Are you looking to add a little extra privacy to your backyard, patio or balcony?
Most outdoor spaces already have some sort of existing structure in place to give them a small level of privacy, but privacy toppers can take outdoor privacy to the next level.
Most privacy toppers on the market are designed for wood fences, but wood fence designs aren’t great for people working with different materials, such as walls, balcony railings and iron fences.
We’re here to address this gap.
In this article, we’ll go over 9 ideas for privacy toppers that’ll work on all kinds of walls and fences. So, whether you have a large backyard or small apartment balcony, we have you covered.
Hopefully, you’ll find one that’s perfect for your space!
What are Privacy Toppers?
Privacy toppers are fairly self-explanatory. They’re extensions for fences, walls, and railings to make them taller. The aim, unsurprisingly, is to improve privacy in a garden or on a balcony.
In some situations, you can take down a fence and replace it with a taller one. Of course, if you have a concrete wall or a balcony railing, this isn’t as easy. As such, the main benefit of privacy toppers is that you can extend the existing structure with ease.
Other advantages include:
- Cost (compared to building a new wall)
- Less permanent – you can take them down when needed
- Increased safety for pets and kids
- More shade in your outdoor space
- A good way of adding interest to a potentially boring wall or railing
Considerations Before Buying a Privacy Topper
There isn’t a ton that you need to think about before buying a privacy topper for your wall or railing. However, the few considerations are very important to the end result. Make sure you think about the following:
What material are you working with? As mentioned, most fence toppers for privacy fix onto wood structures, which you do with a few nails. Of course, this won’t work as well on a concrete wall or iron railing.
You should already know what your existing structure is made from. Use this to decide the best option, although it mainly comes down to how you attach it. Our suggestions below mention which type of structure they’re for.
Your current balcony railing or wall might be that height for a reason. In turn, you might not be able to extend it any higher. Look into this before you start spending money.
While not always the case, some apartment complexes or condos might have written rules about railing height. The same might be true about HOAs for homes. It shouldn’t be difficult to find out one way or another, though.
Not only are you paying for the privacy topper, but you might also have to pay for installation. Simple options, such as wood fence toppers, need minimal installation. However, vinyl toppers or wall toppers for privacy are more complex.
DIY options are typically easy to install, providing you have tools. But if you’re not able to install a fence topper yourself, factor this cost into your overall budget.
Fence Topper Ideas
The privacy toppers below are suitable for different structure materials. While we cover the main options, you should be able to use the suggestions on less common wall materials.
1. Wood fence topper
Let’s start with the obvious option: fence toppers for privacy. These are made for wood fences and are the most common option on the market. You’ll find loads of designs with different decorations on them, too.
Installation involves screwing the privacy topper to the existing fence, meaning you should be able to do it yourself. However, this kind of topper is only really suitable for a wood fence.
- Biggest range of options
- Should suit all budgets
- Easy installation
- Only suitable for wood fences
- Might not work in windy areas
2. Vinyl Wall Topper
Vinyl is an incredibly durable material that’s easily disguised as something else (such as wood). Vinyl wall toppers for privacy come in all kinds of designs, and they’re all weatherproof. As the name suggests, you can fix them to brick and concrete walls with anchors.
The biggest downside is that they’re expensive. But, compared to wood fence toppers, they’ll last for decades. Also, you’ll need someone to install them because it’s a more complicated job.
- Incredibly durable
- Don’t look like plastic
- Will last for years
- Will need professional installation
3. Artificial Hedge
While not technically a privacy topper, you could use a roll of fake ivy to increase the height of a wall or balcony railing. You’ll need to include supports, but you could use anything sturdy. Alternatively, you could buy an expandable lattice with fake ivy on it.
The main advantage is that it looks a bit nicer than wood or vinyl. However, it won’t be as sturdy, so won’t be suitable for windy balconies. The fake ivy won’t look great from the other side, but that’s not a massive concern.
- Looks more natural than a fence
- Good way of adding greenery to a space
- Easy to install yourself
- Not very durable
4. DIY Fence Post Extenders
If you have a chain link fence that you want to extend, your options are slightly more limited. Granted, privacy toppers aren’t the most sensible addition to a chain link fence, but you might already have plants growing up it.
The easiest way to extend a chain link fence for privacy is to use PVC piping, which you slide over the existing fence posts. Simply slide it over the top, screw in place, and then use whatever material you want for the fence. You can check out this video for a quick view of what this looks like.
- Suitable for chain link fences
- Budget friendly
- Easy DIY project
- Doesn’t look great
5. Freestanding Panels
Again, these don’t really count as privacy toppers, but are a good option for renters. If you have a balcony with railings and you can’t do anything to them, consider standing a panel behind them instead.
Any kind of wood privacy screen, metal screen, or lattice panel will do. Of course, just make sure it’s taller than your existing railing. While it won’t look as nice as actual fence toppers for privacy, it’s better than nothing.
- Suitable for renters
- No real work needed
- Gives you something to grow plants up
- Might not look great from your balcony
6. Aluminum Fence Panels
Some composite fence panels (such as these from Lowe’s) would work as wall toppers for privacy. With the right installation, you could probably fix them to iron railings, too.
Of course, they’re quite pricey based on the material. However, they’re short enough to use as a fence extender. The only fence you won’t want to use them on is wood, but everything else should be fine.
- Works on almost all fence and wall materials
- Specifically designed as privacy toppers
- Range of colors and materials available
- Will likely need professional installation
7. Picket Fence
Surprisingly, a small picket fence works well as a railing privacy topper. You could use it on wood or chain link fences, too. Depending on the design, installation might be a breeze. Ones like this have stakes that stick into the ground, which you could simply tie to your railing.
What’s more, you could grow plants around it for increased privacy. The main downside is that it’ll only be as secure as your installation method. So, if you’re somewhere windy, consider a different option.
- Easy to install
- Widely available product
- Suitable for renters
- Good base for growing plants
- Not very secure
- Actual privacy is low
8. Trailing or Creeping Plants
A similar option would be to use decorative garden fences (such as this) as privacy toppers. Of course, they provide very little privacy, but they’re perfectly suited for supporting trailing plants, which will then add privacy.
Again, you’ll fix it to your existing structure using the stakes and some zip ties. Train a plant up them (such as jasmine) and the established plant will eventually support the fence itself.
This is a great option if you want something natural looking. However, this is also its main downside: it’ll take years to reach maturity. The only way of dealing with this is to choose a fast-growing plant, such as honeysuckle.
- Natural looking option
- Complete choice over what plants you use
- Good option for balcony railings
- Will take years to reach maturity
9. DIY Fence Topper
If you’ve got some DIY knowledge, it’s not difficult to build privacy toppers for fences or walls. The topper itself will be essentially the same for walls and fences, but the installation method will vary.
Watch this video for a guide on how to add a privacy topper to a brick wall. This would also work for concrete or stone walls. Fence toppers for privacy are much easier to install, so there’s no need for a video on that.
- You can customize it based on your space
- Surprisingly cost effective
- Tools required
- Permanent – not suitable for renters
Final Thoughts on Privacy Toppers
As you can see, there are plenty of privacy toppers for all structures. If your wall material wasn’t listed here, just choose the closest option and use that. Whatever you go with, be sure to enjoy your extra privacy!