We spend a lot of time in our carport; building stuff, sometimes eating dinner out there and just hanging out. So, in order to make this area a little more private we were thinking of building some kind of structure that would block this area off a bit from the street and the neighbors who live right by us. Since we need to be able to open up this area from time to time, whether to park a car, or bring in wood or other things, we needed to consider that aspect. However, if we built a regular gate then it would open up so wide, it would be highly impractical.
So, what could we do? We wanted something to block the view and provide privacy, however it also needed to be able to open up, relatively easily. After quite a lot of thinking, we came up with the idea of an accordion fence. One where we could build panels, connect them through hinges and then either keep the "fence" closed or open. However, since these panels would be connected to each other and only hang on one side of the wall with hinges, it was really important the panels were super light.
We went through a couple of different ideas here; lattice panels first, but after realizing that 1) lattice is actually kind of heavy, 2) it wouldn't provide much privacy and 3) it would end up costing a little more than we wanted to spend on this project, we decided against it. So, we went looking for light wood, and eventually came across cedar picket boards. Super light, cheap and, they're made out of cedar, hence weather resistant!
We bought a whole bunch as well as 1x2 cedar boards and started building panels. We figured we needed 5 panels all together for the accordion fence, and one slightly larger panel for the other side which we would open like a traditional gate.
We layed the thin pickets out side by side and braced them on both sides in a few different areas with horizontal pickets. Then we cut more of the pickets crosswise and attached them to the boards on the sides, to achieve a 6 foot height.
Once we had made all the panels, we connected each one with hinges. Since the panels are a little thicker on the top, we couldn't put hinges there, and we also had to make sure the panels were set wide enough apart to counter this difference in height.
Of course, since these panels were going to fold accordion style, we had to switch the position of the hinges every other panel.
Here we have all of the panels layed out on the table, and the larger panel-soon-to-be-gate leaning to the left. We have quite a lot of wood in this area, as can be seen from the picture!
Next up we put up hinges on the wall, that was going to connect to one of the panels.
Also putting up hooks on the gate panel.
We attached the gate-panel with hinges as well and it worked great!
However, once we tried putting up all the panels as a test and attached the one to the wall (a few inches off the ground), we realized that first of all, the panels were rather heavy, despite our efforts to make them as light as possible, so they were sagging towards the ground. Also, they were moving like crazy in the wind, and even if we attached the last panel on the other side, the whole structure would wtill be very unstable, not to mention it would be all crocked since the middle would sag completely.
So, we got to talking and thinking and we decided we needed a board to brace the fence against. Something that we could "rest" all the panels on to lift them off the ground, and to provide more stability against the wind. However we couldn't screw the board into the panels, because we had to be able to open the fence up. So, we decided to put up brackets on each side that we could rest a 2x4 board on.
We went to the lumber store, got some more wood, cut it to size and tried it out. Perfect!
Now we needed to attach this board to the panels in some way where it could be detached just as easily. The panels needed to lean on this board to offset the weight and keep them all in a straight line, off the ground. Enter, hooks and lots of knots.
[When I grew up, we went sailing in the summer, and I was the designated knot-maker. Doing this project I was a little out of practice, but boy is it fun to do knots!]
This solution took a little bit of time and patience to accomplish but it solved our problem perfectly.
Now here is the fence from the other side. It provdes so much privacy! And the gate on the side works great to enter and exit through on an every day basis.
OK, the test: could we fold it together and open it up? It took the two of us maybe one minute to accomplish. When it's sitting on the side we do need to rest them on some boards so they don't sag, but we'll figure out a more permanent solution here eventually.
The fence open with the gate on the side closed!
Isn't this kind of cool! We probably won't open and close the accordion fence too often, mostly keep it either closed or open.
It provides so much privacy and now the carport (and the entire backyard for that matter!) is much cozier to spend time in. This fence also block some of the sun as well as the wind!
Now I'm debating on either painting everything white, white-washing it or treat the cedar to maintain its original color. I haven't decided what yet, but I think one of the three options would be a good idea. Any thoughts? We're so happy with the way this came out though. It's so much more practical, and all in all this whole solution cost us about $130 including wood, screws, hooks etc... I don't even want to think about what this would have cost if we had hired somebody else to custom make a solution for this area!