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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Attached Pergola Design Ideas

A sample of some easy to build attached pergola designs complete with pergola parts identification and descriptions of the pergola design features.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pergola post installation

Securing a post to concrete is the most common method of installing a pergola. It is also the easiest by far. A bracket, a concrete anchor (also known as a Tapcon) bolt and then some lag bolts to attached the post to the bracket. The wood trim nailed on after is probably the most crucial step.

Don't skip it! Why? Because it is a very inexpensive few pieces of wood that make your pergola look so much more complete. No ugly exposed brackets weathering away in the elements. The treated and stained wood will last long and look beautiful.

The bracket mounts also provide the recommended 1" clearance between the concrete and the bottom of the wood post. Even with pressure treated and stained timbers of any type you really don't want them standing in accumulated water. And unless you live in the high desert of the southwest, you know you will have times during the year when water will accumulate either via heavy rains or melting snow.

No matter what type of base you will use for your pergola, the Guide to Build a Pergola in One Weekend will describe and show you via illustrations and pictures like those above just how to tackle the foundation of your pergola project.

Coming soon! Videos to support the Guide - available to site members at!

The Guide also includes two sets of free pergola plans and it teaches you how to draw your own. Don't miss out on this great deal!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Join the Pergola Building E-Course

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 takes you from the very first step in the planning process all the way to heading out to shop for materials with your very 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 and meet all local regulations that are needed, and then exactly 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.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Securing a Pergola to a Deck

On the topic of where to build a pergola, this question very frequently comes up:

“How do you build a pergola on a deck that will stay secure under windy conditions? We live in a hurricane zone and we’ve seen pergolas that crumble and other’s that stand strong. What’s the key to keeping them secure?”

It is very important to properly attach pergola posts when installing a pergola over a deck. As the customer shows, a main concern is how the structure will react under high wind conditions.  Most deck builders bolt pergola support posts to the frame of the deck using (2) 1/2"x6" lag screws with washers per post. The key there is to attach the posts to the frame. That is the only part of the deck that can provide the stability to hold up any kind of attachment to the deck. This technique is the same as attaching a rail post.  

Another way to insure stability is to build the pergola with some additional bracing pieces that increase resistance to wind. Pergolas are top heavy and can sway in the wind without lateral bracing and can experience strong uplift forces as the pergola acts as a sail.  Attaching sections of rail in between pergola posts will strengthen the pergola.  Installing 45 degree bracing in between the post and header beam will also increase stability. 

For just about any design or foundation, we always suggest using 6x6's for support posts, but for a deck we consider it mandatory.  Deck Lok brackets are another option for extremely windy areas and hurricane zones.

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 (and wind!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pergola design with a canopy

Here is a note we recently received from a curious visitor to the site:

"Is it possible to build a pergola with a canopy?  I just staked out where we want to put a pergola and it is the sunniest possible spot in the yard. I think I will definitely want some sort of adjustable solid shade function for hot summer afternoons.

I’ve seen pictures of pergolas with pretty yellow or orange canvas shades. That would actually be a really vibrant accent to have there. It will be a nice, unexpected splash of color to liven up the area. Since we are putting it up to provide shelter over a backyard sitting area, the shade function is actually pretty critical. Of course, thanks to other obstacles like water lines and such that is really the only place we can safely dig to install everything."
 This is a great question and allows me to share this photo of one my favorite pergola design additions. Retractable canvas canopies are inexpensive and easy to install on any pergola. Build the pergola with the design you need and in the location you have chosen and then add on the canopy. As the writer says, they come in some very stylish colors that can really add to the overall beauty of the space. And of course, the important function is the shade providing a more complete shelter from bright sunshine as needed. When you want the light and warmth? Just roll the canopy up as you would a set of window blinds.

So don't let the fact that the best spot for your pergola is also the brightest and hottest especially in the summer. Just add a colorful canopy and enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A pergola, arbor, trellis or gazebo?

A customer wrote in asking to help them identify the differences between pergolas, arbors gazebos and trellises. They knew they wanted to add a structure to their yard that would provide shade but were not exactly sure what it would be called. Since we hear this question frequently we thought it would be good to summarize it here.

Arbors and trellises have a bit in common. They are not actually structures with roofs at all or really designed to provide shade for a seating area. Arbors are usually built to designate a transition between two places in a garden. You find them over walking paths sometimes with vines growing over them. A trellis is a one dimensional structure that is designed entirely to support plants and vines.

Gazebos are nearly complete outdoor rooms in that they have full roofs and also floors. They are typically round with solid walls at the bottom containing built in benches for seating. The upper half of the walls is open. 

A pergola is more like what this customer really wanted. It is an open structure with a roof that would provide shade, but is not solid. There is also no floor but rather the posts supporting the open roof would be secured into the ground or on a concrete patio or a deck. 

For more in depth descriptions and pictures of each, go here. If, like the customer in this story, you decide that you want to build your own pergola, then submit your email there and claim a free pergola plan. You will find everything there you need to add a pergola to your yard.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

There is Really No Reason Not To Build Your Own Pergola

Everywhere you look the advice seems to be that you should build your own pergola rather than buying a prefabricated kit or hiring a contractor to build it for you. There are so many resources to guide you through the process.

It is certainly a lot less expensive to do it yourself. You might even shoot for a higher grade material or adding on some options to increase the value of the finished product. All you need is a circular saw, a power drill, hammer, nails and then some fastener brackets. Of course, a ladder, leveler and another pair of hands to assist would be quite useful too. Even attaching it to your house is really quite simple.

Check out the information in the Build a Pergola section of the PergolaDIY site, take the survey, get a free plan, learn from the email series and then buy the book. 

As long as you feel comfortable using the tools mentioned then it really will pay off to build your own pergola.