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The best gazebos for your outdoor space

The best gazebos for your outdoor space
  • A free-standing gazebo can offer shade and protection from the elements while you enjoy your outdoor space.
  • If you don't want to hire an expensive contractor, you'll need a gazebo kit that requires basic tools and minimal labor so you can easily assemble with the help of family and friends.
  • For a durable, insect-proof backyard gazebo, the Sojag Dakota Aluminum Gazebo with Steel Roof Panels is our overall best choice.

The research for this buying guide began months ago when I was asked to write a grant seeking funding to purchase a garden gazebo kit for a community park. A local garden club was looking for a pre-fabricated gazebo that volunteers could put together with the help of the municipality to provide a resting spot and some shade in a small park. That sent me on a search and question tour of gazebos near my home. I talked to park managers, neighbors, contractors, and strangers to absorb their expertise and experiences.

If you're planning to buy a gazebo you can assemble yourself or with the help of family and friends, you'll want something that comes with all the tools and materials, save for extra accessories like a bench or curtains which you'd have to buy separately.

What to look for when buying a gazebo

Beyond picking out the "pretty one that matches our home," here are five things you should consider before purchasing a gazebo.

  1. Where will the gazebo be located? The number one rule is that the location must be flat. The foundation can be an established patio or deck, a newly-installed foundation pad, or on a lawn.
  2. Do you need a building permit? To save yourself a headache, always check with your local building codes office to ensure that adding a gazebo is permissible. Most structures that are less than 100-square-feet do not require permits, but you should also check with your local utility company if you are digging a foundation so you can avoid water, sewer, and electrical lines.
  3. What size of gazebo do I need? Always measure carefully before you purchase a gazebo kit. Most kits measurements state the interior floor area. Allow at least an additional one foot of clearance around every side to accommodate roofing overhangs. Consider the size and shape if you plan to cover a hot tub, picnic table, outdoor seating, or cooking areas.
  4. Do you plan to assemble the kit yourself? While most kits can be assembled by someone with basic home repair skills, others require more knowledge. Almost every kit will require at least two people when it is time to raise the structure and erect the roof.
  5. Does the gazebo fit your needs? If you desire more privacy, look for a gazebo with privacy walls or curtains. For insect control, screening on all sides is imperative. If you desire complete protection from the weather, metal or shingle roof will provide more shelter than a fabric roof.

While doing my research, I saw dozens of gazebos in backyards and learned the benefits and downfalls of each one. Knowing that there's no one type of gazebo that meets the needs of every homeowner, we've taken price, durability, and style in mind to find the five best gazebos for your outdoor living space. I've also tested several of our top choices with my family.

I'm also happy to report that the garden club received the grant and a group of volunteers assembled a Handy Home San Marino Round Gazebo with accessories over a weekend. It's a charming addition to the park and a welcome spot for a break.

Here are the best gazebos you can buy:

The best gazebo overall

The best gazebo overall
Home Depot
The Sojag Dakota Aluminum Gazebo with Steel Roof Panels provides durable all-weather protection and includes insect netting at a reasonable price.

If you're looking for a garden gazebo that will last more than one season, then the Sojag Dakota Aluminum Gazebo with Steel Roof Panels is the perfect buy.

I live in a state prone to hurricanes so I wanted a gazebo with a hard roof. Canvas roofs are gone in a flash when high winds hit. The steel roof provides total shade and protection from the elements. It's also easy to clean with just a hose and a power washer. The heavy-duty aluminum frame and galvanized steel roof are powder-coated to prevent rust. The dark brown color reflects nature and is resistant to fading.

Our area is also mosquito prone so netting during the summer is also a must. The Dakota includes the surrounding netting that runs on a two-track system. The second track can be used to add privacy curtains that can be purchased separately.

The 10 x 12-foot size is perfect for my family and accommodates a small dining table and several chairs. The roof peaks at 9 feet and the lower edges measure 6.4 feet. There's even a hook at the interior of the roof to hang a fan or light fixture if you want. The style is also available in a smaller 10 x 10-ft gazebo and 6 x 8-ft model with shelves to double as a grilling station.

We set ours up on a concrete pad and bolted the legs to the concrete. Assembly was simple enough with basic tools. It does take a bit longer than you'd think and you need at least two people (though three is better) who can lift the roof into place. After more than 14 months, the gazebo looks good as new and we have enjoyed using it nearly every week.

Pros: Heavy-duty, solid roof, mosquito netting included, one-year warranty, meets CPAI-84 flame-resistant international safety standards

Cons: Assembly directions could be clearer, requires more than two people for final assembly


The best fabric-topped gazebo

The best fabric-topped gazebo
Home Depot
The vented top and rain-resistant fabric paired with a sturdy steel frame make the Sunjoy Rosedale Bamboo Steel Frame Gazebo a great choice.

If you love the idea of sitting under an airy fabric-topped gazebo while listening to the soothing water bubbling in your koi pond, then the Sunjoy Rosedale Bamboo Steel Frame Gazebo is for you.

