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How Do Pop Up Gazebos Work?

So you’re thinking of buying a pop up gazebo? That’s a great idea if you’re planning an event or party in the yard – or simply want to BBQ outside and get some protection from the elements. So how do they work exactly?

A pop up gazebo comes in a carry bag and includes a lightweight metal frame that extends out easily to provide a square roof with four legs. You then attach a fabric cover over the top and secure the legs to the ground with pegs. One person can usually do this quite easily.

In this article we’ll discover what’s in the bag when you buy your new popup gazebo, how to put one up and take it down – and also how to store your gazebo safely.

What Parts Are Included With a Pop Up Gazebo? (What’s in The Bag?)

Pop up gazebos are handy, practical and – frankly – adorable. Pop up gazebos conjure garden parties, grillathons, camping in the mountains, graduations, weddings, shelter on a rainy day, kids laughing and playing, and sipping wine under twinkly lights. They are like outdoor good times, in a bag. 

So, what’s in the bag? What do you get for your money?

Pop up gazebos come in lots of styles, price tags, and – names. Pop up gazebo names are confusing – is it a pop up gazebo or is it a canopy? How about a gazebo-tent? Or a pop up canopy-gazebo? Or a gazebo-canopy-tent? How about a traveler-shelter? If you are looking online for your perfect pop up, be sure to use lots of search words.

In general, gazebos differ from tents in that they are tall enough for people to walk around in. Most tents are for sleeping. Gazebos differ from canopies in that gazebos are fancier and canopies more plain (and weigh less). 

Pop up gazebos are ingeniously designed (some patented) with expanding, interlocking poles that accordion out to full size, hence the pop up name. Some literally pop up in a matter of minutes. Beware of manufacturers that say “pop up” but have a long list of parts that you need for a two-hour assembly process. 

Pop up gazebos have four uprights and a fabric canopy. Generally, pop up gazebos can be classed as backyard or travel. 

Backyard pop up gazebo canopies can be vented for winds and fire pit or grill smoke. They may have decorative fabric over the uprights or have fabric or netting walls that zip closed. Backyard gazebos are heavy – up to 70 pounds. Most come with carry bags that are wheeled. 

In the bag of a backyard gazebo are several pieces. The biggest piece is the ingeniously designed frame. The frame consists of many poles attached together that fold out accordion-like.

Also in the bag are four legs or supports. A single gazebo leg is normally one telescoping piece but can be two pieces that fit together. The fabric canopy is also in the bag. If the canopy is vented, it may come in two sections. Other fabric pieces are side walls, curtains, privacy panels or mosquito netting.

Some backyard gazebos come with metal stakes and guy lines to secure the legs in wind. With others, wind-resistant kits are sold separately. Wind resistant kits include guy ropes and stakes, sandbags, or weights.

Travel pop up gazebos go camping, tailgating and to the beach. They weigh less, go up quicker and are less decorative. They are designed to be portable. Many have side walls or mosquito netting. 

Travel pop up gazebos fold down smaller than backyard ones. The legs telescope down or are spring poles. Most camping style pop ups come with wind-resistant guy ropes and stakes. Canopies are one piece.

Loaded up into storage bags, travel pop up gazebos weigh up to 40 pounds. They are physically smaller than the ones designed for backyards and fit into most cars. You can easily sling these bags into the car boot and head to the mountains. 

Can One Person Put Up a Pop Up Gazebo?

Yes, one person put up a travel gazebo and many backyard ones too. The ingenious designs help. 

Travel gazebos are designed for solo operation. For a backyard gazebo, one person can walk around the frame and pull or push on opposing sides. It just takes a little longer with one person.

Here’s a video of one person putting up a lightweight gazebo, and then taking it down. 

If you have a large backyard gazebo, having two people to carry and set up the gazebo will be easier and sometimes necessary. Large gazebos are heavy. Most bags have wheels, but not all. You will need two people to lug the gazebo across the lawn to that perfect spot.

Walking a large gazebo frame open and closed is easier with two people. Two people pulling or pushing on opposing sides of the frame can halve the setup (or take down) time.

How Long Does it Take To Put a Gazebo Up?

Some manufacturers claim that it takes two minutes to pop up their gazebo. Some take 15 minutes.

Hard top gazebos are permanent structures in your backyard. Soft top gazebos have fabric canopies, but they are heavy – hundreds of pounds. 

Pop up gazebos are different from soft top ones. They are designed to be portable. They are very cleverly designed to go up and come down fast. If a gazebo takes more than half an hour to put up, then it’s not a pop up, by (the author’s) definition.

If you are shopping for a pop up, read the reviews carefully and see how long it takes. If assembly with nuts and bolts is required, then it’s not a pop up.

Reading the manufacturer’s manual and watching set up videos should take you longer than actually putting up a pop up gazebo 🙂

Pop up gazebo

How To Take Down a Pop Up Gazebo

Follow these steps to take down your gazebo:

  1. If possible, let your gazebo dry thoroughly before taking it down. If that’s not possible, be sure to open it back up ASAP to let it dry.
  2. Lower the canopy by lowering the leg height. 
  3. With the canopy lowered, brush off leaves or dirt.
  4. If your model has extension poles for the canopy (to create an overhang), then detach the fabric from the extension poles, and take off the extension poles.
  5. Release any locks on the extendable frame.
  6. With a partner, take opposite sides and walk the frame closed. If solo, take turns on opposite sides and walk the frame closed. 
  7. With most gazebos, you can pack it away with the canopy still attached. Tuck the canopy inside the frame so it doesn’t get caught in the bag zipper. Put the folded gazebo into the storage bag. If the gazebo is going into storage, detach the canopy, fold it up and store it in the bag.
  8. Tuck into the bag any extra poles, stakes or side walls.

Here’a a video showing a two-person set up and then a take down.

How To Store a Pop Up Gazebo When it’s Not in Use

To keep your adorable pop up gazebo adorable, there are some important steps to take. First, clean off your gazebo. Leave the frame extended but lower the leg height so you can see the top of the canopy.

Check the canopy for damage and repair any rips with mending tape. Then clean it with a sponge, brush, broom, or hose. For stubborn stains, you can use a vinegar solution

For the frame, make sure that the moving parts are clean and lubricated. No dirt or sand. Silicone spray or WD-40 can help. If you use oil for a lubricant, wipe off any excess. Many lubricants will stain the canopy.

Has the frame or any other pole been bent? Bolts missing? Now is the time to check everything over and order parts, if necessary.

Next, make sure that the gazebo is thoroughly dry before taking it down and putting it in the storage bag. Dry fabric, dry ingenious frame, dry instructions, dry tie-down ropes, dry poles. Dry everything.

If your gazebo didn’t come with its own bag, get one. A large, heavy-duty, high denier bag will keep your gazebo dry. If you have a heavy gazebo, make sure the bag has two carry handles or wheels. Don’t forget to allow space for extra gazebo stuff – like mosquito netting and twinkly lights.

Once your gazebos is all tucked in, store the bag is a cool, dry spot, like a storage shed or garage. If possible, store the bag away from mice.

Final Thoughts

Putting up and taking down a pop up gazebo is really easy for either one or two people – because ease-of-use is literally designed into them.

So if you want a flexible and portable option for BBQ’s in the yard, or you’re planning an event or party in the garden with family and friends – a pop up gazebo could be your ideal solution.

The only thing that remains to be said is: ‘When does the party start and can I come?!’ 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >