There’s nothing quite like kicking back on your own
Patio—until the sun starts cooking you or the rain
begins to fall. But you can easily double your time in
the great outdoors with this beautiful pavilion. Just
think—no more rainouts during your next barbecue!
And with a roof, you can relax on dry, clean, comfortable, padded
furniture, which just can’t stand up to the elements on an open
patio. All in all, you can give your patio the feel and function of an
outdoor living room. But the best part is, this pavilion will add
real beauty and value to your home by dressing up that lonely,
While this design may look complicated to the novice carpenter,
don’t be intimidated. If you have the basic hand power tools, can
handle a circular saw and have a bit of remodeling experience,
you have the moxie to pull off this project. We’ll show you some
scribe-it, nail-it-up and cut-it-in-place techniques that greatly
simplify the tough spots and speed up the project. In fact, another carpenter and I built the basic structure in three leisurely
days and spent a fourth day finishing the decorative column
skirts. Give yourself and a helper about twice as
long and you may finish faster than you think.
Besides a carpenter’s apron outfitted with the basic
hand tools, all you need are a 4-ft. level, a circular saw, a
jigsaw and posthole digging tools. But consider renting a
power nailer for a day to save time and effort for
the massive job of nailing down the roof decking.
Comparing the before and after photos, you can see
that in addition to building the pavilion, we did some
major stonework and planting. Those improvements
aside, our total materials bill was roughly $4,000.
Note: A complete Materials List is available as a pdf in Additional Information below.
Figure A: Roof Assembly
This front view shows the basics of the patio roof. Make a scale drawing of the structure adapted to your own house before applying for a building permit.
Figure A is also available as a pdf in Additional Information below.
Sandwich framing and 2x6 tongue-and-groove decking construction
The design of this roof resembles traditional post-and-beam
construction, but without the headaches of working
with heavy, expensive timber and the tricky joinery
that goes with it. The posts, beams, rafters and ceiling
ties (see Figs. A and B) are built-in-place sandwiches of
common 2x4, 2x6, 2x8 and 2x10 smooth cedar lumber.
The center board of each sandwich is 2 in. narrower than
the outer ones, which lends attractive shadow lines and
architectural “heft” to the building.
This triple-thick assembly method makes
the framing members very strong, which
allows for longer spans and wider spacing
between members. This technique allows you
to overlap and lock all the pieces together for
a very strong framework, easier nailing and
tighter joints. And, by assembling beams in
layers, they’re lighter to lift. Since the rafters
are so beefy, you can space them 32 in. apart.
But those wide spans call for a roof decking
that can handle those spans. Tongue-and-groove
2x6 decking (Photo 18) fills the bill
nicely because it’s very strong, reasonably
priced and easy to install. It also looks great
on the inside. You can let butt ends of the
roof decking fall randomly throughout the
roof; it’s not important that they splice over
framing members. But the seams will look
more polished if you use a block plane to carve a little
chamfer on decking ends where two boards meet.
Figure B: Pilaster Assembly
Figure B: Pilaster Assembly
The pilaster assembly is designed to float around the piers, allowing for movement due to freezing and thawing.
The cedar base trim will last longer
and look better over time if you
hold it an inch or so above patios
to keep the wood dry.
Figure B is also available as a pdf in Additional Information below.
This flexible design is easy to customize
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Photo 1: Lay out the footprint
Assemble a rectangular template to mark the outer perimeter of the posts and beams. Use the dimensions
from your plan and tack together 2x6s and a 2x8 ridge board. Square the template using the 6-8-10 squaring
method shown. Nail 2x4s across the corners to keep the template square.
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Photo 2: Lay out the roof
Mock up the roof framing against the wall. Cut
three 4-1/2- x 9-1/4-in. plywood rectangles to simulate
the beams and ridge and use 2x6 rafter stock
to lay out the rafters. Position the beam templates by
drawing vertical lines on the siding with a 4-ft. level and
a straight 2x4, using the perimeter template as a guide
(Photo 1). Measure halfway between the templates and
draw a vertical line to mark the center of the roof. Tack
each 2x6 rafter to the siding with a couple of 16d nails
crossing at the centerline. Tack the ridge template at the
point where the rafters cross, keeping the top two corners even with the rafter tops.