The rain-resistant beige canopy provides more shade than an umbrella and more resistance to wind and weather. The 10 x 10-foot gazebo has a vented top to help disperse unwanted wind bursts and increase airflow. It sits on a powder-coated two-tone bronze rust-resistant steel frame shaped like bamboo canes. The canopy rises to 9.9 feet with an entrance clearance of 6.8 feet. While no side curtains or netting are included, they can be purchased separately and hung from the side support rods.

The gazebo comes with stakes that can be used to anchor it to the ground. Or, you can purchase bolts to secure it to a concrete pad or outdoor deck. We found the kit easy to assemble and can even be a one-person job. The canopy should be removed if you experience snow in the winter or if heavy winds are predicted.

Pros: Easy to assemble, excellent customer service helpline, one-year warranty, stylish, affordable, sturdy

Cons: Canopy is not waterproof, some damage to metal components can occur during shipping, side curtains and netting need to be purchased separately


The best wood-framed gazebo

The best wood-framed gazebo
Home Depot
If you love the look of wood, the natural cedar posts of the Sunjoy Archwood Cedar-Framed Steel Top Gazebo will weather to a beautiful silvery-gray and last for years to come.

While I live in an urban suburb now, I grew up on a farm. So when my family wanted to add a gazebo to the farm, I suggested the Sunjoy Archwood Cedar-Framed Steel Top Gazebo.

The natural cedar frame and the powder-coated black steel roof are a perfect complement to the area and the 10 x 10-ft size easily accommodates a picnic table and leaves room for a kids' table. With a center interior height of more than 8.5 feet and an entrance clearance of 6.5 feet, the shelter feels spacious.

We assembled the gazebo on a concrete pad. Luckily, everyone was very handy with tools because some of the instructions were a bit challenging to understand if you've never built anything before. If you're a novice, take the time to lay out all of the pieces and be sure you have plenty of hands-on-deck to help lift and hold things in place.

The durable materials are perfect for an area that gets snow because it can bear up to 500 pounds of weight. And the 10-foot-tall two-tier roof provides airflow but keeps the interior protected from the rain.

Once the gazebo was complete, we added a battery-powered light to the center hook and enjoyed a great evening together. Privacy curtains, netting, and light kits are not included but can be added later.

Pros: Very sturdy, durable materials, weather-proof roof, natural cedar is insect and weather-resistant

Cons: Very heavy to assemble, instructions are not well-written


The best wooden build-in-place gazebo

The best wooden build-in-place gazebo
The Home Depot
If you want a permanent and traditional gazebo, the Handy Home San Marino 10-ft. Round Gazebo is the perfect addition.

When the funding came in for our community park gazebo, we chose the Handy Home San Marino Round Gazebo for a very traditional, Southern-inspired shelter. It's the perfect size to sit and catch your breath, read a book, or just grab a little shade. The natural cedar will weather beautifully, but you can stain or paint it in your favorite colors.

For our project, we purchased some additional pieces like the flooring base, two-tier roof, and window boxes to make construction easier and to add some detailing. While the kit includes all nails and screws needed to assemble the center gazebo, you'll need to purchase shingles, additional cedar for interior benches and the steps, foundation anchors, and stain or paint, if desired.

Each piece of the gazebo is pre-cut so no special tools or carpentry skills were needed — just a bit of organization and planning so that our group of volunteers could assemble quickly and correctly.

We also chose the kit because it comes with a 15-year limited warranty, commercial-grade hardware, and is made from durable western cedar.

Pros: Pre-cut western cedar components, commercial-grade hardware, charming design, additional components available, 15-year warranty

Cons: Basic kit does not include shingles, stain or paint, or extra details


The best budget gazebo

The best budget gazebo
If you need quick protection from the sun and pesky insects, the Lauderhill Steel Patio Gazebo with Screens can meet your needs without breaking the budget.

A friend recently moved to a rental home and knew her family would only be there for 12 to 18-months. Unfortunately, there wasn't much shade in the backyard and she needed shade for her children's play space. We found the Lauderhill Steel Patio Gazebo with Screens and it has been ideal. For less than $350, her kids have shade and protection from insects in an easy-to-assemble shelter.

The 12 x 10-foot canopy is made from weather-resistant polyester fabric and comes with mosquito netting curtains that zip closed to keep out insects. The powder-coated black steel frame is durable but light-weight enough to put up and take down easily. The posts can be anchored to the ground with the included stakes or you can purchase bolts if you wish to make the structure more permanent on a concrete pad or deck.

The two-tiered canopy allows for airflow and is rated to accommodate winds up to 18-miles per hour. The size is perfect for playtime but still large enough for an adult gathering since the entrance height is around 6.6 feet and rises to near 10-feet in the center. While it is not wired for electrical lights, there is a hook in the center to support a battery-powered or candle-lit chandelier.

Since the gazebo is lightweight (about 100 pounds), we were able to assemble it in about two hours and it was ready to go. With three colors to choose from—beige, dark brown, or grey—you're sure to find the perfect gazebo for your backyard.

Pros: Includes canopy and matching mosquito net curtains, easy to assemble, rust-resistant frame, three colors available.

Cons: Canopy is not weatherproof, does not hold up well in high winds.