height. So I decided to make something that could be put up and taken down easily. Besides that extra heat reflecting off the 5th wheel will save us money in the winter. :)

My solution. PVC and sunshade or screen material.

What you will need:
1.5" PVC pipe cut to length (hereafter referred to as a vertical pole)(I used approx 10 ft lengths, one pole for every 5 horizontal feet of shaded area)
1.5"PVC Slip x Slip connectors (1 per vertical pole)
2" PVC Slip x Slip connectors (1 per vertical pole)
1.5" PVC Slip Cap (2 per vertical pole)
Screw Eye Hangers (2 per vertical pole)
Sun Screen Fabric or Window Screening (I used a 6' x 25' roll of Sun Screen)
Wire/550 Cord/Twine/etc.
Wood Screws (2 per vertical pole)

Tools used:
Drill or drill press & drill bits
PVC Cable Saw (~$5) Not necessary but very convenient
Screwdriver (Phillips or Thompson depending on type of screws used)
Tape measure

Step 1: Determine How Much Material You Need

Determine the height and width of area to be screened. Pace it off, use a tape measure, guesstimate, SWAG (scientific wild *#$ guess), etc, then go buy/collect/salvage your materials as necessary.

Step 2: Make the Brackets

If you look inside the 1.5" Slip x Slip connector you will see a raised area right down the middle. Use a hacksaw or cable saw and cut the connector so that you are left with two cylindrical pieces. Now use the hacksaw or cable saw to cut a notch out of each of the two cylinders (between 30-45°) so that you have a "C" shaped piece. You want the notch to be big enough that you can put the notch area up against the vertical pole and it pop on without a huge fight, but not so large that it doesn't fit snugly.

Flip the "C" shaped "brackets" so that the round side faces up and the notch is on the ground. Use a drill and drill a hole slightly smaller in diameter than your wood screws. The hole should be directly across from the cut out notch. Do this for each of the 1.5" Slip x Slip connectors.

Step 3: Bottom End Caps

Take one cap per vertical pole and drill a hole in the top. This will serve as the bottom end cap for our vertical poles. It will help give a more finished look and will allow drainage if water somehow gets inside. Not necessary though. Then set them aside.

Step 4: Top End Cap

Take the other end cap and place it on the end of the pole as far as it will go. No need to use purple primer and PVC cement as this isn't going to be holding water, etc, but if you are a perfectionist, go right ahead.

From this point on that end is the top end. Take a screw eye hanger find a drill bit slightly narrower than the threads of the hanger. Drill a hole through the side of the end cap and into the pole. Now thread the hanger into the hole so that you have something that looks like this:

Do this to each of your vertical poles.

Step 5: Make Your Screen Attachment Point

Take the 2" Slip x Slip connector and drill a hole in the very middle of the side and thread another screw eye hanger into that hole. Then slip the whole connector over the vertical pole and place the end cap on the pole. Repeat for each connector.

Step 6: Hide Your Mess, I Mean Clean Up

Be sure to clean up those shavings. Don't want the wife to get upset.

Step 7: Mount the Brackets

Go to the area you want to shade. Depending upon the composition of your fence this step may have to be tweaked for your use, but it will give you an idea. Starting at the edge of the area you want to shade, and measure down and find where the horizontal 2x4 is. Take one of the brackets you made in step 2 and a wood screw. Using the screw driver, screw the bracket into the middle of the 2x4 so that the notch is facing out.

Now measure down several feet (if your side of the fence is the picket side) or to the bottom 2x4 (if you are on the post side of the fence). The longer the distance, the better. Your vertical poles are going to clip into these and leverage needs to be considered. Leverage considerations with wind is the reason why we are using clamps instead of just mounting the poles directly to the fence. In the event of a strong wind the poles will just pop out of the clamps instead of ripping the whole fence down. (at least that is the theory). The greater the distance between the top and bottom clamps, the stronger the wind needed to rip out the poles.

Do this evenly across the area to be shaded. For me this was one set of clamps about every 5 feet. I am on the picket side of the fence so I tried to mount the brackets in the middle of the picket instead of near an edge so my measurements varied from set to set.

Step 8: Attach the Poles to the Screen

Unroll your screen, sun shade material. Place your poles evenly along the length. I placed them about every 5 feet. If you had to be a little off while putting in your clamps be sure to adjust for the difference when distributing your poles (I forgot. Doh!)

Now take a piece of wire, zip-tie, 550 cord, etc and attach the screening material to the eye hangers now on each pole. The top end cap should be attached to the top of the screening material, and the 2x2 slip connector should be attached to the bottom of the screening material. Repeat for each pole.

