Pergola posts secured in concrete footings dug into the ground of a pebble and stone yard. The raised footing keeps it out of any standing water. The concrete footing provides stability to withstand heavy winds. The missing post base trim pieces show you how bad it can look if left uncovered. However, this pergola is over 20 years old and is structurally as sound as it was the day it was built. Some fresh paint and the addition of trim pieces will make it look new in just one day.
For more information on how to secure your pergola posts – read more here.
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The majority of pergolas are built with pressure treated wood. The type of wood varies from pine to cedar to redwood, but the lumberyard is still most people’s favorite source of materials.
You still may want to paint or stain the pergola either for added moisture protection or just to match the design of your house.
Now you certainly can build a pergola and then paint it afterwards such as in the photo above. Clearly you will already have plenty of experience standing on a ladder by that time! However, we have found it to be pretty slow going and not a little bit hard on the arms to paint a pergola once it has been built and set in place. You will also have spots where the paint wont quite line up no matter how perfectly detailed you might be with a paint brush.
We’ve found it to be not just easier, but also resulting in a higher quality paint/stain job if you paint the pieces before you build the pergola. You will find that your coverage is much smoother and more complete and your arms wont be quite as tired!
Just keep some extra paint on hand to use as a touch up once the pergola has been built. You can cover up any scratches and also cover up the bolts and nails used to secure everything together.
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Attached pergola pictures with pergola parts identification and detailed descriptions of the design features. All pergolas pictured are very easy to build in one weekend.
Do you have any idea how easy it would be to adapt any set of pergola plans into your own? Unless you have a very large, level yard that is essentially a blank canvas allowing you to install or build just about any pergola design or pergola kit available, then you most likely need to create your own unique set of pergola plans. Drawing out your own will ensure that the pergola fits your yard exactly to your needs.
Perhaps you want to cover a concrete patio that was poured just outside the sliding glass door leading to your back yard. Instead of having the four posts and second set of beams pictured above, you would have a ledger board attached to the facing of the house and the roof pieces would only have fancy end cuts on one end. The pieces that attached into the ledger board would have a standard flat edge cut. You would also only have two knee braces or angled support boards.
Maybe you do want a detached pergola, but just in a different size. The pergola pictured above has a roof line dimension of 10 x 15. That might be too large for your space so you adjust your plans accordingly. A square roof line of 10 x 10 or 12 x 12 is also quite common and easy to draw. You would perhaps have a few less rafters. For instance, in the drawing above there are 9 rafter pieces spanning the 15 foot length. Reducing it to 12 feet might drop the rafter count down to 8.
Of course, roof dimensions alone do not drive the number of rafters and slats on your pergola design. The amount of shade you desire is also a huge factor. You many want more slats across the rafters to increase the shade provided. Or, you may want to keep it open and light and not even have that second layer of slats at all.
Pay attention to the overhang dimensions as well. In the sample above, the roof piece extend out one foot on either side of the posts. Visually, you want to plan that out in your yard to see if that will create the site line you desire. It is always a good idea to place some temporary stakes and string up some construction line to test out what views might be blocked.
As always, once you do draw out your own pergola plans, you will still want a step by step guide on how to build from your plans. With plans and a guide, you will have no trouble building your own pergola.
While on vacation this summer, my family I noticed pergolas seemingly everywhere we went. Now, of course this is because that is what we do – we are always on the lookout for new and exciting pergola designs to share with our customers!
You might notice that once you have considered ways to upgrade your yard that you start to really see every landscaped space you encounter.
For instance, we saw some excellent samples of vinyl pergolas at our hotel. Just before we left someone contacted us about helping them install a vinyl pergola kit so these types were particularly on our minds.
The resort where we stayed had ten different pools and hot tubs spread out around the property and many of them overlooked the ocean. Every poolside area featured a shade structure with lounge chairs beneath it. Some of them were long and curved to match the line of the pool.
They all looked so clean and sharp thanks to the fact that they are super resistant to moisture damage and just need to be hosed off now and then to keep them clean. I am sure that is why the hotel owner’s chose that type! Much less long term maintenance.
Once I saw my client’s property and that they wanted the vinyl pergola kit to be built over their hot tub which was just off the pool I could see why they chose to do that rather than build a wooden one on their own. It was going to cost a little more up front to buy and build the kit, but with the long term benefits, it was well worth it.
On the topic of planning where to build a pergola, this question very frequently comes up:
“We have a newly landscaped yard with a beautiful stone paver patio/sitting area. We would really love to build a pergola over the site but our neighbor said that you can’t secure posts to stone – is that true?”
