Turn your yard into a tranquil retreat with a DIY privacy lattice screen.

May 30, 2018
dog sitting on outdoor chair

Any good backyard design includes plans for privacy, and the easiest privacy structure to build is a lattice screen. Lattice blocks the view but is open enough to keep you from feeling closed in. You can grow vines on it and it fits into almost every landscape. You can construct a lattice screen as a deck railing or as a fence in the yard.

As a deck railing, attach posts to the deck either with through posts at the corners and taller rail posts in between, or tall rail posts throughout. You'll need to dig postholes and set posts for a detached lattice fence. Just make sure the fence line is square to the landscape feature of your choice. If its function is to provide privacy to the deck, it should be square to the deck, no matter how far away it is.

Lattice is prone to warping, so buy the thicker 3/4-inch stock and support sections 6 feet long and longer with vertical battens fastened at half the width of the bay (the space between posts). Lattice frames look better in smaller 4- to 6-foot bays.

Expect to spend about 3 hours installing each 6-foot bay. Before you begin, lay out and set footings for a fence. Also make sure you're comfortable with the needed skills for this project: measuring, cutting, fastening, and digging.

  • Start to finish 3 hrs
  • Difficulty Kind of Easy
  • Involves Measuring, Checking for Plumb

What you need


How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

Measure and Fasten

Square the bottom of the posts and fasten them to the rim joist or header, making sure they are secure and plumb. Measure the width of the bay at the bottom (it might be different from the top) and toenail the bottom rail in place between the posts. Make sure it's level. Install the remaining bottom rails. On bays 6 feet and wider, fasten 4x4 braces to the rim joist to support the bottom rail and keep it from sagging. Measure the length of the top rail, scarf-cutting it so joints are centered on the posts. Fasten the top rail to the top of the posts and a cap rail to the top rail.

Step 2

Mark and Nail

Mark the posts 5/8 inch from each edge at the top and bottom inside the bays and snap a chalk line between each set of marks. Also mark the top and bottom rails on the insides at the same points and snap chalk lines. Finish-nail 1x stops with their outside edges on the lines on one side of the posts and rails. These stops will leave a 5/8-inch reveal on both sides when a 3/4-inch lattice panel is installed.

Step 3

Install Lattice

Brush sealer on the edges of the lattice and paint or stain the panels before you hang them. Cut the panels to fit the bays and set them against the nailers. Hold the lattice in place and install 1x stops with finish nails. Do not drive fasteners into the lattice—only into the posts and rails.

Step 4

Dress up the Railing

A few details will make your lattice installation look snappier. Use 3/4-inch quarter round for the stops instead of square stock. For a smaller reveal use 5/4 stock for the stops; it will leave a 3/8-inch reveal on a 4x4 with 3/4-inch-thick lattice. No matter what you use, miter-cut the stop corners and put construction adhesive on the miters before you nail them. Add a 2x6 cap rail and post cap. Or install the top rail between the posts (the same as the bottom rail) and a little below the tops, then top the posts with post caps.


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