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Are you thinking about building a wooden pergola and creating a backyard escape? Wooden pergolas are one of the most versatile outdoor structures you can build. They are fairly easy to construct and can be used for everything from shade for your hot tub to an outdoor kitchen. Let’s break down a few things to consider when building your pergola.
When you start planning your pergola, consider its primary use. This will affect the location and features you add to your pergola.
The most popular use of a pergola is to relax after a long day at work. The slatted roof helps provide shade from the sun, so you can enjoy your meal or relax without the blinding sunlight.
If you enjoy hosting backyard cookouts, your wooden pergola is a great place to create an outdoor kitchen. Your grill will fit nicely underneath it, and you can create a comfortable sitting area for your friends and family to relax while you grill up hamburgers or steaks.
Pergolas are safe to use with gas firepits since they have a slatted roof instead of being enclosed like a gazebo or covered porch. But, take extra caution. The pergola roof must be above the recommended clearance for firepits. Each type of fire has a different recommended height, so research your specific fire pit style to establish the safest plan. If you plan on using a firepit under our wooden pergola, avoid using fabric shades or climbing plants around your pergola.
Because wood fires are less predictable and harder to control than gas firepits, they shouldn’t be placed under a pergola.
Lots in established and new neighborhoods can be pretty small, making you feel like your neighbors are practically in your backyard with you. Pergolas are a smart way to add a bit of privacy to your backyard. You can use slats or lattice to close in one side to screen out nosy neighbors, increase privacy around a hot tub, or create a cozy reading nook.
Pergolas can be very large structures, so carefully consider where you will locate your pergola before you invest in your materials. Is there a view you'd like to feature or one you’d like to block? Should you place it atop an existing deck or patio? Should it be freestanding or attached to your home? Is there a flat spot in your yard that would make a good place for a pergola?
Build your pergola on a solid foundation, such as concrete, decomposed granite, tamped pea gravel, or patio blocks, to prevent the wood’s premature decay. The solid foundation also keeps you from getting muddy after it rains or walking on uneven ground while you enjoy your pergola.
It’s important to consult your Homeowners Association and city ordinances, as they may have regulations on how and where you build a pergola.
There are two materials commonly used to build pergolas – treated lumber and cedar lumber.
A popular choice for pergolas, cedar lumber is naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects due to oils it produces. It’s usually rough sawn for a rustic look and is long-lasting above ground. Due to its popularity and slower harvesting, it comes with a higher price tag than some other materials.
Treated lumber is the second material commonly used for pergolas. Since it is more readily available, it’s more affordable. Plus, treated lumber rated for ground contact can rest directly on the soil or grass without decaying. Treated lumber may still be wet from the treatment process when you purchase it. Let it dry completely before using it.
There are many ways to add finishing touches to your pergola, increasing the function and beauty of your backyard.
Galvanized hardware is great to use if you want it to blend into the pergola. Black powder-coated hardware can give your pergola a sleek, modern look. Both types of hardware provide excellent structural support.
Whether you chose to build with cedar or treated lumber, painting or staining your pergola is an easy way to customize its look. Using an outdoor wood stain like Flood® stains can help you achieve the color you want. Many people who choose to use treated wood prefer to paint or stain their lumber to cover the greenish hue of the treatment.
Outdoor wood stains come in a variety of coverages, from transparent to solid. Transparent stain adds sheer color to the lumber but allows you to see the natural grain and knots of the wood. Solid stain acts almost like paint, completely covering any woodgrain or imperfections in the lumber.
Adding built-in features like planters or benches is a great way to customize your pergola. When you build with wood, it is easy to change the building plans and make your pergola entirely your own. If you know you want to use it for lounging, include built-in seating. If entertaining is your goal, you might want a bar or counter. If you plan to use it mostly in the evening, consider adding lighting to your plan.
A lot of sun might be great on a cooler day or in the morning, but not ideal in full summer or the afternoon. Of course, the shade coverage the pergola provides will shift throughout the day. For example, as the sun sets, the west side of the pergola will have more sun exposure. A great way to ensure the ideal level of shade is to install roll-up shades or curtains on your wooden pergola. These will allow you to provide more shade when necessary without sacrificing the openness of the pergola.
By building your own wood pergola, you add beauty and functionality to your backyard. Start planning with this information then head over to McCoy’s for your cedar or treated lumber, hardware, and expert advice.