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10 Types of Patio Screens and Enclosures

Updated on September 16, 2019
viryabo profile image

Working as a professional interior designer for many decades, I've been involved in design-and-build residential building projects.


Patio screens and enclosures are vertical structures installed in patios to serve as either privacy screens or shields against the rain, heat, direct sunlight and the cold winter winds. Patio enclosures also work as definers or dividers of space.

For example, they can be used to decoratively demarcate the outdoors, create a patio garden, a play yard, a vegetable patch, the swimming area, or an outdoor games area.

For screens to works efficiently, and equally, complement the space, you must give a good though as to which material works well for what you need, and what fits in well with the immediate environs.

A careless offhand decision may result in screening that's far from solving your problems and likely creates a feeling of discomfort and will end up being a waste of funds.

Privacy screens come in various types and are made from diverse materials. From budget-friendly natural materials like reed and wood to man-made materials like treated canvas, glass, and metal products, the available design ideas are vast, and prices range from the cheap and affordable to the expensive and exclusive. There is always one that will fit comfortably into any homeowner's budget.

Some of the most popular outdoor privacy screens are made from the following materials:

  • Treated canvas
  • Bamboo
  • Transparent panels
  • Aluminium
  • Latticed screens and lathed louvres
  • Retractable enclosures
  • Foliage
  • Reed
  • Wireframe
  • Trees

"Japanese Garden and Patio" . . . Gropius House
"Japanese Garden and Patio" . . . Gropius House | Source

Popular Patio Screens and Patio Enclosures

Materials that work well for patio roofs and canopies will also work perfectly for vertical patio screens. How you plan to partially or totally enclose your patio is entirely up to you and will depend on its configuration and size. So, which material best suits your patio design? Tempered glass, canvas, reed, bamboo, or an aluminium patio screen? Or something totally different from any of these?

  1. Bamboo enclosures - Bamboo is a popular material that will also work well as a patio screen. Natural, resilient, and eco-friendly, bamboo will modify the temperature of a patio, give it a feel of the tropics, and serve well as a screen to guard against high winds or excessive heat from the sun.
  2. Canvas screens – These type of screens looks colourful and modern and will work wonderfully as tie back covers or as roll down shades. Because they are for the outdoors, it’s best to look for the treated types which are made to be weatherproof and waterproof. The good thing about canvas enclosures is that they are not rigid like most screens and they come in many colours. Canvass patio screens are budget friendly.
  3. Transparent plastic panels – The clear plastic material is majorly used as awnings or patio roofs but equally work well as screen walls. They can be designed to imitate Japanese screens (shoji type screens) and are good for breaking strong winds whilst still allowing a clear view of the entire garden, and possibly the whole landscape.
  4. Aluminium - Aluminium shutter panels work well as patio enclosures and easily fold or slide away for completely unobstructed views of the outdoors. For light and airflow, you simply tilt the louvres open. Aluminium shutter screens come in standard or customized colours including wood powder coating for the look and feel of real timber. Exterior shutter enclosures bring unmatched beauty into a patio and easily close and lock to protect against intruders and the elements, and guard against wind-borne litter and flying insects.
  5. Latticed screens and lathed louvres – For a patio that doesn’t need much privacy, lattice screens made of wood or wrought iron are good options. They come in many classic and modern designs and are quite popular in many homes. With heights varying from medium to high-screening, trellises, criss-cross wood slats, and picket fence-type screens can be lathed or latticed, either with thin or wide slats of wood. They serve a more substantial purpose than the roll down canvas screens or the bamboo and reed screens.
  6. Retractable screens – These screens are designed to enclose any outdoor living space, provide shade from the sun, have natural ventilation, and protects the patio from insects. It has a great advantage in that it comes customised and enhances privacy without blocking the landscape view. Retractable patio screens come motorized and at the touch of a button retract out of sight when no longer required. They come in a variety of mesh or fabric choices and any choice of colours for its frames.
  7. Foliage – Lively and interesting patio screening can be achieved with plants. Foliage is known to make the best deck and patio screens because they have a soft breezy look and are a natural outdoor element. Using plants as a screen is an alternative when you want a very high screen which building regulations may disallow without a permit. Growing vines and creepers and train them to grow as high as you wish. Foliage is acceptable to most.
  8. Reed Screens – Hand woven basket-weave roll-up screens made from materials like reed, bamboo, woven wood, bark, and jute bring warmth and natural beauty into a patio. They can be custom-made in a variety of styles, depending on the patio theme, and are the perfect addition to the décor of your patio. They can be treated to avoid dampness and mildew and although it may appear flimsy, bamboo reed screening is quite durable, and the wood is naturally resistant to termites. It is resistant to snow, rain, excessive heat and ultraviolet rays and with proper care, can last for many years.
  9. Wire-frame screens – A privacy screen can be achieved with vines trained to grow on decoratively attached wireframes. Wireframes are heavy duty green plastic-coated training wires that can be attached to stakes or a high wood frame. Simply tie the flexible wire onto the wood in a creative way and secure and train the vines to follow the trail. Use plants that will produce colourful and fragrant blooms of flowers and probably some fruit, that requires minimum care, if they are kept tidy with frequent pruning.
  10. Trees - Trees are striking features when used as visual screens for patios and the landscape generally. Planting the right trees in the right positions while remembering to give room for sideways growth when mature, will add sculptural value to a patio's design. Trees will break brisk winds and keep the heat away in the hot summer months. Careful selection must be made for eventual size, on maturity, growth rate, texture, shape, and colour. Avoid trees that will cause untidiness to a patio because of their frequent shedding (some trees can cause a mess), so careful selection is important if they are to serve as patio screens because trees are planted to stay.

Tempered Glass Patio Enclosure
Tempered Glass Patio Enclosure
Reed Patio Screens
Reed Patio Screens
Latticed Wood Screen
Latticed Wood Screen
A patio screen constructed with plastic coated wire frame. Vines are planted and trained t trail on these frames.
A patio screen constructed with plastic coated wire frame. Vines are planted and trained t trail on these frames.

Which would you prefer to have for your patio's privacy ?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 viryabo

Your Views Are Welcome

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    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks Anna, and thanks for visiting.


    • annmackiemiller profile image


      9 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      nice ideas here well done


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