How to Build a Freestanding Wood Patio Cover

A covered patio provides you with the use of your patio throughout the course of the day in bright, direct sunlight. Build a freestanding lattice patio cover from red cedar wood for an attractive architectural addition to your lawn or garden. You don't need construction experience to build a lattice patio cover. The design is simple and requires only patience and attention to detail. Your freestanding wood patio cover can last for many years.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood stake
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Two-man gas-powered posthole digger
  • 4-by-4-inch red cedar post (14 feet long)
  • Ready-mix cement
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Grass seed
  • 2-by-8-inch redwood boards
  • 20d double-headed nails
  • Electric drill motor
  • ½-inch drill bit
  • ½-by-8-inch-long stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts
  • Crescent wrench
  • Handsaw
  • 4-by-8-foot lattice board
  • 5d stainless steel nails
  1. Support Posts

    • 1

      Hammer a wooden stake into the ground at the corner of a square or rectangular patio and 1 foot from the edge. Drive another stake 8 feet away from the first mark and 1 foot from the edge of the patio. Continue this process every 8 feet around the perimeter of the patio.

    • 2

      Use the posthole digger to dig holes 5 feet deep and 1 foot in diameter at each mark you made on the ground. Dig the holes to the same depth.

    • 3

      Place a mark on a 4-by-4 cedar post 4½ feet up from the bottom. Place the post in the center of the first hole and fill it with ready-mix cement according to package directions, up to the mark you just made. Place a carpenter’s level against the side of the post to check for plumbness. Brace the post in this position and leave it overnight for the cement to set up. Continue this process of setting the posts in the other holes.

    • 4

      Fill the area around the post with some of the excavated soil and plant grass seed in it to cover the cement.

    Freestanding Wood Cover

    • 1

      Position a 2-by-8 board between two of the support posts and aligned flush with the top of the two posts. Drive two double-headed nails through each end of the cross board and into the support posts to temporarily hold the cross board in position.

    • 2

      Drill a ½-inch hole in each end of the crossbeam 1 inch down from the top edge. Drill through the crossbeam and the support post. Bore another hole 4 inches down from the top and another at the 7-inch mark. Drill the holes in a straight line.

    • 3

      Place washers on the 8-inch stainless steel bolts and push them through the outside of the crossbeam and through the support post. Slip another washer onto the other end of the bolt and tighten the nut securely, using the wrench. Repeat the process on the other end of the board. Remove the double-headed nails from each end of the board.

    • 4

      Attach the remainder of the crossbeams to the support posts until the perimeter of the patio cover is completely framed.

    • 5

      Measure the distance between the crossbeams, from front to back, and add an 8-inch overlap on each end. Cut 2-by-8 ceiling rafters to the measured length. Prepare enough rafters to cover the top of the structure when placed 4 feet apart.

    • 6

      Use a handsaw to cut a notch from each end of the ceiling rafters. Do this by measuring 4 inches down from the top edge and 8 inches from the end toward the center of the board. Connect the two measurements with straight lines and saw along the lines.

    • 7

      Lay the first ceiling rafter 4 feet from the first crossbeam on one side and every 4 feet thereafter by resting the notched ends on top of the crossbeams on the front and back of the structure.

    • 8

      Drive three 20d nails through the crossbeams into the ends of the ceiling rafters. Hammer two nails into each end of the top edge of the ceiling rafters into the crossbeam.

    • 9

      Place 4-by-8 sheets of red cedar lattice with 1-inch-diameter holes between the lattice board lathing on top of the rafters. Nail the lattice to the top of the rafters by placing a size 5d stainless steel nail every foot around the perimeter of the sheet of the lattice board.

Tips & Warnings

  • Custom-made lattice sheets are available by special order from home improvement stores if you prefer a distance between the lattice slats of less than 1 inch.
  • The red cedar responds well to treatment with a water-repellent solution. Alternatively, it also develops an attractive patina when allowed to weather as it ages.
  • Check the plumb of the support posts while the cement is loose enough so you can adjust them, if necessary.
  • Building a freestanding wood patio cover is a project requiring two physically fit individuals.
  • Wear protective eyewear when using power tools.
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

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