It’s time to DIY your patio curtains using inexpensive drop cloths!
Yep, the same drop cloths painters use.
The same drop cloths movers use.
The same drop cloths that are stocked in every home improvement store all over the world!
They’re everywhere and inexpensive, especially when compared to curtains specifically made for the outdoors.
Outdoor patio curtain ideas are only as limited as your imagination.
You can take the super easy route of plastic or bamboo blinds (we did this), or jump into a fairly easy project of hanging drop cloth curtains (we did this too – and are in love with them still).
How easy is this project?
As easy as: it will take a few hours and you’ll be done!
Come on – no time like the present; stop putting off this satisfying and beautifying patio project.
Drop it like it’s hot, like it’s hot, oh so hot: DIY drop cloth patio curtains like a boss.
Why install outdoor drop cloth curtains?
There are so many reasons to do this project.
It’s hella sunny and hot in the summertime is the number one reason.
Maybe one of these other reasons is yours (I hope it’s NOT #4):
#1: Does the sun shine brightly on your patio, heating it to a hot fiery furnace in the afternoon?
This was a huge problem for us.
There was nothing to stop the sun from heating up the furniture, the concrete slab, and then our house.
I found that I kept the drapes closed inside the house in order to prevent the outdoor heat barreling through our windows.
My solution made my house seem like a cave, when I should have been enjoying the summer rays.
#2: Are the rays on your patio blinding in the morning, making you squint and wish you had curtains?
I blame my crow’s feet on the squinting.
Don’t wait till you have them to act.
#3: Do you like sitting outside in yer jammies, enjoying your morning (or evening) brew, wishing you had privacy curtains, without entertaining the neighbors with yer fashion choices?
As a gal who wears hobo cloths and pretends they’re jammies (the more torn and holey an outfit, the comfier, right?), there is no way I’m sitting on the patio unless I can be hidden behind my drop cloths o’glory!
#4: Or…do you have a neighbor that is basically a peeping stalker, simply because you have dragged your feet putting up any sort of privacy curtains for your patio?
Sensing a pattern here?
It’s time to do this thang, but not before a classic Oh, Mrs Tucker! story.
A few years back, we had a neighbor whom I nicknamed Cletus. His creep factor from 1-10: 253.
Our yard sits a bit below his and he’d stand on his backyard patio and stare into our backyard patio, or worse, into our house.
I often let him know I didn’t appreciate his creepiness, Texas-style.
He always seemed to get the message, but soon enough I’d find him standing there, waving like we’d never had several conversations about personal space.
BACK OFF, CLETUS!
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In the beginning, we debated several patio curtain ideas and decided to go with idea #1: plastic pull up shades (commonly known as blinds).
We installed the very inexpensive plastic pull up shades and they were successful blocking us from him and him from us.
~hobo jammie dance~
Suck it, Cletus!
Patio blinds were a revelation!
In the beginning of our patio curtain journey, we loved them.
The blinds were of the plastic variety, made for the outdoors, yet never lasted more than a year or two.
But, because they were incredibly inexpensive, I didn’t feel it was a risk to try them.
You should take into account your needs,though.
If inexpensive plastic shades for your patio sounds like a wonderful notion, you won’t be out much money to see if they are a good fit for your lifestyle.
After the plastic variety failed us in the Texas summer heat, we switched to bamboo roll-up blinds.
They were very similar to these:
They worked for a time, but the biggest issue was if the wind picked up, anything above 5mph, I had to hustle outside to roll them up, or they would bang against the patio supports and break.
Surprisingly, the heat was also tough on them.
Bamboo grows outside, ergo (fancy!), I thought they would hold up better.
Texas summers can be brutal. The heat can warp, mangle and melt all sorts of things you wouldn’t expect (like shades that were made for the, oh, i don’t know…THE OUTSIDE).
The actual bamboo ones were better, but were more expensive.
I wanted to keep things inexpensive.
I couldn’t justify keeping any kind of shade if they needed to be replaced so often, not to mention needing special care.
OMT! is a busy gal – I gots more important thangs to be worrying about (and I bet you do too).
When we took down the tattered shades last winter; I decided ENOUGH!
Into the trash they went and the hunt was renewed for inexpensive patio curtains.
It was time for idea #2: We were bringing the indoors outside with outdoor patio curtains.
We were gonna get some drop cloths and have us a DIY session, OMT-style, IE the simplest way anyone could ever DIY outdoor curtains.
Patio curtains were also a revelation: PATIO. CURTAINS!
Like what is inside, yet they’re outside.
Bear with me, y’all – I don’t get out much.
The best part? Patio curtains to block Cletus.
I picked drop cloths for a few reasons:
#1: Drop cloths are inexpensive. and can be replaced easily and without great expense.
#2: Drop cloths can be customized. Paint ’em. Dye ‘Em. Hem ‘Em.
#3: Drop cloths are versatile and perfect patio, balconey, deck or front porch curtains.
#4: Drop cloths are readily available at most home improvement stores (we have bought ours from both Home Depot and Lowes), year-round.
#5: Drop cloths are fun to use in unexpected places.
#6: Garry liked them. They weren’t fussy – they were tough. Husband approved!
