Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Build an Outdoor Cabana Lounge

One of the awesome things about DIY means you can dream up wild and crazy projects like this outdoor cabana lounge build.  I've always wanted a lazy lounge space in our backyard and with the help of my friend Ana White my dreams have come true.

diy outdoor cabana lounge

I first spotted this idea in my buildy friend Liz from Smart Girls DIY Instagram feed:

Smart Girls DIY palapa inspiration

Clearly this palapa structure is from a vacation destination spot and of course I want my backyard to feel like a vacation!  But looking at that frame and considering the support and angles I knew I needed Ana to step in and sketch up plans.  Lucky for us she has the free plans available here!

kids outdoor cabana

Of course my goal was to complete this project over the summer but time has a way of slipping and now summer has turned to Fall.  That's okay we can still make use of the outdoor cabana lounge and boy is it ever cozy!

diy outdoor cabana lounge fort

I prefer the cabana lounge with the awning cover but it I took some pictures without so you can see the structure.  Ana designed the build using lap joints so the beams overlap and intersect then I used hex lag bolts to hold it altogether.

diy outdoor covered cabana lounge

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The platform deck boards run 8' so no waste here and you have a little walking space in front of the queen size camping air mattress.

queen size camping mattress in cabana

queen size camping mattress in cabana

diy outdoor cabana lounge structure

It's a little relaxing space carved out of our backyard, if my kids were younger it would make a great playhouse too.

build an outdoor cabana lounge

The awning is a super easy addition.  I used 80" wide Sunbrella awning fabric so it fits the length of the cabana without having to finish the edges.  On the ends I made a pocket for 3/4" steel conduit pipe, fold the raw edge of the fabric over 1/2" and then 2" and sew a seam then slide the pipe into the pocket:

diy outdoor cabana awning with pipe weight

The pipe acts as a weight to keep the awning in place and is easily removable.  Also you can raise the awning sides to let in more air and light by placing the pipe up on the side post:

diy outdoor cabana awning with pipe weight

outdoor lounge cabana with fabric awning

Personally I prefer the awning sides down to make it more private.  

outdoor lounge cabana with fabric awning

This was my first time building a true deck platform and it won't be my last.  I used the Kreg Deck Jig and you cannot see a single screw head!

deck style floor in outdoor cabana

diy outdoor cabana lounge with globe lights

Be sure to stop by Ana's place to get the free plans.  Below are some of the steps I took to build this cabana lounge:

lap joints using mini circular saw

Step 1: Making the lap joints sounded way worse than it actually was.  I used my handy WORX Compact Circular Saw to make all the cross cuts.

lap joint using multi-tool

Then went in with my Rockwell Sonicrafter multi-tool to remove all the little slices.

connecting lap joints with lag bolts

Step 2: To join the laps I predrilled then inserted 3/8-Inch x 3-Inch Hex Lag Screws.

outdoor cabana lounge frame

Above is the basic frame assembled.

Kreg deck jig to install deck boards

Add the deck boards using a Kreg Deck Jig.  You can see how the Kreg 2-Inch 8 Coarse deck screws are buried at an angle into the sides of each board:

Kreg deck jig to install deck boards

For the large 4x4 cross supports I opted to use Simpson Strong-Tie post caps which wrap around two sides of each 4x4 making the join strong and tight:

Simpson Strong-Tie hardware

headboard spacer with scrap 4x4

Moving on to the headboard use pocket holes and Kreg Blue-Kote 2-1/2" pocket hole screws.   Place a scrap piece of 4x4 to act as your spacer and hold the board in place while you attach.

scrap wood support while installing roof cross supports

Up on the roof line use a scrap 2x4 and clamp to give your cross support a resting spot while you attach.  I work alone so manuevering and attaching these long supports can be tricky.

removable globe string lights

To fancy up my outdoor lounge cabana I added clear globe bulb patio string lights.  This style of outdoor lights has a small clip on the housing.  I hammered in a cord support then slipped the clip through the open space and this allows me to easily remove the lights in the winter.

free plans diy outdoor cabana lounge

I hope you enjoyed this build as much as we are enjoying the completed project!  A huge thank you to Ana for drawing up the plans and being so patient with me.


  1. This is sooo much fun!! Amazing job! I better not show my kids yet, they will want it NOW! And that Kreg Deck jig?! AWESOME!!

    1. Thanks Mindi. That deck jig is wonderful especially if you don't want to see screw heads.

  2. Oh my, this is awesome! Pretty soon you're gonna be building an entire house! :D You rock!

  3. WOW!!! That totally describes my opinion of your cabana. You amaze me! I can see this bringing your family a lot of pleasure. Children using it as a fort, clubhouse or reading nook and you and hubby having a romantic backyard get-away, a place to discuss your day or make plans for the future (away from the earshot of the kids). You did a beautiful job. I like it better than your prototype :)

    1. Thanks Connie. I like to hide in their myself to get away from my kids ;)

  4. I tried all the different links available and could not find a way to download or even read the outdoor cabana plans. I am so intrigued by the idea and the project looks terrific. I just can't get to there from here. Any help would be appreciated.


  5. Plans are here (scroll to the bottom):

  6. How many yards of sunbrella fabric?