DIY AC Unit Cover

When we moved into our new home a year ago, our backyard was completely hardscaped. We couldn’t wait to get started on some DIY backyard projects and breathe new life into our outdoor space. 

The first thing we needed to do was figure out how to hide an AC unit. The exposed air conditioner in our patio was an eyesore in an area that otherwise had so much potential! 
And so, a new project was born: a beautiful, chevron patterned DIY AC unit cover.

Here’s how to build an AC Unit Cover —

Materials:

  • 1×6 planks of fence wood
  • 2×3 inch framing studs (we cut them in half, so you can buy them thinner) 
  • pencil 
  • measuring tape
  • carpenter square
  • 2.5” nails
  • L brackets 

Tools:

  • nail gun 
  • mitre saw 
  • hand saw
  • sander 
  • safety equipment (please be safe!)

Ready? Let’s get to work!

Steps:

  1. Get your measurements. 

First things first –– you will need to clear out the space around your AC unit. Make sure to remove any grass or barriers that could get in the way. 

Now, put your framing studs up as placeholders to see where you want your cover to go. Measure how wide and high each panel of the cover needs to be. There should be four in total: the front, two sides, and the top. 

When we measured, we found that all our walls would be squares. Your measurements will vary depending on the size of your AC unit. 

Update: Thank you to our wonderful DIY community – your feedback helped us realize we made a few mistakes here! When we built our fence, we didn’t account for proper spacing around the AC unit, and there wasn’t enough ventilation. We have since removed one of the three walls enclosing the AC unit (meaning there are only two walls now) and moved the whole cover 1 foot further away from the unit. We are also working on making the top board removable, so that we can take it off during the summer when we use the air conditioner constantly. 

We recommend leaving plenty of room (2-3 feet) around the AC unit to ensure good ventilation. You can also make your fence taller and just keep the top open so the AC unit can breathe.

  1. Build your front frame.

Start by cutting your wooden framing studs. We bought our studs at 2×3” and cut them in half, but if you get them thinner then you don’t have to worry about this.

Once your framing wood is cut, you can create your first frame. Place two framing studs at a right angle, and use your carpenter square to make sure the edges are at a perfect 90 degrees. Then, grab your nail gun and nail them into place. Repeat this step until you have nailed together four studs to form a square (or rectangle) frame.

Now that you have one full frame, add one more framing stud down the middle. This is to create the framework for the chevron pattern. If you are opting for a different design, you can skip this part as it is not a structural necessity.

3. Cut your wood slats.

Time to cut the wood slats into shape! We chose a chevron V-shaped pattern for our AC unit cover, so we used a mitre saw and trimmed off one end of a fence wood panel at a 22-degree angle. This gave us a starting point. We aligned the angled side with our square frame and marked where the wooden slat had to end (in the middle). This is how we measured and cut our slats –– so much easier than calculating angles and doing math, right? Continue this process, working your way down the square. 

As you hit the corner edges, you will need to cut your wood at slightly different angles. Just keep marking them as you go. For some pieces, you may need to use your hand saw to cut, if the mitre saw is not big enough. 

4. Attach the slats to your front frame.

Once you have all your panels cut, lay them in position on the square frame. We used a 1.5-inch wood piece to separate each plank so they were all evenly placed. When you are happy with the placement of all your wood pieces, use your nail gun to attach them to the frame. 

If you’re going chevron like us, we recommend nailing in order left-to-right –– nail the left plank, then the right, and so on. This way, you can make sure the planks align perfectly on both sides as you go down row by row, and you won’t have to go back to move things around.

5. Build your sides.

Now that you have the front wall of your AC unit cover done, let’s build the sides. To start, attach the sides’ top and bottom framing studs to the front panel. You’ll want to use L brackets to affix these –– they will help to keep the cover intact and stable, and prevent it from falling over.

Then, close the squares by connecting the last framing stud on the back of each side. You don’t need brackets on the back corners, so simply use your nail gun.

Congratulations! You now have a complete frame for your new AC unit cover. Just measure, cut, and nail the wood slats for your sides exactly as you did for the front. We followed our chevron pattern, and matched the ends of the side planks with the front slats so everything would flow seamlessly. 

6. Add your top. 

For the top, you’ll want to leave it as open as possible to allow air flow. You definitely don’t want the AC to overheat! 

We skipped the chevron design this time and just placed straight, horizontal planks across the top, approximately 6 inches apart. Feel free to add even more space between them if you want to maximize ventilation. In fact, if the top is not as conspicuous in your outdoor area, you can omit the top panel and skip this step altogether. 

With the same method we used for the front and side panels, measure and mark where you need to cut. Use the mitre saw to cut it to size. 

Use a plank of wood to space the slats out evenly (6 inches apart, or however much you choose). And then, you know the drill –– nail away!

7. Sand it down. 

Phew, almost done! Once fully assembled, go ahead and sand down the entire air conditioner fence with a sander to get rid of any rough spots or scratches. 

At this stage, you can even paint or decorate your AC unit cover to your liking. We chose to keep ours as is, since it went well with our natural patio aesthetic.

Voila! A simple yet gorgeous DIY AC unit cover for your outdoor space. 

This was a heckuva DIY backyard project, with all the intricate construction. But it had such a big and wonderful payoff. With this one flourish, our backyard already looks significantly better!

Did you build this AC unit cover? We would love to see! Tag us @talldorkandmatching for a chance to be featured in our Instagram stories.

Sprucing up your home? Check out more of our DIY home projects.

We’re excited to share more of our outdoor projects with you soon – stay tuned! 

~ Tall Dork and Matching ~
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