Want to know how to hide an air conditioner unit outside? I have a DIY removable lattice fence panel that’ll make your AC guy happy!
My removable ‘outdoor air conditioner screen fence thingy’ will hide those air conditioners, allow proper air flow for the condenser, and make the AC guy happy when he sees how easy it is to remove. I made these easy and lightweight lattice screens to hang on the posts. You can easily have this project done in a weekend. So let’s get started. Here’s how to hide an air conditioner unit outside…the easy way.
First, I want to say, you don’t have to hide an air conditioner unit outside. Generally, they aren’t that noticeable. But sometimes they just stand out too much. Last month, we had to cut down a very large tree in our side yard. It was constantly attacking our roof and we just couldn’t safely keep it trimmed anymore. This tree was so large, it shaded the whole side yard. In fact, not much would grow there and the shade sort of made the whole area unnoticeable. So, we never did much with it.
Removing the tree unexpectedly put a spotlight on our 3 air conditioners, the really scruffy shrubs, and weedy flower beds. We live on a corner near the start of our street. Suddenly, that side of the house seemed to stand out as the focal point for the longish approach to our house. I know it was probably more noticeable to me than anyone else, but I had to do something about it.
The 2 key design factors for my screen were; proper air flow for the condenser, and something easily removable when the A/C’s need servicing or replacing.
As the daughter of an AC guy, I have to say it’s important to follow the airflow guidelines for your units. Usually you need 5 to 6 feet above the units to be clear and 18″ around. When you start putting units together, like my 3, you may need to add more free space. If you block off air flow with screens or plants, your A/C could overheat and break or plants could clog the unit. I had to carefully design a screen that would hide the units while letting them work properly.
I just wanted the screens to fade into the house, so I didn’t need anything fancy. Traditional lattice would work just fine. We’ve planted beds full of knock out roses and butterfly attracting plants. Once they grow in, they can be the star of that side of the house. 🙂
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Disclaimer: Make sure to always read the directions for any products or tools you use while building. Always check for square and double-check those measurements too. Read the full disclaimer.
Cost to Make this Outdoor Air Conditioner Screen Fence
You’ll spend about $50 for one of these panels on 2 posts. Add about $35 or $40 more for the second panel, if they share a middle post.
Time to Make this Outdoor Air Conditioner Screen Fence
This can easily be done in 24 hours. I would set the post in concrete one evening and let them set overnight. Also, spray paint the keyhole hangers to protect them from the weather the night before too. Then finish off the panels the next day.
Materials for this Outdoor Air Conditioner Screen Fence
- 2′ x 8′ Lattice Panel (or 4′ x 8′ for more coverage)
- 1″ x 6″ Pressure Treated Pine
- 4″ x 4″ x 6′ Pressure Treated Posts
- Drill and 2″ Exterior Screws
- Brad Nailer with Brad Nails
- Miter Saw and Circular Saw
- Heavy Duty Double Keyhole Hangers
- an exterior enamel spray for metal
- Varathane Weather Wood Accelerator
- Fast-setting concrete
Directions to Make this Outdoor Air Conditioner Screen Fence
Draw up your Plans
Decide how wide and high you want your screen. Remember the trellis panels are only 8′ long. So, I wouldn’t go wider than 7 1/2 feet unless you adjust the design for 2 trellis panels. My panels are about 30″ high including the frame around the trellis. If you want higher coverage, you’ll need to buy the 4′ x 8′ trellis to cut to size.
Start with the Posts
Cut the posts to the correct height with your Miter Saw. Mine are about 4′. You could also cut the posts to size with a chainsaw after attaching the panels. Cutting after is probably the easier way to go, since you could skip leveling the top of the posts before setting.
Dig at least 10″ down for each post. The depth will need to be adjusted on hills or uneven terrain. You want the post tops to be pretty level so that the screens are easier to level. Tie a Mason Line 1″ from the top of one post, then pull it tight to the same point on the next post. Use a level to check the line and adjust the post height as needed. You will need to dig deeper or fill in the hole to make them level.
Once you have them leveled, follow the directions on your fast setting concrete mix to create the wet concrete in the hole. After it’s wet and mixed per directions. Grab your level and adjust the level on all 4 sides of the post. The wet concrete will hold the post upright as you adjust it. Make sure the wet concrete is pressed up against all 4 sides, so that it dries firm with no wiggle. Allow it to dry completely.
Prep the Keyhole Hangers
Spray front and back of Keyhole Hangers with the protective exterior enamel spray. This will protect the metal from the elements. Do as many coats as necessary. Allow to dry completely.
Attach the Keyhole Hangers
Hold the keyhole hanger against the post where you’d like to attach for screen. If you didn’t level the top of the posts before setting them in cement, you’ll need to use a Mason Line to level the Keyhole Hangers now.
Once level is found, screw 2 exterior screws through the hangers. Leave them out about 1/4″ so that the hangers are easily removable. Remove the hangers from the screws.
Build your Screen
Now, you can either build the screens completely, then attach the keyhole hangers, or do what I did. My husband was out of town, so I was working alone. Now, I can’t hold up those long screens by myself while trying to figure out where to attach those keyhole hangers. So, I had to attach those hangers to the boards before building the screens.
As you can see by the pictures, I lined up the boards and checked level. Then marked where I needed to attach the keyhole hangers based on the screws in the posts. Since I was using 2 screens, I attached 2 keyhole hangers to the board on the center post. Then I cut that board down the middle. This allows the screens to be removed separately. I could have used 2 boards next to each other on the 1 post, but cutting the single board made everything a bit easier.
Now we are basically building a trellis sandwich. Cut the trellis to size and attach to the boards while they are still hanging. I used my brad nailer to do this. Cut and attach the 1″ x 6″ boards to the front of that trellis. Get those brad nails through the cross points on the trellis to be extra secure. Use as many nails as necessary on both sides to secure the panels together tightly.
Now you’re panels are done. Awesome, right?! So, pat yourself on the back and admire your hard work.
Get the “Weathered Wood Look” for this Outdoor Air Conditioner Screen Fence
Have you tried any of these Weathered Wood Accelerators yet? They are so cool. It’s sold with stains, but it’s not a stain. It’s a chemical that reacts with the tannin’s in the wood to produce the aged look. It was so easy to use and virtually mess-free. I even dripped some on a few landscaping rocks and it left no marks, whatsoever. Nice! I wouldn’t test that out on your clothes, though. Follow the directions on the container.
I very quickly applied it with a foam brush. I would have been careful applying this to furniture, just to assure I got an even look. But, since this is an outdoor project. I rushed it and it still looks great. The few darker spots I had blended away with another coat of the accelerator. The weathered look is perfect. The grey wood blends right into my red bricks with grey accents.
Looking for another DIY to give your yard some style? Check out this great L-shaped Backyard Bench AND it only costs $130. Yea!
Now that you know how to hide an air conditioner unit outside, get out there. Build your own. Follow the links above to get the things you’ll need. Have fun and let me know if you have questions. Or post pictures of your work and tag Abbotts At Home on FB, I’d love to see it!