If you have a front garden or patio, why let it go to waste? As long as you have available space, you can install a gazebo where you can spend quality time with family and friends.
Ever thought about building your own gazebo? It’s really not that difficult. All you need are some basic supplies that you can find at any DIY store and average woodworking skills. If you plan everything right, you can have the job done in one weekend.
How to build a rectangular gazebo step by step
Many people go for square gazebos which are a bit easier to build as all four sides are the same. The main advantage of a rectangular gazebo is that you get more options to customise it. You can make your rectangular gazebo large enough to fit a table so you can dine al fresco, or you can place outdoor sofas along the longer sides.
Planning your gazebo
Before you start, make sure to check the building regulations in your area. You may need planning permission to build a gazebo if you have a listed building or any land usage restrictions. Find out about the type of materials you’re required to use and the maximum height allowed for gazebos. Knowing all this in advance will save you a lot of trouble in the next steps of your DIY project.
You also need to pick the exact spot for your gazebo. The factors to take into account are both aesthetic and functional. Some people want their gazebo in the middle of their garden, while others prefer it closer to the wall of the house or the deck.
If your area is prone to severe weather, with plenty of storms, you might want to choose a more sheltered space. If you’ve lived on the property long enough, you’ll already know the windy spots. Choose a spot protected from high winds.
Things you’ll need
The materials you’ll need depend on the type and size of the gazebo you want to build. In this post, we’re talking about a standard 12×16 wooden gazebo. If you choose another size, you’ll need to adjust the dimensions of the wood pieces and the distance between footings accordingly.
Materials you’ll need:
- Posts – 8 pieces of lumber 100” long, plus 8 tube forms and 2×4 braces
- Rim joists – 2 pieces of 144”, 2 pieces of 189”
- Middle joists – 4 pieces 66 ¼”, 1 piece 182”, 2 pieces 89 ½”
- Joists – 10 pieces of 69 ¼”, 8 pieces of 93”
- Cleats – 9 pieces 89 ¼”, 12 pieces 65 ¼”
- Balusters – 200 pieces 30 to 34”
- Decking – 40 pieces 96”, 52 pieces 72”
- Roof – asphalt shingles, tar paper
- Concrete for anchoring the gazebo
Make sure to draw the plan on a piece of paper and double-check all the measurements. Any mistakes past this point can be very costly. Not to mention the extreme frustration of having to take things down and start all over again.
Tip: Always buy some extra materials, because accidents do happen and you don’t want to have to run to the store when you’re in the middle of building your gazebo. Store leftovers in the garage for future repairs.
Tools you’ll need:
- Circular saw
- Carpentry pencil and spirit level
- Screws (lots of them)
- Wood stapler
- Safety glasses
Once you have everything you need, you can start working on the gazebo.
Step 1 – Anchoring the posts
This is probably the most important step. If you don’t want to see your gazebo uprooted by the wind, you need to anchor the posts as best you can. In this case, best means anchoring your gazebo to concrete.
Look over the plan, determine where the posts go, and dig 8 holes. Each hole should be 3” deep and 6-8” wide, depending on the size of the tube forms.
Place the posts in the tube forms, making sure they are plumb, pour the concrete and temporarily stabilize the posts with 2×4 braces.
Leave the concrete to dry for at least 24 hours. Use this time to prepare the rest of the materials.
Step 2 – Installing the joists
Start with the rim joists, which need to be secured to the corner and middle posts using galvanized screws.
Tip: No matter the quality of the lumber, you should always drill pilot holes whose role is to prevent the wood from splitting.
Once you’re done with the rim joists, proceed with the middle ones. At all times, use a spirit level to make sure the joists are in a perfectly horizontal position.
Also, don’t forget the joists must be equally distanced so the weight of the gazebo is distributed properly. For best results, use metal joist hangers to secure the joists in place.
Step 3 – Putting the decking in
Time to get the decking pieces out. For this step, you’ll need to use 2 ½” screws (or nails, if you hate the idea of drilling holes). You’ll have to screw/nail the decking slats to the joists one by one.
Tip: Try to countersink the head of the screw/nail if you want your gazebo to look good.
Step 4 – Building the railings
You’ve finished the bottom part of the gazebo and you can start building upwards. Next step, the railings.
Take your time building the railings, as they’re easily noticeable—you want to put them up straight and equally spaced. Fix the cleats to the posts using screws. Check to see they are perfectly horizontal with the spirit level.
Don’t forget to leave the entrance to the gazebo free and make sure it is easily accessible. If there’s a gravel path in your garden, it should lead to the entrance of the gazebo.
Tip: The height of the railings is usually 36”, but you can go a bit upper or lower, as you prefer.
Step 5 – Placing the balusters
You can adjust the distance between balusters as you see fit. To make sure they are evenly spaced, place a piece of wood between two balusters when you’re working.
Screw the balusters to the cleats using 2” screws. You can cover the top cleats using 2×4 trims to give your gazebo a more polished look.
Tip: If you have small kids or pets, the distance between balusters should not exceed 4”, to avoid them getting stuck.
Step 6 – Installing the top rail
Moving on towards the roof, it’s time to put in the top rails. Once again, you’ll have to drill pilot holes in your lumber pieces to prevent splitting.
Screw the rails to the posts and don’t forget to check they are perfectly horizontal. You don’t want your roof to slant.
Step 7 – Building the roof
Putting up the roof of the gazebo requires a bit of planning and much of it depends on the materials you want to use. Most people go with asphalt shingles, which are affordable and easy to use. If you want something more resistant, choose cedar shingles or consider green roofing your gazebo.
At this stage, you could do with some help. You’ll need someone to hold the lumber pieces while you place the screws.
The most important part is installing the top ridge of the roof. The top ridge should be cut at 97 ¼”. You’ll secure it to the edge of the roof using two pieces of wood cut at 77 ¼”. This is where you’ll need the circular saw.
Once the top ridge is in place, you need to place the hip rafters. Work carefully and don’t forget to leave no more than 24” between the rafters, as the weight of the roof should be distributed equally.
Step 8 – Putting up roofing sheets
When you’ve finished with the rafters, take the plywood sheets and start putting them up. Measure each side carefully before cutting the plywood sheets. Make a dry run by putting them in place without fixing them, to make sure the roof frame is perfectly covered.
If you’re satisfied with the way the roof looks, screw the plywood pieces to the rafters. You’re almost there!
Step 9 – Putting shingles on the roof
This is the last step of the project. Use tar paper to make sure rainwater won’t seep through the shingles and destroy the plywood. After placing the tar paper, start putting in the asphalt shingles. Make sure they overlap a bit, to allow water to drain rather than pool on the roof.
Tip: The easiest way to fix the shingles is to staple them in place every 6”.
Now, for the finishing touch, put trims on the edges of the rafters.
More on this: How to Shingle a Gazebo Roof
The wrap up
Building a rectangular gazebo from scratch sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not that hard if you take it one step at a time. Good planning, quality materials, and the right tools will make everything stress-free.
Remember that you can customise the rectangular gazebo plan we shared with you to make the gazebo bigger or smaller. You’ll have to do the maths yourself, but the steps are the same, no matter what size the gazebo is.
So, what are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves and build yourself a gazebo you’ll be proud of.
Don’t forget to decorate your newly built gazebo for the full experience.