Gazebo and pergola are outdoor structures that can add a lot of interest to your property without a huge investment.
While both of these structures may seem to be similar, they are very different from one another.
The key difference between a gazebo and a pergola lies in the functionality of the roof.
While a gazebo provides full coverage/shade from the sun, a pergola is meant to provide partial shelter or shade.
This means that it allows the sunlight to shine through its slatted roof which can add a lot of grace to a garden, deck, patio, or pathway.
If you have a gazebo or pergola which is the focal point of entertainment for outdoor activities, a good paint job will not only protect the wood but help it look its best for years to come.
This will require using the right paint and applying it correctly so that it provides the protection needed while making the gazebo look more attractive.
Painting a Gazebo
What follows is the detailed step-by-step process to apply the primer and paint to your gazebo/pergola.
Step 1- Check the Wood Moisture
Before you start painting, the conditions will need to be right.
This means that the moisture content of the wood cannot be higher than 20%.
You can learn about the type of wood present which will guide you on its moisture content or borrow an electronic moisture meter that will provide current measurements.
If the percentage is above 20%, then you will need to wait at least a month or longer for the moisture to drop to the appropriate levels.
At that point, you can purchase the acrylic latex primer which prevents excess moisture from being held in the wood when painted.
Do not use an oil-based primer as that will not work properly under such conditions.
Step 2- Inspect the Lead Paint Presence
If the gazebo was built before 1978, there is a chance it may have lead paint.
You’ll want to obtain a lead test kit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States.
You can find them at your local hardware store or order them online if necessary.
If lead paint is detected, you will need to have a certified professional in the removal of lead-based paint take away all traces before you do any more work on the wood.
Once the lead has been removed, sand and scrape any other paint that might be remaining.
Then, pressure wash the exposed wood and let it thoroughly dry.
Now, you can apply the acrylic latex primer as the first coat.
Step 3- First Primer, then Paint the Sides
The acrylic latex primer should be applied to the gazebo first.
This means sanding to smooth out any rough areas and pressure washing to get rid of any buildup of dirt and debris.
Apply an even coat of primer to the entire gazebo and let it dry.
Now you are ready to paint the sides.
Choose a color of paint that suits the appearance you want for the gazebo and start with the sides.
This means the support columns that hold up the roof and any wood railings or frieze that may be attached below the eaves.
You can use exterior paint just like you would for your home. It is best to apply two coats of paint over the primer for maximum protection.
Plus, it will hide the color of the primer used as well.
Acrylic latex is generally the best because it can expand and contract along with the wood when the temperature changes.
This will lower the chances of cracking or blistering in the paint.
While the color of the paint is up to your taste, it is best to choose one that features eggshell, glossy sheen, or satin as this will make dirt, debris, and handprints easier to wipe away.
Apply the paint with a synthetic brush of high quality to ensure that the finish is smooth and clean.
The quality of the brush will lessen the chances of having brush strokes or streaks in the paint.
Step 4- Finally Paint the Ceiling & Flooring
The next step is painting the ceiling of your gazebo.
For painting the ceiling of your gazebo, you will want to use paint that is made for porch ceilings.
This type of exterior paint formulation will lessen the chances of splatter and have components that will destroy any mold or mildew that might try to attach to the ceiling.
You can use a paint roller with a pole extension to apply the paint, but after covering most of the surface, you may need to climb a ladder and apply the paint to the edges with a brush.
Finally, you can paint the floor of the gazebo or pergola using tough acrylic latex paint that is meant for the porch floor.
These coatings are not only abrasion-resistance but also moisture resistant which will ensure that your gazebo’s wood floor stays protected for long from ongoing foot traffic, and harsh weather elements.
Can You Paint a Gazebo Canopy?
Yes, you can paint a gazebo canopy. The process is similar to painting any other type of outdoor furniture.
First, clean the surface of the canopy with soap and water. Next, use a primer to help the paint adhere to the surface.
Finally, apply several coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.
If it’s the canvas awning, it can be dyed to match using the correct paint like fabric paint.
What are the Best Paint Colors for the Pergola?
When it’s about choosing the right color for the gazebo, neutral colors such as beige, gray, or white are best as they will help the other colors stand out.
You should use complementary colors such as gray for the floor and blue for the ceiling, but you can be bold as well by using brilliant coloring.
Overall, it’s your gazebo, so you have some flexibility in the color scheme that you want to apply.
Here are some awesome gazebo paint color ideas I have found on Pinterest. You can check them out and try them if you like…
How to clean colorfully painted gazebos?
To clean colorfully painted gazebos, mix one-part white vinegar with three parts of water in a bucket.
Apply the mixture to the gazebo with a sponge or cloth, scrubbing gently to avoid damaging the paint.
Rinse the gazebo with clean water and allow it to dry completely before applying a new coat of paint if desired.
Remember that if you intend to clean the already painted surfaces without refinishing, it is best to use a mild cleaner such as white vinegar.
Use a stronger solution only if necessary to remove tough stains or build-up before you paint or stain over it.
What is the most durable paint for a metal pergola?
The most durable paint for a metal pergola is enamel oil-based paint.
However, you can also consider a powder coat. This type of paint is applied as a dry powder and then baked on, creating a hard, durable finish.
Other types of paint may chip or peel over time, but a powder coat will last for many years.
Can you spray paint your gazebo roof and structure with a sprayer?
Yes, you can spray paint a gazebo roof using a paint sprayer and paint (or stain) that’s properly thinned.
When spraying, keep the paint sprayer moving to avoid runs and drips.
It’s also a good idea to back brush the paint or stain after spraying to work it into any nooks and crannies.
Also, for spraying, use a primer and paint made for metal surfaces and follow the instructions on the can for the best results.
You may need to apply several coats of paint to get complete coverage, and it is important to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.
If the roof is made of wood, use a primer and paint designed for external wooden surfaces, as this will provide the best protection against the elements.
Once coated, allow the roof to dry completely before walking on it or adding furniture.
The Bottom Line
Painting a pergola or a gazebo is a great way to add personality and pizzazz to your outdoor living space.
Not only will a fresh coat of paint or stain make it look new again, but it will also help protect the wood from the elements.
When choosing a paint or stain, be sure to select one that is designed for outdoor use and that will hold up to the wear and tear of the elements.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
And always test a small area first to be sure you are happy with the color before painting or staining the entire structure.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.