How to build a merbau garden screen for some much-needed privacy

Follow these easy steps.
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Whether you need extra privacy or to hide an eyesore, a Merbau screen will tick all the boxes and add an extra dimension to elevate your space.

WATCH: Charlie Albone and Juliet Love renovate an outdoor entertaining area 

Follow these easy step-by-step instructions, and you’ll have a striking garden screen in no time. 

What is Merbau screening?

Merbau screening typically refers to using Merbau timber to create screens or barriers for privacy, wind protection, or aesthetic purposes in outdoor spaces. Merbau is popular for its rich colour, durability, and resistance to decay, making it suitable for various outdoor applications.

What is the best timber for screening?

The best timber for screening can depend on various factors, such as the desired aesthetic, budget, and local availability. While Merbau is a popular choice due to its durability and appearance, other suitable options include western red cedar, blackbutt, and treated pine. The best timber may also depend on the climate and the conditions where you want to build your garden screen. 

Is Merbau termite resistant?

Merbau is generally considered resistant to termites and decay. It contains natural oils that act as a deterrent to pests. However, it’s important to note that no wood is completely immune to termites, depending on the environment you live in, and the amount of moisture the wood is exposed to will affect its longevity against pests such as termites. 

Gather your supplies

  • 90 x 90mm 3m treated pine post (2)
  • 90 x 45mm 2.4m treated framing pine (4)
  • 100mm galvanised bugle screws
  • 90 x 19mm 2.25m merbau decking, 5 pack (3 )
  • 42 x 18mm 2.7m merbau screening (12)
  • Exterior paint
  • 200mm half stirrup post anchor
  • Quick-set concrete 20kg bag (5)
  • 50mm stainless steel decking screws
  • Decking oil and stain

You’ll also need

  • tape measure
  • chalk spray
  • post hole pincer
  • combination square
  • pencil
  • mitre saw
  • 40-grit sandpaper
  • drill 14G and 10G smart-bits
  • impact driver
  • speed square
  • nap roller and tray
  • level
  • hammer
  • clamps
  • large bucket
  • shovel
  • plumb bob
  • 15mm spacers
  • paintbrush
components for garden screen

Don’t forget your safety gear

  • Safety eyewear
  • mask
  • earmuffs.

Important: Always use appropriate safety gear and clothing when operating power tools, handling chemicals or when exposed to dust or vapours. Hair should be tied back at all times. 

garden screen ideas
(Credit: Sue Ferris)

Here’s how to make a merbau garden screen

step 1 merbau screen
(Credit: Sue Ferris)

Step 1

Determine location and screen dimensions for your space, then adjust Components list (above) accordingly. Using chalk spray, mark location where both End posts will be installed into the ground. Remove pavers. Use post hole pincer to dig both holes to 1000mm depth. Repeat to dig a 200mm hole for the half stirrup anchor at the midway point between End posts.

Step 2

Measure, mark, label and cut all components (see list above) with tape measure, combination square, pencil and mitre saw. Sand sawn edges with sandpaper.

step 3 garden merbau screen
(Credit: Sue Ferris)

Step 3

Assemble and attach all pine components according to Screen diagram (below). Use a drill, 14G smart-bit, impact driver and bugles to predrill and screw components together. Ensure all joints are square with speed square, and all parts are square and flush to front face of the screen frame.

garden screening
step 4 merbau screen
(Credit: Sue Ferris)

Step 4

Attach half stirrup anchor to Bottom batten at midpoint between End posts with decking screws.

Step 5

Apply 2 coats exterior paint to screen frame. Allow to dry after each coat.

garden maerbau screen step 6
(Credit: Sue Ferris)

Step 6

With an extra pair of hands, lift frame and insert the End posts and half stirrup anchor into the holes. Adjust frame to allow for a small gap between ground and Bottom batten (around 70mm). Ensure frame is level, square and plumb with level and hammer. Clamp frame into position.

step 7 garden merbau screen
(Credit: Sue Ferris)

Step 7

Use bucket, shovel and hose to mix 2 bags of concrete at a time, as per packet instructions. Shovel concrete into all 3 holes until level with ground. Allow to set. 

step 8
(Credit: Sue Ferris)

Step 8

To clad frame, pin an offcut to Top batten to overhang edge of End post by around 10mm. Hang plumb bob over edge of offcut. Start with your straightest Cladding A component. Hold along bottom of frame, aligned and flush with Bottom batten and plumb bob. With a 10G smart-bit, mark and predrill 55mm in from both ends through the middle of Cladding component. 

Step 9

Use the predrilled Cladding A component as a template to mark and drill all Cladding A and B components, then return it to original position and attach with 50mm screws and impact driver. Check level, square and plumb.  

step 10 garden merbau screen

Step 10

To ensure all Cladding remains square and level, put 15mm spacers in between Cladding at both ends. Create a random pattern with Cladding A and B components until you reach the frame top. 

Step 11

Apply 2 coats of decking oil and stain. Allow to dry after each coat.

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