What Are the Best Tips for Building a Pergola?

J.M. Densing
J.M. Densing
High-quality wood is the best building material for a pergola.
High-quality wood is the best building material for a pergola.

A pergola is a classic, simple structure that can add a lot of appeal to a property; it can be decorative in addition to providing valuable shade during the hotter months of the year. Building a pergola is a relatively easy project, and it can be completed in a couple of days with some careful planning. Some valuable tips for building a pergola include selecting a design that meets the needs of the homeowner and looks good in the space, planning thoroughly, and measuring carefully. It's also a good idea to use high-quality materials, as well as enlisting the help of another person, particularly if the pergola is large.

Pergolas were commonly found in Renaissance gardens, and remain a classic design that's still in favor today. There are many possible reasons for building a pergola. Some people build them to add decorative appeal and visual interest to a landscape, and they are useful for drawing the eye to a specific area in order to create a focal point. They are also good for creating a separate space in a yard, such as a dining area, and providing shade.

An important tip to keep in mind when building a pergola is to select an appropriate design. The size of the design should be well-matched with the scale of the property, and it needs to be large enough to serve its planned purpose. Placement on the property can also be important to design selection. A pergola right near a building can utilize that structure for support and be built using just two posts, while a freestanding unit needs four posts for stability. Decorative touches should be chosen to help the pergola fit in well with its surroundings.

As with any do-it-yourself project, careful planning is vital. It's important to sketch out a design, measure the area, and calculate the right amounts of supplies such as wood and screws. If possible, it's a good idea to purchase all of the necessary materials ahead of time. Another tip to remember is that measuring carefully is crucial during all phases of the process of building a pergola. The space needs to be measured to ensure that the planned pergola will fit, and it's especially important to measure during the building phase of the project before cutting any wood.

In order to ensure that the pergola lasts as long as possible, use the highest quality materials possible. Wood is usually the best choice, and, in many cases, it should be treated to protect it from damage due to weathering and decay. Cedar is an especially good choice because it resists rotting and, if desired, it can be allowed to weather naturally to an attractive silvery gray.

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    • High-quality wood is the best building material for a pergola.
      High-quality wood is the best building material for a pergola.