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Photo 3: Dig footings
Dig 12-in. diameter
footing holes to frost
depth and pour 6-in.
concrete footings in the
bottom (Fig. B). Then
reposition the perimeter
template precisely and
recheck squareness. Nail
the lower post assemblies
together with 16d hot-dipped
galvanized nails spaced every
4 in. Drop them onto the
and brace the
posts in both
the soil every
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Toenail the assemblies to the template corners.
We give the basic measurements for the structure in
Fig. A, but don’t treat them as a cutting list, because
you’ll most likely have to adjust them to fit your own
home. Adjusting sizes is easy. First you get the beams and posts laid out and in position, then you simply measure
or scribe the rest of the elements for exact lengths or
angles before cutting them to length and installing the
parts. On your site, you may need to widen or deepen
the structure to miss windows or doors on the house or
bridge over existing
You can “grow”
the length or width
of the roof as much
as 2 ft. without
compromising structural integrity and shrink it as much
as you want. The roof lines can also be altered to miss
wall obstructions. We had to steepen the roof slope on
one side to miss the bay window you see in Photo 2. Under that window, the roof has a 7/12 slope (7 in.
of vertical drop for every 12 in. of horizontal distance),
while the other side has a 6/12 slope. At a minimum, you
should try to have a 4/12 slope if you live in a snowy
area. Ask your building inspector for minimum slopes
for your area when you pick up the building permit. But
remember that steeper pitches may call for longer rafters
and more decking. You can figure out required material
lengths when you go through the layout exercise we
show in Photos 1 and 2.
The easy way to determine the shape and slope of your
roof is to first lay out the “footprint” of the posts and
beams using the dimensions we give you (Photo 1).
Then use a 4-ft. level and a straight board to draw the
beam locations on the walls. The height of the bottom
of the beams should be at least 6 ft. 8 in. for “headbanging”
clearance (Photo 2). Tack 4-1/2 x 9-1/4 in.
beam templates cut from plywood to the wall to simulate
beams. Then lay out the roof lines with two 2x6s
tacked through the siding to be sure:
- The rafter tails have a minimum of 6 ft. 8 in. of head
- The roof has at least a 4/12 slope.
- The windows, bays or other wall projections are
spaced at least 5 in. above the rafters to leave room
This is the time to make final adjustments to the roof
slope and the post-and-beam locations. If everything seems OK, you can start digging your footings (Photo 3).
Foundation-grade posts and floating base skirts
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Photo 4: Add the slip forms
Cut and assemble two lower and upper slip forms
(used for post trim later; Fig. B), then slip
them over the posts and let them rest on the patio.
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Photo 5: Cut slots for the flashing and rafters
Trace around the beam templates and the bottom
of the ridge templates (Photo 2) and pull
them free. Mark the tops and ends of the rafters
and remove them. Snap chalk lines 3 in. above the
rafters to allow space for the decking and step flashing
(Photo 20). Set the circular saw to cut just through the
thickest part of the siding and cut out the 3-in. wide
strip, leaving the sheathing intact.
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Photo 6: Cut in the ledgerSnap chalk lines between the tops and bottoms
of the two beams and cut the ledger recess
through the siding and sheathing. Cut one end of
a 10-ft. 2x10 ledger to match the roof angle, hold it in
place, and mark and cut it at the center point. Nail the
ledger in place with two 16d galvanized casing nails into
each wall stud, except for the studs on each side of the
joist hanger position. Repeat for the other ledger half.
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Photo 7: Fasten the ledger
Bolt the ledger into the studs on each side of
each joist hanger location with three evenly
spaced 1/2 x 5-in. lag screws with washers. Nail
triple 2x10 joist hangers to the ledger at each beam location
with 1-1/2 in. galvanized joist hanger nails, then
screw through the large hanger holes with 1/2 x 2-in. lag
screws. (First drill 3/8-in. pilot holes for all lag screws.)
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Photo 8: Level and mark the beamsExtend the posts with 2x4 and 2x6 cedar so
that they project beyond the top of the ledger,
nailing every 4 in. with 16d casing nails up to the
beam height. Cut a 2x10 beam member to length and
shape the end. Rest it in the joist hanger, level it and
mark the height on the post. Cut only the post 2x6s at
that height with your circular saw. Cut the center 2x4
9 in. higher (Fig. A).
Use .60 foundation-grade treated
2x4s and 2x6s for the lower post
sections and the footings (Fig. B). You may have to special-order
them, but the added longevity
is worth the money and trouble. For
the above-ground base skirt framing
and sheathing, standard .40
treated material will work just fine.
