Inexpensive Yet Stylish Wooden Shade Structure Designs

Building inexpensive, yet stylish, shade structures requires some construction skills.  A simple structure consisting of 2 X 6 wood posts and netting may add an elegant charm to your yard and provide protection from the sun.  This task can also be accomplished by building a free standing or attached pergola, using recycled or remnant pieces of 2 X 6 and 1 X 4 lumber in your home or that you acquire.

The different designs can be simple or more complex, depending on your building skills and the time that you have to devote to the project. Your key objective is saving money, while providing a functional structure that can withstand the elements and is safe for you and your family.

Design Types

The simplest design involves the construction of a simple enclosure using 2 X 6 posts. The posts are attached at the top with a 2 X 4 crossbeam and netting.  This can be accomplished by taking a post hole digger and digging 2 holes, about 9 feet from the house, and 12 feet apart.  The post holes should be deep enough to set the 2 X 6 posts into the ground securely.  Using a quick set cement and water mixture, secure the posts, using a level to make sure that the posts are positioned properly.

Building a Simple Enclosure
Take a ladder, after the posts have set in the cement and are in place, to measure across the tops of the posts.  If the posts are uneven, determine which post is too high and use a chainsaw to take off the excess wood.  Affix a 2 X 4 header on top of the posts and drill a hole into the top of the header board, and 2 X 6 posts.  Secure using lag screws.

Once you have completed the outer frame of the structure, take netting and drape it over the top of the 2 X 4 header board.  You may want to attach another header to the house in order to attach the netting.  It can then be draped over the structure and allowed to hang over the front, creating a curtain effect. You can cut the netting in the front and tie it off to create a stylish desert tent look.  The netting over the top will help protect against the sun and provide sum deterrent to mosquitoes and other backyard bugs.

Building a Pergola

A more elaborate structure that you can design is a pergola feature that either stands on its own or is attached to the back of the house.  With a pergola, you will need to set the 2 X 6 posts in the same manner as you did with the simple design. The difference however is that instead of netting, you will use 1 X 4 or 1 X 6 lumber to create cross beams that are evenly spaced across the top of the structure.  The cross beams can be made from old wood or purchased separately at any home improvement center.

Building a pergola is more expensive that the simple netting structure but much less expensive than building an enclosed addition or other more formal room addition to provide shade and relief from the summer sun.