The Back Yard Gazebo

The Gazebo

My gazebo is made out of pressure-treated lumber, and is, in essence, a 12 foot square with the corners knocked off. Each side is approximately 5 ft long.The base is an octagon, just under 5 ft on a side. Here is why.

Gazebo Math

Perhaps the best-known theorem in trigonometry says that for right triangles, the square of A plus the square of B equals the square of C. In our example, A & B are the two sides that form the right angle of the triangle, and C is the hypotenuse, or the line connecting the two sides that form right angle. The square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, If we take a right triangle in which the two sides that form the right angle are each 3.5 ft. long, then 3.5 squared is 12.25. Add this to another 12.25 and you get 24.5. The square root of 24.5 is not quite 5. Thus, if you knock 3.5 ft off of at each corner of a 12-foot long square, you will knock off a total of 7 ft on each side. What remains is a 5 foot long side. And each hypotenuse will be just under five ft.If you want to be more accurate, make your right triangle 3.5355339 ft long. (3.5355339 is the square root of 12.5)

Cutting the Angles

Angles for an 8-sided gazebo are easy to cut, because they are usually just 22.5 degrees, 1/2 of 45 degrees. Eight 8 ft. sections of 2 X 8 make up the main roof supports. There is 2 x 8 cross bracing in the roof as well.

Supporting the Roof

The 4 x 4's that comprise the roof support are each 8 ft long, and each is sitting on a post hole filled with concrete. These post holes need to be deep enough to go below frost level. A large bolt was placed the concrete, and a galvanized metal bracket designed for this purpose was used to attach the post to the concrete. Thus, the vertical supports are not actually embedded in the concrete.

A Floor with no Equal

The floor of the gazebo is made out of a rustic patio brick. Necessary angles were cut with a masonry blade using a table saw. Underneath the brick is a 5 " foundation of crushed stone tamped, followed by a layer of plastic, then a layer of sand. The bricks are actually set in the sand, & tamped down. This is a very excellent surface that can move with the freezing & thawing of the soil underneath, without damage to the brick.

The Screen Door: A Joke?

Currently I have a screen door in the gazebo, but no other screening. People laugh about this, but the screen door makes the gazebo seem more "private." I can always screen the remainder later on. If you are afraid of insects, you might want to do it right away. But really, insects are nothing to be afraid of. They should be studied, instead. Of course, its sometimes difficult to study mosquitos at a picnic.

Making the Railing

The railing is a special deck railing, with grooves cut in to hold the 2 x 2 spindles. The spindles are anchored with galvanized finishing nails.

Making the Dentil was like Pulling Teeth

My house is a ranch home built in the late 70s.

A gazebo with too steep a roof pitch or with too many victorian touches would have looked silly in my mack yard, and would have been an inapproriate design. On my house there is a dentil molding that runs just under the soffit at the eaves. We used a similar dentil on the gazebo/ The "dentil" molding around the top was hand-cut from pressure-treated lumber.

Siting and Decorating a Gazebo

The gazebo sits on a corner of my patio. Tulips & daffodils in the spring and impatiens in various colors decorate the base in the summer, while white "chase lighting" is used around the top during the holiday season. There is also low-voltage landscape lighting around the base.

Other Wild & Crazy Features

A ceiling fan designed for exterior use is in the center of the gazebo, along with a center light. Two coach lanterns flank the entrance door. Underground cable connects the gazebo to electrical current, and the entire gazebo can be unplugged, if you wish.

This basic plan is adapted to any reasonably flat area, and works especially well to provide shade to a concrete patio area. With some modifications to ensure structural integrity, the plan could also be used to cover a deck.

Staining the Gazebo

Recently, I decided that I was not happy with the gray color of the weathered pressure treated wood, so I decided to stain the gazebo a garden green, after seeing one stained a similar color on HGTV. The stain I used was Cabot's latex-based stain for vertical surfaces, in a color called Evergreen. This stain is very nice to apply, and not too runny. The grain of the wood shows through, and I got excellent coverage with only one coat--it took a little over a gallon of stain. I also stained a swing and a birdhouse pole--see photos below.

