Take the time to build a strong foundation and you'll enjoy your Summerwood gazebo for years to come.
In this section, you will find detailed information about gazebo foundations - from the various options available for stabilizing or leveling the base of your structure, to tips on how the components of your gazebo foundation should be laid out. How long it takes to create your foundation will depend on the size of your structure and the type of foundation you choose.
If the location of your new Summerwood gazebo is on soft, sloped, or uneven ground, do not worry. This section will show you how to build a solid foundation so that your structure is level and sturdy regardless of the type of ground it rests on.
There are a number of effective ways to create a level foundation for your gazebo:
Level of Difficulty: Simple
Patio stones are the simplest method for supporting a wooden floor. They provide an effective foundation when the ground is relatively level (ie within 12" from side to side or front to back) and the structure is not too large (less than 14ft.). If your gazebo is larger than 14ft. you may want to consider one of the other foundation options. Patio stones are readily available at your local building supplier and are usually reasonably priced.
A Word About Patio Stones
- In order to use patio stones, your gazebo must have a floor (included with your gazebo kit package).
- Patio stones are not shipped with your kit.
Patio stone layout shown above.
Patio stones are shown under a floor.
Patio Stones & Your Gazebo
Here's what you need to know when laying the foundation for your Summerwood floor using patio stones:
Lay out your patio stone foundation proportionately to the floor frame
ideal placement of patio stones underneath the floor.
- Place one stone under each gazebo upright and one or two stones in the center of the floor.
- Your patio stones should not extend past the perimeter of your floor, as this will affect the installation of the skirting. Ensure that each patio stone is placed "squarely" underneath the runners.
The next step is to level your entire floor using shims. Any material that can be used to level your floor on patio stones are called shims. They can be made of wood or even metal. Cedar shims (cedar shingles) are a popular choice because they are durable, long lasting and resist decay. You will likely have some wood scraps lying around that can be used to shim your shed floor.
Cedar shingles are used to shim the gazebo floor and make it level.
- No matter the size of your gazebo floor ensure that your patio stones are positioned underneath each gazebo upright.
What We Recommend
When using patio stones to level your gazebo foundation, we suggest the following (depending on the size of your structure, the recommendations below may be adjusted accordingly):
To guard against a sinking floor, use 2" x 12" x 24" (or 24" x 24") patio stones to distribute your gazebo foundation evenly across a large surface area.
a 2 x 12 x 24 patio stone is shown
- You may want to consider the option of adding an even layer of crushed stone underneath your patio stones. This can help with drainage and achieve a more level ground for your foundation.
- We provide diagrams and instructions to help you prepare a site for your new gazebo and patio stone foundation. Click here to access this information.
Level of Difficulty: Simple
Structurally a very strong foundation option, cinder blocks are another easy way to level your gazebo floor. They can be purchased from your local building supplier and may be used to level a gazebo on a moderately steep slope.
A Word About Cinder Blocks
Cinder blocks are not included in your kit.
cinder blocks may be used if the ground slopes considerably
Cinder Blocks & Your Gazebo
Here's what you need to know when laying the foundation for your Summerwood gazebo floor using cinder blocks:
- Cinder blocks generally have dimensions of 8" x 16". While they provide uncompromising strength, their size and weight may cause your gaebo to sink if the ground below it is soft. Use multiples of cinder blocks and overlapping rows to guard against any sinking.
typical cinder block
What We Recommend
When using cinder blocks for your gazebo foundation, we suggest the following (depending on the size of your structure, the recommendations below may be adjusted accordingly):
- Attach a skirt to your structure to hide the cinder block foundation. We provide one row of skirting which you can use to cover the foundation underneath. Skirting can also help to keep pesky critters out from the bottom of your gazebo. If you'd like more rows of skirting (because your structure is elevated), they can be purchased when you place your order.
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Super spikes are generally used in situations where one end of your gazebo needs to be raised to provide a level foundation and you do not want to go through the trouble of pouring footings. In some instances, you may want to elevate the floor of your Summerwood gazebo; super spikes enable you to do this.
Before you visit your local building supply store to purchase super spikes, check your jurisdiction's building codes for rules and regulations about using them (there may be some special rules you'll have to consider).
