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How To Build a Gazebo from Scratch

How to build a gazebo from scratchA great spot for occasional get-togethers with your friends, neighbors and family, gazebos and pergolas offer a simple yet highly efficient way to add value to your property and create a comfy place for a lazy summer afternoon nap or reading session. If you don’t already own a gazebo, this could be the perfect time to make one yourself. Of course, you’ll first need to check with your local authorities whether a permit is needed for your backyard construction project, so don’t forget to look up regulations and complete the necessary red-tape procedures before you start your building endeavors. To help you carry out your backyard DIY project successfully and with minimal hassle, we bring you a few simple tips and tricks on how to build a wooden gazebo from scratch.

gazebo in a backyard

Constructing your own gazebo is a great way to customize your backyard. (image: kkanouse)

Building the gazebo frames

Begin the gazebo-building project by putting up the wall posts. Typically, you’ll need four sturdy posts to place at the corners of the gazebo area. To install the supporting wooden framework, it’s recommended you use 12’ x 4 x 4 beams, but you can pick the wood type and beam sizes depending on your backyard dimensions, individual preferences and climate in the area.

Step One:

Mark a 8’ x 8’ square in your backyard where you intend to set up your gazebo (make sure the spot is free from standing water), and then use a post hole digger to dig the gaps to place your beams into.

Step Two:

Place your posts in the holes so that 8’ of the beam is above ground and the interior corners are 8’ apart, and proceed to anchor the beams using quick cement or concrete and water.

Step Three:

Pour the cement or concrete to 2/3 of the hole around the beam and cover the rest of the space with dirt after the anchoring material sets.

Step Four:

Now, install six more 4 x 4 beams perpendicularly to the initial posts (placing two on each side) to brace three sides of the gazebo and secure them with two large bolts that should go through the post into each beam center.

You can also add windows to the center of each of the three walls if you want your gazebo to have more character. If installing windows, make sure you pre-mark the pane dimensions and create a frame with the help of 1 x 4 beams which you will then nail into the construction and securely fit in the windows by means of some wood glue or caulk and a handful of nails.

Step Five:

After this part of the construction is over, use four more 8’7” beams to joint the vertical posts at the top. First, cut a square measuring 3.5″ x 3.5″ x ¾” at the ends of each piece (make sure you make them on the same side for each beam) and use them to fit the pieces together indenting them like a puzzle (the so-called half-lap splice joint). Now, attach the upper beams to the rest of the structure using bolts (one or two per beam) that should be placed through the square into the vertical posts.

Keep the elements at bay: Make a roof for your backyard structure

To make the roof for your gazebo, you’ll need five more 4 x 4 beams, four of them measuring 6′ 1″ in length and one more measuring 8’ 7”. Use your tools to cut a 45-degree angle into one end of each of the four 6′ 1″ beams and attach them (flat side facing down) to the ends of the fifth beam with the help of bolts, thus forming two triangles at each side of the longer beam.

Make sure you keep an eye out on the 45-degree angles as your roof structure will need to sit flat on the top posts. Now, use bolts to attach the roof to the four supporting beams, and optionally insert adequately sized roof windows following the same pattern as with the side panel panes (however, keep in mind that you’ll need to install the top frame first when installing windows in your roof). After you’ve attached the roof to the rest of the supporting structure, your gazebo’s bare-bones are ready for some final finishing touches.

Rounding it up neatly: Add some chic style to your gazebo

For a stylish note in your backyard, you can paint your gazebo with neutral, natural or tan tones. Bold colors will also work well as accent touches granted they blend in with the rest of your backyard design. When painting the gazebo, make sure you use some weather-resistant paint suitable for outdoor use as this type of paint will add extra protection to the wood and ensure a longer lifetime for the structure.

After the paint has dried, you will need to add a roof covering to keep the inside of the structure dry and safe from elements. Corrugated aluminum or fiberglass roofing can be used as roof top coverings in this stage, and you’ll need to secure them with nails or hooks (these should be placed on the inside at one inch from the top and bottom of each angled roof rafter). Now, you can use some stretch cable to connect the hooks and hang curtains with rod pockets to create a true designer look in your gazebo.

Next, you can install curtain rods on the inside of the gazebo and put in some drapes to create mobile walls that will provide protection from bright sunlight on hot summer days. Also, you can pave the gazebo floor with bricks or garden stones for extra cooling and surface stability, but you can leave that part out if you want to keep your gazebo floor as natural as it gets. Of course, you can also add some personalized elements and extras to your backyard structure to embellish it further, like suspended flower pots, handrails, string lights, cushions, pillows and collapsible furniture.

In conclusion

From the ground level to the roof, building a gazebo is an approachable project for many DIYers. All you’ll need to make this charming garden structure is some sturdy wooden beams, quick cement, your reliable power tools, a few handyman extras like nails, bolts and screws and a little help from a friend or two to install the supporting posts and roof. An excellent project to kick start your summer in a perfect way, a backyard gazebo will prove both a functional and stylish addition to your outdoor area. Don’t put off the DIY work for long – the sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy your shady oasis on a scorching summer afternoon.

John Stone is a writer, editor, and contributor to Smooth Decorator. In addition to that, he’s a dedicated home improvement enthusiast.

Are you interested in building a gazebo from scratch or is a kit more your style?

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