Building a Patio Cover for Wet Weather
By Larry Walton, Photos by Tim Walton
It rains a lot where I live in Oregon, and for the most part we carry on with sporting events, yard work, hikes and graduation ceremonies in the rain. However, we don’t mind a little shelter from the rain when relaxing on a patio. We do not, however, want that shelter to interfere with the bit of sun we get between July and October.
That’s the story behind this patio cover project. Handle the rain while maintaining an open air feel. The plan: Install polycarbonate corrugated sheets high enough to allow for unobstructed views, for plenty of light and for air movement.
Simply attaching to the vertical surface of the wall or even to the fascia board would not be nearly high enough to accomplish these goals. That’s why we looked to SkyLift for hardware that would enable us to securely mount the patio cover structure well above the rain gutter level and slope it for rain runoff without obstructing the view at the lower portion. (Skylifthardware.com)
SkyLift accomplishes this by providing a vertical riser with a flat plate that penetrates the roof and attaches to the top plate of the exterior wall. The top of the riser accepts a saddle designed to support a beam, which supports the house end of the patio cover. A corresponding beam set on posts supports the other end of the patio cover framing.
There are several advantages to the SkyLift design. First, it attaches to the wall framing without interfering with the roof support system. Second, it seals with a standard pipe jack flashing just like the vent pipes you see on most roofs. Third, it provides a way to set the roof beam into place one end at a time. Fourth, it holds the beam securely while allowing lateral adjustments to get the structure square before lag-bolting the beam in place.
Here’s how we built our patio cover, which is now ready for our summer rain.
First we selected a polycarbonate corrugated roofing material that let in light but also provided UV protection. We saw that the sheets were about 12 ft. long and laid up to 24 in. wide (after overlap). We figured a 12-by-12-ft. cover would be about right for the space so we picked up six sheets along with the supporting corrugated moldings.
After carefully exploring for irrigation pipes, we determined locations for two 4×4 posts just outside of the patio slab. We dug the post holes 8 ft. apart and made each 2 ft. deep.
We mixed up a batch of Sakrete to set the posts.
We used our 4×4 posts to estimate locations for our two SkyLift roof riser brackets. We removed two pieces of composition shingle (one above the other) at each location for the SkyLift hardware.
We drilled two 1-in. holes through the roof sheeting (one for a flashlight, the other for an eyeball). We used a 2-ft. section of arrow shaft to move the insulation so we could see where we were.
We used a torpedo level to make sure our arrow shaft was straight up and down. At our first location we could see that we were just inside the top plate, so we planned our opening just down the hill accordingly. We had no objects interfering with our hardware.
We used two ratchet extensions and a socket on our impact driver to lag the SkyLift base to the top plate. We centered the base plate (inside to outside) on the wall’s top plate. The left to right positioning as you look at the house is not that critical because the beams are cantilevered on the hardware.
We replaced the composition shingles that were removed earlier, notching for the pipe jack flashing as needed. We were careful to use roofing tacks only in areas that were not exposed to the weather.
After laying out our roofing material on the lawn using the corrugated molding strips along one edge, we saw that the sheets would be about 145-5/8 inches in both directions. We decided our rafters should be 143-by-143-in. to allow for overhang and a trim strip along the outside edge. We left our 4×6 beams at full length and cut a little chamfer out of the bottom corner of each for looks.
We found that leaving the saddle on the SkyLift riser unbolted allowed one guy to place the end of a beam in the saddle and climb a ladder with the other end. The saddle spins to follow the beam. Nice feature.
We used a straight rafter to level across from the roof hardware to a 4×4 post. After allowing for 18 in. of fall for water runoff, we marked and cut off one 4×4 post. We leveled over to the other post to mark and cut it to height. We set our one 4×6 beam on the posts and secured by toenailing screws into the posts.
We positioned one rafter with our preferred overhang and used a level to mark the vertical line for a bird’s mouth joint at the outside beam. We used a 3/4 strip on top of the beam to mark the horizontal line. We decided not to cut bird’s mouth joints for the house beam for a couple of reasons, the primary being that the beams were not exactly parallel.
We cut the rafters to 140 in. long. With a header across both ends of the rafter tails, this netted the 143 inches we needed for the frame.
After setting the outside beam, we placed the two outside rafters on our 143-in. layout and toe-nailed them to the beams. We then squared the structure by measuring diagonally and shifting the roof beam side to side in the SkyLift saddles to get the diagonal measurements to match.
The SkyLift saddle fastens to the roof beam using the supplied lag screws. An interesting SkyLift design is that the holes on one side of the saddle are off-set from the other side, which prevents the lag screws from colliding in the middle.
After setting the remainder of the rafters on the 24-in. layout, we made 24-in. layout marks down the two outside rafters and snapped chalk lines to set the 2×2 purlins, which run on top of and perpendicular to the rafters.
We nailed corrugated molding on top of the 2x2s, watching the peaks and valleys at the rafters to make sure they were lined up.
We loaded all six sheets of the polycarbonate roofing onto our structure, working from one end to the other.
After lining up the sheets with a consistent 1-in. overhang, we predrilled and fastened each with screws equipped with washers and rubber gaskets along the lower edge of the roof.