Step 9: Mount the System

Roll up the entire screening material poles included so that you have a huge roll like a rolled up carpet. Raise the roll upright and place near the end set of clamps. One pole should be on the outside of the role. Clip it into the brackets. Keeping the roll upright begin to unroll it and clamp in each pole as you come to its respective set of brackets. This is probably the easiest way to raise the system, but depending upon vegetation you may not be able to do it this way. I have a lemon tree (ouch thorns) and and bunch of old bushes that prevented me from doing this. I had to muscle each pole into position and thus fight each of the other poles in the process. Get a buddy if you can.

Step 10: Enjoy

We have seen a decrease in temperature of approx 5-6 degrees. It is also more pleasant to be in the back yard or sitting in our living room due to the reduction in glare.

In the winter we are going to take it down and allow our neighbors 5th wheel to save us money on our heating bill (score!). When we take it down I may add additional 2x2 slip connectors to the two end poles to help prevent fabric stretching.

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    8 years ago

    Why is everyone leaving comments about pitbulls? I thought this strutable was about a shade awning?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I would have to agree with the pit bull lovers. One MAJOR disclaimer. Do not get your pit from an unethical breeder. Inbreeding screws up the temperatment. Especially with PIts, how you acclimatize the dog is of paramount importance. Up to the 1 year of life, you have to be there for the dog. Show him kids, birds, other dogs, whatever you want him to get along with. My pits are especially good with kids. One BIG mistake I made. I never let them around cats as pups. As a result today......oh well. You get the picture. My lil girl can pull on his ears and poke him in the eye. He just puts his head down. My silky terrier on the other hand, will snap.

    Friends that come in to the house unannounced are usually herded into a corner. He hasnt bitten anyone yet. He's more interested in cats than anything else. Sigh.


    15 years ago on Introduction

    I had a ukc pitbull he was prob one of the best dogs and funnest dogs I have ever had he was great with kids always hyper and playing nonstop. Until one day he strangely went nuts the neigbors had company and they had a small poodle I opened the door and he went on a rampage after the poodle then went after the neigbors then after my kids he bit one of them in the back I kicked him off they hid in the house and he came at me agin and was the last move he made he was shot by my best friend we had him 4yrs he was a good dog not sure why he went nuts


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    not very motivational story, better make some ible than spread sad stories :-( I think Rottweilers are much more dangerous then pits


    15 years ago on Introduction

    It looks like the pit bull is eyeballing the child. Pitbulls and kids don't mix well.


    Reply 15 years ago on Introduction

    Actually pit bulls are excellent dogs even around kids. It is all about how you raise the animal. Heck "Petie" from the Little Rascals was a pit bull if I remember correctly. All three dogs are pit bull mixes, and all great dogs. In fact German Shepards are far more likely to bite. Hence why when I'm at work and we are using a K-9 (German Shepard or Malinois) to search I stay well back from the dog. Chows and Rottweilers are very agressive dogs. In short any dog can be gentle or vicious depending upon how you raise them.


    Reply 15 years ago on Introduction

    I built something very similar to this! When I moved in I had a 50ft redwood tree on the south side. Now I have a dead redwood and lots of sun on the south side of the house. I'm planning on posting mine someday. It's probably different enough... I've been using it a couple of years using wire rope for the structure attached to tree and carport. But this spring that wasn't going to work so I put up the more expensive PVC pipe. Money is very tight for me. By the time it was up it was covered in purple bird lime!
    The real problem seems to be the people that have the dogs just listed have them for protection. To protect their stash of money and drugs etc. Plus they have a tendency to beat the life out of them every excuse they can think of. Martha Stewart had quite a few Chows. She brings one of them on stage with her a lot and he just lays there looking about as bored as a dog can get.
    I used to say that I didn't trust any dog that could bite higher than my ankle. A few years ago a Pom was left in a room with a baby. No more baby... I don't trust any dog I don't know. Even chihuahua's are aggressive.
    It's generally recommended not to leave a baby alone with any dog.


    Reply 15 years ago on Introduction

    Oh yea, type-cast the poor dog based on breed.

    Check out the politically incorrect dog in the photo that is with this blog post.this blog post.

    link warning: R-rated language.


    15 years ago on Introduction

    Just so you know, when I looked at the family photo, I thought it was great that the dog to t he right looked so happily towards the family. When my American Bulldog/American Staffordshire Terrier gets that look, he's just glad to be there :-)