Selecting a Gazebo for Your Deck

If you’re already considering building a deck, you might want to add a gazebo to your design. Not only are gazebos an attractive feature for the deck, they provide shelter, shade, and a place to stage seating or eating areas. Depending on the size and location, they can become a lounging area, a respite from the elements, or even an outdoor kitchen.

Gazebos and pergolas have always been popular places to hold celebrations, dinners, weddings, receptions, and to host music and small family gatherings. They’re easily lit, offer protection from the elements, and enhance the outdoor experience. They can be intimate and cozy, or open and inclusive of large crowds. With the proper furniture, shading, and accessories they can change personality and function in a matter of hours. Whether they’re permanent, mobile, or prefab, they’re one of the best investments a deck owner can make.

What is a Gazebo?

Gazebos, sometimes referred to as a pergola, is a free standing structure with a flat, angled, or peaked roof. Traditionally gazebos had round roofs, but now they can range in shape from round, square, or a polygon (6 or 8 sides). Gazebos always have a closed roof designed to shed rain, water, snow. It can be open on all sides, or on only a few. Gazebos can be elaborate structures – reminiscent of a victorian house, or simple and minimalistic. Pergolas are like Gazebos, only they have a slatted or open roof – sometimes just the beams of the structure, or beams covered with a tarp or cloth covering.

A deck pergola with open roof. Photo: Courtesy of Gaberella. Nationwide Pergola, Arbor, and Gazebo sales

Adding the Gazebo

The best time to add a gazebo to your deck is during the initial build. You’ll save money, be able to incorporate it into the design, and match the materials better. But if you already have a deck, you can still add a gazebo.

You have three options when it comes to adding the structure to the deck:

  • Hire a contractor to build it
  • Build it yourself
  • Purchase a pre-fabricated model from a home improvement or garden store

Like everything in life, each has its potential advantages and disadvantages, depending on your budget, tastes, and needs.

Unless you’re handy with tools and are an accomplished DIY’er, a contractor is most likely to be able to deliver the sturdy and beautiful design you want. The downside is you’ll pay more for the labor and expertise than if you did it yourself.

If you build it yourself, with your spouse, or with a few of your closest and best carpenter friends, you’ll still have to spend money, time, and effort on the preparation and construction. Prefab models, available online and at most big-box stores, will save you money, time, and effort, but you’ll be limited to the designs, colors, materials, and dimensions available. However, most prefab models can be installed in a matter of hours, or a day. And, you can take them down fairly easily if you decide you don’t like it. Another advantage to a prefab pergola or gazebo is you can move them into your yard or other area to expand your entertaining area if you like.

What Size Pergola Should I Build/Buy?

Most gazebos and pergolas come in standard sizes, but you can customize them to fit your deck if you build. Prefab pergolas generally come in the most popular sizes, so you might be limited. The most important thing to remember is that you need a structure that fits your deck. Too small and you’ll have trouble putting your furniture under it. Too big and it will overwhelm your deck and look disproportionate.

Experts suggest:

  • Small to Medium Sized Decks: Around 12X16 feet
  • Large Decks: Around 16X24 feet
  • Backyard Free Standing Pergola: 12X16 or 16X20
  • Small Patio: Around 12X12 feet

What Do I Look for in a Gazebo or Pergola?

We go into more detail about what to look for when buying, building, or designing a gazebo in our free ebook, Gazebos and Pergolas.

What is important to consider is your lifestyle:

  • Do you or will you be entertaining a lot or a little? Will you have large groups (10 or more) or family only?
  • How much seating do you have? Do you want all the seating to be enclosed within the gazebo?
  • Do you want 100% sun and element protection (rain and snow)?
  • How much time do you want to spend on maintenance? This will include sealing the structure if its wood, or painting and power washing if its metal.
  • Do you want a retractable covering (percola) or a permanent roof (gazebo)?
  • What is your budget? Gazebos and pergolas can cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Take your time and spend time online, and at your local retailers and home supply stores to get a feel for the quality, size, and type of gazebos and pergolas. Many retailers ship around the country, so your options aren’t limited to just what your local shopping provides. What else would you like to know about gazebos? Let us know! Leave a comment, or write us!