The base skirts are designed to
“float,” that is, slide up and down
the fixed posts that they encase.
That’s especially important when
they rest on a slab or stone surface
in cold regions where frost can lift
patios when the ground freezes. The
skirts can move up and down during
freeze/thaw cycles, but the posts,
which extend below frost depth,
stay put—without lifting the entire
structure. So when you frame and
trim the pilaster base skirts, make
sure everything fits loosely.
If the posts have to penetrate a
concrete or stone surface, cut a 20-
in. square hole for digging the footings
(Photo 3). Use a circular saw
with a diamond blade and don’t
worry about making it pretty; the
skirt will cover the hole. To prevent
settling, just be sure to pack the soil well as you backfill around the posts.
Bracing as you build
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Photo 9: Add the ridge beam
Nail the outer
2x10 beams into
the post’s center
2x4 with three 10d galvanized
box nails and
into the joist hanger
with 1-1/2-in. joist
hanger nails. Plumb and
brace the posts as
shown. Center and nail
the two temporary
ridge supports, one to
the house and the other
to the post braces. Cut, place and
tack each ridge member
in position atop the
ridge supports, then
recheck the ridge for
level and center. Brace
the ridge with a couple
of 2x4s nailed to the
ridge and each beam.
Nail the ridge members
together from both
sides with 10d galvanized
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Photo 10: Scribe the rafters
Cut an approximate 25-degree angle on the
first 2x6 rafter and hold it in place against
the ridge. Use a 2x4 to scribe the exact angle
on the rafter. Use the rafter as a pattern to cut all the
2x6 rafters for that side. Repeat the process on the other
side of the ridge.
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Photo 11: Attach rafters
Lay out the rafter positions on the beams
and ridge as shown in Fig. A and toenail the
rafters into the ridge with three 16d galvanized
nails (where they’ll be hidden by the middle board
of the “sandwich”). Sight down the beams to make
sure they’re straight before
installing the rafters. Straighten if
necessary and hold them in place
with braces until the rafters are on. Nail hurricane tie-down straps to
the middle side of the rafters and to the inside of the
beams with 1-1/2-in. galvanized joist hanger nails.
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Photo 12: Construct the beams
Center and nail the two-piece middle 2x8
beam members to the 2x10s with alternating
10d nails spaced every 8 in. Then nail up
the inner 2x10s with the same nailing pattern.
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Photo 13: Cut the ceiling ties
Push the 2x6 ceiling ties against the rafters
and scribe the end cuts to match the underside
of the rafters. Number them to avoid
confusion. Cut a second 2x6 ceiling tie for each rafter
using the ones you scribed as patterns for their mates.
Tack one under each rafter with a 10d toenail and save
their mates for the other side of the sandwich later.
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Photo 14: Add rafter ties and rafter boards
Cut the middle 2x4 rafter tie boards so
they’re flush with the outside of the beams.
Nail them to the rafters and the 2x6 ceiling
ties with 10d nails spaced every 12 in. along each edge.
Cut the 2x4 rafter center boards as shown here and in
Fig. A and nail them to the center of the 2x6 rafters. Cut
the center 2x4 rafter tails so they’re just short of the horizontal
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Photo 15: Cut the curved braces
Cut two 4-ft. lengths of 2x10 and tack them
between the 2x4 rafter and ceiling tie parts to
lay out the curved decorative braces (our positions
vary because of the differing roof slopes). Mark the
lengths at the 2x4s. Bend and clamp a thin board and
trace arcs about 7-1/2 in. apart on both sides. Cut them
with a circular saw and jigsaw and nail them into place.
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Photo 16: Complete the rafters and ceiling ties
Nail on the previously cut
2x6 rafters and 2x6 ceiling ties
to the 2x4s to complete the
rafter and tie sandwiches. Place 10d casing
nails every 12 in. Toenail the rafters to
the ridge beam.
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Photo 17: Cut the rafter ends
Transfer the rafter
tail length from the
house rafter to the
outermost rafter and snap a chalk
line to that mark. Draw the 1-in.
end cut with a square and the level
cut on both sides of each rafter
using a 2- or 4-ft. level. Make the
rafter tail square cuts first with the
circular saw, then make the horizontal
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Mark the rafter tails with a chalk line.
We show a fail-safe method of positioning your posts so
they’re square and spaced perfectly from the house and
each other. The trick is to use a jig made from the framing
materials (called a “footprint template” in Photo 1).
