How to Paint Your Outdoor Gazebo or Pergola?

how to paint gazebo

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.

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 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.

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.

It’s your gazebo, so you have some flexibility in the color scheme that you want to apply.

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