How to Build a Fence Around Something Ugly

Do you have something on your property that is simply ugly, and it can’t move… like a propane tank or AC condenser?

On our property in Maine, the gas company had to install the propane tanks next to the garage on the north side of the property due to code and proximity to appliances. While it’s not an important side of the house and quite dark, oftentimes we walk around that side and you can see the tanks when pulling up to the house so it was bothersome to me.

Last season I had a fence company come out and they quoted $1,800!  Ridiculous!! So, I decided to build one on my own.

Everyone (especially women) should own a drill/driver so that you can hang things easily. I also prefer to use drywall screws for just about anything because they drive in easily. My favorite is Dewalt because it’s lightweight and the battery charges fast.  I had to buy a circular saw (yes, I bought Dewalt as well so that I could interchange the charger) and wood but I already had the rest of the materials:

Drill / Driver

2” drywall screws

Work gloves


Tape Measure


My original plan was to create something creative out of extra wood, but once I built the frame it actually appeared to be headed in a satisfactory direction. Then, I didn’t have enough scrap wood so I was going to have to buy some wood to finish the project anyway.

When looking at the cost of materials and what I would need, I decided to use ¾” x 5-1/2” x 6’ fencing material for $1.44/each at Lowes. The cedar was a problem because A) it wouldn’t fit in my car if I bought 10 ft. lengths which would be the most cost-efficient to cut and B) it was $15.60/ea.  The fence wood is pine so it won’t last as long as the cedar but we’ll see how it weathers. I decided to use cedar for the frame and pine for the rest because it’s cheaper.

Step One:

Build the frame out of cedar (it’s hard and environmentally friendly). I attached it to the house with drywall screws and used the level to make sure everything was level as I attached it to the corner and did the same at the top and bottom. Then leveled it to the other side post. Note: I considered digging down and securing into the ground but glad I didn’t because the other post needed to be adjusted as I attached it to the house to make sure everything was level both vertically and horizontally. I secured the other side with just one board and an “L” bracket so that they can get in to fill the tanks.

Step Two:

I measured out the two sides to figure out how many vertical fence boards I would need and what the gap would be between each one. Then I marked the location of each one. For the gap, I would suggest less than an inch between boards.

Step Three:

I cut each board to the right length with the circular saw. Honestly, I’ve watched the guys on the job sites cut true straight lines with just a mark and it’s not as easy as it looks, but I figured it out.

Step Four:

I put one drywall screw into the center of the board at the top. Then used a level to get it straight before putting in a screw into the bottom. I didn’t want to use a lot of screws because I’m not sure how this will weather and just in case I need to remove them.

The end result is a clean looking fence of sorts. It will grey in time to match and blend with the natural cedar shingles on the house. So give it a shot and let me know how it turns out for you!



View Related Projects