Unfortunately yes, that is true – BUT – there is a very easy work around. Carefully mark out on the patio site exactly where you would place the posts for your desired pergola design. Measure out all angles and distances to make sure your lines are true and level. We suggest marking out the diagonals to the center for a four post square or rectangle design to make sure they are equal.
Once you have the exact placement set, you would need to remove the stone pavers at those spots. Dig holes in the ground to the depth necessary to go below the frost line in your area (if that applies). Typically that is at least 2 feet, but could be more to account for potential frost heave. Pour cement footings and then set in place Simpson Strong Tie bracket mounts. When dry, secure posts into the bracket mounts and return the pavers to surround the posts.
The concrete footings will provide the stability that the stone pavers could not and will ensure that the pergola would meet any city building codes and, more importantly, that it will stand solidly in place for years.
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A handyman recently asked me if his customer needed a pergola permit for their project or not. Since this is a fairly common question whenever anyone is looking to add a structure to their yard, I thought it would be a good idea to outline some basic permitting rules.
Start with your city building license and permit office
Every city has different regulations and laws so I cannot just tell you straight out whether you will need a permit or not. We always start with this site to find the local website or office the covers this topic. There is about a 50/50 chance you will need a permit according to our experience. If you are attaching your pergola to the side of the house, the chances are a bit higher that you will need to comply with some structural rules. Now, since a pergola is not a true room addition without walls and without a complete roof, even when a permit is needed, the guidelines are less strict in order to get clearance.
In other words, even if you need to get one, you should not let this deter you as it is a very simple process. We’ve found that simply submitting the pergola plan with dimensions and a material list along with a photo of the intended site for the pergola, that permits are very quickly issued if needed.
Check your HOA
A more critical potential source of building restrictions would be a homeowner’s association. If you live in an area that is covered by one, then absolutely do NOT skip clearing your plans with them.
Even though we’ve covered this topic before, I feel it is something that needs to be discussed every so often to keep it fresh for new visitors because it is such an important place to begin when you are considering a do it yourself pergola building project.
This is a frequently asked question on the pergoladiy surveys. Many people watch the home improvement shows which inspire them to embark on all sorts of projects and inevitably they find out that things are not always as easy as they look on TV!
However, creating your own pergola plans and then following them to build your own pergola is not one of those. Yes, it really is that easy! It is especially easy if you start off with a set of existing plans or pergola kit assembly instructions and adapt them for your own yard.
This layout for the framework and base of an attached pergola is the perfect foundation to start out if you want to an attached design. It does not matter what material you will be using, or whether you will be putting your posts in the ground, on a deck or in concrete. This basic layout works for anything. The point is to get the idea of the angles and placement in your yard. Projection means the amount of overhang that the roof edges will have. Typically, a rafter piece will project 6 inches out from the posts on both sides. That is not a hard and fast rule, just a general guideline. Just make sure you do account for that overhang when measuring out the dimensions you want. You don’t want the roof pieces to be blocking any views or hitting any trees or other structures.
With a detached pergola, the layout is much simpler. It is all about here you want it in your yard, what shape and how big or small. If you already have an existing hardscaped patio area that makes your decision even easier. Just lay out the markings for post placement according to where you want it on the patio. Always check your diagonals to make sure the dimensions you set will provide straight and true edges and angles.
From there it is just a matter of the style you want and the amount of shade you need. Single or double beamed? Two layers of rafters or rafters and slats? How close together? Curved or straight? No matter what you decide on those, as long as you have your foundation drawn out, you will be set to get started.
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We can answer that question quite easily – no. While it is easy to get confused, there are some key differences between pergolas, arbors, trellises and gazebos.
For a very in depth discussion with more pictures, check out the post on this topic over at pergoladiy.
Here are the key points to help you decide what you want to build:
- Pergola – supported by posts or columns attached to the ground or top of a wall, no sides, partial roof creating a shaded outdoor room or space.
- Arbor – arched walkway cover not large enough to create a seating area or outdoor space. Has narrow, latticed side walls. Primarily used to delineate an entryway between garden areas and support for vines.
- Trellis – Often a single sided structure of latticed wood pieces without set up against a wall to support plants and vines.
- Gazebo – The closest of all to an actual free standing room with a complete floor and roof and at least partial walls. The most expensive and more complex to build or install.
The reason that pergolas are so popular is because they encompass the best of each structure type. They have the versatility to provide plant and garden vine support – in fact, there are often partial lattice wall extensions attached to the sides pergola posts that end up creating a trellis wall additions to a pergola. On top of that they also provide shade and the visual framework of an outdoor room but without the expense and construction skills needed for a gazebo.
We have chose to focus on helping people build pergolas because they are the most versatile, inexpensive additions to a yard that will provide the longest term value and enjoyment for the money.