Building a Pergola: What You’ll Need
Integrated into a deck, a pergola adds character, beauty, and shade.
This article is the first in a series on building a pergola for an outdoor living space. It introduces the supplies you’ll need and the dimensions you’ll work with for this particular pergola project.
A pergola will add character, beauty, and versatility to your landscape. You can use it to add just the right amount of shade to a patio or you can integrate it into a deck as shown here. Or you can make this same design freestanding to define and shade a particularly nice spot in your yard.
The dimensions given in “What You’ll Need” below are for a pergola with posts set 12 ft. on center from each other. You can use those dimensions if you are building a freestanding pergola. If you are incorporating your pergola into an existing deck or patio, you’ll need to adapt the dimensions, something that is very easy to do—we’ll show you how as the project progresses. The pergola shown here, for example, was built around an existing deck. Its posts are close to, but not exactly, 12 ft. on center.
The roof of the pergola consists of 2×8 beams crossed by notched 2×8 joists. The joists are topped with slats made by ripping 2x4s in half. The shape on the ends of the beams and joists was drawn freehand by the owner of this pergola. You can follow the pattern provided, or you can get creative and come up with your own design. But keep it simple; there are a lot of ’em to cut!
Overall, there is nothing complex about building a pergola. However, you’ll be moving around some big pieces of lumber, so you will get a workout and you’ll definitely need a helper.
What You’ll Need
Hardware and Supplies
*As needed for notched posts
**As needed for posts without notches