Cletus has since moved (jiggity jig) and a family with itty-bitties has moved in: Oh, happy day!
Even though we are happy with the new neighbors (I have no idea how they feel about us), our yard still sits below theirs and well, they see us and we see them.
♫ Hellllloooo, neighbors! ♫
Just no getting around it, OMT likes her privacy, y’all.
Time to learn how to DIY drop cloth curtains for YOUR patio space.
We started with two galvanized pipes as a curtain rod. It was considerably cheaper than traditional curtain rods and I liked the aesthetic. We thought about painting it, but I really dig the raw look.
One pipe just wasn’t long enough, so we got two and used a connector. Easy peasy!
Garry did all the measuring and leveling, while I stayed below telling him how good looking he was on a ladder.
So good-looking, baby.
We knew we’d have to install the pole on the outside of the beam, as opposed to underneath because of the metal supports.
He be a pro.
One thing that we realized after the job was done was that the rings that hold the drop cloths really don’t have the room to just hang, and since we don’t want the paint to be worn thin along the line as we open and close the curtains, our solution will be to back each hook with a piece of wood.
Go in this order:
#1: Attach small square piece of wood to the beam.
#2: Paint the square to match the beam.
#3: Screw in hook to newly painted (but dry) wood square.
You won’t see the additional piece of wood in the pics, because we only realized it after we “finished” the project.
It’s on our to-do and I’ll update this post once we get ‘er done.
We’ll take each hook off, screw in a smaller piece of wood, then reattach the hook.
Here’s the hook as it is now:
We got the hooks up, then placed the pole. Bammo!
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Wondering what size drop cloths we used?
We used three (very similar to these >) heavy duty 6 x 9 drop cloths, because:
#1: I don’t know how to sew a straight line and knew if we went too long, it would mean one more project that would never ever get done.
Turns out I like that the curtains don’t go all the way to the ground.
Seeing that bit of grass while sitting on the patio gives me a summer happy.
#2: Makes weed-eating easier for Garry.
#3: Heavy duty means they hold up longer to the elements.
Ours stay up all year long.
Through the brutally hot Texas summers, through torrential spring downpours, through fall’s fickle hot then cold then hot then cold, and finally through winter’s whipping winds.
You can put ’em up and forget them.
Low maintenance is how I roll!
#4: If I’m happy, Garry’s happy, which in this case means everyone is happy!
We used simple curtain clips to attach the drop cloths.
I’m thinking I’d like to get one more package of the rings to even out the middle section, but overall they work great.
Garry thought the heavy duty drop cloths might be too heavy for the clips, but I haven’t witnessed any proof of that, especially since we’ve had a windy rain storm since and those curtains were flapping horizontally, yet remained in place.
Cletus would have been soooooo disappointed.
I’m a little sad I didn’t have the chance to do a dramatic curtain close whilst he was peepin’.
How many drop cloths do you need?
It will largely depend on the size of the space you are working with.
We used three drop cloths.
One on each end and then one for the middle section.
Measure from end to end, then add more so when you install the curtains there is a bit of extra material to pull.
Tie-backs or not?
You can use anything for a tieback for the curtains.
The cloths are easy to tie back if it’s windy or if you prefer a section or two open.
Even though it’s rare that I tie them back, I like having the option.
We have used tie-backs for all three sections during storms that are particularly brutal.
Other than that, the curtains slide open easily enough whenever I need to be seen!
Which is like never.
STOP LOOKING AT ME!
In this pic you can see the slope of our yard.
The neighbor’s patio is located behind the middle section.
If I had opened that one, you would have been able to see whomever was standing out there on their porch.
Here’s our view from the patio when the curtains are closed.
~ inhaaaaale – exhaaaaale ~
Private party, baby!
We have bottle service for our VIPs, doncha know.
Sure, it’s mostly cold water bottles, but eeeeet’s nioce!
This next pic is of our neighbor’s view, looking down into our yard (I’m standing at the top of the slope, so you can get an idea of how easy it was to see onto our porch before the curtains went up):
While many of you might fancy-up the drop cloths, I’m loving them as is.
Can you paint drop cloth curtains?
I would recommend that you use a paint made for the outdoors.
The one caveat is that drop cloths are NOT as absorbent as other cloth materials, so choose your paint wisely.
You might also want to run the cloths through the washer once before you paint them, to soften the material.
DO NOT place them in the dryer though, as they are 100% cotton and WILL shrink.
We have thought about letting Sweet E walk all over them with painted feet, but other than that, their natural-toned cottony simplicity speaks to my simple heart.
Although, last year I considered dying a batch of new drop cloths for a refresh, yet never got around to doing it.
DIY patio drop cloth curtains continues to be one of our favorite (and easy!) projects.
Took us less than an afternoon, with long-lasting happy results.
Even though we have a small modification to make in order to let the rings hang freely, it’s a DIY win, and more importantly, it’s a finished project!
If I decide to paint them, I’ll post updated pics.
Alrighty – it’s your turn.
Go. Do. Celebrate in your hobo jammies!
Next on our DIY list?
One more garden bed.
Happy DIYing, y’all!
Originally posted July 23, 2014. Updated post: January 6, 2020