How To Build A Picnic Shelter

Here are instructions for how to build a picnic shelter. Build yourself a beautiful freestanding picnic shelter to have a place to cool off, and relax from the hot summer weather.  A picnic shelter can be built anywhere to fit your needs, near your house, yard or garden. Building a picnic shelter near the house keeps the house cooler by keeping windows covered from hot sun. Use wood for construction projects that is weather, and decay resistant. Redwood is a great wood for building a picnic shelter, other wood to consider might be Cyprus or cedar.

This project is a typical eight feet by twelve feet or 96 square feet, the basic plan can be made bigger by adding more posts to the project; rafters should be no more than six feet.  You may need a required building permit, so check with your local building department to find out about your local building codes.

To start off with your picnic shelter, use fasteners that won’t rust or stain, prime edges, sides, and ends of wood before constructing if you plan on painting.

  1. Prepare footings and space posts accordingly every three feet. Choose post footing by the type of deck you want to build. All posts should be top grade wood, use quick setting concrete which hardens in one hour.
  2. Install posts to footing each post should be ten to twelve feet long, 4×4 posts. Keep the post plumb by using a carpenter’s level, and temporary cross bracing. Posts should be trimmed to the appropriate height if necessary. Posts should measure eight feet from the ground.
  3. Attach to each post set, two twelve foot long, 2×6 beams, extending eighteen inches out from centerline posts. Use nail or screws to position post tops. Position beams even with tops, and nail or screw them down, drill holes ½” diameter into double beam posts, and secure with two- seven inch machine bolts.
  4. Remaining braces are to be cut into four pieces each thirty inches, with a 45 degree angle on each end. Brace and countersink each six inch machine bolt and nut. Sandwich beams; use a seven inch bolt to secure.
  5. Rafters. Space the eight ft 2×6 rafters eighteen inches apart, toenail each rafter with nails and secure into double beams with twelve inch extensions.  Use predrilled holes, to prevent splitting and remove post brace.
  6. Attach louvers to rafters on the top with an overhang of eighteen inches, which determines amount of shade the picnic shelter will have. Faster louvers from above with nail screws, predrilled through holes into rafters. Check spacing with a ruler before drilling.

Finish off your picnic shelter with linseed oil, or clear water repellant to enhance the natural beauty and to give you many years of pleasure!

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