Orenda Home Garden_Steps to Build an Outdoor Pergola

How to Build a Wooden Outdoor Pergola

If you’re looking for ways to add value to your home, don’t limit yourself to kitchen renovations or room additions. Your backyard is a perfect spot for remodelling, too. Building an outdoor pergola, for example, is a cost-efficient structure that will give you shade and boost your home’s appeal!

What is an Outdoor Pergola?

This outdoor structure originated from the Italian Renaissance period. It has four columns or beams and comes with two to four open sides. Some build it with a roof, while others create it with partial shade.

Homeowners who are into gardening often use it to grow trailing plants like wisteria, jasmine or honeysuckle. Depending on your home layout, you can build one that leads to your garden or pool or extends to your home as an outdoor sitting area.

Tips on Building a Pergola

It certainly is an excellent project to start. However, before you design a pergola and purchase materials, make sure to keep these things in mind.

  • Assess your outdoor space. Pick the spot where a pergola will look best. Observe where the sun shines in your area so you can make the most of it during summer and winter. Take the necessary measurements of your selected space, too.
  • Figure out your pergola plans. An outdoor pergola comes in a wide variety of designs to suit any backyard space. Some structures have traditional or curved roofs, while others have motorised awnings. Free-form outdoor structures are probably the most versatile. But if you want a tropical theme, a thatched structure is best.
  • Study your material options. If you want a great-looking, inexpensive and low-maintenance structure, then go for wooden materials. Pressure-treated wood is long-lasting. However, for maximum durability, choose aluminium or steel.

Equipment and Tools

A free-standing pergola is an easy-to-do project for DIY enthusiasts. You don’t need to connect this independent structure to your home. You can also erect it at the front, back or side of your house, giving you more room to customise your space.

The equipment and tools depend on your area and pergola design ideas, of course. However, here’s a list of materials you might need for a wooden outdoor pergola.

Ladder Four lumber beams (4×4 or 6×6)
Shovel 2×4, 2×6 and 2×10 lumber beams
Spade Galvanised deck screws
Hammer Concrete, bricks, stones etc. for finishing
Circular saw Chalk, tape, sand or ribbon for marking the area
Drill Gravel
Screwdriver Wood paint or stain

Step-by-Step Instructions

Use this list of procedure when building your free-standing wooden pergola.

  1. Secure a building permit if necessary. Building a free-standing structure is an extension or addition to your original home. Your local council may have regulations about it, so make sure to consult your permitting office first.
  2. Decide on your pergola design. Identify what type of wood you’ll be using. You can also ask hardware personnel for lumber advice. If you’re trying to cut cost, you may opt for a building kit. It contains everything you need for construction, which speeds up planning and building.
  3. Demarcate your location. You can use chalk, tape, sand or ribbon to mark the area where you want your free-standing structure to be.
  4. Prep your materials. If you want to match your structure with your home, you can paint or stain your beams at this point.
  5. Set up the pergola beams. Use the shovel to dig four corner holes, about 61cm deep and 23cm wide. Throw in some gravel at the bottom of each hole for moisture absorption. Position your 4×4 beam, then pour in enough quick-drying cement. Do the same step for the rest.
  6. Create and fasten your pergola posts. Use your 2×10 beams to set up your roofing base. Cut your smaller lumber to size to create your rafters. Then attach them to your roof base.

Decorating Ideas for an Outdoor Pergola

There are several ways on how you can make your wooden pergola look even more impressive. Here are some ideas for inspiration.

  • Install pergola curtains. Are you setting up your structure next to the pool? Then decorate it with weather-resistant fabric to transform it into a resort-like sitting area. Curtains are also excellent for garden-based pergolas to keep your outdoor parties private.
  • Add overhead lighting. Lighted outdoor spaces may not be a unique idea, but fairy lights can make any spot look stunning. You can use paper lanterns in place of bulbs, too. These will look exceptional when paired with trailing floral plants. Check out this article for more outdoor lighting ideas.
  • Furnish with patio furniture. Pergolas make perfect reading and entertaining areas that they won’t be complete without an outdoor table and chairs. But if you have kids at home, they’ll surely love having a swing here, too. Installing a hammock on both sides of your structure is another cosy alternative.
  • Decorate with plants. If you’re into upside-down gardening, the pergola is the perfect spot for your hanging plants. You can add potted flowers in and around the area as well. Use it as an extension of your herb garden or succulent haven.
  • Create an outdoor dining or kitchen space. A dining table plus a small outdoor grill in a pergola can level up the usual barbecue party. If your budget allows it, you can install an outdoor fireplace or firepit here as well, so you can go backyard camping in style any time!
Lachlan Grattan

When I finally have the home of my dreams, my garden and home became and oasis and a place of self-expression. I love adding touches around the house to improve the living space and garden area. It’s my shelter, after all, and I want it to be as cozy as possible. I created Orenda Home & Garden as a go-to resource for my readers who wants to get ideas, inspiration or tips to make their home better and more comfortable.