Gazebo Buyer’s Guide
Whether you are building a custom gazebo or purchasing a prefabricated kit there is some due diligence that can be done to ensure you are making a sound buying decision. Furthermore, there are few local dealers or retailers that stock and display gazebos which makes it even more difficult because you can’t see them in person to compare features and quality differences. With over 30 years of dealership experience in the gazebo business and having sold many brands we’ve taken the time to create what we feel is a comprehensive and unbiased guide for understanding gazebos.
This guide will go over all of the essentials of purchasing a gazebo and how to distinguish the good from the bad.
Size and Shape – Gazebo kits come in a variety of sizes to suit almost any occasions. They can come as small as 7’ square and as large as 14’ x 22’. They can be purchased as an open air style (no walls) or as an enclosure (walls & door). An open air style gazebo allows you to enjoy views while providing a roof to shelter you from the elements. An enclosure provides more privacy from neighbors and onlookers and can also keep unwanted visitors out.
Gazebo kits come in octagonal, oval, square, and rectangular shapes. Square and octagonal being the smallest and rectangular being the largest.
Also, consider that with most gazebo manufacturers, the dimensions provided are usually external dimensions of the base and do not take into account roof overhangs. This is something to be mindful of when placing a gazebo structure near a home because not only do you have to consider the gazebo roof overhang you must also consider the home’s roof overhang. Always consult your dealer or manufacturer to make sure these little details aren’t overlooked.
Where to put your gazebo? – Where to put your gazebo will have a lot to do with the purpose of the gazebo. Gazebos are used for hot tubs, decorative purposes, weddings, privacy rooms, or eating areas. Finding the right location on your property to place the gazebo can be challenging as you will need a flat, level foundation to place the gazebo on.
Other considerations when picking the location in your yard might be aesthetics, ease of access for users, privacy from neighbors, and views. One way to help you visualize the gazebo as you look around for the ideal spot is to take chalk, rope, or cardboard and create the desired size and shape you are looking for and place it in those locations to make sure they are adequate.
Gazebo Options – Most kit manufacturers offer a multitude of options when purchasing a gazebo. These options can include different window types such as bay windows, sliding windows, folding windows, and even louvers. There are also many roof options like a decorative cupola or skylight allowing you to see the moon and the stars. Other available options may include screen kits for the windows, bar & stools for eating, planter boxes, flooring, or hand rails.
Gazebo Material Selection – Wood gazebos are by far the most prominent as they are the most aesthetically pleasing. These gazebos are typically stained and sealed for protection against the elements, however, they require regular upkeep every couple of years to ensure they don’t deteriorate. Pressure washing and re-staining is highly recommended every couple years to keep your gazebo looking good.
Synthetic gazebos have gained popularity in recent years and more manufacturers are looking to these materials as consumers want a low maintenance alternative to wood. Synthetic gazebos are more expensive than most wood gazebos, however, they require no staining or painting and last much longer than wood.
RECOMMENDATION: Synthetic gazebo or enclosures
Gazebo Roofs – Gazebo roofs are available in metal, wood shingle, lattice, and plastic.
- Metal – This one of the lowest maintenance, longest lasting roof materials. Most manufacturers offer an assortment of metal colors to match any décor or home.
- Wood Shingle – Wood shingle is the most aesthetically pleasing, however, it is also one of the most expensive and also requires regular maintenance.
- Lattice – Lattice roofing is porous so it will not keep out all of the elements. It will block out sunlight and provide shade. This is a relatively low cost option compared to the others.
- Plastic – Polycarbonate plastic roofing is one of the more recent materials used in gazebo roofing. Similar to metal, it is extremely low maintenance. Furthermore, plastic roofing produces less noise from rain than metal creating a more pleasant user experience.
If you live in an area with extreme weather conditions (e.g. snow or wind) then it will be important to consult your dealer or manufacturer on structural engineering specifications of the model you may be considering to make sure it is adequate for your area.
RECOMMENDATION: Plastic or Metal roof.
Gazebo Foundation & Site Prep – Below are the three most common gazebo foundations.
- Concrete Pad/Slab – A concrete pad or existing patio is the most common type of foundation prepared for a gazebo. Pouring the slab a minimum 4” thick is recommended to prevent the slab from cracking over time. Also, allowing proper cure time is important to prevent settling and sinking. Cure times for concrete can vary based on the type of concrete used, time of the year (weather & temperature), and size/thickness of slab.
- Pavers or Blocks – These can be a more cost effective option when creating a foundation and can be very decorative and aesthetically pleasing as there are a multitude of shapes, sizes, and stone types to utilize. It is important to level out the area ahead of time with sand or crushed gravel before setting the pavers to avoid sinkholes or settling. The recommended paver thickness is at least 2 inches.
- Wood or Composite Decking – Decking is also a very common foundation for a gazebo since there is a great deal of flexibility with design to meet anyone’s taste and budget. It is important to consult a licensed contractor or structural engineer when placing a gazebo on a deck due to the constant weight load.