Infants’ delicate skin cannot withstand summer sun. Elders and others who are taking certain prescription medications are also vulnerable to sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Installing a permanent backyard shade structure gives the entire family a break from harsh sun and extreme summer heat.
Make It Affordable
Create a budget for your project. Decide whether you need a temporary shade structure that can be assembled and disassembled as needed, or a more permanent structure. Temporary structures include tents, screen houses, canopies and awnings. Permanent structures such as pergolas, gazebos and picnic shelters can add or subtract value from your home, depending on the quality of materials and type of construction.
Choose the shade structure that will best fit your needs, budget and available space. Assemble the tools and materials you need to make your chosen structure. Use recycled materials if they are available. Consider shopping at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The Habitat ReStore sells recovered and recycled construction materials at a fraction of the cost of buying them new.
Build a Firm Foundation
Clear and level the area where you intend to build your shade structure. Decide whether to build on bare ground or lay a footer. Permanent structures add value to your home if you build on a footer. Once the area is level, build a footer frame from 1-inch-by-4-inch, 1-inch by-6-inch or 1-inch-by-12-inch stock lumber to your desired dimensions, depending how deep a footer you need.
Dig 2-feet-deep post holes in the four corners of your footer, plus one additional pole for every 4 feet of distance between poles. Place your posts in the holes and back-fill with gravel. Check whether each pole is level using a plumb bob hung from a spirit level. Adjust the posts until they are level and straight. Brace the posts with 2-by-4-inch stock lumber if needed.
Mix quick-drying concrete in a wheelbarrow according to package directions and fill the holes with concrete. Each bag of concrete should fill two post holes. Allow concrete to dry for three to five days before proceeding.
Fill your footer with 2 inches of sand. Compact the sand with a water-filled lawn roller, then fill the remaining space in the footer with sharp-sided gravel. Do not use smooth, round gravel at this point in construction, because the sharp-sided gravel will provide a more stable base as the edges of each piece interlock under pressure. Compact the gravel and add more until the form is full to just below the top edge of the footer frame. Rent a cement mixer or hire a contractor to pour the foundation. Allow the concrete to dry for three to five days before proceeding.
Top It Off
If you are making a large picnic shelter, tiki hut, pergola or gazebo, you will probably need to use roof trusses. Smaller structures may not need them. Place your roof trusses on top of two opposite posts. Secure the trusses to the posts using the manufacturer’s recommended hardware. If you live in an area subject to high winds, use wrap-around corner braces for extra security.
Sheath the roof with a layer of plywood. Use 3/4-inch or thicker, especially if you live in an area with heavy winter snowfall or ice storms. If that is the case, install a radiant heat system of some sort to keep snow from accumulating and collapsing your roof.
Lay rolled rubber roofing over the plywood sheeting. Shingle or tile the roof. Install gutters, downspouts, rain cisterns and sides if desired. For an open shelter, use 3 or 4-feet-high sides with openings for entry and exit at each end and along the sides of the shelter.
- If you want a curved or free form footer shape, use black plastic landscape edging to outline your footer instead of stock lumber.
- If you are using fabric for your roof, you can use poles instead of posts and will not need any trusses.
- Do not alter ready-made trusses in any way or you could reduce their structural integrity, potentially causing serious injury and death due to collapse of the structure.
Published in: Home Improvement