How To Build a Shade Structure

Difficulty: Complex  |  Estimated time: 8 hours  |  Help needed: 6 volunteers

Shade is a very important topic for many communities when it comes to their children. The structure not only provides a bit of relief from the sun but also adds to the aesthetic quality of the overall playspace. The more inviting a gathering area is, the more likely community members will begin to treat it like the “town square” it should be.

Download Instructions

Materials and tools

Quantity:Materials:
1 4x4x12' board
4 4x4x10' boards
7 2x6x8' boards
36 2x2x8' boards
3 4'x8' lattice pieces
5lbs 2 ½" deck screws
2lbs 1 ½" N8 nails
2lbs 8d galvanized nails
8 ½"x8" galvanized carriage bolts
8 ½" galvanized nuts
8 ½" galvanized washers
4 LS30-R skewable angle braces
14 H2.5A rafter ties
9 80lb bags concrete
Tools needed:
Miter Saw
Pencil
Tape measure
Safety glasses
Carpenter's square
Drill
Screwdriver bit
Sandpaper
Marking paint
Level
String line
Hammer
Ladder
½" long drill bit
¾" socket with ratchet or ¾" open-ended wrench

Preparation instructions

  1. Sort all materials into piles by like items to ensure you have materials needed to complete project.

  2. Take the 4x4x12. Cut into [4] 4x4x36" pieces.

  3. Take [12] of the 2x2x8' boards. Cut each into [2] 48" pieces, for a total of [24] 2x2x48" pieces.

  4. Do NOT cut the following:

    • [4] 4x4x10' boards
    • [7] 2x6x8' boards
    • [4] 2x6x12' boards
    • [24] 2x2x8' boards
    • [3] 4'x8' lattice pieces
  5. Angled Cuts:

    • Take the [4] 4x4x36" pieces previously cut. Using the miter saw, cut 45° off both sides, creating a 36" trapezoid.

Build instructions

  1. Before building, inventory and sort all of your materials.

    Quantity:Inventory:
    4 4x4x10' boards
    4 4x4x36" trapezoids
    4 2x6x12' boards
    7 2x6x8' boards
    24 2x2x8' boards
    24 2x2x48" boards
    3 4'x8' lattice pieces
  2. First, the 4x4x10s must be set in the ground as posts. Each post will be buried 2' in the ground with concrete. The footprint of the shade structure is 9' long and 6' wide. Holes need to be 24" deep with an 8" diameter.

  3. The posts need to be level both side to side and front to back. They also need to be in a straight line with proper alignment (see photo). A string-line can be helpful for this.

  4. Let the concrete set for several hours before completing the shade structure.

  5. Next, take the [4] 2x6x12' boards and lay them on the ground. The 2x6x12' boards will run parallel with the long side of the structure stretching roughly 16 ½" past the outside of the posts. The 2x6x12' boards will run on BOTH sides of the 4x4 posts.

  6. Using two ladders, raise the headers to the tops of the 4x4 posts and level them (keep in mind the tops of the posts might not be exactly the same height and that is not necessary). Attach the headers to the posts temporarily with 2 ½" screws.

  7. Using the long, ½" drill bit, drill 1 hole through both 2x6x12' headers and the 4x4 post in order to fit the 8" carriage through this hole.

  8. Now you'll place a carriage bolt through each hole you've drilled (there should be a total of 4 holes; 1 through each post). Put the carriage both through the hole so that the head of the bolt is facing outward and the washer and nut are on the inside of the structure.

  9. Next you'll attach the 4x4x36" trapezoid braces. Make sure the 45° angle sits flush with the 4x4 post but also passes through the 2x6x8' headers. Attach the lower end of the 4x4 trapezoid brace to the 4x4 post using the angled brackets and the 1 ½" nails.

  10. On the higher end of the trapezoid brace, use the ½" long drill bit to drill a hole through both 2x6x12' headers and the 4x4x36" trapezoid brace. Place a 8" carriage bolt through this hole and attach using a washer and nut, again making sure the head is on the outside of the structure and the washer and nut are on the inside. Repeat this step for all 4 trapezoid braces.

  11. Next, layout the seven 2x6x8 rafters above the headers. The rafters should overhang the outside headers by about 8 ½" on each side. The rafters should be roughly 22 ¼" apart. The end rafters should be approximately flush with the end of the headers. There are 2 rafters, side by side, to cover the seams where the 2x2x8' boards will meet the 2x2x4' boards. These 2 side by side rafters should be placed 8' from the end of the headers (see photo).

  12. Use the rafter ties to attach the rafters to the headers. Make sure that 2 rafter ties are used per rafter (one on each end). Use the 1 ½" nails to fasten the rafters to the headers.

  13. Next attach the 2x2x8s on top of the rafters using the 8d nails. They should be evenly spaced about 2 ⅝" apart. The 2x2s will meet on one of the two rafters that are side by side and overhang the outside rafter.

  14. Next attach the 2x2x4s on top of the rafters, again, using the 8d nails. The 2x2x4s should line up with the 2x2x8s and therefore should also be evenly spaced about 2 ⅝" apart. Similarly, the 2x2s will meet on the other rafter that is placed side by side and overhang the outside rafter.


  15. Finally, use the 8d nails to attach the three sheets of 4'x8' lattice onto the 2x2x8s. Orient the sheets of lattice as shown.