Make over an unused outdoor space for under $300 by updating surfaces and concealing unsightly equipment.
The balcony of this south-facing inner-city apartment was uninspiring to say the least.
A large rainwater tank occupied one end, the paving was beginning to look dated and the only furniture was a simple wooden bench.
By painting the pavers, installing a screen for the water tank and adding outdoor furniture and plants, the area was transformed into an appealing and usable space in just a weekend.
Choosing the plants
A south-facing balcony is a tricky location for plants, as they receive little sunlight during winter. Opt for hardy shade lovers or drought-tolerant natives.
Westringias are hardy natives with frequent blooms all year round. Image: iStock
Impatiens are shade-loving annuals that are ideal for potted colour. Image: Thinkstock
Liriopes are grass-like plants that grow in both full sun and shade. Image: iStock
Ferns thrive in shade and give a lush tropical look to a balcony. Image: Thinkstock
Painting the pavers
Use paving paint to give concrete an affordable, instant update, opting for a modern colour to refresh the space.
It’s best to select a mild day to do the job, as paint will bubble in high temperatures and won’t adhere well to the surface when it’s cold.
Clean the surface thoroughly prior to painting. Using a paintbrush, start at the edges and switch to a roller to paint across the surface, remembering not to paint yourself into a corner.
Allow the paint to dry for at least two hours before applying a second coat.
Using a paintbrush start at the edges of the balcony
Switch to a roller to paint across the surface, remembering not to paint yourself into a corner
Add a screen
Many balconies have unsightly features such as water tanks that can be hard to hide when setting up an outdoor space as an entertaining area.
Timber screening is an attractive and affordable DIY option that suits almost any balcony or verandah.
The Whites Screen Up System makes installing timber screening easy. Each kit contains two aluminium channels, plus dividers. Low-profile buttonhead screws are required to mount the channels to the walls.
The channels house your choice of timber slats. We selected 90 x 19mm merbau decking for the screening, as it’s durable and ideal for outdoor use.
Installing the timber screen only took about an hour and a half, as the slats were already cut to size.
Hiding the water tank and painting the pavers makes the balcony more inviting
Mark the location of the channel on both walls, using a spirit level to ensure that both sides are level and plumb. Mark the hole positions, then drill holes using a masonry bit with the hammer function switched on.TIP Wrap masking tape around the drill bit to ensure the correct depth.
Insert wall plugs into the holes and hammer in lightly. Attach the lower end cap and position the L-bracket over the lowest hole on the channel. Drive a screw into the lowest wall plug to attach the channel and L-bracket to the wall. Drive screws into the remaining holes. Repeat on the other side.
Cut the timber slats to size, if required, then insert the first slat into both channels, positioning it on top of the L-brackets. Insert spacers into the channels, then continue inserting slats and spacers until you reach the top of the channel. Attach the top end caps to complete the screen.