Purchasing a gazebo should be an investment in your property, so whether it’s for personal or public use, you want to be certain that the structure you’re designing is the one you want. If you’re new to the idea of owning an outdoor structure like a gazebo, then you likely have many questions. Or maybe you’re not even sure which questions you should ask.
To get the most out of your gazebo you should consider everything from the reason you want to add a gazebo to your outdoor space, down to the type of shingles and flooring you’d like. Unless you’re buying a premade gazebo, you’ll have the option to create a custom design that will be unique to your tastes. Before you can do that, though, you have to understand what your options might look like—and which questions to ask the company you’re purchasing the structure from.
1. Why do I want to purchase a gazebo?
Understanding why you want the gazebo in the first place will tell you and the company you’re talking to a lot about what the design may have to look like or incorporate. Outlining the structure’s function should be your first step in the design and purchasing process as this will likely dictate its size, add-ons, and the best materials for the job. Pinpointing the purpose of your gazebo will certainly make the designing phase go much more smoothly.
Consider some of the most common uses for gazebos:
- Hot tubs
- Outdoor living
- Cooking and outdoor dining
And those are only some of the most common uses for gazebos. Your purpose could be listed above or one we haven’t thought to mention. Whatever purpose you have in mind for your future gazebo, you’ll at least have a better understanding of how function plays into the design.
2. Where will I put the gazebo?
Once you know how you want to use the gazebo, you’ll want to decide the best location for it. Thankfully, gazebos can be installed on any flat surface; but you’ll still need to consider the foundation material itself.
Gazebos can be installed on wood or concrete, making it possible to place the structure on decks or existing foundations.
Your purpose should also help you determine whether the gazebo is best situated in the open or under a shaded area, in the middle of a large space to create a focal point, or in the corner of your yard for a hidden destination. Some gazebo functions lend themselves to one location or another as shown below.
Corner of the Yard
Hot tub gazebo
The final location can be used to design the gazebo if you’re interested in blending the structure in with your patio, deck, or pool. For example, if you have a white and brown patio, you could opt for a vinyl or painted wood gazebo to create a seamless look. You may even be able to match the gazebo’s roof shingles to that of your home if the two will be in close proximity to one another. Keep the structure’s final location in mind during the rest of the design process.
3. What gazebo build is right for me?
When it comes to a gazebo’s build, you have two options: wood or vinyl. Each has its merits and you should consider which would be best for your project given its function, location, and the general design you have in mind.
Wood brings that sturdy, rustic feel to any structure. It offers a traditional look many people tend to favor for outdoor builds, but it can also be very cost-effective, too. For gazebos, cedar, pine, redwood, and bamboo are all viable options.
Each wood differs in appearance, environmental-impact, overall value, and longevity. When you consider wood for building material, you have to think about everything from its color and grain to its durability and longevity.
To expand on its benefits, a wood gazebo can be stained and painted in a range of colors. Its versatility is what makes wood both so unique and desirable as a building material, although that quality comes with its share of drawbacks.
Due to its porous nature, wood requires additional maintenance to retain its charm all year long. If it’s not taken care of (restaining, repainting, and annual weatherproofing) then wood structures can warp, or the wood itself could rot. Adding a gazebo to your property is a long-term investment, so it’s understandable that you would need to do a little work to keep it looking great for as long as you have it. Then again, you may not have the time or interest in doing more than a quick cleaning to maintain your gazebo, which is where vinyl comes in handy.
Vinyl has become a popular alternative to wood as a maintenance-free, and attractive building material. There’s no need to stain, seal, or treat vinyl, which makes taking care of it a matter of hosing it down. A power washer could also clean up a vinyl gazebo in a matter of minutes. Vinyl can be shipped in easy-to-build kits and installed almost anywhere just like a wood gazebo.
While a vinyl gazebo offers its share of perks, it can be more expensive to produce. It also comes with a very limited selection of colors and appearances. Despite their lack of variety, they’ve become a recognizable style all their own and vinyl gazebos always seem to work as a decorative statement no matter where you install one.
Choosing between wood and vinyl is a simple matter of answering two questions:
1. Do I mind repainting/restaining/waterproofing every year or every other year?
2. Do I want the gazebo to have a very specific look?
If you want your gazebo to be colorful and unique, and don’t mind the extra yearly maintenance, then go with wood. But if you’re looking for something easy to care for and on the traditional side, purchasing a gazebo made of vinyl may be your best bet.
