How to support a large 1/4" aluminum/steel laser cut screen
February 17, 2017 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm really taken by the idea of creating a privacy screen on my small outdoor porch with a laser cut screen (like this). I'm ordering a large 1/4" steel or aluminum screen which will measure 140x80. How can I support it? The screen will be bordered on two sides by stucco walls but the concrete porch doesn't have a roof. Bonus question: will you be able to see into my house through the privacy screen at night if the lights are on?

I'm ordering two screens that are 70x80 each which will enclose an outdoor porch (the existing three walls are made of stucco). The screens are made of 1/4" aluminum or steel and come with mounting holes - but nothing else. When I asked they said "Oh yeah this will need a framework to support it - we can build one for you for an additional $4k" I asked if they could recommend any contractors to consult with for install and they said they don't recommend contractors.

I'm at a loss - I don't know who to talk to - should I look for a welder? Or a general contractor? The screens are pricy enough that I don't want to buy one without having a plan for installing it.

Bonus, if you're in California/Nevada/Arizona and have a great company who makes these, please let me know!
posted by arnicae to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not quite what you're asking, but the first thing I'd do is go to a big-box home improvement store, buy a few sheets of cheap wood lattice, cut them to size and prop them up around your porch to see how you like the effect. A nearly 7' high wall around a small area is a BIG change, and it might not pan out the way it seems in your imagination.

"Stucco" is a surface treatment, not what the wall is built from. You'll need to get a better idea of what the wall structure underneath the stucco is like before you can figure out how best to attach a support structure, e.g. is it masonry, wood framing, etc. Also consider how strong this screen needs to be. Is it likely that people will lean on it, bump into it, climb on it, grab it as a handhold?
posted by jon1270 at 7:29 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Could you provide a picture of the porch where the screens will be?

My instinct says you'll probably have a contractor mount a wooden frame across the top that the screen would then be mounted from.
posted by Karaage at 7:39 AM on February 17, 2017

Let's figure out how much weight you have to deal with; we'll pretend that sheets of metal are solid. 140*80*0.25 = 2800 cubic inches. Aluminum weighs 0.0975lbs per cubic inch. So 2800*0.0975 = 273lbs. Or Steel weighs 0.2835lbs per cubic inch. So 2800*0.0975 =794lbs.

I would go with aluminum from a corrosion resistance and weight standpoint.

To mount them you would buy some aluminum 'L' brackets. Maybe buy forty 4" pieces drill a hole in each side of the L, and then bolt two of them to each mounting hole on the panel sandwiching the panel. Use 3/8" stainless steel nuts/bolts, but put nylon washers between the stainless and the aluminum. Then attach the panel to the walls using 3" long stainless steel lag bolts making sure that you attach to studs in the walls (if the walls are concrete under the stucco use concrete anchors). Again use nylon washers between the stainless and the aluminum. To attach the bottom edge to the porch use stainless steel concrete anchors in a similar fashion. I would leave at least 3/4" of a gap at the bottom of the panel to let rain and other debris wash off the porch.

I would feel very confident about the strength of a setup like I've described, but I still wouldn't let anyone climb on the panels.
posted by gregr at 8:17 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, as for your bonus question: If you're driving by your house, then yes, you will be able to see through at night. And during the day. Walking or passing by at a slower pace (not counting someone peeking in, of course), maybe no, depending on exactly what the screen looks like - the speed of driving means it will get "blurred" to transparency (reddit comment about it here)
posted by brainmouse at 9:27 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

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