Types of Wood for Your Gazebo

There are many types of wood used in making gazebos. It is very important to have a good understanding about each type of wood available. Find facts and information on all types of wood and how each is used. The frame and structure, as well as railings can all be made of durable types of wood. A garden gazebo, or a wooden gazebo is usually made of all wood with a roof of a permanent nature. Other types of gazebos, such as a canvas gazebo, or a canopy gazebo has a canopy for the roof, but could also have a wooden frame, floor, and possibly railings. It is important to choose the right gazebo for your yard and garden area.

"Wooden Gazebo with Cupola"

Wooden Gazebo with a Cupola

There are several things to think about when choosing wood for your gazebo. For starters, look at what’s available in your area. Here are some questions to help get you find the right type of wood for your gazebo project.

You may also be building the foundation for a canopy gazebo. In this case you would build the framework and add your canopy on last. How do those prices compare with other choices? You may get a better deal on local or regional types of wood that don’t have to be shipped across the country.

What kind of wood finish will you use? Will you paint your gazebo? Stain it? Leave it natural? You can paint virtually any wood you would use to build a gazebo, but there’s no point in paying a premium for a beautiful wood if you only intend to cover it with paint. Also, consider that some woods look and perform better when left to weather naturally.

Most likely, your gazebo will be built from several species of wood. For example, for the posts and floor framing you might choose pressure-treated, southern pine for strength, economy, and to protect them from wood-eating termites and fungi. The floor might be mahogany tongue-and-groove porch flooring, chosen for its durability and dimensional stability.

"Canopy Gazebo"

Canopy Gazebo

Railings and trim boards might be redwood or cedar-woods that weather beautifully. In addition, if you purchase fancy brackets or finials, they may well be made of poplar, a wood that produces crisp details when turned or shaped by machines. You should also take into consideration the types and grades of wood, so that you can choose the best ones for your needs.


Wood Density

The real key to how ell wood stands up to extremes of wet and dry weather is density. Woods that are heavy and strong have more densely packed cells. When weather is wet or humid, moisture soaks into the cut ends of the cells, the grain, and cause them to swell. The denser the wood, the less space there is to accommodate this swelling.

As a result, woods that are dense, heavy, and strong will swell and shrink more in response to moisture than lightweight woods that are structurally weaker. Denser woods are also more likely to split, cup, and twist in response to moisture changes.

"Gazebo made of Hardwood"

Gazebo made of Hardwood

Hardwoodssuch as oak, cherry, and walnut are denser than softwoods. Hardwoods are rarely used in outdoor construction because they are so dense you can’t even drive a nail into them without bending it. And hardwoods are also quite expensive.

Among the softwoods, there is a wide range of density, One of the strongest woods that can be easily nailed, Douglas fir is an excellent choice for load-bearing jobs such as floor joists. But Douglas fir is so dense it needs to be incised along its surfaces to accept pressure treatment.

Since the joist spans in a gazebo will probably be short, the strength of the framing lumber is not likely to be a big factor in your choice. In most cases, it’s most cost-effective to build the hidden floor frame from whatever pressure-treated wood is available in your area.

Pressure-treated Wood
Pressure treatment makes wood very rot resistant, but it doesn’t make the wood more weather resistant. So many people use pressure treated wood for their decks, they must not understand this basic fact. When a piece of pine goes through the treatment it is still a piece of pine. A species that is prone to crack, splinter, and twist in response to humidity changes. Some companies have added a water repellent to the treatment mix to try to counter the effect. It is advised to put a regularly applied coat of deck preservative onto any exposed treated wood.

If you use pressure treated wood for posts in the ground, be sure to get wood that is rated for ground contact. This type of wood will have the treatment going further into the wood than the normal depth of treatment.

"Gazebos Are Great Over Hot Tubs"

Gazebos are great over hot tubs

Types of Outdoor Woods for a Gazebo

Woods that are most prized for outdoor building are lightweight species that produce rot-resistant heartwood. For lumber produced in North America, this most often means redwood or western red cedar. Other woods may be available regionally, such as Cypress in the southern parts of the United States.

Redwood can be quite expensive since it only grows along the California coast. It’s strong enough to use for framing, such as the floor joist of your gazebos, but it’s unlikely you’ll want to pay a premium price for parts of your gazebo such as flooring, rails and posts.

If you plan to use a piece of redwood lumber near the ground, look for the word Heart in its grade stamp. This means that the piece consists of all heartwood. If the stamp only has “Clear” that means it has no knots but is unsuitable for use near the ground.

Red Cedar
To avoid confusion when discussing red cedar, note that there are two types: eastern red cedar and western red cedar. Eastern red cedar, which grows throughout most of the eastern half of the United States, has heartwood that is extremely rot resistant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t grow to diameters big enough for making lumber and is mostly used as fence posts. However, eastern red cedar has always been the wood of choice for builders of rustic garden furniture and gazebos.

Western Red Cedar and red cedar are both less dense than redwood, making cedar more stable and weather resistant than redwood but not as strong. Cedar is used because of its stability with moisture changes and is popular for use as decking. Keep in mind that all wood if much stronger when used in compression (with the grain running vertically, as in a post) than it is in tension (horizontally). This means that cedar post will be more than strong enough to support your gazebo roof if you choose to use them. Cedar shingles are also made of western red cedar.

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