Protecting your gazebo from the weather is essential, particularly when you consider the vagaries of the British summer. We can be basking in 26º in bright sunshine one minute and plunged into storms and 15º the next!
Here’s how to waterproof a gazebo whether it’s made of plastic, canvas or wood, allowing it to survive outdoors for many years.
What do you need?
If your gazebo is made of plastic or PVC, it is naturally water-resistant already. This type is more damaged by UV rays in the sunshine than rain. Read more on how to care for your gazebo below.
If your gazebo is made of canvas, then you can buy a suitable waterproofing spray. The first spray coats the material and the second coat seals the finish, after it dries. Remember that the spray will need to dry so only start this job on a day when you have checked the weather forecast. It’s essential to do the work outside, as you do not want to inhale any of the spray.
If your gazebo is made of wood, it may need waterproofing. It is unusual for wooden garden furniture to arrive untreated. However, if it wasn’t pre-treated then you’ll need to get it ready for the changeable British climate. You can find out how to waterproof a wooden gazebo further down this article.
Waterproofing a canvas gazebo
You will need:
- A tarpaulin to protect plants, the ground or pets in cages
- Your waterproofing spray
- Eye protection
- Maybe a ladder to reach the highest part of your gazebo
- A can of rust preventative spray for the frame
Here’s how to do it:
- Remove the gazebo canopy and clean it first.
- Allow the canopy to dry well before you start spraying. Once the canopy is dry, the spray will be able to settle on the canvas and be absorbed effectively.
- Think about where you are spraying. You may want to use a tarpaulin to protect any plants or pets which are in the area!
- Shake the can well to mix the contents, and then hold the spray at an angle (about 45º) and begin to spray. Move the can from side to side and spray evenly. Cover a small distance of the material at a time, then stop and move the canvas to the next part.
- Continue until the whole surface of your canopy is covered and allow it to dry. Some sprays take about 30 minutes to dry but check the can instructions for yours. Allow the required drying time or the next layer will not work as efficiently as it should.
- Spray the second coat and wait for it to dry.
- Check the canopy seams whilst it’s off the frame. This is where a lot of strain happens. If you need to make any repairs to the seams, use adhesive sealer tape to strengthen them.
While the canopy is drying, now is the time to check the frame for any signs of wear and tear. Get out that can of rust preventative spray, keep your gloves and eye protection on and see if there are any patches of rust. If you find some, spray these well and allow them to dry.
At this stage, also check that screws are tight and there are no cracks in the structure.
By the time this job is done, the canopy should be dry enough to re-assemble and you can relax with a cuppa, knowing your gazebo is better protected against the weather.
Waterproofing a wooden gazebo
You can use varnish, coloured wood stain and oil or a protective treatment that’s suitable for use on wooden sheds or fences. The treatment will add a water repellent barrier and a high UV resistant finish, preventing any fungal growth or rotting.
Left untreated, wood will absorb rain, become damp and eventually rot. If you want to change the colour of your wood, see below.
Varnish is often recommended for indoor use but you can buy exterior varnish, with a warning that it may need to be re-applied in 1-2 years. You have a choice of matt or gloss, so decide which you would prefer and then varnish your gazebo on a sunny day. You may need to clean your brushes in turpentine afterwards – check this on the can when you purchase. Some varnishes allow brushes to be cleaned in water.
Wood stain can be applied with a paintbrush, sprayed or rolled on. These stains change the colour of the wood, while also adding a protective coating. You may end up with a slightly different colour to the one on the packet depending on the wood you’re staining. As wood stain is mainly used for colour change, you may need to add wax or varnish after staining.
Oil provides an effective barrier against rain, making your gazebo more water-resistant than waterproof but it provides a gleam and a sheen, giving your gazebo an attractive finished surface. You can use teak oil or linseed oil. Teak is one of the most expensive oils for good reason.
Teak oil gives a beautiful colour and finish to any wood it coats and it saturates the wood, giving protection for about a year. Linseed oil is a really popular finish for garden furniture, including gazebos. It gives a rich colour to any wood it stains, is quite good at preventing scratches and is known to keep humidity and dampness at bay.
Fence treatments are usually applied annually. Some have really toxic ingredients that are great at protecting your wood but terrible for you. These treatments contain fungicides, repel wood pests and protect your wood for a full year.
How to care for your gazebo
- UV rays damage plastic, PVC and wood so make sure you repeat the treatment annually for wood and canvas coverings. PVC curtains or canopies do not need protection but they have a short life, usually up to about 2 years.
- It may be a good idea to pack your gazebo away for winter if you don’t intend to use it much. If left outside during snow, use a brush to remove snow or the whole structure may collapse.
- Never pack up your gazebo when it’s wet! It will be stored all winter in a bag or box, feeling damp and unloved so pick a dry day in late autumn, to pack it up.
- Safety for you: Use goggles and gloves, so that your hands and eyes are protected. Wash your hands carefully after using chemicals. Dispose of the can safely.
Use cans with no CFCs if possible. If the nozzle head gets clogged up, turn it upside down and turned away from your face and eyes. Then press the nozzle and see if you can get it to spray.
Try to choose a paint, varnish or spray with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are known to be kinder to the environment.
- Safety for pets:
Is there a fish pond in your garden? Some sprays are lethal for fish and ponds so check this before you start and then spray in an area far away from your pond.
Dogs, cats, rabbits and tortoises will feel the same about being sprayed so try to keep them indoors.
- Safety for plants: Make sure they are covered by a tarpaulin or removed from the spraying area.