How to Build a Wood Pergola

Pergolas provide some much needed shade from the summer sun. Learn how to build a pergola with these step-by-step instructions.
DIY-2393091_dseq113_3_final11

DIY-2393091_dseq113_3_final11

Materials and Tools:

gravel
lag bolts
4" x 4" pressure-treated posts
2" x 4" pressure-treated boards
2" x 6" pressure-treated boards
2" x 10" pressure-treated boards
galvanized deck screws
circular saw
level
shovel
wheelbarrow
socket set
screwdriver
drill
hammer
spade
post hole digger
ladder
jigsaw

DIY-2393095_dseq113_3_posts01

DIY-2393095_dseq113_3_posts01

Steps:

1. Select the site for the pergola and mark the placement of the four posts. Use a post-hole digger or two-person auger to dig holes to a depth of 24" and width of 9". Add a few inches of gravel to the bottom of the holes for drainage. Insert 4" x 4" posts in holes. Ensure the posts are level and plumb. Attach temporary 2" x 4" bracing to hold in place. Mix fast-drying cement according to the manufacturer's directions and pour into holes. Let cure for 24 hours.

DIY-2393087_dseq113_3_carriagebolt04

DIY-2393087_dseq113_3_carriagebolt04

2. Cut joist beams from 2" x 10" boards to span the pergola posts. To create a decorative look on the end of the joist beams, draw a straight or curved design on the wood and cut along the line with a jigsaw. Temporarily clamp in place while holes are drilled through the beams and posts. Attach the beams to the posts using 3" lag bolts.

DIY-2393094_dseq113_3_overhang06

DIY-2393094_dseq113_3_overhang06

3. Cut the stringers from 2" x 6" boards to span and overhang the joist beams. To create a decorative look on the end of the stringers, draw a straight or curved design on the wood and cut along the line with a jigsaw. Evenly space the stringers perpendicular to the beams and toenail in place using 3" galvanized deck screws.

Design Tips for Beautiful Pergolas

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Giant Reading Room

An arched pergola frames this beautiful outdoor room. The homeowner loves to read, so Jamie Durie integrated a small library into the design.

Bold Lines

A dramatic wood-and-shade-cloth pergola creates a warm, contemporary look for this patio designed by Pamela Berstler.

Tucked Away

This charming nook, designed by Joan Grabel, gets its appeal from the delightful details: tiny hanging lantern lights, retro furniture and lush container plants.

Play to Your Landscape's Best Feature

Who says your garden has to be snuggled up next to your house? Break away from convention and let your garden define itself — in this case, by the spectacular view. Design by Scott Cohen

Privacy for an Urban Patio

When space is limited, design matters even more. Here, the linear articulation of the pergola trickles down the sides, adding visual interest while also providing privacy.

Romantic Space

The twining vines of clematis soften the hardscaping and add a burst of color to this outdoor room by HGTV fan CSCabernet.

Photo By: HGTV fan CSCabernet

Pockets Full of Plant Life

Vertical walls of plants provide the privacy screening for this outdoor dining room. The decorative light fixture adds a delicate design element that pulls the space together.

Waking Up in the Outdoors

Moving doors covered with a vertical garden of orchids make up the entire back wall of Jamie Durie's bedroom, which opens into this beautiful outdoor space. Lush vertical gardens surround this outside space, too.

Bonsai Shelves

Designed by Jamie Durie, this beautiful stepped display for bonsai trees is part of a contemporary Japanese-style pavilion that also houses a suspended daybed.

Make a Grand Entrance

Create a dramatic entryway to an outdoor room with a decorative doorway. This rustic pergola, laced with roses and honeysuckle, welcomes visitors.

Photo By: DK - The Complete Gardener's Guide ©2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sensory Experience

A pergola smothered with jasmine frames this seating area from HGTV fan debbieharris.

Photo By: HGTV fan debbieharris

All in One

Designer Jamie Durie redefined this outdoor space with a pergola-and-bench design that's near the outdoor dining area (next slide). The horizontal beams along the top do double duty as planters.

Dining in Style

This beautiful dining room, on a raised deck, is an extension of the home's kitchen and features an elevated fireplace. The white trim, distressed finish, shingles and picket-fence-like "walls" complement the home's New-England design style.

Double-Decker Pergola

In his own backyard, designer Jamie Durie used the roof of a poolside dining pergola as the foundation for a second-story deck.

Woven Roof

For a Bohemian look, designer Jamie Durie used hand-dyed rope to create the webbing for this pergola ceiling, then suspended multiple hanging baskets from the wood supports.

Not an Everyday Pergola

Add flavor to your garden, and make it your own. This outdoor chandelier of candles and hanging plants sets a playful mood and brings the space to life. Mix and match a worn wooden table with some antique metal chairs, or march a row of potted plants down a ledge. Most importantly, have fun.

Design by Sandy Koepke

Photography by Jennifer Cheung

Photo By: Sandy Koepke

Pergola With Natural Charm 01:21

Watch a pergola being built with a tree growing right through the center.
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