A Word About Super Spikes
- Super spikes should not be used if your area is prone to frost conditions. Typically, super spikes are used in warm climates, which do not experience frost.
- Super spikes are not included with your kit.
Typical installation of super spikes.
What We Recommend
When using super spikes for your gazebo foundation, we suggest the following (depending on the size of your structure, the recommendations below may be adjusted accordingly):
- If your gazebo is elevated, you can attach a skirt, lattice (available at your local hardware store), or stairs to hide your foundation and super spikes. If you'd like material to build a set of stairs, let us know at the time of your purchase and we'll provide it.
- Six inches of skirting is included with your kit. If you require more, please let us know at the time of your purchase.
Take advantage of a steep slope by adding stairs.
A lattice skirt finishes off the base nicely.
Level of Difficulty: More Challenging
Sonotube, also known as concrete footings, are used in situations where a gazebo needs to be raised, the ground is very uneven, or a building permit is required (i.e. in some areas a building permit is required if the area of the structure exceeds 110 square feet). Check your jurisdiction's building codes for rules and regulations.
Concrete footings can be expensive to install, as they must be used for your entire gazebo. However, they provide the necessary support for structures that are, for example, situated on a steep slope.
A Word About Sonotube/Concrete Footings
- Concrete footings are not included in your kit.
- If you prefer some experienced help when pouring your concrete footings, simply tell us. We are happy to recommend contractors in your area.
An example of what concrete footings look like installed on a large gazebo.
Concrete Footings & Your Gazebo
Here's what you need to know when laying the gazebo foundation for your Summerwood floor using concrete footings:
- Before you begin digging holes for your concrete footings, it is very important to check with your local area's building codes for rules and regulations. You can also contract the services of an experienced building inspector to help you determine the appropriate size and depth of your concrete footings, before and after they have been installed.
- Contact your local utility company to check if you will be digging near underground cables or gas lines.
- Once you have confirmed the legal size and depth of your concrete footings, you can dig the holes by hand with a digger or ask a friend to help. Your local hardware store will be able to offer other digging suggestions that work optimally in your area.
- When your holes are complete, you can either pour concrete directly into the holes and set your structural beams onto the concrete later, or intersperse tubes in the ground and pour concrete until it is level. Later, the tubes will be cut and your structure affixed to the tubes.
- Concrete footings should generally be 10 inches in diameter and drilled well below the frost line. The positioning of your concrete footings should be similar to the layout for patio stones (Link to Patio Stones-Foundations). We can provide that to you when you purchase a kit from us. Please note that this does not apply to plans purchases.
Ensure that your holes are set in from the edge of your gazebo uprights so that the outside footings bisect the midpoint of the uprights. This makes it easier for you to attach a skirt to your frame once the gazebo is assembled.
Proper level is achieved with plastic underneath the upright.
- When your holes are complete - for most gazebo styles, you will need to prepare nine 10-inch holes - insert your sonotubes in all nine holes.
- Fill the bottom of each sonotube with crushed stone, and then rebar into the ground. Next, pour your concrete until it is level with the tops of your sonotubes.
- Angle irons are used to secure your gazebo uprights to each sonotube. We do not recommend that you set your brackets in concrete as this will help make the gazebo assembly process easier.
- Your gazebo uprights are then cut out and small blocks of plastic are used underneath to help achieve the proper level.
- Let your concrete footings set thoroughly and properly.
What We Recommend
When using sonotube/concrete footings for your gazebo foundation, we suggest the following (depending on the size of your structure, the recommendations below may be adjusted accordingly):
- We recommend hiring an experienced contractor who is also aware of local regulations and will ensure that your structure complies with regional building codes.
- In some situations, it may be necessary to use beams in lieu of runners to comply with regional building codes.
- Set your footings 6" from the end of the beam and sides
Level of Difficulty: Elaborate
Concrete pads provide a concrete base onto which your gazebo walls can be mounted. This foundation option is generally used if you are:
- Using a hot tub that cannot be supported by a wooden floor.
- Housing pool equipment (ie heater, filter, pump).
- Installing a plumbing system.
Concrete pads are also used for larger buildings that may require a permanent foundation.
