If you assumed that building a pergola was restricted to those unique individuals with incomparable building skills, then think again. The truth is that even the most amateur renovator or DIYer can build a simple pergola.
Step 1. Choose your pergola placement
While this might sound pretty basic, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose where your pergola will be built. Depending on the size and location of your pergola, you may need to seek permission from your local council before you start building. Some pergolas require a building permit, so it’s best to check beforehand to avoid any fines.
From here, you can measure out the length and width of your pergola and purchase the necessary equipment. A good recommendation for wood is F7 rougher headed treated pine. You’ll also need to pick up pre-mixed concrete, framing brackets, joist hangers, a spirit level and a carpenter’s square. It’s a good idea to wear gloves and eye protection as well.
Step 2. Mark the area
Next, you’ll need to set down stakes and builders string line to mark the area. Define the exterior limits and then use builders string line on diagonally opposite corners to check for consistency in length and symmetry.
Step 3. Set the posts
The next step will a long process, so be prepared for the wait. To begin with, you’ll need to dig four holes where the posts will be sitting. The hole depth should be 300mm and be 200 x 200mm square.
Before you consider setting the posts, it’d be a good idea to stain or paint your posts, beams and rafters. This will help weather protect your wood and avoid unnecessary damage in the future.
There are a variety of ways you can set the posts into the hole, but a good guide is to use the pre-mixed concrete to fill one hole at a time. Fill the hole completely and then immediately after you can position the post into the cement and use string line to ensure it is the right height and not crooked. You can also attach temporary bracing to ensure the posts don’t slip or move.
You’ll need to wait about a week for the concrete and posts to set completely. Some sources say just 24-hours is needed for the concrete to set, so check with your supplier when you purchase the cement to avoid any unnecessary waiting.
Step 4. Fasten the beams
Once the posts are set, you can begin to attach the beams. The beams are the wooden panels that surround the pergola and attach to the posts. Most often, the beams are bolted to the inside of the posts for a more attractive and clean look.
Step 5. Attach the rafters
Next, it’s time to attach the rafters. Some builders recommend using treated pine in either 140x35mm or 140x45mm. You should place the rafters approximately 900mm apart, taking into consideration how you’re going to cover the pergola later. If you’ve chosen heavy covering, you’ll want to place the rafters closer together so the material doesn’t sag in between the rafters.
Using your spirit level and carpenter’s square, line up each rafter. You can attach the rafters using joist hangers and framing brackets.
Note: If your pergola is situated close to your home you may want to fit it to your home wall. This process should happen before the rafters are attached.
And voila – you have built a simple, yet effective pergola! You can now cover the roof with your choice of material (if any) and even add a pitched roof and ornamental design.
Australian Outdoor Living is a leading home improvement business in Australia. With years of experience, they specialise in outdoor blinds, pergolas, artificial grass and swimming pools. Follow them on Facebook for latest news and monthly competitions.