How to turn a pergola into a simple gazebo.
We decided to turn a neglected pergola in the corner of the garden into a simple gazebo, in order to create an ‘outside room.’
It has a wonderful view of the garden.
But it was at the other side of the garden, so we had to take cushions, books, etc out there every time we used it. As a pergola doesn’t have a weatherproof roof, we couldn’t leave much out there.
It meant we hardly ever sat there. So we wanted all-weather ‘outside room’. Without spending much money.
I fell in love with corrugated iron sheds when we were in Australia. My brother-in-law, Richard, has just moved there,. He was told that ‘you can’t consider yourself an Australian man until you can work with corrugated iron.’
So he offered to add a corrugated iron roof to our pergola to turn it into a gazebo (a gazebo is a pergola with a roof. It can be a tent or permanent).
Can you use the original pergola?
Richard decided to use the original pergola as a structure for the gazebo. There were struts across the roof, sticking out. He removed these and reworked them into a simple rectangular frame, to which the corrugated iron could be screwed.
However, that will depend on what condition the wood is in. Although our pergola is probably more than 20 years old (it was here when we bought the house), it’s made of cedar, so is long-lasting (and nicely weathered). Richard thought it was worth re-using.
Now for the corrugated iron roof
I’d originally thought of buying recycled corrugated iron, but couldn’t find any I liked. And when I photographed garden maker Posy Gentles’ shed, she’d used a curved new corrugated iron for the roof. It almost disappears, as you can see from the photograph below.
We ordered it from Southern Sheeting. You need to measure the width and length of the roof, and how high you want it to be. Don’t forget to take any overhang into account. They delivered 5 sheets cut to order. We gave them 2-3 weeks notice.
The next stage
Richard then added a central beam to support the roof, at the top of the curve. He bought a strong new piece of wood for this.
The important thing is getting the first piece of corrugated iron aligned. Corrugated iron fits by overlapping one and a half corrugations, so each piece rests on the previous piece.
He used self-tapping screws with an electric screwdriver, which means that he didn’t have to drill holes for them.
How long did it take?
The work took Richard 2-3 days to complete. If you’d worked in curved corrugated iron before, it might have taken a little less time.
The curved sheeting for the roof of this simple gazebo cost around £300. If you were costing labour, too, you’d need to add the 2-3 days work (thank you, Richard!).
Screws, brackets and the new wood cost around £60. Richard used a circular saw to cut the wood, as well as the electric screwdriver. The corrugated iron screws came with the corrugated iron, so you order those from the supplier.
How easy is it?
Richard describes himself as ‘handy’ rather than an ‘expert DIYer’, having built a corrugated iron structure in Australia. He learned how to work with corrugated iron from YouTube.
The end result….
We’ve eaten outside every night since. It has rained – extensively – and our cushions stayed dry. However, it really is a simple gazebo. So we haven’t put guttering on. Where the rain falls on the soil, it’s absorbed. But on one side of the gazebo, the rain falls on the stone floor. That splashes quite a bit, so that side does get a bit wet.
So if you’re making a simple gazebo, I’d advise thinking about where the rain is going to fall. Make suree that the overhang on both sides goes onto earth, rather than splashing onto stone. I’ve noticed that restaurants edge their pavement seating areas with pots and troughs – I wonder if this is to absorb water dripping from canopies rather than splashing their customers? I plan some pots and troughs…more styling ahead…
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