Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Enduring, Alluring Gazebo

From their origins as rooftop structures, used mainly for observation, to their present status, gazebos have taken many forms. Throughout their colorful history, they have been known as summerhouses, screen houses, kiosks, pavilions, pergolas, arbors, grottos, and pagodas.

The word ‘gazebo' first appeared in the 1752 book, New Designs for Chinese Temples,' by architect William Halfpenny. Though no one is certain, etymologists speculate that Halfpenny invented the word by playfully adding the Latin ending -ebo, as in videbo (‘I shall see') to the word ‘gaze' to get the meaning ‘I will look.'

Prized by members of Egyptian royalty, gazebos were essential parts of their gardens, and have been found, depicted in murals, in tombs dating to 1400 b.c. They were also popular with the aristocracy of ancient Rome and Pompeii, and were built as summerhouses along the Mediterranean.

Today, gazebos have grown so popular in this country, that they are almost as common as garages. Although some are still used as quiet places to enjoy the beauty of a garden, others have been elevated to loftier positions, as summerhouses, or lavish entertainment centers, with doors, windows, screens, decks, electricity, and plumbing. Many have special lighting, hot tubs, fire pits, and brick barbecues. Arbors, ornamental fountains, bird feeders, birdbaths, wishing wells, koi ponds, and bridges, are also popular landscaping accessories for gazebos.

From wood to synthetics, there are several types of material from which gazebos may be constructed. Radiant, durable Western Red Cedar, for example, has natural oils that protect it from decay, while its dimensional stability helps to keep it from warping. Cedar may be sealed and stained to maintain its reddish hue, or allowed to weather to a rich gray.

Pressure-treated pine also makes a sturdy, long-lasting gazebo because it is highly resistant to decay and insect damage. A kiln-drying process, before and after pressure treatment, minimizes warping, checking, and twisting. As with all wood gazebos, a stain/sealer should be applied to the entire structure, including the floor and the roof, once a year, to protect it from the elements.

Vinyl gazebos are made with treated pine that has been covered with an attractive vinyl coating, which results in an exceptionally durable, maintenance-free finish.

When choosing a material, don't forget to factor in your region's weather. If your area is subject to heavy rain or snow, high winds, or severe storms, you may want to consider one of the new Category 4 Hurricane Gazebos from With heavy-duty metal, high wind load brackets and hangers, and reinforced posts, braces, floor joists, rafters, and other components, these gazebos can withstand 150 mph sustained winds.

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