Pergola construction isn’t rocket science. As long as you know how to use a level, can work a saw and usually drive nails (relatively) straight you’ll be able to build one. All you really need is quality pergola plans and/or a pergola kit.
In fact, with the pergola kit you won’t even have to work a saw. The materials come precut; all you have to do is follow the included plan.
Pergola Construction – Choosing Lumber
But when you aren’t using a kit, you’ll have to do more research before settling on building materials. This is a delicate give and take between price, durability and aesthetic.
For instance, redwood is an oft recommended lumber. But it aint cheap. Cedar is a cheaper softwood and it’s great at resisting rot and bugs. Just make sure the ‘cedar’ the materials shop has on offer is actual cedar and not pine.
Pressure treated lumber is even cheaper than the two, but it’s hideous until painted/stained/shellacked. But you do want to use PT for any section that’s touching concrete.
Pergola Construction – Choosing Design
Simple shapes are easier to build. So, if you’ve never erected a structure before, stick to the square or rectangular plans. This minimizes the amount of cuts needed… reducing the potential for mistakes in the process. It’s no fun having to buy lumber twice due to an overly complex design layout.
And while we’re on the topic of cuts, I might as well restate the carpenter’s motto: always measure twice and cut once. It’s best to make good use of your measuring tape and pencil than to waste lumber.
Make sure to keep the size of your yard in mind when choosing a design. Remember, you want the pergola to add character to your hard, not to overpower it.
Likewise, how you’ll use the pergola should be considered consideration. If you’ll be using it as a sitting area during barbeques, it should be large enough to cater to at least a handful of people.
Pergola Construction – Other Considerations
Is your septic tank below where you plan on building? What about water lines, telephone lines, or electrical lines? If you need to sink posts, this is information you need to know… and can usually find out by calling your local building department.
Are you uncomfortable sourcing your own building materials? If so, you might want to go with a pergola kit. They come prepackaged with all necessary materials, and some are even sold under warranty.
Are you building on a budget? Most folks are. If that be the case, it’ll be cheaper to build from plan instead of buying a kit. Just remember not to skimp on the plans; some free pergola plans are solid but others are absolute garbage. Be careful when choosing which to use.
Is pergola construction for you? Well, since you’re reading this article I’m pretty sure you have a DIY mentality. That’s the most important thing. All you need now are time, effort and a plan… and your pergola is as good as built.