How do I Build a Photo Screen?

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

A photo screen is a large decorative room divider that is used to provide privacy while adding an interesting focal point to your room. Photo screens are available to fit both traditional and contemporary design schemes, but purchasing these products can be expensive. If you're on a tight budget, building your own photo screen is a great alternative.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Deciding the size of your room divider is the first step to building a photo screen. Generally, most screens are about five feet (1.52 meters) tall. They commonly have three to five separate panels, depending upon the size of the room they will be used in. Measure your space, then sketch out the desired placement for the photos you wish to use.

There are several different ways to construct the panels for a photo screen. You can repurpose old closet doors or cut sheets of plywood to use as the base for your screen. For a very creative look, you could even try using large artist canvases with flat backs to make your homemade room divider. Decoupage photos directly onto the canvas to eliminate the need for glass and make the screen much safer for homes with pets or small children.

If you lack strong carpentry skills, however, the easiest way to make a photo screen is to simply purchase a large quantity of photo frames from your local discount store or a nearby thrift shop. The frames don't need to match exactly, as long as they are all of a fairly similar style. Use wood glue to attach them together to create your panels, removing the part that makes the frame stand up on a table.

Many photo screens are designed to display large 8x10 prints, but you can make your screen to fit whatever size of photos you desire. If you don't have enough photos to fill an entire privacy screen, keep in mind that the frames can also be used to showcase other memorabilia. Newspaper clippings, poems, a child's artwork, dried flowers, or pretty designs cut from old greeting cards are all possibilities to consider.

Once you've created the individual panels for your photo screen, you'll need to join the panels together. This can be accomplished using metal hinges purchased from your local hardware store. If you are concerned about the appearance of the back of your homemade privacy screen, use Velcro® to attach cloth that coordinates with your home décor.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the wiseGEEK team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

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Discussion Comments


One way of making a screen like this is to use repeats of the same image as a theme. You could make the image different colors or tones in a photo shopping computer program.

Alternatively, if the photo screen room divider is for a kids room, you could use images that change slightly and put them in a row. Similar to a cartoon, so that an action is performed across the screen.

In fact, you can find a cartoon on youtube and screen capture it each second that it plays, then cut out the character for the photo screen.

Or you can find graphic designs for sale online with a wide range of prints suitable for this kind of project.


If you aren't keen on making your own photo screen, you might want to try having a look on an auction site as well.

I've seen screens for sale when restaurants close down for much cheaper than you could buy in a store. You might also get lucky and find one in a vintage or charity shop.

Alternatively, you could find cheap frames in shops like these as well. You would end up with frames of different sizes, but that could add to the charm of the screen.

You should probably try to make sure that the frames are all roughly the same thickness though, so that they will glue together neatly.

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