We spanned over at least three purlins at a time with plywood to distribute weight so we could screw off the remainder of the sheets. We spaced fasteners at 1-ft. intervals across and 2 ft. up and down, being sure to include the overlaps which fasten down the edges.
We attached the 4×6 beams to the 4×4 posts with custom made 1/8-in. steel straps cut at 3-by-9 inches.
It didn’t take long for our Oregon climate to bring us a rain shower to test our roof. No leaks—thanks to SkyLift’s bright idea of using pipe jack flashing.
We pre-painted all of the framing lumber with primer and two top coats before we installed it on this project. Be sure to paint the end grain as well, which helps to protect the wood from moisture.
Hot Products for Outdoor Living
The Big Green Egg XXL is the largest capacity high-performance ceramic grill in production today. Although the Egg is currently offered in five popular and versatile sizes, the introduction of the prototype “EGGzilla” several years ago made the company aware of demand for an even larger model. The XXL is large enough to roast a whole hog, 20 racks of ribs or 40 burgers. The stainless steel cooking grid measures 29.25 inches in diameter for a whopping 672 sq. in. of cooking area. Like all grills in the Big Green Egg family, the XXL can handle virtually any cooking need, from cooking low and slow for hours to flash searing at ultra-high temperatures. Its patented components and state-of-the-art ceramic technologies provide the best cooking results and will not deteriorate over time. Another notable feature of the XXL is the new patent-pending hinge design that allows easy one-handed operation of opening or closing the distinctive green dome.
The XXL will be made available as a Limited Edition in 2013 at selected dealers around the world.
Big Green Egg XXL will be available in full distribution in 2014. Learn more at www.biggreenegg.com.
Twilight Modern Fireplace
At this year’s International Builders’ Show (IBS) in January, the Heat & Glo Twilight Modern indoor/outdoor gas fireplace received top honors from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) as the winner of the Best of Show Award in the Outdoor Living category. The Twilight Modern is a two-sided gas fireplace that combines two megatrends; contemporary design and outdoor living. The see-though design provides impressive fireside views from both inside and outside the home, doubling the ambience and enjoyment from one fireplace. It features sleek contemporary styling with flames that rise through modern media and reflect on a black porcelain firebox. Because it’s a closed system, the Twilight Modern provides a safe environment for enjoying fires within an arm’s length on outdoor patios, decks or terraces. The Twilight Modern uses Direct Vent technology and innovative engineering to deliver a unique fire-side experience—and a powerful 38,000 BTUs. The unit splits the exterior wall of a home and can be installed flush with the inside or outside wall. It’s rated as a fireplace and exterior window and requires no additional flue or vertical venting, simplifying installation. Learn more at www.HeatnGlo.com.
Early Bloomer Greenhouse
Green thumb homeowners can now grow your own locally produced organic food all year. The Early Bloomer Greenhouse is a durable and affordable starter greenhouse kit for anyone who wants to enjoy year round growing. Measuring 8 ft. wide and 8 ft. long, the Early Bloomer Greenhouse offers plenty of room to grow everything from heirloom tomatoes to salad greens, and it fits nicely in even small yards. The center height of 6 ft., 3 in. is ideal for tall plants or even small fruit trees. The greenhouse features a Solexx brand corrugated plastic covering that diffuses light to create ideal inside growing conditions and prevent leaf burn. The covering also provides the highest insulation available in hobby greenhouses. The extremely strong base along with the Solexx corrugated plastic greenhouse covering makes the Early Bloomer Greenhouse sturdy enough to withstand powerful winds—unlike many small greenhouses. Learn more at www.greenhousecatalog.com.
Raguhner Light Columns
Raguhner light columns from W.S. Tyler are sources of outdoor light—but also objects of design in their own right. During the day they are contemporary decorative sculptures, while at night they provide soft indirect light, creating a pleasant ambience. Light reflection on the body of the semi-transparent structure, which is made from high-quality stainless steel architectural mesh, creates Moiré pattern effects that vary depending on the viewing angle. The stainless steel base has an integrated light source, which is suitable for installation in gravel, patios, terraces and most other landscapes. Learn more at www.weavingideas.com.
RoboReel Water Hose Reel
Great Stuff Inc. offers the innovative new RoboReel Water Hose Reel to provide a level of convenience and safety never seen before in a hose reel. Designed to eliminate frustrating kinks and replace manual winding hose reels that tangle hoses and break after a couple of months. The RoboReel Water offers One-Touch Retraction, in which it winds your hose neatly and automatically at the touch of a button on the unit, or on the remote at the end of the hose.
It rewinds the hose utilizing a back-and-forth motion, preventing kinks. The One-Touch Water feature starts the flow of water as the RoboReel’s valve and remote can manage all on/off water functions. The RoboReel also rotates 360 degrees continuously so you can water any area within a 200-280 ft. diameter, depending on which hose size you choose. With its durable motor and rugged UV-, chemical-, and impact-resistant polycarbonate shell, RoboReel can withstand heavy weathering and exposure to the elements. Great Stuff stands behind their product with a four-year or 4,000 wind warranty. Learn more at www.roboreel.com.