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.
When looking for information to help make a decision about pergola designs and material selection, it is most common to see and learn about different wood products. Wood is readily available in local home improvement centers and lumberyards making it the most inexpensive option initially. Whether you are looking for parts to build your own pergola from a set of plans, or even checking out pergola kits, from the start you can see that wood will not break your budget. However, you probably also find many examples of vinyl pergolas, particularly when you are looking at kits. So why should you consider vinyl?
The huge advantage to vinyl is in how well and long it lasts with literally no ongoing maintenance. If you have any sort of wood product in your yard – a fence, a gate, or patio furniture for instance – you have already learned that you cannot just leave it alone and expect to look beautiful without assistance. Even when properly pressure treated and stained, over the years the rain, snow, rain and hail will wear it down. Insects can attack it threatening the structural integrity of the structure. You need to restrain and treat the wood every few years in order to prevent any of that damage. Wood is certainly desirable for the look it provides, but there is a reason it is cheaper and you do need to be prepared for ongoing care. Vinyl simply needs to be hosed off now and then to keep it clean. That’s it! So you might pay more up front, but then your done. No more effort or cost.
Vinyl is a synthetic material that is impervious to weather and insect damage. It is also not always a solid piece. Typically the vinyl is covering either a composite wood or, as in the examples shown above, an aluminum core. And yes, you can buy parts to build your own. Look for plastic suppliers vs lumberyards. Vinyl fencing and decks are very common and it is quite easy to purchase individual pergola parts from those types of vendors. Aluminum core materials are more expensive than wood composite core but both are available.
The best possible solution that we have found is this Liberty Vinyl Pergola Kit. The list price starts are just under $1,100 and that is really quite a good price for a pergola kit and complete building instructions. You will just need one day and two people and incredibly basic tools to put it together. No cutting or measuring required.
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.