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Pergola Building Tip: Don’t Forget Post Trim Pieces!

Do you want your finished post base to look like this?


Or like this?

Or how about this?

There is one add on to any pergola design that we recommend you do at a minimum and that is attaching some sort of trim piece to the base of the pergola to cover up the hardware used to attach your post to the ground. No matter which method you use for attaching your posts – concrete slab, concrete holes in the ground, or a deck – it really makes a huge difference if you attach trim.

The top example is of a pergola post base with the aluminum post bracket left uncovered. The shiny silver metal and screws give the pergola an unfinished appearance. This is fine if you are going for a very basic, no frills look of course. However, it only takes a few minutes cover that with a very inexpensive set of trim pieces.

The middle photo shows a copper plate which is a lovely blend with the stone and darker wood. The bottom photo shows a post with additional matching wood trim pieces nailed on. With the wood trim option you can experiment with the height of the trim pieces too to create different looks – again without really adding any more time to the process.

When building a pergola even on a very tight budget, this is a very simple, cheap addition to the design that makes it look all that much more elegant and complete.


Securing Pergola Posts – So Much Easier Than You Think!

Securing posts to a concrete surface

You want to build your own pergola, but I know that you, like me, are feeling a little apprehensive about getting started.

How can I do this and make sure my pergola doesn’t blow over at the first heavy wind, right? We understand and you should go ahead and relax. It’s easy and the hardware is inexpensive (heck, it’s downright cheap!)

Securing a post to concrete is the most common method of installing a pergola. It is also the easiest by far. A bracket, a concrete anchor (also known as a Tapcon) bolt and then some lag bolts to attached the post to the bracket. The wood trim nailed on after is probably the most crucial step.

Don’t skip it! Why? Because it is a very inexpensive few pieces of wood that make your pergola look so much more complete. No ugly exposed brackets weathering away in the elements. The treated and stained wood will last long and look beautiful.

The bracket mounts also provide the recommended 1″ clearance between the concrete and the bottom of the wood post. Even with pressure treated and stained timbers of any type you really don’t want them standing in accumulated water. And unless you live in the high desert of the southwest, you know you will have times during the year when water will accumulate either via heavy rains or melting snow.

No matter what type of base you will use for your pergola, the newly released version 2 of a Guide to Build a Pergola in One Weekend will describe and show you via illustrations and pictures like those above just how to tackle the foundation of your pergola project.

The Guide also includes two sets of free pergola plans and it teaches you how to draw your own. Don’t miss out on this great deal!

Pergola DIY Tips

The first tip we will share with you about building a pergola is this: notches.

Yes, notches. It is worth every minute that you take to gather all your roof pieces and lay them out according to your design and mark off the places where they will intersect in the pattern. This will make your life so much easier when you get to the point of securing them together. It is also a great way to ensure stability is maintained for many years. Nothing will slip out of place if they are notched together. It’s like the old Lincoln Logs you used to play with, only this time after you snap the wood pieces together you get to use a power screwdriver and bolt them together forever!

Here’s what we suggest – use your jigsaw to make cut outs. Do this before you finish staining your wood. If you wood is pre-stained, then be sure and sand the newly exposed area and coat it. You don’t want those notches to be the place where moisture gets in and starts rotting away your beautiful pergola.

Notches on beams and rafters

When you are ready to start installing roof pieces you can set them in place with the notches first and then go along and start bolting them together. Notches are standard in any pergola kit no matter what material type. Kit manufacturers create their easy assembly process by taking care of those details for you because they know how much time it saves for installation. They can’t promise you it will only take two people one day or a few hours to put the pergola together unless they take care of these short cuts for you.

The point is – follow those same steps when you do it yourself. There is a good reason for them and you will only make the process harder on yourself if you skip it.

How do we know? Well, have you ever watched someone try to build a pergola without using notches? It can be quite amusing watching all the trial and error. Even worse is seeing what happens after a few years of wind storms have stressed the un-notched connections. Rafters start to separate from beams and it’s just generally a headache. You end up replacing bolts more frequently than you have to apply new stain!

