How to build a timber screen

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How to build a timber screen

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Project Overview

If you have something in your garden that you want to hide away from sight, like a water tank or hot water system, a timber screen might be the solution for you. We’ll show you the steps you need to build your screen, evenly space your pickets and how to cap it.

Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Attach a plinth board for the base
2 Dig your post holes
3 Make a check-out in your vertical post
4 Measure and mark out the post height
5 Mark out notches in post for horizontal rails
6 Cut out notches in post
7 Cut your post to height
8 Concrete your posts in the holes
9 Drill holes in your post
10 Drill into the brickwork
11 Insert and tighten your bolts
12 Mark out your second post
13 Nail railings to your posts
14 Mark and drill holes in your pickets
15 Attach your pickets
16 Use a spacer between pickets
17 Attach your screen capping
  • Step 1. Attach a plinth board for the base

    You’ll need to start with a level base to support your timber screen. To make one, attach a plinth board to your frame using a nail gun. Just make sure the board is level when you attach it. You can also pack some dirt underneath the board to help you get it level.

  • Step 2. Dig your post holes

    Dig two post holes for your timber screen. If you plan to concrete in your posts, you’ll need to make the holes about 600mm deep.
  • Step 3. Make a check-out in your vertical post

    You will need to measure and cut a check-out in your load-bearing vertical post. This is so it can sit in your hole directly above your frame. Place your post in the hole and mark it at the top of the plinth. You will also need to measure the thickness of the frame you are making the cut-out for – in this case it is 50mm. Use a circular saw to make cuts down to your required thickness and then knock these out with a hammer and chisel. Then use a chisel to clean up your checkout.

  • Step 4. Measure and mark out the post height

    With a fence paling, measure out how high you want your screen to be and then transfer that measurement onto your post.
  • Step 5. Mark out notches in post for horizontal rails

    You need to use horizontal rails to support your pickets. That means you will need to make notches in your post for these rails. After deciding the heights your rails will be, mark out the notches on your post. Use an offcut from your rails to make your marks. 

  • Step 6. Cut out notches in post

    Use a circular saw to make the cuts where you have marked for your rail notches. Then use a hammer and chisel to knock out the notches for your post rails at 45°.
  • Step 7. Cut your post to height

    Now you are ready to cut your post to the height you have measured out. This should be above the notch you have made for the top rail. 

  • Step 8. Concrete your posts in the holes

    First mix your concrete, using a ratio of 5L of water per bag of quick-set concrete. Fill your hole up with the concrete making sure your posts are level and straight in their holes with a spirit level. Give the concrete 24 hours to set before you do any more work with the posts.
  • Step 9. Drill holes in your post

    Mark your post about a third of the way up and a third of the way down for your bolts. Drill a hole through your post with a spade bit. Then with a 11mm drill bit, drill through the hole you’ve made for the bolt to go into.

  • Step 10. Drill into the brickwork

    Then using a 10mm masonry drill bit and a hammer drill, make your holes in the brickwork for your bolts to go into.

  • Step 11. Insert and tighten your bolts

    Hammer your bolts into the holes you have made. Then use a 1/2inch socket set to tighten the bolts to the wall.

  • Step 12. Mark out your second post

    Using the same paling that you used before, make your railing markings on your 2nd post. You can also use the same offcut to mark your notches in the same spots as your first post.

  • Step 13. Nail railings to your posts

    Using a nail gun, attach your railings to your posts. Make sure that the nails go in at a slight angle to they don’t pull straight out. You need to put in up to four nails at each notch to make sure the railing is secure enough to hold the pickets. 

  • Step 14. Mark and drill holes in your pickets

    Hold your first picket in place on the framework. Then mark two holes on the picket in the middle of each railing. Now with a countersink bit, drill holes where you marked so your screws can sit flush in the picket. Do this for all the pickets you use on the screen.
  • Step 15. Attach your pickets

    Attach the pickets to the frame using the 50mm galvanised timber screws. After screwing in your first screw on each picket, make sure you use a spirit level to keep your pickets straight before screwing in the second screw.

  • Step 16. Use a spacer between pickets

    For an even space between your pickets, use an 8mm drill bit as a spacer between the pickets when you attach the screws. This will ensure that every picket has the same gap between them.
  • Step 17. Attach your screen capping

    To finish your timber screen, you need to cap the top. Screw 50mm timber screws with a drill driver into the top railing to attach the capping. Do this every 400-500mm along your screen.

Tools and Materials


  • Circular saw
  • Crow bar
  • drill driver
  • Hammer
  • Hammer drill
  • Handsaw
  • Pencil
  • Safety equipment
  • Saw horses
  • Shovel
  • Square
  • Tape measure


  • Concrete
  • Drill bit
  • Nail gun
  • Nails
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