Houses are money pits. Between the taxes, the maintenance, and the repairs, its a wonder anyone can even afford to own one. One way to save a bit of money is to take on some home repair and renovation projects yourself. For instance, the bay windows at the back of my house leak during thunderstorms and the backdoor freezes shut during winter. While it would be difficult and expensive to fix both the windows and the door, I decided that since both overlooked my patio, a patio cover would effectively keep foul weather away from the bay window and back door, making it a cheaper and easier fix. If youre interested in making your own patio cover read on for instructions for how to do so.
While looks are important, you want to make sure that the materials fit the structure. Since my patio cover was going to have a slight slope, shingles were out. A tar roof would work, but it would be heavy smell like a BP oil spill. I decided on corrugated metal roofing because its resistant to high winds, is light weight, and is structurally sound.
Using corrugated metal also allows me to reduce the degree of slope, or roof pitch, needed to a mere 10 percent, or a 1 to 10 pitch. This meant the patio cover could start at the edge of the houses roof at a height of eight feet and slope down to seven feet, leaving a clearance of more than six and a half feet between the lowest part of the frames headers and the ground at its outer edge.
I had originally planned on using 4×4 beams and joists, but local codes wouldnt allow for them, so I used 10×2 headers and 6×2 joists, which worked out just fine. Also, be prepared to modify your plan at the store when youre getting your materials, as doing so can save you money. For instance, I chose drywall screws instead of nails because, for some reason, they were less expensive, and they wont try to work themselves back out after a few years. Another substitution I made was choosing three- and four-inch deck screws instead of framing nails. Although more costly, they hold much better than framing nails outdoors.
Shopping around for the best prices for materials was absolutely necessary. In the same town, in an area of less than 10 miles, the difference in prices was enormous. Total material costs ranged from $2,200 down to $800.
Some are aggressive and want to push customers into an insane buying frenzy, bringing up a storm of confusing nonsense that somehow equates spending more to saving more. The lumber store I bought from had an associate who simply made sure I bought the correct materials for the job by looking over my plan and suggesting shorter screws for the joist hangars and a lower grade of lumber for the areas of the patio cover that would not be exposed to the weather. The associate also arranged for delivery, which cost $25.
Some people said a building permit was unnecessary, while others said it was impossible to get without a contractors license, or that it would raise my property tax, etc. So I called the permit and licensing office and got the correct answers.
Getting the building permit was actually much easier than I thought. I took the plans to the towns permit and licensing office, filled out some paperwork, and the next morning I got a call and went back to the permit office to pick up and pay for the permit, which came to $85. They made a couple of alterations to the plan that not only were easy to accommodate but also made the project easier and cheaper! To prepare for the final inspection, I took pictures of each critical step to show the building inspector, which made the final inspection a snap.
Early the next morning the materials arrived at my house. Once the materials were unloaded, I began carrying the ten foot long boards and corrugated metal sheets to the back yard, laying them out in a pattern to roughly match how they would be assembled. I also separated the corrugated metal sheets, wiped each one down with a light coat of vegetable oil, and then re-stacked them. This was something I had seen a neighbor do a long time ago, when I was a child. I dont know if it served any purpose other than making me feel better. Its a step I probably could have skipped, but who was I to doubt the wisdom of the ancients?
First I removed the 1/4 plywood dressing right below the drip edge and saw a very solid framing 2×4 underneath, perfect for attaching the ledger board, which attaches the cover to the roof frame. The local building code required a 2×6 ledger board, which meant I had to saw off two inches of wood from the top of the bay windows box.
Next I pre-drilled 1/8 holes, 6 inches apart, in the ledger board, because it was treated lumber and the deck screws would need a little help getting started. After attaching the ledger board with 4 decking screws, I used a large staple gun to staple the phone, internet and cable lines to it, on the inside toward the house, to better protect them from the weather.
It was a little bit difficult to figure out where to dig the post holes. I wanted them to be exactly 9.5 from roof edge, but the houses foundation was recessed 2 from the roofs drip edge and stuck out 26 from under the bay windows. How was I going to get an accurate measurement? All sorts of neat tools I saw people use on TV shows and formulas from various math classes flashed through my mind. Heres what I did:
I stood up up a couple of posts at the roofs edge, using a bubble level to make sure they were perfectly upright.
