20×20 Picnic Shelter Plans

Ovidiu 34 GapDice RANDOM PLAN

This step by step diy woodworking project is about a 20×20 picnic shelter plans. This article features easy to follow instructions for building an outdoor picnic shelter using 6×6 lumber for the structure and 2×6 beams for the rafters. Check out PART 2 of the project to learn how to frame the roof for the square shelter. Take a look over the rest of our woodworking plans, if you want to get more building inspiration. Premium Plans for this pavilion size in the Shop.

When buying the lumber, you should select the planks with great care, making sure they are straight and without any visible flaws (cracks, knots, twists, decay). Investing in cedar or other weather resistant lumber is a good idea, as it will pay off on the long run. Use a spirit level to plumb and align the components, before inserting the galvanized screws, otherwise the project won’t have a symmetrical look. If you have all the materials and tools required for the project, you could get the job done in about a day.



Projects made from these plans




It’s that easy to build a picnic shelter!



20×20 Picnic Shelter Plans




  • A – 8 pieces of 6×6 lumber – 96″ long POSTS
  • B – 4 pieces of 6×6 lumber – 240″ long TOP RAILS
  • C – 16 pieces of 6×6 lumber – 39 1/4″ long BRACES
  • D – 2 pieces of 6×6 lumber – 65″ long, 1 piece – 240″ long TOP RIDGE

 One day



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Building a picnic shelter



The first step of the project is to layout the posts for the pavilion. Remove the vegetation layer on the site you chose. Use batter boards and string to lay out everything in a professional manner. Apply the 3-4-5 rule to every corner, to make sure they are right-angled. In addition, measure the diagonals and make adjustments until they are perfectly equal.

Anchoring the posts of the anchor

Anchoring the posts of the anchor

There are several ways to lock the posts into place. Therefore, you could dig 2′ holes in the ground and set the posts into concrete, or you could use post anchors. Use tube forms so that the footings will be really strong.

Fitting the posts

Fitting the posts

If you want to set the posts in concrete, then you need to use temporarily braces. Plumb the posts with a spirit level, before attaching the braces. Read the local building codes for finding the right depth of the footings. It is essential to set the footing at the right depth to avoid them being heaved by the Winter freeze/thaw cycle.



Build the side top rails from 6×6 lumber. As you can easily notice in the diagram, you need to make notches to the ends of the beams. Use a circular saw to make 2 3/4″ deep cuts to the marked area. Make parallel cuts to the marked areas and clean the notches with a chisel. Smooth the surface with sandpaper.

Fitting the top rails

Fitting the top rails

Fit the rails to the sides of the outdoor pavilion. Make sure the posts are plumb and check if the corners are square. Drill pilot holes and insert 5-6″ screws to lock the components into place. Fit the front and back rails to the frame of the shelter, making sure you keep the corners square.

Building the braces

Building the braces

Build the braces of the picnic shelter from 6×6 lumber. Cut both ends of the braces at 45 degrees.



Fit the 6×6 supports to the top rails, as shown in the diagram. Fit the bottom of the supports into the notches made in the top rails. Use corner brackets to lock them into place tightly. Use a spirit level to make sure the supports are perfectly vertical.

Next, attach the top ridge to the supports. Make sure the corners are square and align the edges before inserting the screws. Use corner brackets to add strength to the joints.

Fitting the braces

Fitting the braces

Make sure the corners are square and plumb the posts before attaching the braces into place. Drill pilot holes and insert 3 1/2″ screws to lock them into place. Countersink the head of the screws for a professional result.

Fitting the top ridge beaces

Fitting the top ridge braces

Cut longer braces for the top ridge. Cut both ends of the components at 45 degrees and fit them into place. Make sure the supports are plumb and check if the top ridge is perfectly horizontal. Use 3 1/2″ screws to secure the braces into place tightly.

20x20 Picnic Shelter Plans

Check out PART 2 of the project to learn how to build the roof for this large picnic shelter.

Building a picnic shelter

Building a picnic shelter

Fill the holes with wood putty and let them dry out for a few hours. Smooth the surface with 100-220 grit sandpaper and remove the residues with a damp cloth. Premium Plans for this pavilion size in the Shop.

Top Tip: Apply a few coats of paint or stain to the components, to enhance the look of the project. Check out PART 2 of the project so you learn how to build the roof for the gable shelter.



