How to Make a Covered Patio Yourself


Patio covers not only create a protected outdoor living area, but they also add visual interest to your landscape. A basic patio cover consists of posts, beams, horizontal joists and slats called lattice. Depending on your circumstances, you might anchor the structure's posts to an existing concrete slab or build footings just for your project. If you choose to build your patio cover near an existing structure, joist hanger brackets allow you to attach the cover's joists to the roof's eaves.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Marking spray paint
  • Stakes
  • Hammer
  • Builder's string
  • Line level
  • Builder's square
  • Shovel
  • Tubular concrete forms
  • Gravel
  • Carpenter's level
  • Ready-mixed concrete
  • Screed
  • Finishing trowel
  • Post brackets
  • 4-by-4 posts
  • Circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Wood bit
  • Nut driver
  • Lag bolts
  • Post cap brackets
  • 4-by-4 beams
  • 2-by-4 joists
  • Framing nail gun
  • Measure and mark the end points of one side of the patio cover structure on the ground with a tape measure and marking spray paint. The end points represent the location of two of the patio cover's corner posts. Pound two stakes into the ground roughly 12 inches outside of each of the corner marks.

  • Pull builder's string between the corner marks and tie the string to the stakes that sit parallel to an imaginary line that runs between the marks. Attach a line level to the string and use the level to horizontally align the string. Mark the location of the cover's opposite corner posts with a tape measure and marking spray paint. Use the secured string line as a frame of reference for gauging the position of the remaining posts.

  • Pound two stakes roughly 12 inches outside each of the opposite corner marks. Run builder's string between opposite corner stakes to roughly outline the patio cover's perimeter. Adjacent strings will overlap at a 90 degree angle directly above the center of the corner post marks. Use the line level to horizontally align the strings. Set a builder's square against the inside of the intersection of adjacent strings to check the layout for square. Adjust the stakes' and strings' positions to align the adjacent strings with the square's body.

  • Dig below the strings' intersections with a shovel to excavate trenches for the tubular concrete forms. Dig trenches to a depth that provides 6 inches of back-fill space below the form's bottom and leaves the forms' tops at least 6 inches above ground level. Fill the bottom 6 inches of each trench will gravel. Set the tubular forms into the trenches.

  • Align the forms' centers with the intersections between the strings. Measure the distance between the strings and the top edges of the tubular forms. Adjust the forms to corresponding heights. Place a carpenter's level across the forms' top edges. Use the level's indicator bubble to horizontally align the tubes' top edges. Pack gravel into the trenches to fill the space between the trench's perimeter and the tube's outside surface.

  • Fill the tubular forms with ready-mixed concrete and smooth the exposed concrete with a screed and finishing trowel. Align the centers of the post brackets with the the intersection between adjacent strings and plunge the brackets' bottom bars into the wet concrete. Use a tape measure and level to adjust the brackets' levelness, plumb and squareness relative to the surrounding corners. Allow the concrete to cure according to the manufacturers instructions. While fast-setting concrete dries in a few hours, conventional concrete mix might require a day or more.

  • Mark four 4-by-4 posts to the desired height with a tape measure and pencil; 8 feet provides a comfortable ceiling height. Cut the posts to size with a circular saw. Transcribe the locations of the post brackets' screw holes onto the bottom edges of the posts. Bore starter holes through each of the screw marks with a power drill and wood bit. Remove the wood bit from the drill.

  • Mount a nut driver to the drill. Hoist the posts into the post brackets, align the posts' screw hole marks with the brackets' screw holes and fasten the posts to the brackets with lag bolts and the power drill. Set post cap brackets on the exposed ends of the posts. Align the brackets' legs with the posts' side faces. Mark the locations of the brackets' leg screw holes on the posts' faces with a pencil.

  • Remove the brackets from the posts and bore starter holes through the marks with a power drill and wood bit. Replace the brackets, align the brackets' leg with the starter holes and secure the brackets' to the posts' tops with lag bolts and the power drill. Cut the 4-by-4 beams to length; they must stretch between the patio cover's posts. For spans longer that 8 feet, consult a contractor, architect or your local building authority to determine appropriate beam size.

  • Hoist the beams into the post cap brackets' saddles. Align the beams' ends with the ends of the saddle. Use the power drill and wood bit to bore starter holes through the beam at each of the brackets' screw holes. Secure the beams to the brackets with the power drill and lag bolts.

  • Cut 2-by-4 joists to run perpendicularly across the tops of the beams. Refer to your local building codes to determine appropriate joist spacing and joist sizing specifics. The ends of joists may sit flush with the outside faces of beams or extend beyond the beams to imitate a wood-frame pergola. Evenly space the joists along the top edges of opposite beams. Fasten the joists to the top edges of the beams with a framing nail gun.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fasten lattice strips across the top of joists to increase the patio cover's shade and privacy. Align strips in a perpendicular, checkerboard pattern or a crisscrossed, diamond pattern.
  • Consult your local building authority regarding permit requirements and construction procedures.

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