Don’t take that risk – use notches.

Setting a pergola on a concrete slab

Let’s say you have gone through all the steps for preparing your site for your pergola as covered here. Your yard may not big as the one picture above, but in the majority of examples people are looking for techniques and instructions on how to secure a pergola to a concrete slab since most patios are laid out with concrete, particularly the ones attached directly off the back of a house. So let’s cover those basic steps.

It really does take two people so please don’t try to do this on your own. Everything needs to be straight and level and true to ensure that your pergola is as sturdy safe and durable as possible. Start out by measuring to find the center of the concrete pad. You want to make sure you center the pergola on it properly.

Then measure from the center out 1/2 of the width projection of the pergola. Repeat on the other side and then use the same method for the length projection dimensions. Mark all the spots. Using a chalk line, connect the marked spots and draw out a perimeter. If building a square pergola, remember to check the diagonal measurements. They should be the same from corner to corner. Adjust the corner marks as needed.

And there you have your post locations! Bolt in your concrete base brackets and you are ready to put up your posts and get to the heavy lifting.For more information on the next steps to take to build your own pergola, please click here and check out our step by step guide. We’ve gathered everything we’ve learned from thousands of hours of personal experience, consultations with contractors and research in online builder forums. We’ve made all the mistakes, and even made up a few new ones! Hopefully, you wont have to do that. With the right information at your fingertips you might even have some fine with your do it yourself pergola adventure.

Free Pergola Plans

The best resource for information on how to build a pergola can be found after you spend just a few minutes of your time answer six survey questions. Once you complete the survey and opt in to the email series provided, you will be given a password that will provide you one time access only to two very valuable links.

  1. A free pergola plan
  2. A discounted version of the guide How To Build A Pergola In One Weekend

In addition to those, the email series you receive will also be very informative.

Here is a sneak peak of the seven email topics that will be sent out to help you get started on your own DIY pergola project:
Tools and Hardware Needed to Build
Most of the tools and some of the hardware you need are probably already in your garage or tool shed. Even if you do need to buy then, you will find they will come in handy for more than just this pergola project.
*A checklist of tools and hardware will be listed*
Securing Posts
This topic covers how to determine post sizing and how to secure posts to a deck, concrete slab or in the ground. General guidelines will be provided for each. As always, local building codes should be the final source for all considerations.
Building Permits
Always keep in mind that you can have two possible sources of regulations in your area, Homeowner’s Associations and City Building Codes. Information on the possible impacts of both will be provided.
Material Selection
Price is typically the driving point when looking at possible material types for your pergola so we will cover the four most popular material types according to price as well as durability and style.
Design Ideas
The possibilities for pergola designs are endless. We cover some of the most commonly used and provide some ideas that could spark your imagination beyond the typical uses.
This is the bottom to it all. Should you buy a kit to save building time and labor? How much would that be? What about if you do choose to build it yourself using a plan? How inexpensive can that really be in comparison? We’ve got that covered for you.
Additional Features
Even the most basic pergola can have a few little details added on for increased style and personality or to enhance its use. These additions can still keep within a budget very easily. We will cover a few of these ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Surf on over and take the survey and claim your free pergola plan and don’t forget that any plans you receive can be easily adapted to fit your own design needs.

A Pergola Design For Every Yard

You’ve decided it is time to spruce up your yard and have wisely determined that a pergola would be the fastest and easiest way to do that. So which pergola design will you choose?

Now, if you already have a concrete patio area you will most likely choose to build your pergola over it. An attached pergola is a great option especially on a budget since it eliminates the need for two posts. In fact, a basic 8 x 8 or 10×10 attached pergola with one a roof comprised of one layer each of rafters and purlins (or slats), is less than 30 pieces of material depending on how much shade you want. The tighter the shade patter, the more roof slats you would need. Luckily though, that second layer of a pergola roof is generally made up of much smaller and thinner pieces of material in order to keep the load light. That translates to a lower price per piece.

