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.
Take the survey, sign up for the email instructional series and get the guide that will teach you how to build a pergola that will last as long as mine!
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.
We hope you find this tip useful – as always please join us to receive more tips as well as a complete guide to building a pergola in one weekend.
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.
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.
Sign up here for an outstanding Pergola Building Preparation E-Course that will make sure that you learn and follow all the best steps to building the perfect pergola for your yard that will stand the test of time.
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.
If you are a regular visitor – first of all, thank you! – but you might have picked up on the notion that we wanted you to take a survey.
Have you clicked over on the little red roofed house? Yes? Well then, thank you again!
If not, please do. It wont hurt 🙂 Your email you provide to claim your free plan will remain secure and the answers you provide help us to see what our visitors need the most.
In fact, you might notice that the picture of the book on the top right of the sidebar has now changed.
That is because the How To Build a Pergola book has been upgraded to focus a little more sharply on just those topics submitted in the survey. Over 500 people have weighed in and they encouraged us to expand a couple of chapters and even add a whole new one.
There are some common concerns or obstacles that people seem to share about embarking on a DIY pergola project.
These are all easily solvable problems that are really not that scary at all. We know plenty of people who have succeeded in building a pergola without any issues.
We also know some people who have made one or two (or ten!) typical mistakes. We’ve put those lessons into the book so that you can learn from the blunders of others.
You know the old woodworking saying right?
Measure Twice Cut Once
Yeah, this is true. We have variations on that.
Make sure posts are level and true twice, secure them once.
Scout your site twice, build once.
I know these seem like they should be common sense and not worth noting BUT…..we’ve witnessed the consequences of forgetting those common sense details and it is not pretty (or cheap!)
Two pergola plans are included.
Plus, we dig deeper into how you can use ANY pergola plan as a blueprint to draw up your own plans that fit your yard.
Pick up a copy of the updated Guide here.
Hello and welcome back! Are you enjoying your summer? Perhaps under a new pergola? Or, have you now put building a pergola on your list of things to do before the summer ends? If so, you are clearly not alone because it has been very busy around here!
If you are wise, you have already considered that you might need to obtain a pergola permit. That should be item number 1 on your to do list for a new pergola whether you will build one on your own or purchase a pergola kit. Our informal survey of cities around the US indicates that about half will require some kind of permit to add a pergola to your yard. This is done through your city building department so check online for how to contact them and see if you need one.
Do not worry if you do – it is really a simple process. You will probably have to pay a small application fee and submit the drawings or plans for your pergola. If they are very strict, they may want to inspect the finished product to make sure it matches what you submitted. These precautions are there to ensure the structure you are building is sturdy & will last through all types of weather and will bear the load of the partial roof.
The more tricky situation to deal with are the requirements of a homeowner’s association. If you don’t live in an area with an HOA – congratulations! If you do, then we can just about guarantee that you will need approval for your new pergola. HOA’s tend to be most concerned with keeping styles and colors consistent with the surrounding structures and also making sure no views are obstructed. HOA’s will want not just drawings of the pergola, but probably also a material list and a plotting map or drawing showing the exact placement of the pergola.
We are not trying to scare you away from the idea of building a pergola! These regulations are not that hard to meet, but you do certainly need to be aware of them and make sure you fulfill them before you get started. You only want to build a pergola once!
A very common question asked when people take the survey over at Pergoladiy is: “How do I attached a pergola to my house?”
Attached pergolas use a ledger board secured to the wall of the house in lieu of posts. These typically end up being 2 post pergolas, but that does not have to always be the case. If you have a larger patio you want to cover, then they can easily be expanded to 3 or 4 columns or even more. The only limitation is the roof load and not using beams so long that they would begin to sag over time.
No matter how big or small though, the standard method for attaching the rafters to the ledger board is with joist hangers. If you are like me, the first time you hear someone mention a joist hanger you are thinking “A what now?”
Since this is such a commonly asked question, I imagine I am not the only one. So, here you go, these are joist hangers:
Joist hangers allow you to set the straight cut edges of the rafters into the base – to hang them you could say – as you then screw them into place. This is something to keep in mind about an attached pergola. In addition to reducing the number of posts needed, the roof pieces that will be attached to the ledger board only need to have one fancy end cut.
Attached pergolas tend to be the most in demand right now and they are also the easier and cheaper alternative to a free standing design. Most houses built recently have a concrete patio poured just off of a sliding glass door to the back yard, it is quite common to want to attach a pergola over the concrete to create a shaded seating area.
Since it is so easy to attach two posts to a concrete slab and then you save material money by reducing the number of pieces needed and not needing as many edge cuts, anyone looking to build a very lovely pergola for less than a thousand dollars can easily accomplish this with an attached design.
So what question can we answer for you? In future posts we will try to address the most frequently asked questions from our surveys. Please join the more than 500 people who have signed up for our emails and taken our survey. Hopefully we will answer your most critical question next!