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Gazebo buying guide

Gazebo buying guide

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

248 guides

Gazebos are perfect for creating a chill-out zone on the deck or in the garden. Whether you're sheltering from the rain or sun, garden gazebos provide a stylish refuge and can even be used to protect a plancha grill, BBQs or provide a framework for climbing roses. Read on to find the right gazebo for your garden.

Important features

  • Lean-to or freestanding
  • Surface area and dimensions
  • Frame material
  • Canopy weight
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Freestanding gazebos

Freestanding gazebos are usually made up of a metal framework topped with a fabric canopy. A great option for creating a dedicated space for relaxing in the garden, gazebos can be used to protect you from UV rays and rainfall (provided the top cover is waterproof). Additionally, side panels can be used for wind protection.

Available in a wide range of shapes, materials, sizes and colours, your garden gazebo should generally be selected to match the rest of your garden décor. If topped with a lattice structuregazebos can provide a great framework for climbing plants. Gazebos are typically supplied as a flatpack kit for assembly and will need to be stored somewhere warm and dry for the winter.

Lean-to gazebos 

Lean-to gazebos require a wall to lean against and are more permanent structures than freestanding models. Usually installed on a deck or patio and accessed through French windows or a sliding door, most lean-to gazebos feature a single pitch roof. These gazebos can be freestanding but are more commonly secured to the wall for extra support.

Pop up gazebos 

Often referred to as marquees, pop up gazebos are commonly brought out for picnics or used as temporary market stalls. Pretty basic in terms of design, pop up gazebos can be folded down a bit like an umbrella! This means they can be stored away whenever they're not in use.

Gazebo sizes

The size of a garden gazebo is measured in surface area (length multiplied by width). It's important to pay close attention to the size of each model before purchase and to keep your requirements in mind. Calculate the space required for all of the equipment you are likely to use under the gazebo (garden dining setshammocksplancha grills, barbecues etc.) and choose your gazebo accordingly. It's worth noting that standard gazebos rarely measure over 3m in height.

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Freestanding gazebos

Most of the time, garden gazebo frames are made of metal but the type of metal and metal treatments used does vary.

Powder-coated steel

A moderately heavy and inexpensive material, powder-coated steel has been covered with a layer of epoxy resin for enhanced protection against rust. The only downside to this material is that if scratched, moisture may be allowed to come into contact with the metal itself which will eventually cause rust to develop.


Aluminium oxidises very readily which is actually a good thing as the aluminium oxide produced is much tougher than the aluminium itself making the material highly rust-resistant. Aluminium also lends itself perfectly to lightweight and streamlined designs. However, aluminium can start to scuff and change colour over time.

Wrought iron 

Wrought iron is strong and hard-wearing but must be coated with a rust inhibitor. Unlike a lot of metals, it can easily be repainted. The weight of this material means it stands firmly in place and while you will still have to secure a wrought iron gazebo, it will cope better with strong winds.


Resin is a lightweight, strong and UV-resistant material. Resin structures are usually made up of a steel framework covered with a rust resistant coating. These gazebos are modern in style and offer good value for money. Nonetheless, resin will fade over time.


The quality of a particular wood depends on its species and how it has been treated. Heat-treated wood (by autoclave or another thermal process) does not require the application of an insecticidal or fungicidal treatment. 

Exotic woods like teak and eucalyptus are rot-proof but should be oiled to help them retain their colour. They are also naturally resistant to fungi and insects. Other woods, like softwoods and hardwoods, require specific treatments including stainsvarnishes or paint.

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Gazebo canopies are available in both polyethylene and polyester. The material type and weight will determine how waterproof the canopy cover is.


Polyethylene is usually used for low-end gazebos. The higher the grams per square metre (gr/m²) the greater the canopy quality, strength and waterproofness. As a general rule, this should start at around 100 gr/m².


Polyester is of a better quality than polyethylene but it is also more expensive. The quality of the material also relates to the density of the fabric which is also given in grams per square metre (gr/m²). Polyester is a water-repellent material that offers a high degree of impermeability. It can weigh anything from 140 gr/m² to over 200 gr/m². However, a weight of around 160/180 gr/m² will generally suffice.

Gazebo curtains 

Gazebo curtains usually weigh less than the canopy cover as they are not subject to the same weather conditions but they are usually made of the same material.

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Gazebo curtains

The materials you choose will, in part, determine the style of your gazebo. Wrought iron is perfect for a romantic or family-friendly vibe while aluminium, with its sleek, glossy shapes, creates a more modern feel.

Powder-coated steel gazebos are available in all styles, from the most simple designs to more complex structures. Resin gazebos are often used as part of a contemporary décor alongside a resin garden dining set and furniture with a matching colour scheme.

Gazebos can also be decorated using things like pendant lightsoutdoor lighting and climbing plants – wrought iron gazebos in particular look fantastic with a few accessories! Whether you want to move with the trends or go classic with your choices is entirely your choice.

Just make sure to pick something that matches the rest of your garden furniture!
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Outdoor pendant lights

Pergolas and gazebos serve similar functions in that they both offer shelter from the sun. Whether topped with plants, reed roofs, canopies or tiles, these sheltered structures can provide shade at any time of the day. However, there are a few important differences between the two. 


The name 'pergola' comes from the Italian 'pergula'. These solid structures come from the city of the same name and traditionally feature brick or concrete pillars. Those found in the garden are usually held up by wooden pillars with a wooden or wrought iron lattice roof

The main purpose of pergolas is to provide shade. The top framework is often covered with climbing plants, a canopy cover or a reed roof.


Gazebos are lightweight structures and usually smaller than pergolas. Most commonly made of wood, wrought iron or aluminium with a fabric cover, these structures are not usually topped with climbing plants.

They tend to be freestanding and are more practical than decorative in nature. These structures are easy to install and some can be quite affordable.

Wooden gazebos must be treated regularly. Wood is a porous material that should be treated against various external threats. Even if your wooden gazebo has been treated during the manufacturing process, it will be necessary to reapply anti-UV and fungicide products on a regular basis. If the wood is badly damaged, a protective stain can be applied. It is best to opt for a microporous paint in order to let the wood breathe.

Wrought iron can be routinely cared for using soap and washing up liquid that can be applied using a dish cloth. Remember: iron is likely to corrode so you must apply an anti-rust treatment to prevent corrosion from setting in.

Aluminium gazebos offer a long service life and just need to be cleaned using a bit of soap and water. Please note that it is not advisable to use a scouring sponge on aluminium as you run the risk of scratching the material.

Gazebos are usually very easy to dismantle. In fact, it is recommended that you disassemble and store these structures over the winter months.

With this in mind, you will not usually require planning permission for a gazebo. However, for sturdier models, you may need to contact your local authority for permission; this applies particularly to lean-to models. The criteria for permission will relate to how far the structure is from your home as well as its overall height.

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Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 248 guides

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

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