by William Murphy
Today we review the Sunjoy Chatham Steel Hardtop Gazebo, a back yard patio structure that many people use to gather underneath with friends and family, whether it be for dining, hanging out, or relaxing in a hot tub. It has multiple applications, as you will see.
Some folks have even been known to grill under it, thanks to its vented roof.
A quick note about gazebo selection, before we dive further into this Sunjoy Chatham review. If you didn’t know, there are two main options when it comes to gazebos, specifically, which are hard top and soft top gazebos.
While hard tops are heavier, more durable, and more expensive, they can’t be easily packed away and taken to the beach, or set up at an open air market. Hard tops are designed to be permanent, like the Chatham here.
Soft top gazebos, on the other hand, are not made from metal, but still offer some protection from the sun. That said, the sun can damage lower quality soft tops, leaving them very tired looking over a number of seasons.
Soft top gazebos do not provide as good protection from rain, snow, or weather in general than hard tops, and they are not going to last nearly as long, but they are less expensive because of this.
These days, more and more people are opting for hardtop gazebos, seeing as how soft top gazebos are prone to weather damage.
But what about the Sunjoy Chatham?
We’ve reviewed other Sunjoy gazebos, such as the Wyndham and the Royal Square, which have helped get the brand name Sunjoy out there, but what of this specific gazebo? Let’s find out!
The Sunjoy Chatham measures ten by twelve feet, and will need to be anchored down. It comes with L brackets on each corner for easy fastening. A great feature of this canopy is that it includes mosquito netting, zippered for ease of access.
It will require some assembly upon arrival, but between two or three people it can be completed over the course of a weekend.
Some tricks to installation include building the roof atop the walls, rather than building it on the ground. The roof will be very heavy if you build it on the ground and might require a few people to hoist it.
Instead, finish all the roof supports, attach the frame that holds the cupola, and then carry the cupola and rest it atop the frame. After this, if you are brave, you can build the roof from your ladder, panel by panel.
Most people who have bought and assembled this gazebo opt for installing the little roof first, and then doing the large roof panel by panel.
This keeps the weight down, and requires only the work of one to two people. We recommend using galvanized steel screws to anchor it down.
This gazebo has been generally popular with purchasers over the years, and quite possibly the best gazebo Sunjoy has on offer. Many purchasers give this hardtop gazebo 4 stars or above.
That said, not all reviews have been so glowing. Several people have complained it’s hard to get a hold of the company when it comes to service and parts. This could be because Sunjoy is based out of China, although they have a very strong North American brand presence.
On a positive note, one reviewer said: “Only have had this up since May but this gazebo survived Snow-vember in Buffalo….we did have to remove some snow but even with the heavy wet snow accumulation on it….it held up fantastic! We have it on a second floor deck and it holds up perfect to the Lake Erie wind too….so far i give it 2 thumbs up!”
When delivered, the gazebo will arrive in two very neat packages. Each piece will be carefully wrapped to prevent damage. From start to finish, this is a quality gazebo.
We recommend going through the instructions and checking the hardware to make sure everything is in place before you begin installation, for the sake of avoiding a potential headache.
Assembly is quite intuitive. Each piece is perfectly labelled to make it easier on you. They even have orientation marked, such as “this side up.” We only wish IKEA did this kind of labelling – it would have saved us much frustration in the past.
One reviewer had the following to say about set-up: “Before we purchased this gazebo, we read all of the reviews, just like you are right now. My main concern was the amount of people we would need to lift the roof on to the legs. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time getting a group of reliable people to show up never mind asking them to do actual work.” Sounds about right!
He continues, “Let me tell you this…My wife and I assembled this unit in 2 days by ourselves. My wife helped hold the legs while I attached the support pieces. Once the four legs are attached by the horizontal supports, the rest is pretty easy. Do not build the roof on the ground, it will be way too heavy. Once I finished all of the roof supports, I attached the rectangular frame that holds the small, upper roof cap. I carried the assembled roof cap up the ladder and rested it on top of the frame. After that was complete, I built the roof from my ladder. It was really easy, time consuming, but easy. You have to think logically while assembling this way. You can do it!”
The benefit of investing in a hardtop gazebo is its longevity. It will just keep going and going. It will hold up to windstorms, it will not rust, or fade, and you can leave it up year-round.
Keep in mind that it is wise to do a bit of regular maintenance on the gazebo, such as removing snow as it piles up. too much weight can crush anything, even the rooves of houses.
The roof tint is rather dark, so it does attract the sun and melt the snow. However, removing the snow in the winter will only prolong the life of your gazebo and protect it from any potential damage.
The gazebo, once installed, will bring a very grand air to your yard. It will encourage you to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. The mosquito netting is a very handy addition, and can be tied back at each post for a nice look.
If you consider that the purpose of a backyard gazebo is to provide shade, but also a focal point, or to have some kind of centering structure that draws people into it, the Sunjoy Chatham does precisely that.
One reviewer said: “I am impressed with this quality. Shipped in 4 days. Sturdy cardboard and entire gazebo is enclosed in a steel cage so no damage. Extra bolts etc, yea. Up in about 10 hours with 2 males and one female reading directions. Install the roof in pieces on the structure and not on the ground b/c you will need a crane to lift it. No problems so far and I do not expect any.”
Thank you for reading our review of the Sunjoy Chatham Steel Hardtop Gazebo!
Let us know in the comments below if you have any stories or experiences with this gazebo, or any other gazebos you may have purchased.
How did your experience go?
About William Murphy
William has worked as a general contractor in the city of Fremont, CA for over three decades. During that time, he's written articles about architecture, construction, and environmental protection for various publications. He is an expert on green building and sustainable design. When he's not writing or working, William enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.