Then I measured and marked nine and a half feet on a couple of joist boards and laid them on the ground, with one end by the upright posts and the markings on the other end showing where the hole should be dug. I did this at both edges of the ledger board, and laid two more ten foot joist boards between them.
I then used my square, or angle iron, to make the corners square.
I marked the spots for the three post-holes, with the middle post-hole going where the two 10 foot joist boards met.
I then measured corner to corner, one way and then the other, and made slight adjustments until both measurements came out the same. With the exact centers for the post holes marked, I marked 18 circles around them because I planned to dig the holes 18 deep and wanted them to be as wide as they were deep, in accordance with local building codes. (See pictures above)
I started digging the holes with a simple shovel, all the while thinking about those post-hole diggers, the ones with motors and big augers, that take two people to operate, like I saw used on various home improvement TV shows. Before I could formulate a plan for renting a hole digger, though, I had already finished digging all three holes with just a plain old shovel. Then I used my garden hoe to tamp down and compact the dirt at the bottom of the holes.
Next I scratched my head as I thought about how Id make sure that the tops of the three posts would be even once they were placed into the post holes. Moreover, without anyone to help hold things in place, I needed to figure out how to attach the rest of the frame to posts that would already be standing upright.
What I came up with worked, although I never saw it done on TV. I laid a board on the patio slab, and set a bubble level on the end of that board. Then I took that end of the board to the hole and stood the 4×4 post up straight, holding it by hand, and lifted the board with the bubble level up until it was level and then made a mark on the 4×4 post. I then laid down the post and measured seven feet from its top and marked it. The difference between the two marks was how much taller I wanted the post to be, so I attached a length of treated 2×4 to the end, adding enough length to the post so that its height would be perfect. I did this for all three posts.
The rest of the frame I assembled on solid ground, not wanting to hold everything in place with one hand while installing decking screws with the other.
Cut four braces with precise 45 degree angles.
I cut them from a single 10-foot long 2×10 board. I measured the width of the board with a ruler, then marked that length from the end of the board and cut from there to the corner to make a triangle of wood that was exactly the right shape. I measured the short sides of that wooden triangle-shaped block and they were exactly the same so I knew it was cut at a 45 degree angle. I used that to mark the lines I would cut to make the braces. I made the two outside braces three feet long at their outsides, and the two inside braces two feet long at their outsides.
With the braces cut, I laid out the frame on the ground in the position they would eventually be in. I pre-drilled the screw holes with a 1/8 bit to prevent cracking and on the braces I pre-drilled halfway into the wood with a 1/4 bit so that the screws could sink deeper. After attaching each piece, I checked each joint to make sure it was square and that nothing had been knocked out of place. Luckily, the pieces stayed where I wanted them to and I didnt have to make any further adjustments. After assembling the frame I marked 24 all along the center and on the ledger board and attached 11 joist hangars to each. Then it was time to get the frame, which weighed about 300 pounds at this point, ready to be raised.
(11 ten-foot long 2x6s). I had to cut an angle and a 1/2 notch at the top ends so the roof of the patio cover would come in below the houses drip edge. I then cut off seven inches from the other end at an angle so it would mach up to the frames header at the far end. For this I made a template from a piece of cereal box cardboard, cut out the pattern and drew it on the ends of each board. Then I cut with a circular saw and used a bow saw to take out the last little bit of the notches. If I had one, I would have used a jig saw. For the far ends, I made another template, one without a notch, to ensure all the angles and lengths were the same. A real pro might have made measurements for each cut instead of making a template, but I didnt want to risk the possibility of human error.
To stand up the frame without help, it was necessary to attach prop sticks; that is, I used a single framing nail to attach a 10-foot long 2×6 board (I used my joists) to the outside of the frame, one board length away from the bottom of the frame, on each side. These two boards would rotate on their nail, their end holding up the frame as I lifted, while their other end would be on the ground, preventing the frame from going back down.
Then, in the middle, I attached a 10-foot board to the center post and lifted it from the very end, the leverage cutting the strength needed to lift the frame in half. As I lifted the frame I walked in toward it, and had the frame standing in its post holes without having to strain myself. Next I attached the joists to the left and right sides, and with the corners secure I was able to remove the prop sticks and center lifting board and install the rest of the joists.