Of course material selection also drives pricing. Treated pine tends to be the cheapest with cedar and redwood also excellent, though often more expensive options. Price and availability are influenced heavily by your location so it is difficult to give exact information on that topic. Check your local home improvement centers, but an even better option could be a lumber center if there is one near you since they can often get the best prices and will cut pieces ahead to meet the needs of your pergola plan.

As you can see from the images above, detached pergolas are also excellent design options and really do not take that much more time or budget. Don’t think you need to be limited to four posts either. There are some wonderfully unique designs with 3, 5, 6, 7, or 8 posts too. If your budget will allow it, there are some great, larger pergola designs that also are not that complicated to build. In fact, the video below shows a six post rectangular pergola being put together in just one day – after the posts had been set in place –  by just three guys:

The posts for the pergola in the video were set in place the day before. Which means that this is a great example of how to build a pergola in one weekend. Especially if you choose a simpler pergola design. Hopefully this has shown you that building your own pergola is an excellent way to start your yard improvement project.

Is Building a Pergola the Perfect DIY Home Improvement Project?

  1. Share
  2. A 1 minute video showing all the tools you will need. You probably already have these and if not, how much fun is it to shop for power tools, right?
  3. A quick overview of the possible designs and uses for your pergola. What exactly do you want out of your pergola?
  4. Now you know you want to build a pergola and you’ve made the all
    important decision on basic placement and purpose, but before you go any
    further you cannot skip these 5 steps. Seriously. Skipping these will
    increase expenses and create significant time delays!
  5. What things should you consider when choosing the perfect spot in your yard for your pergola? 

Learn How to Draw Your Own Pergola Plans

Attached, detached – or both!

It is entirely possible to draw up your pergola plans and then build a pergola in just a couple of days. There are a few things to consider at first, of course. For instance – where are you going to put your pergola? Will it be attached or detached? How will you secure the posts? There are many possibilities of course, but once you narrow those down you will have taken a huge step towards getting started.

Make sure you have a clear, level spot chosen, especially if you are digging your posts into the ground. If you are securing them onto a cement patio or on a deck, then your foundation is most likely level and ready. Use construction stakes and string to lay out post placement and measure the distances. Come up with your roof design. How far out do you want the rafters and to come out from the posts? Do you want a single or double beam design? A single layer of rafters, or will you ad slats on top for even more shade cover? Remember that the more weight at the top that you add, the stronger your posts need to be. The standard is to use 6×6 posts since they will support most designs. Columns are another option that delivers a completely different look to the pergola.

There are so many options, but if you look at it one feature at a time you really can narrow down exactly the design you want. There is an excellent, free email series you can receive just by taking a survey and signing up at this site. As an added benefit, people who sign up for the email series receive a substantial discount on the guide they also provide. It is a fantastic resource and if you do purchase their Guide to Building a Pergola in One Weekend you will have everything at your fingertips to help you answer all the questions asked above. You will know how to create your design, which materials would be best for you and also know the exact steps you will need to take – and tools to use – to build your own pergola. It is a fast, easy and inexpensive project and you will enjoy the results for many years.

How to Build a Pergola in One Weekend

Guide to Building a Pergola in One Weekend

It’s here! Our guide for learning how to build a pergola for your yard in just one weekend. Sign up for our emails and find out exactly how easy & inexpensive it can be. As a bonus, email subscribers get a special discount code for the newly published guide.

Handy pergola plans provide step by step instructions, materials options and detailed shopping lists. In just one weekend you can have a beautiful pergola in your yard. The best part is you can choose just about any pergola design you want. The variations are endless. Our guide will include additional information on how to draw your own plans to fit the unique design you choose for your yard.

Building a pergola is a very rewarding project. When you do it yourself you will save a lot of money and be able to take pride in your own handiwork. They are simple and very versatile and can add to the overall value of your home. Mostly though, you will be able to relax and enjoy the new cover for your outdoor barbeque and eating area, or the new place for displaying your hanging flowers and vines, or any other number of potential uses.

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