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Using just some cedar and some handy outdoor glue, I created an easy DIY screen to hide my air conditioning unit on the side of the house!
Man, I am SO glad to be done with this project! Check out my new screen that hides my air conditioning unit on the side of the house:
As you guys may have heard me mention in the Periscope sneak peek I did last week, this was a project I did in a sponsored partnership with Liquid Nails Fuze*It. They sent me a box full of the stuff and told me to go bananas (okay, so those are my words, but that’s kind of what I did anyway):
I’ve used Liquid Nails Fuze*It on a number of projects in the past, but this seemed like a fun opportunity to really see what I could do with it. So, I decided on a plan to hide the air conditioning unit on the side of the house with an inexpensive, quick building project. You guys might recall that the whole area used to look like this:
I’ve made quite a lot of progress so far, especially with some inexpensive egg rock and air conditioner-friendly plants back here, but the element I wanted to add most of all was something that would hide the A/C unit from the road. Nothin’ fancy, but something.
And while I was at it, I realized that I might as well extend the screen to the right, which would then also hide the meter that’s closer to the chimney:
This project was going to put a lot of their bragging points to the test:
- bonds almost anything to almost anything else, both porous and smooth surfaces – needed to join the smoother and chemically-treated PT lumber 2x2s to the rough cedar boards
- offers an instant grab to save time – needed because I had a limited number of clamps and time (and to be honest, patience)
- creates a durable, flexible bond – needed since I was going to eyeball the crap out of my measurements but didn’t want it to look that way
- can be applied interior and exterior in hot, cold, wet, or dry environments – the humid Atlanta weather (and a freak rainstorm) made for 3/4 of these without breaking a sweat (okay, I totally broke a sweat, but you get the idea!)
- cedar fence pickets
- pre-treated 2x2s
- Liquid Nails Fuze*It
- small garden shovel or mattock
- Optional: all-weather fasteners (I went without, but I think the project would set up a lot faster if you use them in combination with the LN — UPDATE: I later added some after a few seasons when the adhesive looked like it wasn’t holding up to the elements anymore)
How to Hide an Air Conditioning Unit with a DIY Wood Screen
1. Cut off the dog-eared ends
To start, I cut the dog-eared ends off the cedar pickets. But don’t throw these bits away just yet! You’ll need them later.
2. Create your panels
Next, I measured and cut down enough cedar boards to create 5 boards per panel, a total of 15 (length would be determined by your own A/C unit measurements, but mine were 50 in. for the front panel, 34 in. for the side panel, and 34 in. for the panel in front of the gas meter).
3. Cut the posts
I also cut the pressure-treated 2x2s down for four total posts. These would be what I glued and clamped the cedar boards to, but with about 12 inches of overhang at the bottom that would serve to anchor the panels into the ground. (***Important*** Before digging this into the ground, know where your utility lines are! You can find this out quickly and easily by calling 811 or submitting online a few days before you plan to dig. ***)
4. Begin gluing & use clamps
Time for gluing! I started with the top piece and carefully glued and clamped to make it square with the vertical 2×2 posts. I wasn’t very precise with making things square, but since I was careful with my cuts and working on a level surface, things came together nicely.
Don’t worry if a little oozes out; I used the edges of the scrap pieces to clean some of it up, and it’s hardly noticeable when all is said and done.
5. Use the trimmed off pieces as spacers
Next, I added the second board below the first, but this is where the scrap pieces come into play.
Use the pieces (provided they are visually straight and not warped) as a means of evenly spacing out each board.
I noticed that the fusing of each piece of cedar to the post began to set in a matter of minutes; working quickly, I glued and clamped until I had five pieces in a row. I also read on the back of the tube that it actually adheres even better when you wet down the surface a little before applying, so I grabbed a wet paper towel to move even faster. Little did I realize that the next day, an afternoon shower would come through and basically take care of the wet factor all on its own, so I went without a paper towel for the remainder of the project.
6. Create the zig-zag shape to hide the unit and utilities
While the first panel (which wound up being the middle panel that the others attached to) cured, I came up with my plan of action on the two remaining sides. The piece that would go in front of the meter was next, but I only cut four posts total. So, the plan was to use the middle panel as my base and attach more panels to it on the left and right sides, creating a sort of “Z” pattern when all is said and done. Figuring out whether to glue the panels in front of or behind the post was the hardest part, especially because I was clamping things upside down… and it’s been a long week.
If the visuals aren’t helping you picture it as well as you hoped, here’s a simple diagram. Imagine this is the vertical view, looking directly overhead each panel, and the small squares are the posts that support the boards:
So once I flipped it over, panels 1 and 2 looked more like this:
7. Add the final panel
With the first two cured, I then glued on the third and final panel (but this time, right-side up).
8. Secure into the ground
Finally, it was time to dig some holes and place the new screen in the ground!
It took a little sweat, but in the end, everything was magically level. I say “magically” because I popped the screen into each hole I’d dug and put my level on top of each panel expecting I’d have to make some adjustments, but it was oddly perfect right away. That never happens!
If you need a refresher on spacing, go to this post from when I added landscaping. Keeping a good distance away from the unit is really important for air flow!
Truth be told, I would have buried the posts a little deeper if I didn’t also need to plan for the scalloped edging that will go in front of this area, but the corners are nice and secure for me. If you’re going to try this project yourself and are concerned about the posts sticking into the ground, you might want to attach some rebar onto the posts and hammer them into the ground. But again, be sure you have contacted your utilities to make certain that you won’t accidentally interfere with any lines buried in the ground.
The whole panel only really hides the side that’s visible to the street, but because it’s got a simple installation and opens in the back, it’s freely accessible if anything needs to be serviced (theoretically… I haven’t heard anything from anyone yet, but it should be fine). And just because I like the fun comparison, here’s the before:
And here’s after!
- Paint remaining house trim on this side
- Dig the scalloped edging in front of the A/C screen down
- Possibly add some additional plants near the chimney area to finish off the whole side
Big thanks to Liquid Nails Fuze*It for sponsoring this project, available exclusively at The Home Depot. I love the way it turned out!