This do-it-yourself article details the steps needed to build a pergola that is attached directly to your home. The process is complex, but handy homeowners can use the following guide to complete the project with ease. Pergolas are incredibly functional and are an ideal way to enjoy the outdoors. Several design options are available, but virtually every project can be completed with this tutorial.
Setting out the pergola is one of the most essential elements. Taking accurate measurements is essential, and the carpenter’s old adage, “Measure twice cut once”, is good to keep in mind. In addition having a friend help makes it easy to drive screws and hold lumber at the same time.
Attached pergolas are great projects because they are affordable, last for years and add value to the home. Using outdoor timber is recommended because it holds up to the weather. Cedar, pressure treated lumber and redwood are some of the best building materials. Finishing the exposed lumber with varnish polyurethane helps prevent decay or water damage. Inspecting lumber is another essential, and this should be done at the hardware store. Some pieces of lumber are terribly crooked, and a board’s curve, or crown, should always face up. Installing joists with the crown up ensures that boards straighten when weight is applied.
What You Will Need
-8-9-feet-long 4×4 or 6×6 posts
-3-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch wood screws or nails
-Tube forms for cement
-Adjustable post anchors
-2×4 or 2×6 Rafters for shade
-Cement, gravel and sand
Building Your Pergola
The first job is to figure the design and lay out the pergola’s perimeter. Pros use batter boards that are pounded into the ground at each corner. The batter boards facilitate the process, and a string is usually run between boards to ensure a square foundation.
The 4×4 or 6×6 posts provide support for the pergola, and one is set at each corner. The post holes should be at least three feet deep and 15-inches in diameter. Pouring a few inches of gravel ensures a firm foundation, and the holes should be filled with a tube form and finished with cement. The posts should have 48 hours to cure, and be fully plumb and secured with braces.
After the posts have had time to dry, the 2×8 ledger board is fastened to the home with bolts. Installing a vinyl flashing over the ledger board diverts water and reduces the chance of decay or rot. The ledger board needs to be level and should be at the same height as the posts.
After the ledger is installed, the rest of the band boards are run around the pergola’s perimeter and fastened to the posts. The joists are then installed perpendicular to the home. Most carpenters install one joist every 16 inches to ensure adequate support. Cutting designs into the end of the joists is a great way to create a custom pergola that has a unique look.
The 2×6 joists, or shade boards, should be fastened with a nail that is toe-nailed from the joist into the ledger board. In addition, there are metal fasteners that make this job easy especially when you are building the pergola alone.
Additional shade is easy to create by adding smaller slats that run perpendicular to the 2×6 joists. The slats can be made from 2×2 or 2×4 lumber and installed at regular intervals. Installing fewer shade slats allows more sun to enter your pergola, and more slats create a shady outdoor room.
After you are done with the construction, filling gaps with wood putty is essential. Sanding the putty ensures a smooth surface and a lasting finish.