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Hide Your AC Unit With a DIY HVAC Unit Screen

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Want to hide your AC unit outside? Learn how to hide an AC unit in your backyard with an easy removable screen. This project is featured in 30 Builds to Put Your KregJig to Work.

Hide Your AC Unit With a DIY HVAC Unit Screen

Hi guys, it’s week 3 of the One Room Challenge, and I’m sharing the full post on the utilities area screen I gave you a peek at in last week’s ORC update.

I’m going to share how I did it, but I’m not going to share a complete step-by-step tutorial. It’s unlikely that anyone (except my next door neighbor) has exactly the same layout and needs as we do.

ugly hvac unit outside
Finished AC unit screen
Small beautiful backyard

HERE’S WHAT WE USED:

(This post contains affiliate links. You can read more about that here. Thank you!)

And here’s how we hid our AC unit outside!

(Remember to wear a mask and eye protection while sanding and working with wood, and wear an appropriate mask while working with stains and finishes. Follow the directions and warnings from your particular brand. Do not use any tools without proper training, precautions, and supervision. Read my full terms of use here.)

First Step: Measure, Shop, and Cut

First we measured how big we wanted the screen to be. We decided to shape it like an L and have it come up high enough to cover other utilities, not just the AC unit. (If you make a project like this, make sure it does not interfere with anything that requires air circulation or regular reading.)

After deciding on measurements, and knowing we wanted each screen slat to be 1 inch apart, we calculated how much 1×4 we’d need. Once we had the final height (14 pieces of 1×4, each an inch apart), we cut the four pieces of 2×4 to height.

(Yes, that’s a diaper and a package of wipes in my purse. Times have changed my friends.)

Lumber for the screen at Home Depot

Second Step: Sand and Finish

Next I gave each piece a quick sand using my random orbit sander. Then I wiped the whole lot down and stained everything using the Varathane wood stain in Kona. I also drilled pocket holes in one of my 2x4s to create the main corner support (but didn’t attach them yet).

This, coupled with the next step, was by far the most time consuming. (But was faster using a small roller instead of a paint brush.) I was VERY GLAD at this point that I hadn’t used 1×2 like I’d originally wanted. That would have been painful.

Once I had stained everything and it had dried according to my instructions, I gave each piece a few coats of the Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane in Satin. Oof, talk about a slow process. (See my post on how to stain and finish wood.)

And one that took over my garage for several days. Luckily the urethane dries in about 4 hours, so that helped me get two coats in on one day. This would have been sooo much easier with a sprayer, but I hate the idea of cleaning oil-based products out of a sprayer.

In the garage staining

Third Step: Assemble the Sides Separately 

We began working on the longer side of our L-shaped screen first. Board by board, we spaced and nailed using a finish nailer. We mostly eyeballed this process. I wanted it to look nice and evenly spaced, but I wasn’t about to be a spaz about it.

By we, I mean my dad, who came over with his finish nailer to help me complete this project. Ramona was up, so I held her while she watched from inside. She loves grandpappy.

Hide AC Unit
Hide AC Unit
how to hide ac unit in backyard

We did a 3/4″ overhang on the left side. You’ll see why.

Once the longer side was done, we did the shorter side. For those pieces, we did a 1.5″ overhang on the right side.

how to hide ac unit in backyard

Fourth Step: Assemble the Whole Screen

After assembling the smaller side, we stood the screen up to make sure everything looked right. Now here’s where the pocket holes came in handy. We attached each side to one another by driving 2.5″ pocket hole screws through the pocket holes.

Since we also built an overhang in on each side, the sides fit together perfectly.

how to hide ac unit in backyard
how to hide ac unit

And here it is in place! It fits perfectly over the L shape of pavers we laid and is perfectly level.

I am super pleased with how this one turned out. It may have been time consuming, but it was worth it! And it matches the outdoor table and benches I’ll be sharing soon.

And just to head off any comments about blocking access to utilities, the electrical can be read through the slat spaces (or just by peeking over if you’re average height or higher). Our gas meter is not back here. The only other thing back here is Comcast, and we typically know when they’re coming by, so we can just move the screen in advance.

how to hide ac unit
how to hide ac unit
DIY screen to hide AC unit
How to hide ac unit in backyard
Tiny beautiful backyard
How to hide ac unit in backyard

Like this? See the finished backyard post here 🙂

Modern design ideas for a tiny backyard

Share this project on Pinterest and help others hide their AC units in plain sight!

DIY AC unit screen
DIY AC unit screen

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How to Build a Raised Garden Bed With Wood

Kim

Wednesday 18th of April 2018

Wow! Such a crazy transformation already! I can't wait to see all of the finishing touches as the big projects get knocked out!

Donna M

Tuesday 17th of April 2018

I'm very impressed. You have given me some ideas . . . I'm inspired. Thank you so much.

Brittany Goldwyn

Tuesday 17th of April 2018

Yay, good luck brainstorming!

Kristin salazar

Monday 16th of April 2018

It's perfect, need to make 2 of these for our ugly ac units!

Brittany Goldwyn

Monday 16th of April 2018

Thanks Kristin!

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