Patio Privacy: Screen, Wall or Fence?

Outdoor sitting area with plants and privacy fence
  • 1-50 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-5,000

Having patio privacy is important for homeowners who spend a lot of time on their patio. Before you make improvements to your patio or yard, check with your neighborhood's homeowner's association, if you have one, to make sure you are not violating any deed restrictions. Once you are clear, you can decide whether you want to put up a privacy screen, wall, or fence. There are pros and cons to each. Which one you choose will depend on your budget, the location of your patio, appearance and functionality. The following will provide you some tips to make your decision a little easier.

Privacy Screens

If your patio is next to your house, a privacy screen can transform it into a screened-in porch. Privacy screens have a functionality factor in that some are made to keep the sun’s UV rays out, as well as insects that threaten to ruin your outdoor activities. If you live in an area especially prone to mosquitoes and other insects, privacy screens might be a good choice.

The cost would depend on the size of your patio, how many doors you put in, and what type of material you use for framing and screening, but a plain, clear screened-in enclosure of about 88 square feet, with one sliding door can be installed for about $800. All you would need to do then is place shades over the screens for privacy.

You can find privacy screens in all sorts of styles and colors that are similar to the room dividers used in the Orient. They are usually tri-fold, but can come in four or more panels. You can set one or two of these up on one side or corner of your patio for privacy. They have the advantage of being portable, so you can take them down when you don’t need them. You can buy one for around $200.

Privacy Walls

Privacy fence in landscaped yard

Privacy walls are made of stone, brick, concrete, marble, granite, and many other materials. A privacy wall can add beauty and security to your backyard while also keeping out dogs and other animals.

The one drawback to privacy walls is their cost. Probably the cheapest approach would be to make a wall out of cinder blocks. The average cost per block is about $3.00. Stone and brick can be as much as $12.00 each or higher, depending on style and size. As an example, a cinder block is 6x12 inches, so you would need 144 blocks for a 12 foot long by six foot high wall. Just the cost of the blocks would be about $432.00.

Privacy Fences

Privacy fences, like privacy walls, can be decorative as well as functional. Most fences built for privacy are made of wood. For a wood fence to last, and to be more weather and bug resistant, choose treated wood. You can either build the fence board by board (a 1x6x8 is about $6.00) or use 6x8 ft. wood fence panels that cost around $38.00 each. Using the panels, a 12x8 foot wall would cost about $76.00.


Large landscaped yard with privacy fencing

Deciding on how much of your yard or patio you want to block and how much you want to spend will help you determine which one of these approaches is best. If you just want to block off a small area, the privacy fence is the most cost effective choice. On the other hand, the privacy screen around your patio affords the best protection against insects and gives the most privacy all around. If you want to create a luring atmosphere with elegant landscaping, then perhaps the privacy wall is the best choice.