Dating back to the days of the pyramids, and the days of Roman and Greek emperors the construction of pergolas has been around for a while. It became a modern fixture during the Renaissance period, when it became a prominent display in Italian gardens and began its journey through Europe. The pergola is a freestanding or attached outdoor structure, it can be either square or rectangular in shape.  It’s supported at each corner through the use of columns, and usually has an open or latticed roof, but these days you may even see a canvas cover to be used as a sunshade. Some pergolas include a bench, but in today’s design you may find them to be an extension of the dining or living area. As with a arbor or gazebo, a pergola enhances the landscape of the home it is situated upon. It can be used to entertain friends, and family outdoors. The Following steps are meant to be a guideline if you are considering buying a pergola.

What is your reason for purchasing?

Do you intend for the pergola to be used as an extension of your living area?  In which case you may want to consider an attached pergola.  Attached pergolas are also a great way to provide some cover for a deck or patio and provide for a great entertaining atmosphere. Meanwhile a freestanding pergola can be a great way to spruce up a garden.  It can be used like an arbor to grow vines and provide a beautiful sheltered spot for resting potted plants. Larger freestanding pergolas can be used like gazebos to create private seating or dining areas. Sometimes they are placed along a garden path as an attractive structure. You may install the freestanding pergola on concrete footings or attached to deck flooring with post anchors.  Usually you have to purchase post extensions separately and may be needed to anchor the pergola more deeply into the ground.

What size pergola fits your needs?

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Depending on the size of your yard and what the intended use is you’ll definitely want to look into the size of the pergola you intend to purchase.  For example, if you only want to create some privacy for your outdoor hot tub area you may want to consider going with something a little smaller.  You might be limited by the size of your yard as well. There is no need to fret as pergolas come in many sizes both rectangular and square.  Whataver the case make sure to take your measurements and check with town requirements to ensure you are able to accommodate your purchase.

What style pergola suits your personality and taste?

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Pergolas vary in style from 2-post designs if they are attached to your house and up if they are freestanding a minimum of 4 posts is required.  The roof  styles vary as well from structures with no roof to those with rows of posts that can be straight or arched along with intricate roof lattices and carved wood designs. Other designs include but are not limited to:

  • Garden pergola — The most popular style of pergola, it is a freestanding structure and contains a traditional post and beam structure. It’s simple to construct and install since they are not attached to another structure.
  • Arched pergola — Similar to garden pergolas, except the roof of the pergola is either concave or convex.
  • Small pergola — A miniature pergola for a tight space or to simply offer an overhang for growing plants
  • Custom pergola — If you want a pergola that deviates from the norm regarding design then you’ll want to consider a custom pergola.

What material would you like your pergola to constructed of?

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Wood, Fiberglass, Aluminum, Vinyl pergolas can be constructed of many materials with varying degrees of maintenance and durability.  Perhaps the easiest to maintain is vinyl just a quick rinse with a garden hose and you are all done.  While wood may require a little more care, certain types of wood, such as cedar or eucalyptus, may be resistant to decay and insects providing a longer lasting appeal and only a modest amount of cleaning care.  The fiber glass and resin pergolas usually have to sprayed and maintained with oils in order to protect them but they are very sturdy structures that will be around for years to come.  Lastly if you chose an aluminum structure, which is usually used as the base pillars and you are free to combine with any of the other materials for the roof, be sure you have the proper equipment to mount the other structures and to secure the base.  Overall material choice is completely up to you and is a matter of taste and maintenance requirements.

Do you prefer an open pergola or shaded?

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Depending on your home aesthetic and style you may opt for an open roof pergola, or if you prefer a shaded area then a canvas roof might be a better option.  Although, for the most versatility one should consider a latticed roof.  They offer the most options as far as whether you want the best of both worlds and can also be adorned with various crawling plants to create varying levels of sun and shade.

Accessorize it.

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Lights, fans, furniture!  The options of accessories are many.  Again it depends on your intended use and budget. Remember that while your pergola is a sturdy structure if you plan on adding additional accessories such as a ceiling fan or solar panels your pergola may require additional support to allow for these fixtures.

Consider your Budget!

All of the previous topics discussed will have an impact on how much your pergola will cost. Your building options will also have an impact on the cost.  The three main options to consider are as follow: Will you buy a pergola plan, a kit, or a custom-designed pergola?

  • You can purchase a Pergola plans from an online dealers such as Amazon. The advantage of buying a plan is that it allows you to construct the pergola at your own pace and you may also wind up paying less than you would for a kit or custom design because you are buying the materials yourself.
  • The middle of the road option is the Pergola kit.  Kits usually include most of the materials required to complete assembly though you might need to purchase additional wood or bolts in order to secure your structure to a deck or patio. Constructions time vary depending on the number of people you have helping you and also whether the pergola kit has pre-cut holes and measurements.  All things to consider in your kit purchase. Check out this post for more info on some of the best pergola kits out there.
  • Lastly, you can go the custom route. Design your pergola from the ground up using  a pergola using online design tools. Depending on the options, design, and materials that you choose a custom-design pergola might wind up costing you more than a pre-fab kit or building one from a plan.

All in all a pergola is a great way to add ambiance to your patio, garden, or outdoor living area. Enjoy