It’s time to DIY your inexpensive patio curtains ideas!
~For Updated Post – scroll to bottom of page~
I’m gonna show you how to use 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.
I’m going to show you bamboo roll-up curtains.
Yep – the same inexpensive kind used all over the world!
I’m going to show you lightweight synthetic patio curtains.
Get yer umbrelly dranks ready for summer patio livin’!
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.
This has been the year of backyard DIY projects (HERE and HERE), but gaining some privacy on the patio has been one I have wanted to do for a few years.
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!
~ A gentle reminder: OMT! uses Amazon referral links at no cost to you.~
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 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:
- Drop cloths are inexpensive. and can be replaced easily and without great expense.
- Drop cloths can be customized. Paint ’em. Dye ‘Em. Hem ‘Em.
- Drop cloths are versatile and perfect patio, balconey, deck or front porch curtains.
- Drop cloths are readily available at most home improvement stores (we have bought ours from both Home Depot and Lowes), year-round.
- Drop cloths are fun to use in unexpected places.
- 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:
- Attach small square piece of wood to the beam.
- Paint the square to match the beam.
- 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!
~ A gentle reminder: OMT! uses Amazon referral links at no cost to you.~
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!
Our small porch curtain ideas evolution:
Having a small porch or patio opens up many more ideas and fun products to try, than if you have a larger space.
For the really small spaces you can definitely get away with what we first used: bamboo roll-up curtains. When we had them, I absolutely loved them.
As patio screen curtains (so to speak) they were lovely to look at and easy to maintain and use.
But, soon we knew we needed something sturdier for our space.
When we switched to drop cloths used as curtains we were in love all over again. The curtains worked perfectly as a patio screen.
This 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.
Now, I can enjoy my sweet tea or strawberry smoothies in total privacy!
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!
INEXPENSIVE PATIO CURTAIN IDEAS: UPDATED POST!
As of this writing, we have updated our inexpensive patio curtains and I wanted to show y’all another option as well.
While the drop cloth curtains worked amazingly, I was looking to refresh our patio look.
We bought and LOVE our new Sun Zero lightweight patio curtains.
There is a lingering question: What fabric is best for outdoor curtains?
What fabric is best to use – cotton or synthetic?
I say each has it’s place.
- The cotton drop cloth is a heavy duty material, meant to take abuse. It holds up amazingly and you can dye to your liking.
The drawback is that it doesn’t dry quickly after rainstorms.
- Synthetic is lightweight and dries quickly when wet. It is also fade and mold resistant.
The drawback is they will blow furiously in the slightest wind.
Having already tried the drop cloth look, we switched to the fade resistant lightweight material.
Will they work on outdoor curtain rods?
These curtains will easily slide on the rod you installed.
Interested to learn more? Here is the product description:
“Add a coastal ambience to your outdoor or indoor space with the Sun Zero Valencia cabana stripe indoor/outdoor UV protectant curtain panel. Woven with durable stain-resistant, water-resistant, fade-resistant, and light-blocking lightweight fabric offering upf 50+ UV protection, these curtains are the perfect solution to add privacy and protect your deck, patio, porch, or outdoor space from the elements. Perfect for pergolas and Gazebos, Sun Zero indoor/outdoor curtains are equipped with rust-proof grommets allowing easy hanging on a standard curtain rod up to 1.5 inch in diameter.”
We love the fun stripes, they come in a multitude of colors, and there is still plenty of light on the patio.
If you don’t like that they are so easily blown by the wind, you can affix weights to the bottom of the curtains, or use tie-backs.
How to enclose a patio cheaply:
Drop cloth curtains, bamboo shades, and now Sun Zero fun strips!
Not only for your house, but for anyone who needs apartment balcony curtain ideas.
Privacy and sun protection on the cheap!
If you are looking cabana stripe indoor/outdoor curtains (sans cabana boy – dang it!), I can highly recommend these as beautiful and durable patio curtains.
I hope you find something inspiring here and would love to hear from you if you decide to use one of these inexpensive patio curtain ideas to update your space.
Happy DIYing, y’all!
Original Post: July 23, 2014. Updated Post: January 11, 2022
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Thanks for reading!
Hope it spurred some creative spark for your own inexpensive patio curtain ideas!
Tuesday 9th of March 2021
I am wanting to do this but wondering how they handle rain? Do they absorb water and get heavy? Do you tie them back during rain? Do they mildew if they stay wet? I’m in Tennessee and we have very hot, humid summers. This was a great post! Thanks!
Wednesday 10th of March 2021
My experience is they do get heavier because they absorb water, but it has never been an issue. They dry quickly (we also live in a very humid region). You can tie back, but i have left them as is. the support rod handles the extra weight and i have never had a mildew issue, only that when they get rained on, and from being outside, the color will change to a weathered patina.
So glad you enjoyed the post. It remains our fav DIY project!
Dee | Grammy's Grid
Monday 29th of July 2019
Great idea!! Pinned ♥
Tuesday 30th of July 2019
Thank you for sharing!
Audra @ Renewed Projects
Thursday 25th of July 2019
You are hilarious! Enjoyed your story. We also have a covered patio in full view of the neighbors which we didn't realize until we were standing in their dining room and realized that their window viewed the entire yard and most of the patio. No more hanging outside in my super comfortable, aka ghetto, jammies. We've talked about different ideas to increase privacy without leading the neighbors to think that we think they are Lucy Riccardo and Ethel Mertz, lol! Thanks for sharing! Following via Pinterest, my kryptonite.
Friday 26th of July 2019
Lol! Ghetto jammies are my FAV!I simply prefer no one else having the privilege of viewing me in them!
I love when I make y'all laugh! Thanks for following, Audra!
Friday 28th of June 2019
Totally Amazing idea!
My Honey and I are tearing down some bushes to build a fence, meantime our covered patio is open to the public for viewing!....Ugh! He suggested to put up a big blue tarp to give us privacy (a man's thinking for a easy fix...LOL) So... I needed to put on my thinking cap quick, strangely enough my idea was exactly like yours, clips and all!...but when I got home I noticed I bought the wrong length so for the time being he just stapled it up....I felt maybe my idea wasn't going to work? I never seen it done and I couldn't find it online... Then this morning I came across your post and how you both created the perfect patio curtains. Now I can put to use the items I bought to make it happen. I will use the pipe idea to hold them up instead of the thick cable I bought as looking at yours its more durable. I will post a picture when done if I can find your posting again. Thank you for sharing your project story/idea, very inspiring.
Friday 28th of June 2019
lol to the blue tarp!
We still love our project and it has given us years of privacy!
Can't wait to see yours!