At this point I had the frame attached to the joists, and the joists attached to the ledger board on the house. To make the frame perfectly level across the top, I lifted the posts just a little and tossed in just a bit of dry concrete ready-mix to raise its height just enough to make my bubble read perfect. Then to make the posts exactly straight up and down, I lifted and moved the bottom ends in the post holes, measuring with the level after each adjustment. After letting things settle for about a half hour, I re-checked everything with the leveler again. It was still plumb and square, so that meant it was time to pour some concrete.
I chose six 80 lb. bags of post-set concrete. I mixed one bag at a time, using my garden hoe to stir in water until the concrete became a near-liquid, something resembling sloppy mud. Then I used my shovel to put equal amounts into each post hole, repeating this process until I got to the last bag. For the last batch of concrete I added less water and mixed it to the consistency of raw cookie dough and, wearing work gloves, I grabbed gobs by hand and formed it into a dome at the base of each post to prevent water from pooling. Then I used a block of scrap wood as a trowel to tap and smooth the surface of the concrete. Then I let the concrete set.
After that it was simple but repetitive work. I attached 1 x 6 boards to the top of the joists, and then screwed the corrugated metal roof to them. The most difficult part was getting the upper end of the metal sheets to go under the drip edge and roof decking of the house and to butt up against a bead of clear-drying roof cement I had put in there with a caulking gun. Also, putting a bead of sealer along the edge of the metal sheets before overlapping them was a bit demanding, though absolutely necessary.
The job was done at that point. As for the corrugated metal roofing, I chose rubber washer metal-into-wood screws with ¼ bolt heads and used a ¼ magnetized drill adapted socket to put them in. That type of screw goes into into every valley at the top and bottom ends of the panels and every other valley throughout the rest of the roof, into the 1 x 6 boards placed 24 on center.
Where the Patio Cover Attaches to the Roof
More detail about joining the patio cover to the existing roof.
Step-by-Step Guide to Building an Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit
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it is just horrible when someone does such great work Youo like this roof. So I think:
Sounds a bit extreme. IF those guys, who looked at it thought it was sound and well made. Since you like the existing roof, you should just move it. You should be able to use a sawzall to cut the patio roof off the house. Depending on the lengths of the rafters and width of the patio (Spans), you will support the upper roof structure temporarily with 2x4s for posts, screwed to 2x 8,10, ? beam and cross braced with 2x4s to prevent swaying in both directions. This temporary beam can be 1/3 of the length back from the upper end of the roof or less. But you dont want it in the way of gutter removal, ledger installation, or your new permanent posts, if you dont plan to support it using the house. for temporary posts beams and braces, use 3 screws or longer or scaffold (duplex) nails, Temporarily sway brace the lower roof beam posts in both directions. Hence all are braced both ways. Which means all 4 ways. You can cut your temporary posts bit long and just drive them toward vertical to unload the house roof slightly. You will want some bottle jacks or screw jacks and some pairs of 2x4s nailed together so that you can raise and lower the temporary beam with them. Make one end of the 2×4 flush or even with each other and let one extend 6-8 beyond the other at the top. you can nail or screw this longer end to the beam while the shorter 2×4 lifts it….then it wont fall on you when you lower the jack and remove it or otherwise fuss with the height. put the jacks in place and with just a little tension and leave them
Now your roof is standing by itself. It can be moved a bit without falling as you change its position.
You can raise it above your old roof. Or you can cut it or otherwise adapt to attach it to the house as in the articles above diagram. The lower beam will likely tolerate some change in roof pitch. Look at the fastenings and make your plan.
Separate it from the house roof. Maybe just jacking the upper end up will pull the nails. Maybe cutting nails or the roof itself with a sawzall and a few blades will suit you. Figure it out so you dont tear up your house
1- Then elevate it above the roof, leaving the gutter accessable. Finish the upper end as you like. Determine the desired height and install your permanent posts, beam, and bracing. Lower it onto the beam and fasten
2- or sway it out beyond the shingles. Lower and swing it back under the shingles to the position shown in the above drawing. If needed, with a sawzall and a few blades, you can cut the roof and rafters to the estimated length. You may not need posts this way. But the load you were worried about with the roof as it is now will not have been changed. So check with an engineer. If needed, install permanent posts and beam.
Ill reiterate: Your downhill beam should tolerate a slight elevation change of the uphill end, but the downhill posts should be braced during the operation and permanently appropriate to the final design..
