This article is about how to build a gazebo. Building a square gazebo is easy if you use the right plans, techniques and materials. If you have a large garden and you like to spend your time with your family and friends, a gazebo is perfect for your needs. Just imagine yourself in a beautiful and easy to build gazebo, while watching your kids playing on the grass. In addition, a gazebo is a great place to prepare the food and take dinner with you family. A square gazebo is also a wonderful place to read books during the hot summer days, as the roof will protected you against the sun rays.
You should plan and design the outdoor gazebo as to satisfy both your needs and tastes. Therefore, you should decide its dimensions and whether you want to add a bathtub, a deck or a barbeque, to make it suit your needs. The options are virtually unlimited, that is why we recommend you to take your time when planing its size and features. Nevertheless, you should remember that each extra-feature implies additional expenses, therefore you have to keep a balance between the benefits and costs.
Choosing the right design for your gazebo is a tough decision, as there are many potential alternatives: on one hand, you can build an eight-sided gazebo, a rectangular construction or a simple to build square gazebo. In this step by step article we will show you how to build your own gazebo in a couple of weekends, while keeping the costs under control. Building a gazebo is a straight forward procedure, provided you known several basic woodworking techniques.
In order to build a gazebo, you need the following:
- A – 4 tube forms, 4 adjustable anchors CONCRETE FOOTINGS
- B – 2 pieces of 2×6 lumber, 120” long, 2 pieces of 2×6 lumber 123” long RIM JOISTS
- C – 1 piece of 2×6 lumber, 120” long MIDDLE JOIST
- D – 16 pieces of 2×6 lumber, 59 1/4” long JOISTS
- E – 18 pieces of 2×6 lumber, 14 1/2” long BLOCKING
- F – 9 pieces of 4×4 lumber 9′ long WOODEN POSTS
- G – 4 pieces of 4×4 lumber, 10′ long TOP RAIL
- H – 4 pieces of 2×4 lumber, 102” long, 64º cuts at both ends HIP RAFTERS
- I – 4 pieces of 2×4 lumber, 79” long, 55º cuts at both ends COMMON RAFTERS
- J – 8 pieces of 2×4 lumber,42” long JACK RAFTERS
- K – 400 sq ft of 1/2” tongue and groove plywood ROOFING SHEETS
- L – 400 sq ft of roofing felt ROOFING UNDERLAYMENT
- M – 400 sq ft of asphalt shingles, nails ASPHALT SHINGLES
- N – 100 sq ft of 2×4 decking boards FLOORING
- O – 2×4 bottom and top rails; 2×2 balusters 2 1/2′ long RAILINGS AND BALUSTERS
- cement, sand, gravel
- 2 1/2” lag screws – to secure the posts
- 4” screws – to secure the joists, the rails
- Corner brackets – to lock the joists into place
- 2 1/2” deck screws – to install the decking boards, the balusters, the roofing sheets
- 6” screws – to secure the rafters
- 1/2” roofing nails – to install the shingles
- Safety gloves, glasses
- Circular saw, miter saw
- Drill machinery and drill bits
- Hammer, spirit level, carpentry pencil, tape measure
- Ladder, posthole digger
- Power mixer
- Lay out the outline of the gazebo in a professional manner, using batter boards and string
- Plumb the posts using post level clips and braces (a level that reads in both directions simultaneously)
- Use adjustable post anchors to secure the 4×4 wooden posts
- Don’t use lumber that is likely to crack or twist
- Don’t over-tighten the screws
- Don’t leave more than 14 1/2” between the joists
- Two weekends
Building a square gazebo
Building a square gazebo is a complex woodworking project, but any amateur can pull it trough, provided he uses the right plans, techniques and tools. As you can see in the image, you have to install several posts, build the flooring, attach the roof and install the railings. Although it might look very complicated at first, you have to use a step by step approach and work with great judgement and attention.
How to build a gazebo
The first step of the project is to lay out the gazebo, in a professional manner. Therefore, after you have selected a level area, you should mark the outline of the square gazebo, by using batter boards (made from 2×4 lumber) and string.
There are several techniques to secure the 4×4 wooden posts into place: locking them in concrete or using metal hardware. If you want to install the posts in concrete, you have to dig 2-3′ deep holes, compact a 2” layer of gravel and pour in 4” of concrete. Afterwards, place the post in the hole and plumb it with a spirit level.
Make sure you brace the wooden posts in two directions, after plumbing them, otherwise it might move from position.
