How to Build a Pergola With Adjustable Roof Panels

Don't let the sweltering sun prevent you from enjoying your patio during the summer months. Learn how to build a pergola with adjustable roof panels that lets you dial just the right amount of shade.

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Materials and Tools for Pergola

prybar
reciprocating saw
safety glasses
hammer
circular saw
miter saw
drill
spade bit
tape measure
level
lag bolts with washers
socket wrench
jigsaw
ladders
4" x 4" cedar posts, 12' long
2" x 8" cedar lumber, 12' long

Steps for Pergola

1. Measure the existing deck and sketch out a design for the project. The new deck posts and roof frame can support a traditional roof, pergola beams or a louvered roof system. If using a louvered system, determine the finished size of the louvered panels before starting to make sure everything fits properly (Image 1).

2. Use a prybar to remove the deck panels from the posts being replaced. Use a reciprocating saw to cut through nails as needed. Don't cut through the panels — they'll be reused with the new posts. Remove everything attached to the posts, including any benches or swings. Use a prybar to remove the necessary posts from the deck. To prevent injury, use a hammer to bend down any nails sticking out of the posts before setting them aside.

3. Measure and cut the new posts that will support the roof structure. Measure the notches in the old posts and mark the notch lines on the new posts. Use a circular saw to start the cuts for the notches, then follow up with a reciprocating saw to create clean inside corners. Use a miter saw to angle the top of the new posts to match the style of the old posts.

4. Have a helper hold the new post in position and drill two holes through the post and into the deck frame. Drive lag bolts through the holes, tightening with a socket wrench. Tighten or loosen the bolts as needed to keep the post plumb.

5. Measure and cut a center post to help support the roof frame; the post should be long enough to sit flush with the bottom of the floor joist under the deck. Use a spade bit to drill a hole in the deck next to the floor joist; enlarge the hole so the post will fit snugly. Slip the post through the hole, line it up with the bottom of the joist and attach to the joist. Make sure the post is plumb and tighten the bolts with a socket wrench.

6. Measure and cut 2-by-8-inch cedar lumber to frame the outside of the posts, plus a pair of 2x8s to go between the center posts. The louvered panels will fit snugly inside these frames. Tip: Use a jigsaw to cut a decorative edge on the ends of the long beams and attach the beams to the tops of the posts with lag bolts (Image 2).

7. Use long, galvanized screws to reattach the deck panels and any benches or other accessories that were removed for the project.

8. The posts and frame are now ready for a the roof treatment.

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