Building a gazebo is not all that complicated, especially if you go with a simple square shape.
Putting a roof over the gazebo, now that’s the real proof of your handyman skills. And you need to be very good at it because if that roof is leaking, your gazebo will be ruined in a few months.
Don’t worry, though. With a little bit of planning, you can have the roof done in less than a day.
How to build a gazebo roof the easy way
The easiest way to get the job done is to go with asphalt shingles which are very easy to lay. But before you get there, you need to actually build the wooden structure to hold them.
- Lumber cut to size
- Plywood sheets
- Asphalt shingles
- Galvanized screws for the rafters and upper joists
- 1 ¼“ screws for the plywood
- ¾” screws for the shingles
- Circular saw
- Pen and paper
Once you have the materials, here are the steps you need to follow:
Step 1 – Decide the height and direction of the top ridge
The main part of the roof is the top ridge. Determine how high the roof will be. The higher the top ridge, the steeper the roof. A 45-degree angle usually works best.
Cut the top ridge beam from a piece of lumber, and then take out your pen and paper and calculate how long the rafters should be. Also, you need to figure out which way the top ridge should face. If possible, the roof of the gazebo should align with that of your house, to create a sense of unity.
You can screw the top ridge and rafters on the ground then haul it over the gazebo. This is the point where you’ll be glad you asked your two best friends to give you a hand.
If your calculations were correct, the top ridge will fit perfectly. If not, take it down again and cut to measure before you screw the whole thing on top of the gazebo. You can use galvanized screws to attach the rafters to the centre point of the upper joists.
Step 2 – Install the rafters
You need to anchor the top ridge to the upper joists and the corners of the gazebo. Place the rafters at a distance of 24” so that the weight of the roof will be distributed evenly.
This step requires measuring the length needed for each rafter and cutting the wood to the required measurements.
Step 3 – Cover the roof with plywood
Once you’ve screwed the rafters in place, carefully measure each segment of the roof to determine how to cut the plywood sheets. Use your circular saw for this job.
Next, put up the plywood over the roof, without any screwing. See if the plywood pieces fit together. Trim where necessary. When they fit like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, you can start fixing them with 1 ¼“ screws, placed every 6”.
Step 4 – Place asphalt shingles on the roof
Now, it’s time to take out the asphalt sheets bundles. For best results, you’ll need to install two layers.
For the base layer, you need to place the shingles upside down. Start at the lower edge, lay one row of shingles, and work your way to the top. Trim the shingles sheet as necessary with a utility knife. Attach the shingles to the wooden frame using ¾” screws.
For the upper layer, the shingles will be placed with the right side up, but the process is the same. You start from the joists and work towards the top ridge. Make sure the rows overlap for better drainage.
The last step is to cover the seams of the roof with ridge caps cut from the shingles sheet to keep water from infiltrating.
How to build a square gazebo roof
Building the roof of a square gazebo is the easiest of all since all the sides are equal—there’s less measuring and maths involved. It’s the same process as above, but here are a few pointers you might want to use.
If your gazebo has a king post—that’s the support beam that goes through the middle of the structure to the top of the roof—the hip rafters will need to connect to that.
You can attach the hip rafters to the king post using wood ties, which are designed for wood on wood connections. If that sounds too complicated, just use toenailed screws.
The ceiling joists are the beams that go between the hip rafters to strengthen the roof. These can also be attached to the overall frame with wood ties. Place the same number of ceiling joists on each side of the roof structure.
Lay the shingles from the bottom to the top of the roof. If the weather in your area is generally fair and you don’t get much rain, you can go with one layer of shingles.
For best results, cover the plywood with a sheet of tar paper for insulation. The easiest way to install the tar paper sheet is to staple it in place. You can get this done in less than 15 minutes.
How to put a roof on a gazebo that will last
If you’re quite handy and don’t mind a bit of extra work, you can build a reinforced gazebo roof.
To make sure the gazebo roof will last longer, consider installing a king post that runs from the floor to the uppermost point of the roof. This middle post will have to be longer than the corner posts.
If you buy standard 8 ft lumber posts for the corners, the middle one should be 10 or 12 ft. Depending on your exact plan, you can cut it to measure using a circular saw.
Another option is to use cedar shingles instead of the more common and more affordable asphalt shingles. Wooden shingles age better and are more resistant. Covering the roof with cedar shingles requires more work than using asphalt shingle sheets, true. But what’s an extra day of work on a gazebo that you’re going to enjoy for many years to come?
To make sure your gazebo roof will last many years, insulate it as best you can. One option would be to cover the plywood with a self-sealing membrane that keeps water from seeping in.
Also, you should install a nylon underlayment for ventilation between the plywood and the cedar shingles. This underlayment will let air flow between the plywood and shingles, so they would dry faster after a storm.
In the end, building a roof for your gazebo may turn out to be not as difficult as you imagine. Pick the right method for you and take it one step at a time.
How can I make a gazebo roof cheaply?
If you don’t want to invest a lot of money in your gazebo, you can do away with the roof. Well, not completely. You still need something to cover it, but you can cut back on materials by using a sheet of heavy-duty outdoor fabric.
The cheapest and easiest way to cover your gazebo is to place a large square of water-resistant outdoor fabric over the roof and staple the material to the outer ridge. This can work, at least for a season. However, this solution is not recommended if you live in an area that sees heavy rains, as the canopy will start sagging before long.
On the other hand, you can have a pitched roof, still covered with outdoor fabric. To minimize investment and effort, you can only put in the top ridge and the hip rafters. Staple the fabric in place and leave it hanging an inch or two over the rim joists. This type of roof has the advantage that it allows the water to drain from the roof instead of pooling.
How can I build a gazebo roof on my own?
Start with precise measurements. Measure, check, and double-check. Next, buy the wooden beams needed for the top ridge and rafters, as well as a couple of asphalt shingle bundles. Do the maths carefully to make sure you have enough shingles to put them in two layers, which makes the roof more durable.
You’ll also need an electric screw drill and a circular saw for the job. A hammer will work if need be, but it’s best to use power tools for this job.
How do I build a gazebo roof fast?
The fastest way to put a roof over your gazebo is to go for a flat one. This still requires some planning, but far less than a reclining one.
You will have to put in a support beam right through the middle of your square roof. The number of rafters you use depends on the size of the gazebo. For a small one, two may be enough.
Next, cut out plywood boards to cover each section of the roof and screw them in place. You still need to cover the roof with tar paper and at least one layer of asphalt shingles to make it water-resistant.
The drawback is that a flat roof makes your gazebo look more like a pergola, but if this is not a concern, go for it. Another thing to keep in mind is that a flat roof might be damaged by heavy snowfall.