This woodworking project was about 20×20 picnic shelter plans free. If you want to see more outdoor plans, check out the rest of our step by step projects and follow the instructions to obtain a professional result.




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  1. Clarence Harvey at - Reply

    How can I make the 20 X 20 into a 20 X 30?

    • Julian at - Reply

      You add 10′ to the pavilion.

  2. Dan Strom at - Reply

    Can you send me the 20 x 20 plans pdf? I tried on website and it does not work.

    • Julian at - Reply

      Please read the FAQs to learn how to save or print the plans. I assure you everything works properly.

  3. Alain at - Reply

    Possible to modify the plans 20 x 20 by 24×30
    thanks you

    • Julian at - Reply

      You need proper, formal engineering for that size.

  4. Jana at - Reply

    What is the approximate costs of this project?

    • Julian at - Reply

      Prices of the materials vary. However, you have the materials list you can take to any lumberyard and I’m sure you’ll get an accurate quota.

  5. Dave at - Reply

    Your consolidated material list is off. It does not contain the 6″ x 6″ material needed to brace the ridge. I ordered wood based off the consolidated list and am now finding that I am short on 6″ x 6″ material.

    For anyone else using these plans, add an additional 6″ x 6″ x 12′ piece to make sure you have the material for the ridge braces.

    • Julian at - Reply

      Thanks for the feedback. However, the list is not “off”, it was just incomplete. I hope you enjoy the free plans, even if you had to order one more beam.

  6. Norman Jensen at - Reply

    can you be more specific about 20 pieces of 8″ screws
    20 pieces of 5″ screws from the list

    • Jack at - Reply

      Heavy duty 8″ screws with hex heads. #10 5 inch screws.

  7. Donald at - Reply

    Can 6x6x10s be used instead of 6x6x20s? Maybe getting creative with a lap joint?

    • Jack at - Reply

      Yes; join them on the middle post with half lap joints. Add corner hardware as well.

  8. Craig at - Reply

    I like the layout of the building but was worried about the 10ft span. I’m concerned they may sag over time. Has anyone had a problem with this ?

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      You can add 4 posts on each side, if you are concerned, although 10′ is not a large span.

  9. Dan at - Reply


    Not seeing the print widget you describe in your FAQ. I’ve tried using Chrome and Explorer. Has it moved somewhere else? I’d love to build this project as it is just what my girlfriend wants for her outdoor stained glass-sculpting-wood carving-painting-movie watching heaven! Thanks!

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      It’s on the left side of the screen (doesn’t work on mobile).

  10. Brian Krstich at - Reply

    How much weight is bearing down on the concrete in this project?

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      I don’t have that info.

  11. Josh at - Reply

    Are the 6×6’s have to be treated wood?

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      Only the ones that go in ground. For the rest of the lumber, it is enough to apply a few coats of protection.

  12. Teri at - Reply

    do you have plans for 40 x 40

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      No, I don’t have plans for that.

  13. Joey D at - Reply

    Thanks for the blue Prints I thinking about 8×8 does that change things a lot

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      Yes, it changes the spacing between the posts.

  14. William meadows at - Reply

    Did not receive plan I wanted 20×20 and16x16

  15. Jared at - Reply

    If I can’t get 20 foot 6×6 where I’m at I know I can half lap the top rails, but what about the top ridge beam?

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      Fit another plate to the middle of the pavilion and then install a vertical support that goes to the joint.

  16. Stephan at - Reply

    I love the plans! I got the posts set in a weekend and will raise my 6″x6″x20′ rails next.

    What is the correct fastener pattern for the Top Rail to Post connection? The instructions are to “drill pilot holes and insert 5-6″ screws to lock the components into place.” Is that down through the rail into the post or ‘toenailed’ from the side?

    I’ll share pictures, total cost, and time in the coming weeks.

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      Through the plate into the post. Then, repeat for the top plate.

  17. Mike Sweeney at - Reply

    Is it possible with the 20×20 plans to only have the 4 corner posts. Maybe upgrade the top rails to 6x10x20ft? Im trying to eliminate the center posts if possible also thinking about using metal roof only no plywood.

    • Ovidiu at - Reply

      It will sag, I don’t recommend that. you would need an engineered beam for that opening.

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