How to Make Outdoor Shade Structures


An outdoor shade structure provides needed shade when you are entertaining outside on the patio on an extra bright day. Unfortunately, outdoor shade structures are very costly to purchase. This, however, does not have the be the case for you. By using some outside-the-box thinking and a few readily available materials, you can construct your own outdoor shade structures that will do the job and not cost a lot of money.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 foot by 8 foot 3/8 inch thick plywood sheets, 2
  • 8 foot long 2-by-4s, 4
  • 8 foot long 4-by-4s, 4
  • Post hole digger
  • Concrete mix
  • Water
  • 2 ladders
  • 4-inch long galvanized nails
  • 1 ½ inch long galvanized nails
  • Hammer
  • A person to help
  • Tape measure
  • Spray paint
  • Paint with spray paint the point that you will start from for the area you want your outdoor shade structure to cover. Then measure an 8-foot square from this starting point, which will be the first corner of the square. Paint a point on each corner of the square. These will be the places you will place the corner posts of the structure. Also, these will mark the 8-foot square area for the shade structure to be built over. This will be a 6-foot tall by 8-foot square outdoor shade structure.

  • Dig a 2-foot deep hole at each corner of the 8-foot square using the post hole digger. These will be the places you stand each of the corner posts.

  • Place an 8-foot long 4-by-4 into each of the holes that you dug in step 2. Mix the concrete mix with water. Then pour wet concrete mix into the holes around the 4-by-4s to secure the shade structure's corner posts in the ground. The posts will be permanently fixed in concrete in the ground when the concrete mix dries out. They also now stand 6 feet above the ground.

  • Create an 8-foot square frame around the top of the corner posts by attaching one 8-foot 2-by-4 between the corner posts on each side of the structure's square area. Use the 4-inch galvanized nails to do this by hammering them through the 2-inch thick side of the 2-by-4s and into the corner posts. Lean your ladder against one post and hold one end of the 8-feet long 2-by-4 against the corner post as you nail it into place. Have your helper do the same as you are doing on their corner post.

  • Set the two 4-foot by 8 foot 3/8 inch thick plywood sheets on top of the 8-foot square frame constructed in step 4. Then attach them to the square frame that is on top of the corner posts of the shade structure. This will form the top of the shade structure that you are building and this will provide the shade on an extra bright day.

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  • Photo Credit Tsuneo Yamashita/Photodisc/Getty Images
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