Alternatively, you could place tube forms in the holes and fill them with concrete. After the concrete has hardened a little, you should install the adjustable anchors into place, making sure they are perfectly aligned one with another.
In order to anchor the four posts in a professional manner, you have to dig 3′ deep holes (12” in diameter), making sure the the holes are also 6” below the frost line.
Pour and compact a 3” layer of gravel and install a tube form in each hole (alternatively, you could build a form with 2×4 boards). Mix a small quantity of concrete, fill the form and install the adjustable post anchors.
Use a straight edge and a spirit level, to make sure the four footings are perfectly aligned and horizontal. Let the concrete dry out for at least 48 hours before installing the 4×4 posts.
Afterwards, use 2×6 wooden joists to build the frame of the gazebo floor, as in the image. It is essential to install the joists every 16” OC, as to support the weight of the decking and to create a rigid structure.
In order to secure the joists to wooden frame, you have two broad options. On one hand, you can drive 4′-5′ screws trough the rims in the joists, or, you can use metal joist hangers.
We recommend you to support the joists with metal hangers, but you can get the job done by inserting screws trough the rim joists, as well (don’t forget to drill pilot holes, before driving in the screws).
Next, you have to install the rest of the 4×4 posts that will support the top plate and roof, as in the image. If you want to build a durable gazebo, we recommend you to secure the posts to the floor joists, using 6” nails.
After you have built the frame of the floor and installed the 4×4 wooden posts, you have to fasten the 2×4 or 2×6 decking. We recommend you to buy decking boards designed for outside use, otherwsie the floor of the gazebo will be damaged by the moisture.
As you can see in the image, we recommend you to drill pilot holes before inserting the nails. If you use screws, you can drive them in the boards without pre-drilling, but you have to use appropriate decking screws.
How to build gazebo roof
Building a gazebo roof can be done in several ways, but we will show you a technique that requires a small amount of materials and that will make the gazebo durable. The first step of the process is to install the top plates over the 4×4 wooden posts.
Use 4×4 beams and install them in a professional manner. Consider asking a friend to hold the beams into place, while you drive in the screws.
In this image, you should notice the proper technique to join the top plates. Therefore, you have to cut their ends in an L-shape and join them together on top of the posts. After you join the top plates, you have to drill pilot holes and drive in several 6” screws.
Afterwards, install 2×4 rafters, to build the main frame of the roof. The procedure is straightforward, if you use the right techniques and tools. First, cut a 6×6 king post (4” high) and secure it into place by installing two opposite rafters, with 4” screws (toenail the rafters to the king post).
Next, install the rest of the 2×4 intermediate rafters, as in the image. Work with great care and make sure the intermediate rafters are placed symmetrically. Secure them to the top plates and to the king post with several 4” screws, as in the image.
The roofing of your gazebo can be done in several ways: on one hand you can install 2×4 wooden boards, while on the other hand you can use large sheets of plywood and roofing paper. Irrespective of your choice, we recommend you to secure the wooden boards or the plywood sheets with appropriate screws, every 10” along the rafters.
After you have installed the wooden boards or the plywood sheets, you have to cover the surface with roofing paper. Next, you should install asphalt shingles, wooden shingles or metal sheets.
From our experience, we can say that the costs are similar, therefore you have to choose the option that suits your needs and tastes. Work with great care and make sure the nails don’t go through the roofing (use 1/2” roofing nails).
How to build gazebo railings
Building the balusters of the gazebo is an essential task of your project, therefore you have to tackle it with great care and attention. There are many design options to choose from, therefore you should choose the one that fits your tastes.
In our example, we have used 2×2 balusters, placed every 3”. The balusters should be 28-32” high, but you can adjust them according to your needs.
In order to build the balusters, you have to use proper techniques. The bottom and top railings should be secured with screws driven at angle, or locked with corner brackets.
Use 2×4 boards to build the bottom and head rail of the frieze and 2×2 molding to build the balusters. In addition, make sure everything fits into place properly and has a neat look. In order to secure the balusters into place, drive nails through the bottom and top rail in the balusters.
You can also toenail them, but it would take longer an the look won’t be the same. The design of the frieze should match your house and garden.
Fill the cracks and holes with wood putty and leave it to harden. Sand the wooden surfaces of the square gazebo with medium-grit sandpaper and protect the construction against water damage, by applying several coats of varnish.
Building the perfect gazebo is a subjective matter, therefore we recommend you to choose its design and size from the very beginning, according to your needs and tastes.
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