DIY PVC Pipe Privacy Screen

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About: We're Mother Daughter Projects, sharing our DIY adventures as we learn to maintain, improve, decorate, and use tech in our homes.

We saw this decorative PVC fence at Walt Disney World's Epcot and decided we wanted to create a DIY version. the Disney version is actually a single piece of molded PVC designed to look like individual cut pieces.

We purchased various widths of PVC pipe and got to work!

Supplies:

A full list of the materials and tools we used can be found on our website here.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Watch the video to see the step by step process.

Step 2: Sand and Cut PVC

All the PVC pipe was sanded prior to cutting to give it some tooth to better the grip when the adhesive was applied, as well as when it was spray painted. I turned my DeWalt sander upside down for hands-free sanding.

We cut the PVC pieces with the miter saw, which proved to be challenging as the pieces flung out. It was suggested from a reader that we could have moved the fence closer to the blade to help with this problem. The individual pieces were cut 1-3/16" wide. The cut pieces were also sanded after cutting. Shorter lengths of PVC were cut with a portable band saw when they were too short to safely cut on the miter saw.

We also cut the frame which is 35" wide by 45" tall. The frame was assembled with (2) 1" elbows and (2) 1" tees.

Step 3: Assemble

We assembled the project on a piece of insulation so that it wouldn't stick to the table. We got this far and realized we needed way more pieces of PVC--back to the store!

We used construction adhesive as opposed to PVC glue for assembling. There's been a lot of discussion about using construction adhesive vs PVC glue.

We received this advice from a YouTube viewer: "Nice job and time spent well with each other. Retired Gen Contractor. Because of the smooth surface of the PVC, your adhesive will let go soon because of the heat and cool. The PVC glue even though "smelly" actually melts the PVC together. It would have been a better choice. Even the glue after time will deteriorate in the sun after time, just not so quick. The PVC pipe itself will crumble and get very very fragile in the sun so don't dare hit it with a mower or weed whacker. Of course, it can be repaired, but once the outer frame goes, it will be time for a new project day with each other! That's a good thing."

What do you think? Good advice?

Note: This has been in use for six months now. It appears to be holding strong even in our extremely hot Florida weather up to this point. We'll see how it continues to hold up.

We found that the work went a little quicker when we worked independently of each other rather than together. Not going to lie, this was a tedious amount of work!

After assembling, we took it outside and spray painted with paint designed for plastic.

Step 4: Install

For each leg of the screen, we put two pieces of rebar side by side into the ground.

Once in place, you can see the screen acts more like a camouflage piece. You can see the garbage cans behind it, but yet you really don't. From the street, it appears as an interesting piece of yard art.

For more detail, please visit our website.

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    64 Discussions

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    ThriftStore Hacker

    15 days ago

    This is just an amazing build! easy to do and cheap to make. i may have to go to the local construction site and ask the plumbers for all their short bits and cutoffs to make one for myself!

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    DeeRilee

    18 days ago on Step 2

    By painting the finished project, you've protected it from the UV rays (which is hard on PVC). Not painting it will cause it to become brittle and crack much quicker.

    Cool looking project!

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    JohnC430

    19 days ago

    It looks great! work of art!
    Doesn't look like a "privacy" screen. Perhaps an area separator or a work of art to be hung on your wall, but definitely no privacy..

    3 replies
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    67chevlJohnC430

    Reply 19 days ago

    It's definitely not a total privacy screen. It will however allow some privacy at a distance and at any angle that isn't looking directly through it. Your eyes will focus on the rings rather than seeing through it.

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    Mi cha el67chevl

    Reply 18 days ago

    It's a privacy screen from people who refuse to look at PVC.

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    RosemaryR11JohnC430

    Reply 19 days ago

    Exactly what I was going to say. How can something that is see through be a "privacy screen"!

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    f1dd13r

    19 days ago on Step 2

    Looks Great and even if for only a couple of years, leaves the way open to change the design for next time. I would think that the pipe used for guttering and rain pipes would be very longest lived.

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    liquidsands

    19 days ago on Step 4

    Your contractor who commented was spot on! I am a contractor also. PVC is not really UV proof. The gray PVC electrical conduit is much more UV resistant after all it is designed to sit in thew sun for decades with no other protection than the UV protectants in the precast mix. Beautiful project though. As to a rough idea how long it will hold up as built, depending on where you live and how "well" the ozone layer is above you, in 3-4 years you should see some chipping etc. starting but major damage will be quite a bit longer. The paint you used might help a lot. Since you are painting it the gray color of the PVC wouldn't be a likely problem. The plants in your yard look like Florida or California or possibly Arizona so I'm guessing a lot of sun. If you used a high grade exterior paint with a long life expectancy you could easily be not making another to replace the ones you made for even 15-20 years.
    Wish I had time like you have to spend with my folks, I'm jealous...

    4 replies
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    pgs070947liquidsands

    Reply 19 days ago

    Depends on the grade of PVC.
    Plumbing grade PVC is not specified for external use unless UV protected. ABS is generally used in external applications.I have used PVC waste pipe on rainwater tank projects and you will get some surface crazing, but that is in the 15 to 20 year usage
    However, a lot of PVC is used in the replacement window business as well as the "roofline" products like soffits and bargeboards, so presumably has some built in UV protectiuon. Rainwater goods are in PVC, and other than fading, seem to last well. Going brittle is a long-term problem. Very few plastics do well when exposed to UV long-term and even polycarbonate starts to discolour with time

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    Shawn Fliquidsands

    Reply 19 days ago

    His comments sound pretty accurate. PVC pipe in the sun is one of my pet peaves as it deteriotes it SO quickly its not even funny. The paint over it however should provide a UV barrier, so it might do much better.

    Regardless, it really does look artistic and I love the concept, if not the material.

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    carirShawn F

    Reply 19 days ago

    Deteriorates is relative. I use white PVC 1/2 inch pipes for hoop houses. Leave them on the ground 365 day a year, only remove the fabric once cold weather warms up (5 month a year in this part of Minnesota) and I've been using the same ones for the last 13 years. They are all fine. Never have painted them.

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    Shawn Fcarir

    Reply 19 days ago

    Cool. I've had such bad experiance with 1" and smaller that had UV exposure that I have avoided using it for hoop/green houses. Glad to hear it has lasted so well for you.

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    DonnH1

    19 days ago

    I have used PVC pipe a lot for amateur radio antenna projects. White PVC has poor to ridiculously poor anti UV properties. Gray PVC electrical tubing is nice because it has a lot of capability to withstand UV. but unfortunately it is a lot more expensive. The alternative is to find a good spray paint that can give you some UV shielding. It's fun to use PVC pipe for projects. if you have a hot air gun for paint stripping you can use it to soften the PVC and make it bend around corners. Thanks for sharing your project. it looks pretty nice.

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    SeraphimL

    19 days ago

    I really appreciate you posting the mistakes you made and even potential mistakes you may have made, along with suggestions for fixing. Not every instructable does that. The fence looks really cool. :-)

    1 reply
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    p_b_r

    Tip 19 days ago

    I made almost the same thing, 2 decades ago, to make soap! With minor variations, this same idea/setup can be used to make a rack of soap moulds. My first wife and I were do-it-yourself soap makers - and this is great for making melt-and-pour soap! Nice work! Very artistic!

    1 reply