Any decent carpenter should be able to plan and hold your hand through this. Any new posts have to suit your floor plan and with a raised roof, you will now have a gap on the uphill side, which can be dealt with by adding a sheet metal or shingle wall on the beam, which extends into the house gutter. It will bear no weight, simply to keep rain out. Or leave it if the wind and the rain are not a problem.
Now you dont have to build a new roof. However, YOU MUST pour a pier for each new post and you must brace the whole thing to compensate for the house no longer providing sway both directions. I cannot over state what the house is doing to keep your structure from falling over. If you do not re-attach it well you may have serious problems. If it is well thought out, designed, and fastened, it will take much less effort, time, and materials. you end up buying a bunch of 2x4s and a couple bigger 2xs Infinitely cheaper and still useful. Call one of those guys who laughed at the roof and you enjoyed. Give him 2 days of work, and go fishing on the other days you sere going to do this. And you can go out to dinner lots of times on the money you saved. Even after you buy a sawzall (get a cheap one with a guarantee like harbor freight), a kkgood cordless drill and bits (I like the torx 25 bit for screws), a flat bar, sledge hammer or 2 maul will do, a step ladder, a skill saw. and 2 jacks. and some pizza for your family or a friend to hold up a post, while you screw it in place. Sorry I dont normally write anything like this. A good carpenter will make it pretty simple. If the usual horrors do not come out of the wood work. Or you could buy a leaf blower and tape a drain pipe to it and blow out the gutter 4 or 5 times a year.
i have a patio roof now that the previous just set on top of the roof..it looks pretty to someone that doesnt know any better until u realize there is a gutter that needs to be cleaned from roof of house sitting inder the roof of the patio…after buying the home and realizing this is what i have to deal with every year…im looking into doing these plans…and ripping the old one down…it is just horrible when someone does such great work to find a mistake or flaw like this that ruins the whole idea…so maybe going to the inspector isnt such a bad idea because im sure an inspector would not have agreed to the set up of my home. So many contractors have come and looked and said wow, that is a lot of stress to put on the house roof why didnt they do it this way (the way in this article). i wanted to enclose the whole patio but unfortunately, because of this mistake it has to be completely torn down because of this evee they didnt remove before putting patio roof up…so yeah these directions are very helpful…
This is fantastic and my husband will love using it!
awesome details! The idea that you didnt have help lifting all that up by yourself, you are The Man! also, the extension you put on the posts…genius plus you thought of doming the cement base…never thought of that. Great job
Anita Hasch16 months agofrom Port Elizabeth
Thanks for sharing and showing the project step by step. Now you have all that extra space. Protection from the rain and too much sun.
Thanks Im getting ready to attempt my covered patio project, very great blog entry thank you!!
instead of the gap filler 3x expansion foam, would it be better using flashing ?
I wish there was a picture of the frame before he raised it.
Good information and well written. One thing dry wall screws should never be used for anything exterior and truth be told only for dry wall. They are cheap metal and rust and break very easy.
Very informative and great info, thank you for sharing Jed.
One quick question: Gap filler 3x expansion foam – not sure what this is, cannot find at my local home depot. Wish to have a good seal and hoping you can recommend by product name so can find similar.
This was really helpful thank you so much for taking the time to share this information.
Any particular reason you used lumber instead of metal for the frame? I have a 24 x 45 patio cover we are building and we are considering a pre fabricated horse shelter that is all metal including the posts. I will probably case the posts afterwards with faux wood for aesthetics. any thoughts?
Ive never done this before, but thought a lot about it through my head. Almost same plan. A few things I wouldve done different: poured concrete no higher than 6 inches below ground level to let grass cover concrete footings. drywall screws rust. would have used a piece of flashing where the roofs meet instead of caulk – flashing goes under shingles and over metal roof.
I was looking for ideas for our home where the uncovered patio faces the west. I really liked yours the best. My boyfriend is a Master Carpenter so I know he will loves the pics when I show him this. I noticed your from Oklahoma also where at? I am east of OKC.
It stays surprisingly cool. The metal blocks radiant heat and the patio is on the north side of the house. This keeps it comfortable during the hottest parts of the day, the late afternoon.
Since it is not insulated does it get really hot underneath during the summer?
a wonderful article!! i too had questions and this answered all of them!! thank you for taking the laymans view instead of the contractors, it clearly explains everything!!
Troy Eckstein5 years agofrom Aliso Viejo, California 92656
You could use a ledger board. Usually a 2 x 6 with L brackets attached to your rafters that will lift up the patio cover higher. Here is a picture that shows how this attachment works.
