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jklochan 10-25-2012 09:54 PM

Attaching beams to columns
I'm building a gazebo to go over a hot tub I've just ordered. The dimensions of the gazebo (not counting the soffit overhang) is 10' x 9'. I'm putting seven 4x4 posts in a "U" shape. In other words, I'll have posts in 4 corners, and then additional posts in the middle on each side of the gazebo except one side.

I've purchased 2 x 8s to use as the headers (beams?). My initial plan was to sandwich two 2 x 8s around the columns all the way around the perimeter of the gazebo. But once I worked that out in my head I realized it wasn't going to work well. What's the approrpriate way to attach the 2x8 beams to my columns? Do I even really need two 2x8s on each side, or would one suffice? Any info is appreciated.

Daniel Holzman 10-26-2012 09:28 AM

Whether you need one or two, or a different size framing element, depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Most gazebos are open, so they carry little load (no roof). In my experience, most of them are designed based on aesthetic considerations, not structural considerations, since the load is small, they often do not require a permit, and may not be subject to code. So you really need to ask yourself what your basis of design is going to be.

You may want to purchase a book on building garden furniture, they will probably have lots of pictures of gazebos, so you can look at other structures and see what you like. Or you can talk to your local building inspector and see if there are any structural requirements. There are numerous ways to attach framing members together, including nailed, screwed, bolted, bracketed, and inset connections. Usually the type of connection is driven by structural considerations, but in the case of a gazebo the driver may be aesthetic only. Different connections have different appearances, some people like the inset look, some do not want to see metal brackets, etc. What is your preference?

joecaption 10-26-2012 09:40 AM

4 X 4's are far more likly to curl, split and twist then a 6 X 6.
There's also no good way to attach the rim joist to them to help stop the side sway except attaching them to the sides of them which will do little to firm it up.
With 6 X 6 's you can remove an area out of the side 1-1/2 deep so the rim joist sit on top of them and still have plenty of meat left to double through bolt them.
With rim joist on each side of the post it makes it easyer to install diaginal bracing so there's no side sway.

jklochan 10-27-2012 01:32 PM

Thanks guys!, Daniel, I am going put plywood and shingles on the roof. I've decided on a hip pyramid style roof (forgive me if my terminology is incorrect). I don't want to contact any inspectors because I haven't pulled permits for anything I've done since I've moved in, including this project. This project has included cement, unground electrical runs, etc., so I don't want to bring someone in now. I also live in an unincorporated area so it's not a huge concern.

I don't have a problem with the metal brackets if they're needed. It might be too late for me to upgrade to 6x6s because I already purchased the 4x4s and, more significantly, I already poured 8" columns 42" deep. It will be hard to square up 6x6s at that point, although I understand what Joe was saying and that makes a lot of sense. I wish I had thought of that already.

joecaption 10-27-2012 01:42 PM

Just hope you know if someone should happen to call the inspector or you ever try to sell the house not having proper permits can become a really big issue.
Fines, making you tare it all down, double permit fees.
There's very good reasons why jobs need permits.

picflight 10-27-2012 01:42 PM

Post some pictures, would love to see it being built. What area are you in? I didn't see it on your profile.

I would have suggested a book on building outdoor structures but it looks you might be beyond that point.

Sent from my iPhone using DIY Forum

Daniel Holzman 10-27-2012 02:54 PM

Since you have already decided to build without a permit, there is no particular reason for you to follow any code either. So you don't "need" metal brackets, 6" posts, or anything else for that matter. I return to my original point, you are not "designing" for structural considerations, so I suggest you purchase a book with pictures of gazebos and select a connection technique that looks good to you. If you are concerned at this point about structural stability, sway, roof loading, or integrity during wind events, it is a bit late in the process.

jklochan 10-27-2012 03:30 PM

I'm in a suburb of Chicago. I will definitely post some pics once I start building. The concrete pad was poured today. Daniel, I understand what you're saying, but I am definitely concerned with how it will hold up during high winds, and things of that nature. Again, I don't know the lingo, but I'm putting angled 4x4s off of each column connected to the beams (braces?), I'm using 2x6 beams on the roof (rafter beams?), and I have 7 columns on a 9x10 structure. Even though they're 4x4s, 7 seems like overkill to me.

I hired pros to pour the concrete. After watching them work their magic, I'm really glad I didn't try that myself. That helped me decide to hire my carpenter buddy once I'm ready to get going on the gazebo, but any input you guys have can help me plan and get all the material I need before we get going.

I know I sound like an incompetent novice, but I put a lot of research into the things I do and they typically turn out pretty well. This forum is just one way I'm researching this project. I will likely take Daniel up on his suggestion of buying a book to look at different gazebo options. But in addition to that, I respect the knowledge that experts like you guys have and I'm anxious to draw on it as much as possible.

GBrackins 10-27-2012 04:23 PM

if you haven't used the 4x4's yet (drilled, notched, nailed, etc.) you should be able to return them ...... glad to hear you are planning on following Daniel's suggestions, he knows of which he speaks. Of all on here his opinions I respect the most.

post back with any questions .....

Good luck!

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