How to Build a Pergola
First things first: what’s the difference between a pergola and a gazebo? Both are fun to say, and both are traditionally seen in garden/backyard areas to provide some shelter and relaxation. But gazebos are typically round, with a full roof, and are standalone structures. Pergolas, on the other hand, are usually a square or rectangle, and often just have crossbeams or lattice for the roof for vines to grow through and provide natural shade. Pergolas can be freestanding, connected to a building, or serve as a connecting point between two other structures.
Costs vary depending on size and the materials you use, but pergolas typically cost between $2,000 and $5,000, according to HomeAdvisor. You can consult a professional, get do-it-yourself kits, or completely plot your own course with your own design and materials. Here are some things to know before you build.
As with any building project, check your local building permit requirements, and make sure you’re not violating any zoning or homeowner’s association rules. Also, check for utility lines — even if you don’t have to dig, you don’t want to build over a line that may need repair work in the future that could damage or destroy your structure.
Know the size and materials you’ll want to use, and have the design well planned out. Most pergolas are simple squares or rectangles, but perhaps there’s something particular you’d like to highlight that requires modifications. If so, consider consulting a design-build professional, like Kehoe Kustom, who can answer questions and foresee any potential pitfalls. Do you want seating, or will it be more of a walkway? Is it freestanding, or will it connect to another structure? Make sure all of your plans are concrete before starting to build.
Much like decks, pergolas can be built with different types of lumber. Real wood, pressure-treated wood, or even vinyl are available. It depends on your budget, the look you want, and how much time and energy you’re willing to put into maintenance in the years to come.
If you’re building yourself, the first thing to install is the posts. You can install them in a concrete pad, or, directly into the ground (make sure to go 6 inches below the frost line). Once the posts are in, you’ll attach the support beams. Then the crossbeams (you’ll need a table saw), the post trim and braces, and the top slats. Make sure everything is secure and level.
Pergolas are often used to showcase aspects of a garden or backyard, to pay attention to what plants you already have and what works well in your area. If you already have vines, a lattice pergola is a perfect way to show them off. If you don’t have any, this may be the perfect time to invest. Or, if you prefer, hanging plants or other greenery could dress up the space.