The Roof Structure

Many of you have asked about how the underside of the roof is framed so here is a picture of the 2 x 8 structure that supports the roof. The 2 x 8s are simply nailed together at the center. If I were doing this again I would add some more braces in the shape of an octagon as the current framing has resulted in some slight bowing in the roof sheathing. If you live in a climate that gets more snow, some additional bracing in the form of a larger octagon is a very good idea.

Got Questions? Ask me!

If you would like to ask specific questions about building a gazebo like this, e-mail me . To all of you who have asked for plans, I have not gotten any made up.

Here are the photos

Unpainted--this photo was taken shortly after the gazebo was constructed

Stained Evergreen--recent photos

A Gazebo Table

Here is a fun table for the gazebo I built.

The table consists of a 2 x 2 foot sheet of 3/4 inch plywood. The legs are made of 24 inch long poplar 3 x 3s available at Home Depot precut. The plywood is simply screwed on to each leg with 3 inch long drywall type screws. The top is made from four pieces of Mexican Saltilo tile, available at Lowes for under a dollar each. These are glued to the plywood top with a tube of liquid nails. The trim that covers the plywood and tile edge is made of 1 x 4 half-sawn poplar,available at either Lowes or Home Depot. I mitered the corners for a neat look, and attached with finish nails. I put several coats of a clear polyurethane varnish on the tiles to make them water resistant, then grouted them with peach-colored grout. The table is stained with the Evergreen Cabot stain to match the gazebo. I will use the table indoors in the winter. Total cost was under $50, with the largest expense being the poplar legs, which were about $7 each. Have Fun!!!

A Copper Tubing Trellis

Here is my latest project--a trellis made of 3/4 inch copper tubing. I found the basic plans at This Site Follow the links to the parts list and to the diagram with measurements.Instead of the 1/2 inch tubing as called for, I used 3/4 inch tubing to give the project a bit more substance, and a few of the measurements needed to be altered a bit to accommodate the extra 1/4 inch of pipe diameter. I used a copper tubing cutter to cut the pieces, and cut as I dry assembled. The plans suggest simply gluing the joints together with liquid nails, but I went the hard route, and soldered them using a propane torch. I quickly discovered that the little $15 Bernzomatic torches they sell in home improvement centers produce barely enough heat to solder 3/4 inch pipe,and a few of my joints look pretty cold. I'm glad they don't have to be watertight. Anyway, the sloppiness in my solder joints just makes the piece look more "hand-made."

To get the copper tubing to turn the nice verde gras color, I checked a lot of web sites for advice. It turns out, you don't really need harsh chemicals to do this. First, clean any oxidation off the tubing using steel wool. This will turn the copper a pinkish color. If you like this color you could always spray lacquer the trellis at this point to hold that color) If you want the weathered blue-green appearance, I simply mixed some apple cider vinegar and salt (I presume white vinegar would also work but I didn't have any on hand) And then just slosh this on all sides of the tubing, leaving the salt particles on. A day or so later give it another coat. Mine turned a nice mottled blue-green patina within a few days. The green patina is chalky, and washes off during rains, but then magically reappears when the trellis dries. The changing colors doesn't bother me, but if it bothers you, you could put a coat of spray lacquer.

I made mine a little taller than the plans call--about 8 ft high to put against a 10 ft exterior wall. I simply pounded two pieces of copper pipe down into the ground and attached a straight copper connector on each leg on the bottom of the trellis. Then I didn't solder the final joint to the pipes in the ground. The trellis is secure but can be easily lifted up and off the wall so that you can paint or clean the wall behind the trellis. Pretty neat huh! The Octagon pattern of the trellis goes nicely with the gazebo, and visually lightens what had been a long blank sided wall next to the patio adjacent the gazebo.

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