This past summer Jim challenged me to build a 3-panel folding screen for under $40. Actually, it started with him searching online for an affordable screen for the corner of the bedroom. He was asking me “how about this one? Or this one?” and I was like “they look like discount store dressing rooms!”. All white plastic and beige fabric. Woof! The nice ones were all at least $100. He was like “I’m not paying that much”. And I was like “Why don’t I just build one!” and he was like “if you can build one for < $40, you’re on!”. So I did 🙂
I went to Home Depot and bought the cheapest wood I could find. 9 8-foot 1×2″s for $1.28 each! Total wood cost: $11.52. I used my miter saw to cut them into 6 6-foot lengths and 12 15-inch lengths:
Then I put on 2 coats of primer, which I already owned, with cheap brushes which I already owned:
For the finish I chose Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover in semi-gloss black, which cost $4.98:
I painted on 3 coats of black with a Wooster shortcut brush which I already owned:
Then brought the wood upstairs and used my Kreg Jig [set to ½”] to cut pocket holes in each of the 12 cross-pieces:
Then screwed the frames together with Kreg screws [already owned]:
Instead of using fabric [which cost waaaay too much money, at least the black and white patterns I was looking at], I took the advice of someone online and used fancy contact paper from Amazon. I bought 2 rolls of peel-and-stick for $7.68 each. Total cost of “fabric”: $15.36.
I made marks on each frame with a grease pencil so I’d know where the cross braces were. Then staple-gunned the contact paper to each frame and cut off the excess [I did not remove the backing of the contact paper]:
I bought 3 2-packs of hobby hinges for a total of $8.01:
I marked where they should go, then carefully drilled them into the panels [with pilot holes first]:
The folding screen was DONE! Of course, the wood being so cheap, it cracked pretty fiercely along the top and bottom edges:
But you can’t see the cracks when the screen is upright, and they don’t affect the stability. The screen folds up small, and then opens up fairly wide:
Success! Total cost = $39.87!!!
Therefore, it’s totally possible to build a beautiful DIY 3-panel screen for < $40 🙂