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Monday, July 16, 2012

Getting Started Building a Pergola

Like many people these days you have decided that it is better to improve your home than to buy a new one. This summer it seems that every other house on my street is undergoing some kind of renovations. New roofs, walls, landscaping, driveways, gates, windows and painting are all getting done. The stagnant economy is keeping people where they are, but there is still a desire to improve and upgrade where you live. For a lot of you that means starting out with something simple that you can do yourself such as building a pergola.

Where will you place your pergola?

You’ve decided to build a pergola and create a shaded spot for an outdoor seating area. Most houses already have a concrete slab patio or a deck in the yard. Perhaps you have a flagstone or paver patio. Or maybe your yard is just all lush green grass. In any example you can easily secure pergola posts and build the structure anywhere you choose. A pergola can very easily be attached to the back of the house or be free standing. Create your seating area or outdoor kitchen where you can have the most privacy or to take advantage of the nicest views from your yard. 

Securing the posts to concrete

Since most people have a concrete slab off the back of their house creating a natural patio seating area, securing pergola posts to concrete is the most common and easiest method. Attach brackets to the concrete with tapcon screws and then secure your posts in the brackets. This method is perfect not only because it is sturdy but also because the brackets create the recommended one inch gap between the bottom of the post and the slab so that water won’t accumulate. 

What if you need to dig?

For yard with flagstone pavers or no hard surface patio at all, you will need to dig holes. Pavers are not strong enough for securing a pergola. Remove the pavers from the place where the posts will be and dig a hole. You will need to dig below the average frost level in your area to prevent frost heave - which happens as the ground freezes and then thaws - from pushing your pergola out of the ground. Pour concrete into the hole and then place Simpson strong tie brackets at the top making sure they are all level. When the concrete dries secure the posts to the brackets. 

Deck pergola installation.

The key to securing pergola posts to an existing wood deck is to use the framing as the attachment spot. You cannot just add a post to any single floor board because they may not bear the weight. Blocking needs to be added to the deck floor if that is your only choice to help spread the load. A metal anchor should be used as a mounting bracket for the posts.

Consider a pergola kit if you have a little extra money

Pergola kits are excellent alternatives to building your own. They are all pre-fabricated and partially put together in easy to ship sections. They come with complete instructions for you to follow. All the hardware necessary to secure your pergola to any surface will be included. You simply need to let the manufacturer know what you need. You will need one person to help you, but it will take much less time and effort than building from scratch.

Whether you choose a pergola kit or decide to build your own pergola, you will be very happy with the results. Pergolas are inexpensive and easy to install. Just one weekend of work and you will have added style and value to your yard. You will enjoy the pergola for many years.

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