There are many types of DIY roof options and tops for your gazebo. It doesn’t matter if you are working on a garden gazebo, a wooden gazebo, or another type of gazebo that you are building, you will have many choices to choose from. Gazebos have been roofed with many types of materials. The canvas gazebo, a type of canopy gazebo, is very popular and has a canvas material as the roof. There are also clay tiles, metals, slate, wood, cedar shakes, shingles and even thatch used for roofs.
Since gazebo roofs are generally small, price is usually not a deciding factor in choosing roofing. A more important consideration is the fact that a gazebo often has many converging hips-the lines where roof planes meet at an angle. Not all gazebo will be constructed in this manner, so keep that in mind also.
If you are going to have special rooking panels or pieces fabricated, you will want a roofing material that looks good and is easy to cut and install with common carpentry tools. *If you are looking for ways to waterproof your gazebo, there are many articles available on this site.
Often, outdoor gazebos have roofs that aren’t designed to keep out the rain. You might prefer a roof of lattice or slats to admit dappled sunlight when the gazebo is in use. But if you do want a waterproof roof that you can install yourself, the most likely choices are cedar or asphalt shingles.
Cedar Shakes or Shingles
For most gazebos, a roof of cedar shakes or shingles is the best choice. Shingles are smoother, while shakes have a more rustic look. Both are great for adding a natural look to a garden or woodland setting. They can be installed on “skip sheathing,” which comes is 1 x 4 or 1 x 6 boards with spaces in between. This installation looks particularly nice from inside the gazebo.
A shingle is sawed from a solid block of wood, while a shake has at least one face that has been split.
Both products come in lengths of 18 to 24 inches, while shingles are also available in 16 inch lengths. The length you choose depends on the exposure-how much of the shingle you leave exposed to the weather, as opposed to being covered by shingles above. The steeper your roof, the greater you can make the exposure. Shingles and shakes are both available either tapered or uniform along their length. In general, shakes are thicker than shingles.
The difference between a split shake and a sawn shingle is not just aesthetic. When you split wood, the pieces will separate along the cells leaving them intact. When you saw wood, you sever the cells, which structurally weakens the wood. For roof applications this means that water can wick in through the severed cells. This isn’t the end of the world, since properly installed shingles will dry out before rot can take hold. But the fact remains that shakes are more durable, especially on lower-pitched roofs, which dry more slowly.
I prefer using handsplit shakes, which have split faces and sawn backs. The result is maximum durability to the weather and a smoother look inside. If you do choose cedar shingles, you might want to consider adding a couple of courses of fancy butt shingles to your gazebo roof. The thicker end of a shingle, the butt, of these shingles come in various shapes, and their complex profiles are a great way to add some flair to your gazebo.
Asphalt shingles are another roofing choice for gazebos. They can be expensive, especially when you consider they’re designed to last for a few decades when installed on a house. You should get even more mileage using them for a gazebo roof, since it’s not subjected to the same heat extremes as a typical house roof built over an attic.
Asphalt shingles come in many colors and styles. They can easily conform to any curves you will include in your roof, and they are very easy to install. This is good use for odd, irregular shaped roofs.
I find that granules-embedded in tar surface of asphalt shingles looks better from a distance on a house rather than on the close up view you get with the typical gazebo. They also seem disproportionately large, especially on a small gazebo.
Another consideration when deciding to use asphalt shingles is that you must install them on plywood sheathing. Unless you install a ceiling in your gazebo, the underside of the plywood will be exposed.
Exposed plywood can be attractive. You can use a better grade of plywood and paint it and choosing a color that contrasts with the rafters.
Another solution is to use T- I -11 plywood siding. These plywood sheets have an attractive rough sawn face incised with grooves to look like individual boards. Used upside down as gazebo roof sheathing. T- 1-11 makes a nice ceiling treatment.
Architectural sheet metal is another roof option. Today you can find roofing panels that can be custom designed from copper, tin, steel, and aluminum.
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