How to Build a Pergola

A pergola can be used as a shield from the harshness of the sun, as well as it can be used to add character to any surrounding area. Pergolas are also seen as a type of furniture for the outdoor area with their design and elegance. It is also great for vines and other climbing plants that along with the pergola, bring into play a higher sense of nature to one’s home. Following these simple instructions, you can start building your own pergola with minimal tools and just a few easy-to-find materials.

Tools required

  • Shovel
  • Post hole digger
  • Hammer
  • Ladder

Materials required

  • Wood (preferably cedar)
  • Galvanized nails
  • Carriage bolts
  • Ready mix concrete


  1. Secure the spot where you would like to build your pergola. Then decide how large, wide, or long you would like your pergola to be. And make a marking of where you would like the post to be placed.
  2. Cut out four wall posts from 2*6 cedar posts to the height (length) of the pergola.
  3. Use your post-hole digger to make holes about 24 inches in depth where the posts will be. Then widen the hole a bit with the shovel. Insert the forming tubes into the holes, this will secure the holes are aligned.
  4. Order ½ cubic yard of ready-mixed concrete. Then set your pergola posts and pour in the concrete, once all of them are set, let it dry for at least two days.
  5. Cut out some column board pieces that will be used for the support beams. They should be about 12 inches or so in length according to the size of the pergola, the beam should overhang a bit over the posts. Then use the ladder to go up and construct a support beam system at the post lines so the corners connect together well. Secure the posts to beams with offset carriage bolts.
  6. Number your rafters and then place them across the posts so they run horizontally and vertically to outline the basis of the pergola roofing. The rafters should extend about 6 inches over the edging of the posts and beams of the pergola. Then use galvanized nails to secure the rafters to the support beams.
  7. Measure between the rafters and cut brace blocks from 2*6 board pieces. Then measure 10 inches back from the inside of the beam along rafters 1 and 2 and mark them. Continue to measure and mark the left-side rafters. Then when you have four sets of marks, secure the blocks between the rafters.
  8. Measure rafters 2 and 3 from the inside face of the beam 13 inches and mark them off 24 inches and install the brace blocks. Use the same method and install the brace blocks between rafters 3 and 4 and then between 4 and 5 install brace blocks using the method used to install 2 and 3. Offsetting the brace blocks allows you to screw through the rafter into the end of the brace block instead of toe-nailing.
  9. Use paint to coat the pergola to give it a nice clean, smooth look. This also adds protection from the wear and tear that weather brings.

Tips and Warning

  • Call your local utilities to check if there are any buried cable or gas lines before digging any holes,
  • A power auger is another alternative for digging your posts holes
  • Pergolas can also be decorated with lights, ribbons, or streamers depending on the occasion you would like to entertain.
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