How To Guide

Getting Started On How To Build a Custom Made Gazebo, Pergola or Pavilion

Starting your journey to learn how to build a  custom made gazebo, pergola or pavilion can be tedious, but the design process starts as soon as you call American Landscape Structure or complete the online Quote Request form. From day one, you’ll be assigned an experienced design consultant to walk you through the entire process.

Some of the subjects you might discuss with your design consultant:

  • The way the sun arcs across your yard.
  • What you imagine will be under your pavilion.
  • Where you envision your family and guests will be doing inside the pavilion.
  • What look or character best matches the surroundings.
  • Your overall project budget.

You can also come to your consultant with design ideas for the style and type of structure you prefer. Our catalog provides you with thousands of ideas and possibilities for your pavilion, pergola or even a custom made gazebo. Let your imagination run wild and your consultant will be there to guide you through the process.

The design consultant will also help you navigate other details, such as permitting, foundations, electrical (if applicable), and so on.

Custom Design Process

American Landscape Structures specializes in Semi-Custom Made-To-Order Pavilions, Pergolas, and custom made Gazebos. Pavilions are rapidly becoming the most popular. Our design consultants have managed literally hundreds of pavilion projects and are experienced experts. Whether you’re a contractor, a homeowner, or run a commercial garden center – our design consultants will do everything possible to make the process as easy and stress free as possible for you.

With our design process, you enjoy these distinct advantages:

  • You’re not paying to “re-invent the wheel.” It takes time to figure out the best joinery and cuts to build your pavilion. While from a carpenter’s standpoint, it’s just framing. Since much of the material is visible, it also requires the precision of millwork or trim carpentry.
  • You’re not paying thousands of dollars to design what is fundamentally a relatively simple structure. Chicken-scratch drawings can work, but can result in unsatisfied expectations. CAD drawings cost money to create from scratch. The joinery has to be figured out in addition to what the pavilion is going to look like. Also, many times the person doing the drawings and the people building the pavilion are disconnected.
  • We have a library of thousands of pictures and drawings already on file for inspiration. We may not have EXACTLY the combination of material, size and features you’re looking for. But we have enough so that we get to YOUR drawings, we can hit the nail on the head the first time.
  • Using our catalog, you don’t pick out your model per se but rather, you look at the pictures of our previous projects for inspiration. 80% of the optional features are listed in the back of the catalog. There are more options available that are not listed. For example,  an 18″ or 24″ overhang or having the ceiling underneath the rafters instead of on top.

8 steps to consider when considering designing your structure:

  1. Talk to us about your patio. If you’re designing a patio, outdoor living room, or outdoor kitchen then you’ll want to keep in mind that even though you might not be including a pavilion right away, you may want to add it next year. If you talk to us when you’re planning your patio, it can make it SO much easier down the road.
  2. Understand your space and what you want to put in it. Mark the area with stakes, paint, or if you already have a patio, chalk or markers. Once you understand your space and have the measurements, we can help you over the phone and email to determine what size and overhang makes the most sense for the space.
  3. It’s OK if you want to call us to get a general idea of cost when you don’t have all your decisions made. We have these discussions all the time and people call us months or even years later to order or continue the discussion.
  4. Regarding cost, be careful with online automatic pricing tools. There are A LOT of variables that go into things, which is why we don’t have them on our site. It’s just way too easy to miscalculate. Again, give us a call if you want to talk things out. We are here to help so never worry about calling us and getting the hard close. We just don’t do that.
  5. Understand your material options. ROUGLY speaking, vinyl is 20-25% more than stained wood but even though the framing is very similar, the trim and appearance are quite different.
  6.  Style and customizable options. We have a 56 page pavilion catalog with lots of examples for inspiration. We also regularly update our website with new pictures. Here are the most common choices listed in the back of the catalog. We won’t go into detail about what is standard optional here. That’s also in the back of the catalog.
    • Posts/Columns.
    • Ceiling.
    • Roof Pitch.
    • Cupola. (Optional.)
    • Overhang.
    • Post Configuration. (20′ and above have center posts as standard.)
    • Roofing material.
    • Electrical. (We don’t install lights/fans.)
    • Arched Beam. (Vinyl only.)
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want. As you can see, when it’s shown in such simple concise list, there are only so many choices to make yet you have enough variations so you can design something unique to you.
  8. Remember your drawings. Construction drawings are included in the base price of your pavilion, so once we’re agreed on your selections and you make a financial commitment, we’ll get your pavilion drawing for you. It will, of course, include the precise post-center locations for you to use to install your foundation.

What Are Gazebo Footers & Pergola Footers?

Gazebo footers and pergola footers are part of the structure’s concrete foundation. This process helps stabilize the structure on uneven surfaces. See this video below to get an idea of what the process is.

Be warned! This video is just to give you an idea of what they are. We will need to give you exact specifications for the footers you’ll need for your unique structure. 

Pressure Treated Wood

“What kind of wood do you use?”

Most people think of pressure treated pine as the green colored lumber their deck or fence was made of because that’s all they’ve seen. You could literally drive for 100’s of miles without finding a lumber yard that carries Premium #1 Kiln Dried After Treatment Southern Yellow Pine. Many of the places where we use this material, pressure treatment isn’t even required. It’s been used in Amish-built custom made gazebo for years.

