How to Frame an Outdoor Pavilion With Wood


Pavilions can refer to large buildings used at fairs and exhibitions or smaller, more intimate structures placed in a residential setting, such as a garden. The larger structures lie beyond the ability of the average homeowner to frame herself. A handy homeowner might frame a small wooden pavilion, after getting a professional to install a concrete foundation. But first, she should obtain a set of plans from an architect or engineer to ensure that the size of the framing members is structurally sound and the spacing of the posts and rafters meets any local code requirements.

Things You'll Need

  • Chalk-line tool
  • U-shaped anchor
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Lead shield
  • Washer
  • Lag screw
  • Wrench
  • Post support
  • Post caps
  • Hammer
  • Anchor nails, 3 1/2-inch
  • Nails
  • Spirit level
  • Board, 2-by-4
  • Beam
  • Scaffold
  • Tape measure
  • Connector nails, 3 1/2-inch
  • Rafter
  • Circular
  • Framing anchor
  • Connector nails, 2 1/2-inch
  • Connector nails, 1 1/2-inch
  • Braces, 2-by-4
  • Lag screw, 3/8-by-3-inch


  • Set a chalk-line tool at a corner-post location. Unroll the cord down to an adjacent-post location. Snap the cord, which will leave a line of chalk on the concrete. Repeat for the other three corner-post locations.

  • Place a U-shaped anchor, framing hardware that holds the posts, at a corner-post location on the inside of the chalk line. Mark the bolt hole for the anchor on the concrete. Remove the anchor and drill a 3/4-wide hole 4 inches deep with a masonry bit.

  • Set a lead shield, a metal holder for the bolt, into the hole. Place the anchor over the hole. Put the washer over the hole. Set a lag screw into the hole and tighten with a wrench.

  • Set a post support, the metal hardware the post will rest on, into the anchor.

  • Cut a post to the height determined by your plans. Hammer a post cap, hardware that will hold the rafters, onto one end of the post with 3 1/2-inch anchor nails. Have a helper set the post into the anchor and hold it steady.

  • Ensure the post cap sits on the top end. Check the post for plumb with a spirit level. The post must rest firmly on the post support. Hammer nails through the anchor holes into the post.

  • Repeat the installation process at every post location, based on your plans.


  • Have helper hold a corner post steady. Check the post for plumb. Nail a long 2-by-4 board to the post. Nail one end of the brace to the post and the other end to a wooden stake set in the ground. Nail another brace on the post so that it rests on top of the first brace. Repeat for every corner post.

  • Cut the beams to length, referring to the plans. Mark the beams at the rafter locations. Make the marks at the proper rafter spacing, often every 16 inches for smaller structures.

  • Stand on a scaffold and have the helper assist you in setting the beam into the post caps. Ensure the marked side faces up. Align the outer marks on the beam with the outside edges of the corner post.

  • Check a corner post for level. Nail the post cap flanges to the beam with 3 1/2-inch connector nails. Repeat for the other corner post. Repeat for any intermediate posts.

  • Set the beam on the other side of the structure in place, just as you did the first one.


  • Measure from the outside edges of each beam. Cut a rafter to this length plus an extra 24 inches to allow for a 12-inch overhang on each side. Use a circular saw.

  • Nail a framing anchor, metal hardware that holds the rafters in place, to the end mark on a beam with 2 1/2-inch connector nails. Repeat for the corresponding end mark on the opposite beam.

  • Mark the cut rafter 12 inches from each end. Set the rafter between the two beams, ensuring that it contacts the framing anchors. Ensure the marks on the rafter intersect the outside edges of the beam.

  • Nail the rafter to the framing hardware with 1 1/2-inch connector nails. Attach the remaining rafters as you did the first.


  • Measure the width of an interior post. Mark the center. Draw a vertical center line down the length of the post.

  • Cut two 2-by-4 braces to a length of 26 inches. Loosely nail a brace to an interior post so that one end is flush with the top of the beam. Set the other end of the brace against the center mark on the post.

  • Drill a 1/4-diameter hole through the brace and into the beam. Drive a 3/8-inch-by-3-inch lag screw into the pilot hole. Repeat for the other side of the post. Install braces on the rest of the interior posts in the same way.

  • Nail one end of a brace flush against a beam. Nail the other end to the outside edge of a corner post. Fasten the brace as you did with the interior posts.

  • Place the other end of the corner-post brace flush with the top of the adjacent rafter. Set the bottom edge flush with the outside edge of the post. Fasten with 3/8-inch-by-3-inch lag screws.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a hardhat when doing wood-framing construction.
  • Avoid doing any framing while standing on a ladder. Rent secure scaffolding instead.

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