Are you looking for a structure to have on your property to maximize your outdoor living space? Look no further than a gazebo! They maximize not only your property value, but also your family's quality of life. What makes them even better for implementing your outdoor space is you can build one yourself! While you could hire a professional team to build one for you, doing it yourself provides the opportunity to make yours exactly how you like it. In this article, we will show you exactly how to make a DIY gazebo you and your family will love.
What Is a Gazebo?
This is a permanent outdoor structure covered by a roof that allows a view of the surrounding area. It allows a breeze to flow through and a place to relax. The classic hexagon or octagon shape is most often associated with these structures, but square or rectangular structures are possible as well - especially if you are designing and building it yourself. Most of these structures are open-air buildings, but as the builder, you can enclose it as much as you prefer based on your needs.
Why Have a Gazebo?
Perhaps you have seen picturesque images of the cupola-topped gazebo adorned with floral arrangements for weddings. These are perfect backyard structures for such gatherings of friends and family because they are gorgeous structures, versatile, and can accommodate large groups of people comfortably. Some other fun activity ideas and benefits of building this structure include the following:
- Be the “cool family” people want to hang out with
- Have a party with friends/family/neighbors
- Grill, cookout, and share meals
- Relax and chill after working hard
- Let the kids use it as a clubhouse
- Play games
- Have meetings
- Display your sense of architectural design and style
- Rent it out for weddings/events
- Increase your property value
Whether you choose to do one, or all, of these things, this project is sure to create a great space you, your family, and friends will enjoy using for years to come - if it is designed well.
How to Build a Gazebo Yourself
Before building yourself, there are a few questions to ask before you get started:
- What is your budget?
- Are you trying to aesthetically match other parts of the property?
- Are you trying to follow a design pattern or a color palette?
- What will it be used for?
- What is the climate where you live?
There are several elements and structures in these buildings. Here is what you need to know to build your own.
The foundation of any building project is very important because everything literally rests on it. The climate where you live will largely dictate the foundation required. The longest lasting foundations will involve digging post holes and pouring concrete into them to hold them for a long time.
4” pressure-treated wood posts will suffice for most projects unless you will have a very large or heavy roof or large accessories hanging from the roof. Then 5" or 6" posts may be necessary. Check with your county's building department to determine the depth and thickness required of the poles.
Once you have dug your post holes, put your posts in, pull out your level, and make sure your posts are plumb and true. You can use ropes or other cordage wrapped around the posts and secured to a stake in the ground to keep them plumb. Once you are plumb and true, it is time to pour the concrete into each post hole. After you have done that, you should once again check to ensure your posts are all plumb and level because this is the last chance to make any adjustments before the cement dries.
If you do not want to dig post holes and your climate and ground is suitable, you may also use basic concrete blocks to put your flooring on, but there will be some excavation involved unless the site is perfectly level to begin with. If you want to use blocks, know you will have labor to level out the ground or find someone with a skid-steer with a bucket to make short work of it, but keep that in mind for your budget if you go that route.
Once your foundation is laid, and the concrete has dried, it is time to build the floor by securing it to your foundation posts
You have several options for flooring designs and materials. Many people like the natural wood look and build a floor very similar to a deck. Depending on your design—hexagon, octagon, square, rectangle—whatever your design is will dictate your floor layout.
The main parts that hold up your floor are called Floor Joists. These are the cross-members that your floorboards will be nailed or screwed to.
Many people like the hexagonal/octagonal design pattern classic to these structures, but this is your project and you can design and build it however you would like, so it is up to you whether to stick with a classic design or be a bit more creative.
The two most popular flooring options people select are wood or a composite material. Composite is more expensive but lasts significantly longer than wood. However, it depends on your design. If you have a big enough roof to keep the elements off the floor, wood will last a long time, too.
These structures are basically outdoor living spaces. Whether you wall-in your space is completely up to you. Think about what you will be using it for when it comes time to decide whether to enclose the structure. It can use basic residential stick-framing with studs 16-24” on center (check your county building codes to ensure anything you build is up to code).
Many people design their space with railings instead of actual walls—like a deck. You have many railing options to choose from if that is your decision. If you happen to be a skilled carpenter, you can get very creative. However, if this is your first woodwork DIY project, you can purchase pre-fabricated, custom-designed railings from several manufacturers.
It is always nice to be out of the elements when working outside. Thus, having a solid roof is one of the main requirements when planning your design.
There are many roof designs suitable to these buildings. The classic hexagonal round roof is more complex to build, but it provides the classic look many homeowners are seeking.
The easiest to build would be a 4-corner basic shed roof with a ridgeline and 2 sloping sides of the roof. We suggest you look around at various roof styles. Maybe a shed roof is perfect, or perhaps a Gambrel, Hip roof, or even a Pyramid style roof would look good on your project.
The roofing design is completely up to you and you have several materials to choose from including standard residential roofing materials (plywood roof covered with tar paper and asphalt shingles nailed to the plywood. Once you have your plywood roof decking installed, you could cover it with a metal roof too including corrugated metal up to a custom standing-seam metal roof for extreme durability.
A cost-effective roofing option is also a corrugated poly or vinyl or plexiglass/Lexan panel. One thing to be careful of is sealing your fastening points when using these materials - nobody wants a leaking roof!
If roofing is not your thing or you are not a fan of heights, these usually have a pretty small footprint. Thus, if you want to outsource it to a roofer it generally will not be too expensive unless you go with a metal roof and special tools are required. Every roof is different.
Roofing is measured and priced in “Squares”. 1 Square = 100 square feet. Roofers will be more cautious in their pricing if you call up and ask for a quote based on a specific number of squares.
5. Doors & Windows
If you designed your structure with walls, you can add doors and windows wherever you would like by putting them in the spaces between your posts. Door and windows are not typically included, since these structures are already outdoors. However, you certainly could add them for your own unique touch.
If you have walls in yours, you can get creative. We have seen some with skylights and also some with clear roofing materials that allow light to enter from above. The fun part of DIY projects is you can make it your own!
When you are preparing for your building project, there are several accessories to keep in mind if you are planning on using your new space for particular purposes.
Things to keep in mind when designing:
- Do I want power/outlets?
- Do I want to grill and, if so, do I need a gas line?
- Do I want lighting in my building that can turn on with the flip of a switch?
Knowing what you will be using your gazebo for from the outset of the planning stages will help you make your project go more smoothly.
If you want power (and you are not a licensed electrician), you can have a power line run to your new building fairly cost-effectively. Same thing with plumbing. If you want a gas line for your grill, call a plumber and let them know. Both projects usually take a day or less and electric work takes less time than plumbing usually does.
Also note, if you want power in your unit, you need to lay out where you want to put your light fixtures (and go to the store and pick them out) ahead of time. Be sure you also select the areas you want to put your light switches and outlets, if any.
Building your own gazebo is a project that any determined homeowner with a modest budget and some basic carpentry skills can complete in just a few weekends most likely and a lot faster if you have friends to help. With the basic tools found in a carpenter's tool belt, a shovel/post-hole digger, a wheelbarrow (or cement mixer), a budget for lumber and other materials needed, and a little inspiration and determination, you can do this! We hope this article has helped you figure out exactly what you will need to make gazebo of your dreams that you, your family, and friends can enjoy for years to come.