5 top reasons why we use Premium #1 Kiln Dried After Treatment Southern Yellow Pine and why you should use for your pavilion:

  • This lumber has much fewer knots than #2, which means less waste and bowing. It’s also a beautiful light blonde color prior to finishing.
  • Takes stain and finish right away. You may have heard that with pressure treated lumber you have to wait several months to finish it. That’s because of the high moisture content. The stain won’t absorb into wet pressure treated lumber until after it has dried.
  • You’ll have much less cracking and twisting. With wet lumber, as it dries, it distorts quite a bit putting pressure against the fasteners and brackets. Like most pressure treated lumber made today, it’s guaranteed not to rot for as long as you own your home in above ground applications. If your posts have to be buried, we will make sure to use below ground rated material.
  • Easier to work with and less waste. Big knots, warping, bowing and twisting make wet lumber harder to work with some of the lumber having to be thrown away. Not only do you get a better quality material, the labor component is lower because of not having to force the wood into place. As you can imagine, it just wouldn’t do to have a kit with warped parts. We’d go broke sending out replacement parts.

Wood vs. Vinyl Custom Made Gazebo, Pergola or Pavilion

Is wood or vinyl the best material to use?

Here are 6 things to consider when choosing between a vinyl or wood pavilion, pergola or gazebo custom design:

  1. Cost – The cost difference depends on what type of structure you’re getting. For pavilions and pergolas, the cost difference is 20-30%. Since vinyl structures are essentially the same wood from structures as well, except they’re wrapped in vinyl, they are more expensive.
  2. What is hollow on a vinyl structure? On a pavilion, nothing. It’s wood wrapped in vinyl. For a custom made gazebo, the balusters on the railings are hollow. They’re also extremely durable. (We’ve had one order for replacement balusters in 5 years.) For the vinyl pergolas, everything is solid except the non-structural top runners. The braces are solid polystyrene. Everything else is filled with pressure treated pine.
  3. Maintenance – Obviously the maintenance the vinyl products is lower. How much maintenance is required for wood structures? Stain or sealer needs to be re-applied to weather-exposed areas every one or two seasons depending on the environment. Paint typically lasts 5-8 years.
  4. Style – Custom made pergolas and custom made gazebos are mostly the same. For pavilions even though the framing is very similar they look quite different. The vinyl pavilion has enclosed curved brace trim and a very nice trim set at the top of the post where the posts and beams go together. The wood pavilion trim is more minimalist with half-moon braces. The post base trim looks very different as well.
  5. Character/Environment – If a custom made gazebo is going in a historic district or a wooded area, wood may be the best choice because of the surroundings. If it’s going next to a contemporary house with vinyl or cement siding, vinyl can blend in very well.
  6. Color choices – With vinyl, it’s kind of like the Ford Model T. You can have any color you like as long as it’s white. (or off-white.) For wood, your structure can be painted any color you like.

Pricing-Budget

First of all, when it comes to being competitive – we kill it! Due to our low overhead and high volume, we are able to be extremely competitive on price and we always beat out others on quality.  If you see claims elsewhere of “Low Price Guarantee,” make sure to compare our bottom line prices so that we can win you over!

If you’ve just started looking and have no idea of pricing, you don’t have to have all the answers to get started. Feel free to give us a call or fill out the quote request form. Everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re months or even years from making a purchase, that’s perfectly fine.

You may have noticed we do NOT have an automatic online pricing tool. American Landscape Structures offers a much greater level of customization. Out of our 56 page pavilion catalog including over 40 projects, only 14 of those would fit a standard price table.

We have a more individualized process vs one-size-fits-all.

One common we question we get is about the different models available and how to pick. We do have package pricing available on what is commonly referred to as the “Hampton” model – but we also offer each of the features ala cart. You can get all these features AND they are available on any vinyl pavilion individually:

  • Higher pitched roof.
  • Stained tongue and groove cathedral ceiling with choice of 6 ceiling stain colors.
  • 12″ overhang. (Others also available.
  • Arched beams are by far the most costly component in the Hampton package.
  • Dentil Moulding.

Many of our customers like the look of the Hampton Model but don’t like the cost. Pick out the features that are most important to you, and we’ll price that out for you.

No-Nonsense Guarantee

  • Wood – The wood in your wood or vinyl custom made gazebo, pergola or pavilion is guaranteed for as long as you own your home against structural damage from rot or termites.
  • Vinyl – The vinyl in your structure is warranted against cracking or discoloration for as long as you own your home. The materials we use have been in the field for decades and we have not had one single call-back.
  • 100% – This is our no-nonsense part. Everyone knows there is no such thing as a 100% Lifetime Guarantee. 100% means 100% and lifetime means until death. Anything less is not 100%. It’s “fluff.” We do NOT offer or represent this because it’s nonsense.
  • Other Details – With our national reputation at stake and an A+ BBB rating, your satisfaction couldn’t be more important to us. We have dozens of verified reviews all of which are extremely positive. If you have a problem, we will take reasonable steps to make it right. After selling over $10,000,000 worth of product, we’ve had 0 unresolved complaints with the BBB.

Download Our Online Catalog, and Check Out Our Amazing Pavilions

Pavilions Catalog
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