4. What shape do I want?
This is really up to you. Sure, you could use the gazebo’s location to determine its shape, but it comes down to preference and creative vision. Certainly, there are some shapes better suited for particular functions, such as rectangular and square gazebos for hot tubs. Your choice of shape won’t have a huge impact on the gazebo aside from minor details, such as a number of posts and square footage.
The most common shapes available for gazebos include octagonal, square, oval, rectangular, and dodecagonal. Some shapes may only be available in specific sizes, and vice versa, so be sure to ask the manufacturer if your shape is available in the size your project requires.
5. How big or small should the gazebo be?
Consider why you want to build the gazebo. Will it be used for large gatherings are smaller ones? Is it meant to be an intimate setting or one to hold many people? Now that you know what you want to use the gazebo for, its location, and its shape, you should be able to pinpoint a size that works for your needs. The two largest factors that will play into the structure’s size, however, is the function and location.
The smallest gazebo would be somewhere around 8’ x 8’, generally determined by the shape. The largest sizes are upwards of 20’ x 40’ in rectangles and ovals, or even a 30’ dodecagon, and of course, there are many gazebo size variations and dimensions between those. The shape will limit available sizes in most cases, but you can always ask if a certain shape and set of dimensions is feasible.
6. What about details such as railings, roofing, and flooring?
Here’s where you can get truly creative with your gazebo design. Depending on your build, you may have many options or very few. Wood will provide you with a greater range of customization, while vinyl is quite limited in appearance.
After you’ve picked your build (wood or vinyl) and made a color choice, you get to think about the style of railing. They come in either wood or vinyl to match your build. The railing style will differ between builds, but range from Dutch, New England, Colonial, and Baroque rails for wood and Country style, Colonial, and Baroque rails for vinyl. You also have the option of having no bottom rails whatsoever.
In the same category, you also get to decide whether your sidings will feature screens. If you’re interested in spending a lot of time in your new gazebo, you may want something to keep the insects at bay.
If you want your posts and railings to match, you can decide between having a standard (square) post or a turned post. Turned posts feature a rounded design.
There are five styles of gazebo roofs usually available, including:
Selecting your style of roofing should be followed by a decision on the shingles, on whether you want standard asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, rubber slates, or metal roofing.
Gazebos benefit from a wide selection of standard asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, rubber slates, or metal roofing. There are many unique colors to choose from for customizing the structure’s look further.
There are almost as many flooring options available as there are roofing shingles to choose from. Flooring runs from composite decking to vinyl tropical decking and cellular PVC decking. This is another aspect of your design you can tweak to match the gazebo’s various parts.
7. Would I benefit from any additional features?
Extra features—or add-ons—are icing on the cake that is your dream gazebo. Most of these features will expand the functionality of the structure by adding further detail to the design, or by creating an outdoor space usable during all times of the day and even year.
Electrical package: this outfits your gazebo with outlets, switches, wiring, and connections to provide you with an entertainment-ready structure. If you plan to use your gazebo at night, for cooking, or for anything that might require power, then you should definitely consider including an electrical package.
Freestanding benches: a gazebo used more casually might benefit from freestanding benches. These seats conform to the shape of the structure, are movable, and provide a good alternative to installing your own seating.
8. Do I want to build the gazebo myself (with a kit) or have someone assemble it for me?
If you’re in a location that an assembled gazebo just can’t fit into or you’d like to try your hand at constructing your own gazebo, kits are a wonderful solution.
Our Gazebo kits are simple to assemble yourself, however, they are best installed by someone with a basic understanding of construction. You will also need enough people to lift some of the heavier gazebo parts. A kit will come ready to assemble—including pre-drilled holes and precut lumber. A kit will come ready to assemble—including pre-drilled holes and precut lumber. Easy-to-follow instructions will show you how every piece fits together for minimal hassle and detail everything you’ll need to set it up.
It’s important to make sure that your supplier can ship the kit to you, or that you can pick it up at a local dealer.
How long the kit actually takes to assemble will depend on the complexity of the components—whether any additional features were purchased—and the size of the gazebo. On average, it might take two non-carpenters anywhere from 5-10 hours to complete a basic 10’ octagon gazebo.
Deciding on a kit versus a preassembled gazebo comes down to space limitations and preference. Do you want to set up the gazebo yourself? If so, you’ll find the work is well worth the reward of assembling your very own dream gazebo.
Designing your own gazebo and seeing it in your backyard can be a dream come true, so give the decision process plenty of thought as purchasing a gazebo is a big step. Your gazebo’s manufacturer should be able to answer any and all of your questions thoroughly, and offer suggestions to help make your creative vision a reality.
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