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.
As you think about the pergola design you would like to build in your yard, keep in mind how the roof will look from all sight lines. Consider too, just how much shade you want it to provide and what is the best placement for you to take advantage of that shade from all possible sunshine angles. It can be quite easy to overlook the many details of your pergola roof but you really don’t want to fall into that trap!
In the photo above this redwood pergola rafters and slats are the same two inch width. This provides a uniform square pattern on the ground that is very appealing to the eye in combination with the concrete pavers. The slats are also placed quite close together to increase the shaded areas. While increasing the slat and or rafter count will increase the overall costs of the pergola, if the ultimate goal is to cool off a particularly hot and sunny spot, then it will be worth the small increase.
You should also put up some construction stakes and line to give yourself a preview of what your pergola will look like before you get started. If you have a two story house you want to get an idea of what a view like the one above would look like. Will the pergola roof block or distract from any existing views that you want to keep? What about your nearest neighbors? If there are no local home owner’s or permitting rules instructing you on height or view blocking limitations, you should still be a courteous neighbor and try not to build anything that will be an eyesore.
Finally, you should go an sit out where you want to build your pergola if the area is to be designed for seating. Look around you and see what your views will be like. Look up and see who is potentially looking down on you! What will the wind be like in that spot? Will you perhaps want to put up a partial lattice wall on any particular side for either privacy or wind protection? If you take the time to think about all these little details you will be even more happy with the pergola design you choose.
Better to layout and preview your pergola plan twice, and on build it once than the other way around!
As always, for the best darn email tips and instructions on how to build a pergola, visit PergolaDIY.
As you make your way around your neighborhood or the internet in your search for pergola plans and ideas for different possible designs, you might notice that they are quite popular structures to place around back yard water features. You can get very creative when thinking about where to place your pergola and what shape and size to use. The example above is a corner wrap design. It almost looks like two separate pergolas but the roof pieces do connect in the back. It is still a very simple design though with standard square posts on concrete, and single layer beams, rafters and slats. The overhang is quite short and end cuts are very basic.
You will notice that the majority of waterside pergolas will be made with a white vinyl material. This is the best type for withstanding the excess moisture of a pool or spa. It is a little more expensive at first, but then upkeep is minimal with no cost. Just hose off the pergola to keep it clean, but you wont need to reapply stain or treat it. The pergola above on a deck at the end of the pool is designed to match the pool’s rectangle shape. Six square posts are secure to the deck. Again the roof design is simple though the edges of this one have a more sharply angled cut and longer overhang.
There are times, of course, when wood is just what you happen to want and it also looks beautiful at the edge of a pool. The area surrounding the pool in this yard is a perfect compliment to the cedar pergola. The four post design is attached to the concrete with some nice base trim pieces and supporting knee braces between the beams and rafters that provide a more complete, elegantly curved look. The roof line is again, otherwise quite standard with just one layer of rafters and slats to provide just the right amount of shade for the seating area.
This pergola design is something you typically see at a resort. It is just there for style and does it ever work! The curved vinyl design set up on pillars provides a very regal boundary at the edge of the spa and pool seating area. There is no real shade being provided here since it is just a single line of posts holding up a minimal series of rafters on the curved beam. Extended trim pieces at the tops of the posts deliver additional style and support for the beam and rafters.
Bringing it back to a more useful example – the attached vinyl pergola above is a classic. The roof line is again quite simple, but the slats and rafters are cut a little thinner than usual and placed closer together to provide more shade.
Spa pergolas are truly inexpensive and easy to build. They typically have to cover a much smaller space such as the one above. The attached pergola with two square posts attached to the concrete only has 7 slats and 7 rafters so the material cost is quite low. The labor to build this would also be minimal. Two people could most likely put it up in one day.
Just like with pools, sometimes you still want to see wood around your spa, Pressure treated pine is the cheapest and as long as you are willing to spend a day every few years re-treating the wood it will last just fine. This is a very simple, four post square pergola with nice, thick roof pieces for maximum shade. This one could also be put up in one weekend by two people quite easily.
The spa pergola above is a little fancier than the others of course. This is a beautiful blend of different materials for the deck, fence and pergola. The posts are actually secured in the ground between flagstone pieces. You cannot properly secure a pergola on flagstone as it doesn’t provide sufficient stability. It’s best to remove the stone to dig holes for the posts. There are nice trim pieces added here on the posts and the top and the bottom including caps to match the fence posts. Like the previous two examples there is only one row each of 7 rafters and 7 slats so the basic pergola itself would not cost much more in materials or take much longer to build, if at all.
If these designs have inspired you, I encourage you to take a short survey and sign up for this email series and follow the steps to claim your free pergola plan and then to get the discount for the Guide to Building a Pergola in One Weekend. With all that information in hand, you will have what you need to create your own poolside pergola or spa pergola.
Pergola designs are endless. As soon as you start looking for one, you can easily be overwhelmed with the many options! Look at this one – could you have imagined those possibilities? Curved roof line, one wall with a set of screens you can open and close for privacy, post base accents, full lattice roof cover for extra shade and lights strung through them.
These options all together are probably quite expensive though probably not all that much more difficult to install on your own. The expense would just be in the extra material for the bases, wall & lattice pieces. Curving a roof is actually quite common with outdoor wood structures. Think of an arbor which nearly always has a curved roof. It might be a little more expensive and a little more complex planning out measurements for the proper angles, but the only pieces that are curved are the beams and rafters. Just choosing a curved roof design on your pergola would be enough to make it elegant and upscale.
The lattice slats can be purchased in sections and just attached to the rafters as you would simple, straight slat pieces. The purpose of it’s use here is to create more shade and the look of a more complete roof. The advantage is that they are very lightweight pieces and don’t add too much to the load that the posts and beam need to bear. A very creative solution.
The screen walls on a pergola are quite unusual. Since the houses here are close together, the homeowner’s were looking for a way to have greater privacy when they sit outside. The use of the screens that can open or close allows them to let in light if they want to, but to close it when they don’t. This addition is probably the most expensive one since they are solid screens with hinges that need to be properly installed. However, it is certainly something to consider if you privacy is an issue. If you only add this feature and eliminate the others it might not put you too much over budget.
The post bases are beautiful and since they are only used on two of the posts, probably not too high priced. It’s actually quite easy to attach base or top trim to posts even after a pergola is installed. These are simple trim pieces that can be nailed or screwed into place quite quickly.
If you are considering building your own pergola, here are 5 tips to follow before you get started.
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.