Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
In this guide, we'll set out simple steps to follow to help you build your own pergola. The aim of this tutorial is to make the process as straightforward as possible bearing in mind that there is a huge variety of different pergolas available. In fact, pergolas come in all sorts of sizes with construction ranging from basic to complex and styles varying from traditional to contemporary.
These steps will allow you to build a wooden pergola measuring 2 metres in length and 2.1 metres in height.
If the dimensions set out here do not match your needs – in terms of length or width – you can alter them slightly. Reducing the length of the structure shouldn't pose any issues. However, making the pergola longer will be more problematic as the timber structure does have its limits.
The overall length of the joists shouldn't be any greater than 60 times their thickness.
In this example, the beams measure 32 mm (3.2 cm) in thickness so their total unsupported length mustn't exceed 192 cm (since 3.2 x 60 = 192). The total unsupported length of the beams is 172 cm since 14 cm of the beam rests on the posts on each side. If you need to make the structure longer than these recommendations, you will either need to:
If you don't follow this basic rule, you may end up with structural weaknesses as the joists start to buckle under their own weight over time.
To build this pergola, you will need:
You can choose between heat-treated planed timber and rough sawn timber which you will have to process yourself. If the timber is already planed you won't have to plane it yourself. If you get rough sawn timber, you'll have to plane it or at the very least sand it down using a belt sander (taking care to work with the wood grain). Don't forget to break the edges as you sand.
Choose the straightest timbers possible. Structural (or carcassing) timber often comes in lengths of 4 metres and offers the best value for money if you are able to transport it.
All hardware must be made of stainless steel. Choose countersunk screws with Torx drives to secure your beams and crosspieces. You'll need:
The lag bolts that will be used to fit the beams should feature a hex head and a Torx drive for secure tightening. You'll need:
The posts will also be secured to the pergola post base brackets using lag bolts:
The post bases will be anchored to the ground using:
The post bases feature a square base measuring 13 cm on each side and 10 cm in height.
Measure the beams, posts, joists and crosspieces (A, A1, A2, A3, B) and cut them to match the dimensions stated above.
To make your cuts, start with the circular saw and finish off with the hand saw.
Mark your measurements on all the pieces of timber that will make up the roof of the pergola.
If you don't want your screw heads to be visible along the beams, you can use metal brackets and connectors as set out below. Otherwise, you can use screw caps or wood filler to cover the holes.
You can place bolt caps over the lag bolts to cover up the heads.
Be sure to check that everything is square as you are taking your measurements.
If you are only working with one other person, screw a crosspiece between two posts and then one on each side to create enough leverage to lift the structure. Once the pergola is standing, you can remove these pieces and fill the holes with wood filler.
Depending on the type of finish you want – and whether or not you have used metal hardware – you have a few options when it comes to finishing the pergola. You can:
Depending on the finish you're after and the wood you have chosen, you can either stain or paint the pergola.
To build your own pergola, you will need to know how to:
Please note: this list is non-exhaustive; be sure to match your PPE to the task at hand.
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 246 guides
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!