Tag Archive | Pergola

Join the Free Pergola Building E-Course

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For anyone even thinking about building a pergola, this FREE 3 week series of email lessons is exactly what you need to get started.
The E-Course lessons will guide you through from the very first step in the planning process all the way to heading out to shop for materials with your own cut list and freshly drawn pergola plans.
You will learn how to measure out and prepare and mark your site, find out how to obtain permits (if you need them) and meet all local regulations that are needed.
You will learn what you will need to do to secure your posts to any possible surface.
You will receive a free pergola plan, but then also learn how to adapt the one you receive in case it is not the exact size and design that you need. You will also learn how to draw your own pergola plans from scratch including figuring out dimensions all around and then using that to create a material cut list.
At that point you should really be able to feel confident about how possible and easy it it to build your own pergola. Then you will be ready for the second part of the lessons – the ebook that provides illustrated step by step instructions on getting to the final product – your very own personally designed and built pergola.

Securing Pergola Posts to a Stone Patio

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.

Or like this?

Post secured into concrete footing with stone surrounding.

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.

What you should know about building permits for a pergola.

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.

Are DIY Pergola Plans As Easy as TV Makes Them Look?

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.

Sign up now for the best emails series of tips and tricks anywhere and you will really see how easy it is to build a pergola with your own set of pergola plans.

Is a Pergola the same as an Arbor, Trellis or Gazebo?

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.

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.
Cost
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.

Pool and Spa Pergola Ideas

Poolside Pergola - Corner Design

Vinyl Poolside Pergola – Corner Design

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.

Poolside Pergola - Rectangle six post design

Vinyl Poolside Pergola – Rectangle Six Post Design

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.

Pooside Pergola - Wood Four Post

Cedar Poolside Pergola – Four Post Simple Design

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.

Curved Poolside Pergola

Curved Poolside Pergola

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.

Poolside Pergola - Simple Attached Vinyl

Simple Attached Vinyl Poolside Pergola

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.

Attached Spa Pergola

Attached Vinyl Spa Pergola

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.

Pine Spa Pergola

Pine Wood Spa Pergola

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.

Spa Pergola with Deck

White Vinyl Spa Pergola with Deck

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.

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