What Is a Pergola

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A pergola is a type of outdoor structure that provides shade for people sitting in the garden.

Pergolas are often seen in formal gardens or on patios, but can also be used as an arbor over a walkway. There are many different types of pergolas including barrel, slatted frame, and post-and-beam structures.

In this article, we'll look at the most popular types of pergola available, where you can use them, and how to construct your own.

Let's dive deep into this topic. 

Most common places for a pergola

A pergola can be used in a variety of locations both indoors and outdoors. Outside, they are often most commonly seen on patios or around pools. A pergola can be especially useful as it provides shade for those sitting in the garden and helps to block sunlight from the pool when swimming outside. Not only does this provide comfort, but shade can also help prevent algae growth, which is important for maintaining clear water throughout the summer months.

What Is a Pergola
Image Credit: http://outdoorlivingtoday.com

When designing their backyards, many individuals choose to use pergolas over decks as well as it creates another place to sit and relax while enjoying time outdoors. Pergolas over decks create just enough coverage so that you're still able to enjoy all of your deck furniture without worrying about being in the sun or having too much outdoor exposure.

A pergola can also be used indoors as well, especially to create shaded areas or breezeways between two rooms inside the house. The best way to use a pergola indoors is to attach it to existing structures such as doors, windows, or walkways to give the appearance of one opening instead of multiple openings.

Materials to build a pergola

Many different materials can be used to build a pergola, and although most people use wood, you could also use metal. Wood is the more popular choice as they make for sturdy structures and it's easy to find treated wood at most home improvement stores that are both rot and pest resistant. Cedar is an especially popular choice of wood as it's naturally resistant to insects and rotting.

Pergolas can also be made from cement pavers with metals rods added for reinforcement. When using this type of material, it's important to check for any puddling before finalizing your structure as moisture will often collect in these types of areas if not properly graded away from the paver surface. At this time, it would also be a good idea to determine how you will attach the beams and posts as there are many different types of fasteners and adhesives available.

When building your pergola, it's important to check local zoning codes and city ordinances before starting construction as some areas may require permits or limit the height or width of structures that can be built.

How to build a pergola

Building a pergola is not difficult, however, it does require multiple steps and can take several days depending on the size and complexity of your structure. It's also important to note that most local building codes require you to hire a professional licensed contractor to supervise any construction projects if they're over a value (usually around $15,000). If you're looking to build a pergola yourself, here's how:

  1. Choose the location and size of your structure – Decide where you want your pergola located as well as its size and dimensions. You can choose to have one large or several smaller ones depending on the space limitations of your outdoor area, however, if this is going over an opening such as a deck, be sure to take into consideration any support posts that may be needed to hold up the beams.
  2. Determine the base of your structure – Two main types of bases can be used with a pergola: pier blocks and paver stones. Pier block bases will need to be dug down slightly so they sit flush with the ground whereas paver stone bases are already level. Whichever type of base you choose, it should be slightly larger than the area it's being built on top to allow for proper support.
  3. Set your beams – Once your base is complete, you can move on to setting the sheer and tie beams that will hold up your roof structure. There are two different types of beam supports: post-beam rests and tilt booms. A post-beam rest requires either digging down or pouring a concrete pad for each wooden beam while a tilt boom simply rests atop the posts without any need for additional foundation work. When placing your beams, position them according to how they'll fit together as one side will go against another to create an X-design.
  4. Set your rafters – Once the sheer and tie beams are in place, you can start setting the rafters that will hold up the roof panels. These usually need to be a type of lumber such as cedar or pine as they'll be exposed to more weathering than any other part of your pergola. For each rafter, there should be one beam placed directly on top with another on its side at an angle for support.
  5. Add cross-pieces – After all of your rafters have been set into place, you can then add additional cross-pieces just beneath them so no gaps remain between them and become detrimental to your structure's strength and stability over time. Depending on what material you're using and its thickness, you may need several cross pieces to ensure the roof panels don't sag or fall in any spots.
  6. Add roofing – Once all of your rafters and cross pieces have been secured into place, you can then start adding your roof panels. Depending on the material these are made from such as metal or aluminum, they'll either be seamed together at the seams with special clips or simply overlapped so no gaps exist between them. These should be attached directly to the rafters and support beams that were previously set into position before attaching them for a complete seal along their entire length and width.
  7. Secure your pergola – Now that your roof is completed, it's important to make sure your pergola is locked into place and will remain that way for a long time to come. One of the best ways to achieve a permanent hold without using too much hardware is by adding post bases along your beams which you can tighten up with bolts from below.

Flowers that go along well with a pergola

Having a pergola in your garden means that you should think about flowers that complement it. Growing morning glories, wisteria and other flowers that climb up wooden poles is a great way to spruce up your pergola. That way you can enjoy the beauty of nature even more.

What is the purpose of a pergola?
Image Credit: http://arizonapergola.com

Final thoughts on installing a pergola

In conclusion, a pergola is a structure that is open in design and widely used for supporting plants or vines. It can be freestanding or attached to the home. The purpose of a pergola is to enhance one's property, provide shade from the sun and add privacy. In addition, it also provides a great structure to providers shades as you’re using other items surrounding your pergola. 

Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy

Heather is a professional writer with a background in real estate and home renovation. She enjoys research and contributing to DIY publications.

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