When it comes to choosing either a commercial gazebo or wooden outdoor classrooms; it is important to keep in mind the space you have and if you have a budget.

At Cabinco we always offer a phone call to get a good idea of what you are after; making the process a lot more simpler.

Things to consider:

  • What’s it to be used for?
  • What else can it be used for?
  • How frequently is it to be used?
  • All year round usage?
  • Open sided or weather protection?
  • How many to accommodate?
  • Accessibility/Deck required – ramps required
  • Hardstanding bases ie slabs/tarmac or on to soft surface grass
  • Blackboard/whiteboard – teaching aids
  • Roofing material sedum/shingle/bitumen shingle/wood
  • Affordability/Whose funding?
  • Location/Planning
  • When is it required?
  • Have you considered a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification?

Choosing a commercial gazebo or wooden outdoor school is a fairly straightforward process that should be fun. If you are reading this article you have no doubt already identified a need for a shelter and have some idea on how you wish to use it.

There are however some additional points that may be well worth considering and perhaps worthy of some thought on which I will expand

Whats it for

What is it to be used for? This may seem an obvious question and in most cases already thought through however perhaps extended use can be made ie

Teaching space/forest school/sports pavilion/events/parent waiting shelter/lunch shelter

What may have been originally thought of as a wooden outdoor classroom may well take on other functions so in this case ‘size matters’ and the extra space may cover all eventualities. This may of course be limited by physical constraints as in space available and budget.

Keeping in mind the usage of the structure, how frequently would it be used? If all year round is intended to make the most of it it should be, is there a need to have any screening either as fixed clear panels or temporary roll down panels for those rainy days

Both offer protection though with the rolldown/up it can be fully opened though if the location is very exposed then fixed panels could be used on the most exposed face and roll down on the others. Another option is solid boarding if for example, a view needed to be blocked eg road/flats/footpath/etc.

This leads on to location

Schools vary in the amount of outdoor space available to them. In some instances it is very much a case where there is only one space it can go whereas others may have several locations around the grounds from woodlands to playing fields/playgrounds.

If the structure is to be some distance from the school then access to it should be considered. Is there a path existing/does a path need to be laid/what is the access for wheelchairs like – how do we deal with this?

More often than not these remote locations will be on a soft surface so either a deck would be required or for example in woodland bark chips can be used.

Whether the gazebo is to go on hardstanding or a soft surface if a deck is incorporated then this does create a step up. Whilst minimal generally around a normal stair tread then a small ramp may be required for wheelchair access!

In principle the area for installation needs to be flat and level though subject to survey often there is a way around problem areas that are not too severe. For example a gentle slope could be utilised to give level access on to a deck if the entrance was on the upper side or certainly minimise the ramp or need for one.

Planning – in principle this does not really cause an issue though each local authority has its own ideas in this subject as to whether it is required or not though if next to a boundary/footpath/neighbour/AONB then most likely will be required. In all instances we strongly advise a telephone call to the local planning offices for guidance.

So once all the above has been considered then the fun items can be thought about though with the restraints of budget unfortunately to take into account.

What material do we want on the roof?

They come as standard with bitumen shingle In a variety of colours all of which look very good though are they right for the setting or do we upgrade? They are maintenance free.

A sedum roof can look very nice though come with a hefty price tag and are not maintenance free. They will require watering in very dry weather and if near trees weeding as the trees will self seed.

Cedar shingle can look stunning and is maintenance free and the right location looks amazing though again comes with a price tag.

Feather edge boarding is a cheaper alternative for a wooden roof which can work well in forests.

Do we want a blackboard?

Or perhaps a whiteboard. These are fun for the children to write on or even as a teaching aid and as a secondary use can block/wind/unsightly view.

The seating normally comes as standard though do we require it on all sides? If you have regular wheelchair users perhaps space should be made where normally a fixed seat would be.

Of course we should keep in mind the sustainability of the structure not only in its sourcing though longevity.

All our gazebo’s /shelters are in principle provided from FSC sources. We impregnate with water borne preservatives which give a minimum 10 year life span.

We do not as a matter of course concrete any woods into the ground as this is the weakest point ( you only have to look at fence posts) we do however when there is no choice due to severe exposure use specially treated posts which have undergone a more rigorous treatment process for any in ground contact.

For more information, regarding our commercial gazebos or wooden outdoor school, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.