Building a pergola might seem like a complicated task, but it's actually one of the tasks you can manage in a weekend without bringing out too many woodworking skills.
A pergola is an open roof garden structure set on posts great for encouraging the growth of trailing plants such as wisteria.
Pergolas don’t provide much shelter from the rain, and won’t necessarily provide much shade from the sun either, so why bother building one?
Well, aesthetically they’re amazing. A Pergola can serve to define outdoor space, such delineating a walkway, or create a focal point for your garden.
Plus, you don’t have to be a carpenter to create one! Today we’re going to show you how you can build your own pergola in a few simple steps. Let’s get started…
The all important first step before beginning any DIY project is a thorough plan. That doesn’t mean you need a detailed sketch as in the example above, but it does mean you need to know exactly where the proposed structure will go, and the overall size and shape of the structure as well as the exact measurements of each component.
The next step is to purchase the materials. The basic components will include: wooden posts and beams, galvanised nails (essential to prevent rust), post supports, and the necessary tools.
The tools required will vary depending on the specifics of your design, for example what surface your pergola rests upon, and will they will vary depending upon the plan you’ve devised.
If the pergola is atop decking or any other wooden surface post supports – purchased form any large DIY store – and galvanised screws will be fine, but if the pergola is atop a concrete terrace or patio a specialised hammer drill with masonry drill bits will be required to install the post support as well as masonry bolts. Decide on the tools needed in the planning stage and rent or purchase them as necessary.
One crucial tool that could easily be forgotten is the spirit level; essential for making sure the structure is straight and level. Throughout the construction process carefully check everything is level before progressing.
Cutting the wood to the right size any shape before beginning construction may seem fairly obvious, but it’s easy to forget to cut any necessary indents in the wood that create housing and allow it to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These can be made with a saw, mallet and wood chisel if necessary, but a more straight forward pergola design can circumvent the need for housing. Unless you’re skilled in DIY avoid unnecessarily complicated design.
Attach two support beams, one to each pair of posts so that you have two ‘U’ shaped structures ready to be erected.
The wood must be treated with protective varnish or paint to protect it from the sun and rain, so make sure you do this before you begin construction.
As previously mentioned, how you install the posts will depend on the surface you pergola will rest on, and laying it on a wooden surface will most likely be the easiest design requiring only post supports and a standard drill. If your pergola will be on the lawn, then you will need to use longer posts, and dig a hole placing the posts in into the ground. Adding concrete to hold them in place will secure the structure further.
Now that you have you posts in place – checking that they’re level before proceeding – installing the cross beams is relatively simple. Nail the cross beams into symmetrically spaced, previously marked positions on your pergola.