Troy Eckstein5 years agofrom Aliso Viejo, California 92656
If you use the Alumawood patio cover material it can be easier than this. You can bolt the posts directly to your concrete with out footing as long as you are attaching to your house. You can attach to the fascia or your house wall. You can find installation instructions at and get some design ideas. You can build a 11 projection x 20 wide for as little as $1,600.00 for all materials needed. All you need to do is cut your posts to size. Good luck everyone.
How would you attach the porch roof on top of an existing metal roof?
I need to start on top of the roof to allow enough room for an out swing door. Id like to start 4 feet up on the roof and come out about 6 feet from the end of the existing roof. How do I connect and seal the connection?
monicamelendez5 years agofrom Salt Lake City
Nicely done Jed. Sometimes I really wish that I had a house instead of a townhouse. I am definitely into doing things myself but I can only change whats on the inside of my place!
My house roof is 4:12 pitch and my patio cover is 2:12 and that is fine in my town. Lowering the outer end, that will make the joists too short as they pivot at the end attached to the house. The roof material and how much snow weight the structure can support are what determines if the pitch is too shallow. I used metal because its light and its okay. Maybe let the inspector enter your house by the front door and walk through so that their first impresion of the patio cover is from underneath as they step out of the back door onto the patio. If they see solid construction they may not check the pitch at all.
I have an issue with my patio cover pitch. Used an Online calculator and came up with a 4.7/12 pitch, which I thought was good since I used 3 tab which in my state requires a min. of 3.5/12 pitch. I built the thing using the original dimensions and didnt bother to check the pitch again till it is completely roofed and patio cover done (except for gutters). I use an Android pitch/angle app on my phone after I was done and it says its only a 2.76/12 pitch! Yikes! Re-checked my original numbers that I started with and realized I calculated the gable measurement wrong and it should have been doubled. So I guess what Im asking… is there any safe and easy way to lower the pitch to 3.5/12 without pulling everything apart and starting over? I think I would have to lower my 4×4 posts and header/beam by 5-6 inches to accommodate the required pitch! Thats seems like its going to change the angle of my rafters so much so that they wont stay in the joist hangers and each rafter (all 20 of them) will each have to be removed and the angle re-cut. Argh! Before anyone tells me to just leave it and not worry so much, it has already been permitted with the county at the 3.5/12 minimum pitch and the inspector will surely check the pitch when he gets there after I schedule the inspection. Tried to do the right thing by getting the building permit and I may have to pay dearly for it:( Any advice will be helpful. Except for name calling of course…
Good job. Only a few questions/comments: (1) Instead of 1×6 boards for the purlins, I would have used 2x4s. Reason: Ive found that 1x boards split pretty easily. (2) On your corrugated iron panels, did you put the screws into the peaks or into the valleys? (3) Did you use galvanized fasteners (screws and nails)? If not, youll see some rust sooner or later. (4) Id use treated lumber for everything! Thats probably overkill on my part but having built a few shed-type roofs over the last 30 years, Ive found that high winds can really push rainwater around.
Could you post more pictures of the finished roof? Would like to see it from a distance and from standing under it, looking up. Thanks! Great post.
About to build a very similar project. Curious, what was your total out of pocket expense?
Taking pictures as I went did make the city building inspector happy.
this whole page makes me very happy. it was a one stop shop for answering every question i had. my project is a little larger but the plan is identical. thank you, thank you, thank you. i think ill do the same for my project when i start it to help others too.
LoveOurPlanet7 years agofrom Austin, Texas
Nice. My home has a galvanized metal roof and Id love to add a front or back porch extension someday.
Great detailed hub on how to build a patio cover; thanks for sharing. Congrats on being selected as a nominee for this weeks HubNuggets Wannabe Contest. Good luck to you! 🙂
Denise Handlon7 years agofrom North Carolina
Excellent hub. Well written and easy to understand. Great job (rated it up)
Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. Welcome to HP
Thanks, Giselle. After reading how-to articles and watching how-to shows, I noticed the main thing they lacked was the perspecivtive of the individual who actually does the project.
Wow! This illustrated step-by-step guide is awesome. The end result looks great. I especially like how well you documented all the steps. Other home improvement guides often gloss over some tiny-yet-critical decisions, but yours seemed to cover everything. Id definitely recommend this article to anyone looking to make a patio cover.
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