One of the awesome things about DIY means you can dream up wild and crazy projects like this outdoor cabana lounge. 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.
Make a backyard retreat space fit for kids or adults. This is a DIY tutorial to build an outdoor cabana lounge space, a relaxing hideout for anyone.
I first spotted this cabana idea in my buildy friend Liz from Smart Girls DIY Instagram feed:
Palapa Inspired Structure
She was on vacation in Mexico and they have these beautiful palapa structures on the beach. Clearly this looks like a perfect 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 made the plans!
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!
I do prefer the cabana lounge with the awning cover but it I took some photos 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 (similar to the bolts used in my outdoor truss style coffee table).
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The platform deck boards run 8′ so no waste here. Also you have a little walking space in front of the queen size camping air mattress.
- private space
- beach front palapa
- reading nook
It’s a little relaxing space carved out of our backyard. If my kids were younger it would make a great playhouse too. You could even add solid roofing material to make it more waterproof for a playhouse. Or for another playhouse idea – try this open frame idea or this bungalow playhouse.
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.
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:
Personally I prefer the awning sides down to make it more private.
Cabana Deck Platform
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!
- free plans – lumber listed here
- miter saw or circular saw
- measuring tape
- WORX Compact Circular Saw
- drill and drill bits
- lag screws
- Kreg deck jig
- Kreg pocket hole jig
- queen camping air mattress
- 6 yards – 80″ wide Sunbrella awning fabric
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. Scroll down for a few in process building tips and notes.
Making the Lap Joints
It sounded way worse than it actually was. I used my handy WORX Compact Circular Saw to make all the cross cuts.
And then went in with my Rockwell Sonicrafter multi-tool to remove all the little slices.
To join the laps I predrilled a recessed hole then inserted 3/8-Inch x 3-Inch Hex Lag Screws.
Above is the basic frame assembled.
Attach the deck boards using a Kreg Deck Jig. In the photo below you can see how the Kreg 2-Inch 8 Coarse deck screws are buried at an angle into the sides of each board. This keeps your deck surface free from any screw heads.
For the large 4×4 cross supports I opted to use Simpson Strong-Tie post caps which wrap around two sides of each 4×4 making the join strong and tight:
Use pocket holes and Kreg Blue-Kote 2-1/2″ pocket hole screws. Place a scrap piece of 4×4 to act as your spacer and hold the board in place while you attach the headboard slats.
Up on the roof line use a scrap 2×4 and clamp to give your cross support a resting spot while you attach both ends. I work alone so maneuvering and attaching these long supports can be tricky.
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.
Thanks for joining me for this outdoor cabana project. Please leave any questions in the comments below and be sure to follow me on social media for sneak peeks, tools and project inspiration:
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