An example of a premanent gazebo foundation
For a more decorative look, install flagstone on your concrete pad. It is usually made of natural materials such as limestone, slate or sandstone, flagstone is a popular choice for people who want a textured or colored gazebo floor to go with their garden setting or rustic backyard look. Most retailers sell flagstone by the square foot
A Word About Concrete Pads
- Concrete pads are an expensive foundation option and we recommend that you enlist the services of an experienced contractor who is aware of local regulations and will ensure that your structure complies with regional building codes.
- Pouring a concrete pad means you have the option of not having a floor. In this case, the walls would be mounted directly into the concrete.
- If you are replacing an existing gazebo with a larger size it is possible to frame on to the existing concrete pad. Using pressure treated materials you can extend the pad so that the size matches that of your new structure.
An example of a Gazebo on concrete pad
Concrete Pads & Your Gazebo
Here's what you need to know when laying the foundation for your Summerwood gazebo using a concrete pad:
- Before you begin pouring your concrete pad, it is very important to check with your local area's building codes for rules and regulations. Frost lines and seismic considerations will all dictate the type of pad and gazebo foundation you can build.
- If you enlist the services of an experienced contractor, they will likely select the appropriate type and amount of concrete mix for you. Choosing the right mix depends on the climate in your area (i.e. warm or cold) and the type of gazebo you will be erecting on the concrete pad. If you've elected to mix your own concrete, contact your local building supplier for assistance. They will also be able to help you determine what tools you will need.
- Once you have chosen the site for your concrete pad, you will need to determine the perimeter of your gazebo foundation. Here are diagrams and instructions on how to mark your gazebo's octagon. Your concrete pad will be slightly smaller than your gazebo floor: this enables you to hide the concrete pad later with a skirt. If you're not taking the floor with your building, your concrete pad will have to be slightly larger than your floor.
- Once you have determined the perimeter of your gazebo's concrete pad, you will need to dig a trench using the marked perimeter as a guide. We recommend digging a 3-foot wide trench, but size will vary depending on your location. Grade or level the center of your trench.
Dig a trench to start building your concrete pad.
- Fill the bottom of your trench with crushed stone to maintain proper drainage.
- Construct a concrete footing form using stakes and 2" x 8" lumber to mark the corners of your pad. It will be like building a sandbox or mold for your concrete mixture later.
- It is very important to pour a concrete pad that has the proper dimensions. Please be sure to double check with your sales representative if you have questions. Garden House pads for example, have to have the same sized pad as the walls so that the walls can properly sit on the pad. If you pour a concrete pad that is bigger than your Garden House building measurements, you will increase the likelihood of water leaking into your building (creating a proper seal between your wall and your concrete pad is difficult).
- Pour your ready-mixed concrete into the mold you've created. Agitate the concrete to work out air bubbles. Level the concrete and use a piece of lumber (e.g. 2 x 4) to screed (i.e. smooth out) the surface of the pad. Apply more concrete to the sunken areas to bring the entire pad up to the same level.
Next, use a float to further smooth out the surface of your concrete pad. This will be like applying icing on a cake but without all the fun decorative whorls. Keep going over the concrete until you have worked out any moisture or remaining air bubbles. Avoid marring the surface of your pad.
An example of a concrete pad
- When your concrete pad begins to set, run an edging tool along the inside of the mold. This will be like removing a cake from its baking tin. This technique will help make it easier to remove the forming boards later.
- Properly finish and seal your concrete pad using one of the following methods so that your floor lasts for as long as you have your gazebo. Try:
- Creating a slightly grooved surface so no one slips on your floor. Do this when the concrete has yet to set fully.
- Cover your pad and allow the concrete to set evenly for approximately 48 hours.
- Apply a protective concrete sealer.
- Install decorative tile
What We Recommend
When using a concrete pad as your gazebo foundation, we suggest the following (depending on the size of your structure, the recommendations below may be adjusted accordingly):
- Always check with local contractors and/or building departments prior to pouring a concrete pad.
- If you are installing conduits for electrical service or plumbing, you must do so at least 41/2 inches from the edge of the pad so that the walls will have room to sit.
- Pouring a partial concrete pad tends to create problems in the future (with warping and the 2 foundations in use might sink or move at different times and degrees). We recommend that you pour an entirely new pad if necessary. Extending existing pads is possible but not advisable.