Purchasing a gazebo to expand your living space into the outdoors is an exciting prospect. When properly installed and carefully maintained, the addition of a hardtop gazebo brings new possibilities for family and friends for years to come. But for exactly how long? How long do hardtop gazebos last?
Whether you already have a gazebo or you’re in the market to buy one, this article explains the factors that determine the durability of a hardtop gazebo. It also offers maintenance tips to get the most out of your investment.
There are 3 factors that determine how long your gazebo will last:
- Construction material
- Resistance to wind
- Care and maintenance
When all of these factors are thoughtfully accounted for in both the purchase decision and long after installation day, a hardtop gazebo can last (and look great!) for 10-20+ years.
Let’s take a look at each of these factors.
All gazebos share a basic structure: a frame of four vertical supports holding up a horizontal roof. In terms of material, however, not all gazebos are created equal.
With very few exceptions, hardtop gazebos are constructed of either wood, vinyl, aluminum, or steel. Most of the time, it’s a combination of these materials.
Hardtop gazebos with a pretreated and sealed wood frame is an extremely durable option that can still look beautiful 12+ years down the road. If you’re building your own frame, you should know that some woods resist the elements much better than others.
Wood gazebos are the heaviest hardtop option, which also means that they’re the most cumbersome to assemble. In order to get more than a decade of use from them, you’ll need to re-treat or repaint the frame a few times in the course of its lifetime.
While they do require more upkeep than any other type of gazebo, the extreme durability and unparalleled beauty of wood make the initial purchase cost and ongoing maintenance well worth it.
When vinyl is used to construct a frame, it’s typically painted to mimic wood. But unlike wood, vinyl gazebos are low maintenance yet still extremely durable. Like other plastics, vinyl (aka PVC) is resistant to water while also being completely rust- and corrosion-proof.
Vinyl is lighter than wood and, with minimal upkeep other than cleaning, can last 20+ years before showing any signs of aging.
All of these characteristics plus its notable cost-effectiveness make vinyl a particularly attractive material for hardtop gazebo construction.
Aluminum and Steel
As mentioned earlier, the majority of hardtop gazebos are constructed with an aluminum frame supporting a steel roof.
To mimic the natural durability and impermeability of wood, aluminum is usually powder-coated to resist rust and fading, and the steel is galvanized, which means that a thin layer of zinc is added to help with rust and corrosion resistance.
Polycarbonate plastic is a common addition to the steel roofs of many gazebo models. Thin sheets of polycarbonate block UV rays and provide a cooler temperature inside the gazebo than is possible with steel alone.
While there is slightly more upkeep required for steel/aluminum constructions than with vinyl, there are only 1-2 critical maintenance points throughout the year: winter and/or the rainy season depending on your climate.
Like wood and vinyl gazebos, aluminum and steel constructions are extremely durable and will last at least 10-12 years without showing age.
Resistance to Wind
How long your gazebo will last is also dependent upon how stable it is on your property.
Depending on construction materials, hardtop gazebos can weigh anywhere between 150-550lbs. In this case, the heaviest gazebos aren’t necessarily the most durable.
The most important variable when it comes to a gazebo’s wind resistance is if, and how, it is anchored to the ground.
It’s easy to understand why much lighter soft top gazebos would need to be well anchored. No one wants their gazebo to blow away (or move at all) when a 30mph gust comes along!
While it’s unlikely that a strong gust of wind will blow away a 400lbs steel hardtop gazebo, if the structure is not anchored properly to the ground, or if it’s improperly placed on your property, it’s inevitable that years of even moderate winds will eventually take a toll on the anchor points, decreasing overall durability.
How Can I Strengthen My Gazebo?
When you purchase a gazebo, be sure to confirm that it is wind resistant up to at least 20mph. When it’s time to install it, its orientation on your property is critical to offering additional wind resistance.
You want to place your gazebo so that a corner is pointing into the wind. To do this, first determine in which direction the wind on your property typically blows. Then orient your gazebo so that the corner (doesn’t matter which) is facing into it.
By doing this, you’re ensuring that your frame is at its strongest point.
To further strengthen your gazebo, you can also use stronger anchor pegs than the hardware that arrived with your gazebo on installation day.
Before you buy anything additional, you should assess whether your gazebo’s anchor points would accommodate different pegs. If the answer is yes, then there are several heavy duty options available to more securely anchor your gazebo to a porch or slab.
Care and Maintenance
There are only so many factors that you can control when purchasing a gazebo. The reality is that the most fundamental variable for how long your hardtop gazebo will last is how well you take care of it.
Here are 3 tips for choosing and maintaining your gazebo:
- If you plan to house a fire pit or BBQ inside it, be sure to buy a gazebo with a top vent so that smoke can escape easily.
- Just like the gutters on your house, your gazebo gutters need to be cleaned out periodically to prevent weight on the structure and to protect it from standing water.
- Every gazebo benefits from winterization and rainy season preparations.
No matter what your winter feels like, you should protect your gazebo by applying a water-resistant silicone lubricant to the weakest points on the frame. The weakest points are those places where the powder coating might be worn, leaving open the possibility for water to get through.
Can I Leave My Gazebo Up All Year?
If you have an all-weather/4-season gazebo, absolutely!
If you don’t, or you’re not sure if you do, you should err on the side of safety and either cover it or prep it (or both!) for wetter and colder weather.
Hardtop gazebos and even soft top gazebos can be left outside year round.
For soft top gazebos, you need to remove the fabric top and house it inside, then you should spray a water-resistant silicone lubricant on any place else where the rust-resistant powder coating might be susceptible.
Getting the Most Out of Your Purchase
If durability is at the top of your list when you set out to purchase a hardtop gazebo, you can guard your investment further by considering these 3 questions:
- How long is the warranty? Many hardtop gazebos will come with a 12-month warranty, although some manufacturers extend theirs to 5 years. If you happen to come across an option with an even longer option, you should seriously consider it. Significant warranties are especially useful for large and heavy items like gazebos.
- Does the manufacturer offer replacement parts? If they do, that’s great news! That signals that they’re serious about their products lasting for many, many years. They welcome the opportunity to support your ongoing maintenance and care.
This point is even more important if your gazebo has sliding doors (solarium-style) because that’s a lot of additional parts that could potentially need replacing. If your manufacturer doesn’t offer identical parts, there are likely very few, and probably no, alternatives that would fit your structure perfectly.
- Are ALL of the materials UV- and rust-resistant? To get the longest shelf life from your gazebo, all of the materials (beams, joints, hooks, screws) should ideally be UV and rust resistant. If not, then your gazebo will more quickly succumb to age in the form of fading and rust after just a few years.
Purchasing a hardtop gazebo can be a significant financial investment. Proper care and ongoing maintenance is the only way to ensure that you experience “gazebo life” in the long-term.
We hope this guide to hardtop gazebo durability has helped you make decisions and form plans about your new or existing gazebo.