Building a Pergola: A Step-By-Step Guide

Pergolas are a lovely addition to any outdoor space. They provide shade, trellising for climbing and vining plants, and definition to the space.

If you’re interested in a pergola and you’re looking for a garden project this season, keep reading for a step-by-step guide to building a pergola.

1. Dig Post Holes

Whether you’re building a custom pergola or putting together a pergola kit, the first thing you’ll need to do is dig the holes for the posts. Before you start digging, you need to choose a location and map out the dimensions of your pergola. Using a narrow shovel or a post-hole digger, dig a hole about one-and-a-half feet deep. When building on top of existing concrete, you can use post supports instead.

2. Post Fitting

After all four post holes have been dug, it’s time to begin fitting your posts. Place each post in a hole, and with a leveller, make sure that the post is level. Once you’ve got a post in place, add some temporary wood supports to hold it steady while you fit the remaining posts. You can also backfill the holes with some stones for added stability.

3. Secure Posts

To secure the pergola posts, your best option is post-fixing mix. It sets quickly and is very user-friendly. Just add some water to the post hole and add enough post-fixing mix to cover the water. Remove any air bubbles and level it off. Be sure to follow the product instructions for the best outcome. Recheck that your posts are level and make any needed adjustments before allowing the mix to fully set.

4. Fit Support Beams

The support beams are what the rafters will sit on. These two beams should overhang the same distance on both sides. Whether you’re working alone or you have a helper or two, you’ll want to hammer a nail into the posts measured to the width of the support beams to rest the support beams on to level them and fasten them to the posts. This will also help you ensure that you have an equal amount of overhang for each beam. Use carriage bolts to secure the beams to the posts.

5. Mark the Rafters

The rafters should overhang the support beams equally on both sides. To keep everything symmetrical, line up all of the rafters side by side and align them on one end. Cut any that are too long. Measure and mark the spot where the rafter will sit on the support beam on both ends of the rafter. Drilling pilot holes at these points will make it easier for you to affix them to the support beams.

6. Fit Rafters

To fit your rafters, cut a piece of wood to the length that you want the rafters to be spaced. Use this spacer to ensure that your gaps are equidistant across your pergola. Secure the rafter with wood screws in your previously drilled pilot holes.

That’s it. You’ve completed your pergola. You can now stain it, seal it, or paint it to give it a longer life span and reduce maintenance frequency. When you’re ready to dress up your new pergola consider adding lights, climbing plants, curtains, or outdoor speakers. The possibilities are endless.

*Collaborative post

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