How do I Build a Gazebo?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Many people are familiar with the beauty and shady restfulness that a gazebo — also called a summerhouse or a belvedere — can provide. As a result, those who want to build a gazebo will be pleased to discover that it is not as daunting of a task as it may seem. In fact, a few people can easily build a gazebo over the course of a weekend. Gazebos can be built in many different styles –from rustic to elegant and from small to large; however, they all have a similar basic design. The basic gazebo structure requires a foundation, posts, beams, rafters, and roofing material.

Some gazebos feature a concrete foundation.
Some gazebos feature a concrete foundation.

Before purchasing the materials to build a gazebo, it is important to consider the size that the structure will be and the style. For example, most people prefer to have a large gazebo on their property so that it will not feel cramped after patio furniture and a few friends and family members are added to the mix. In general, if the gazebo is at least 8 feet (2.4 m) tall and 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter, it should be comfortable enough for several people to gather. It should also be determined if it will be constructed of cedar, whether it will have a solid roof, and whether there should be removable panels that will create solid walls for periods of non-use.

Gazebos can sometimes be located on a bed of crushed rock.
Gazebos can sometimes be located on a bed of crushed rock.

Except under the rarest of styles, a simple beam-and-post frame will lend the majority of the gazebo’s support. The frame is best if it is constructed from a strong pressure-treated lumber – cedar is often a great choice. Usually, the posts are at least 4 (10.2 cm) inches by 4 inches (10.2 cm) or larger pieces of lumber. The posts are usually firmly anchored into a concrete slab that forms the floor. Concrete footings are extremely helpful to anchor the posts into the concrete flooring.

The roof can be constructed from a variety of materials from siding to shingles to shakes. The most traditional roof is the six-hub or eight-hub style. The hub, or top of the roof, secures the rafters. The rafters run from the posts to the hub and support the roof. Building the roof of the gazebo is by far the most difficult part. It is important to follow any blueprints closely. In addition, if the roof is constructed of solid materials, and not thatch or straw, it must have the appropriate pitch so that water can run off of it and not collect.

The gazebo must sit on a solid foundation. As mentioned above, the foundation can be made of a concrete slab – the most popular foundation. However, if the builder prefers, the gazebo can be located on a deck, bed of crushed rock, or concrete piers.

Oftentimes, to build a gazebo that is useful and not merely decorative, electrical, water, and even gas lines are needed. This is especially true if the gazebo is located far from the house, if it will be used to cover a hot tub, or if it will house a gas firepit. Running electric, gas, and water lines, may require more professional experience.

To build a gazebo from scratch may be too overwhelming for some people. In that case, there are also gazebo kits. Gazebo kits come with everything needed to build the gazebo – except the foundation in most cases. The lumber is numbered and notched for easy construction. The most important thing to remember when building a gazebo is to have patience and to ask for help when it is needed.

In some cases, the area will be graded and batter boards put up to mark the sides of the gazebo.
In some cases, the area will be graded and batter boards put up to mark the sides of the gazebo.
Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments


@MissMuffet - How about a vinyl gazebo? They are said to be easy to care for and they last longer than wood alternatives. I have seen some on display in home improvement stores, and they look really attractive.


I have plans to build a gazebo, probably from a kit. Is there any decent alternative to wood? I don't want something that needs a lot of treatment or maintenance, but it should still look good.


I wanted a gazebo for the longest time and finally got a yard big enough to build one in. Although I'm not the most talented person at DIY I'm good at rallying others to help!

If you look around the Internet you'll find loads of free gazebo plans. The hardest part is choosing the materials and style that is best for you.

Mine should be finished by next weekend and I can't wait to have a party to show it off!

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