Initially tack the posts to the jig (Photo 3, inset) and
then later to each other (Photo 9). Constantly check the
posts throughout the construction to keep everything
square and plumb and you’ll make your life easier as you
assemble the upper parts.
The ridge assembly is especially tricky to center and
support before the rafters are in place. Use the rafter
mockup (Photo 2) to determine the height of the bottom
of the ridge and tack a temporary 2x6 support against
the house to support that end of the ridge (Photo 9). The
temporary brace that supports the yard end of the ridge
will most likely be taller to accommodate any drainage
slope on the patio. Cut that support a few inches longer,
tack it in place and use a long, straight board and level
from the top of the house-mounted support to mark the
length. Then cut it to length and use existing and additional
supports to hold it in place before you set the
ridge. A couple of 2x4s nailed to the outside and a couple
of braces will keep the ridge from slipping off the
support while you’re installing the rafters. We assembled
the ridge sandwich on the ground and lifted it into place,
but it was a struggle for the two of us! It’d be much easier
to lift the boards separately and nail them together once
After the ridge is assembled, measure from the ridge
edges to the beams on each wall. To center the ridge perfectly,
adjust the ridge until the right and left measurements
are the same. Note that if you have to build an offset
roof as we did, the ridge will no longer be exactly centered,
but you still have to make it parallel to the beams.
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Photo 18: Deck the roof
Lay the first course of tongue-and-groove roof decking with the groove side facing downhill flush with
the rafter ends. Nail the roof decking into one rafter of each rafter pair with two 10d nails. Select lengths
so butt seams fall randomly throughout the ceiling. Halfway to the peak, check to make sure the boards
are running parallel to the ridge beam. If they’re not, adjust the next few courses slightly to fix the problem.
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Snap a chalk line flush with the edge of the fascia board and cut off the decking ends with a circular saw.
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Photo 19: Add the shingle molding
Nail the shingle molding onto the eave edge
flush with the top of the decking with 7d nails into
the rafters and the decking. Notch the gable-end
shingle molding around the ridge and nail it to the fascia. Cut
the end of the gable shingle molding flush with the eave
molding with a handsaw.
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Photo 20: Step flashing
Staple roofing felt onto the decking and shingle
the roof following the manufacturer’s
instructions on the wrappers. Bend and tuck
5 x 7-in. shingle tins under the siding and over the top half of
each shingle for every course against the house. It’s easiest to slide the step flashing up from
the bottom edge of the last piece of siding.
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Photo 21: Build the pilasters
Cut and assemble the tapered plywood
post-base sides using Fig. B
as a guide. Raise the top slip frame
5 ft. above the floor and hold it in place with a
2x4 block toenailed into the post. Nail the side
pieces to the top and bottom slip frames and
to the 2x2s with 7d galvanized nails spaced
every 6 in.
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Photo 22: Shingle
Shingle the pilasters by alternating overlaps
at each course and corner. Using a
pencil, lightly draw level lines about
8 in. up from the bottom of the course below for
straight shingle guidelines. Hold each shingle plumb
and scribe angles on the backside of the shingle.
Whichever wood types you decide on, think ahead and
prefinish the wood whenever possible—especially if the
roof decking sports a different finish than the framing.
We put two coats of exterior latex stain on the decking
before installing it. That saved tons of time over
painstakingly cutting in cleanly around the framing. For
the same reason, it pays to apply an exterior sealer on
the cedar after the structure is up and before installing
the decking. If you’re staining or painting standard
framing lumber, we suggest applying the finish before
erecting the structure and then touching up nail holes
and end cuts after construction. You’ll get a better, faster
paint job and the wood surfaces that are buried inside
sandwiches will be better protected from moisture.
Selecting the Wood
We used smooth dimensional cedar for all of the
exposed framing for this pavilion. However, we
decided on stained spruce tongue-and-groove
2x6s for the roof decking because cedar decking
cost nearly twice as much. You can save about
even more by using standard framing material for the
entire structure—a smart move if you intend to
paint or stain everything to match the house.
Even though the structural elements are
exposed, you don’t need flawless lumber for your
pavilion for a clean, handsome look. Simply
select the lumber with the best faces for the
edges and sides that will show. We had all the
lumber delivered (in other words, we just got random
picks from the lumberyard) and had no
problem finding enough good-looking sides and
edges. If you’re dissatisfied with the look of any
of the lumber, you can always exchange it.