Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to build a pergola

I have noticed a lot of you stopping by from Pinterest. Thanks for looking!

We will be doing many more patio and landscaping projects this spring 2013. Please sign up to follow our blog by email or Google Friends Circle on the right hand side if you scroll down.  Or click on the button below to follow via Bloglovin'.

Follow on Bloglovin

To catch you up to speed on our project:
{How to build a patio}
{How to trench a downspout}
{How to build a patio: part 2}
{How to build a patio: part 3}


How to build a pergola

Building our pergola has been an experience. We have run into numerous problems. You'll have to read, and hopefully laugh, at all we went through to get this pergola exactly how we I wanted it.

I have to admit, there are no great tutorials on how to build a pergola.  Trust me we searched and searched.  If you find one please share in the comments below!

Luckily, my handy dandy husband knew what to do, but we still needed some pointers from some of our carpenter friends.  Turns out their advice was, "There is no right or wrong way to build a pergola." Really? Huh, who knew?

Since there is no right or wrong way, no wonder it was hard to find a tutorial. They are all so different.  I will try to explain OUR building process step by step.

The first step is to determine how long and how wide we wanted our pergola. It is 14ft. x 8ft. Then we had to order the wood, I would recommend Cedar.  We chose to go with 6x6 posts, 2x12 supporting rafters and 2x8 rafters. (At first we ordered 2x6 rafters, our first PROBLEM, so now we have to wait for the wood company to exchange those, which took about a week).

Our next step was to dig four holes in the ground where the posts would go.  This was our second PROBLEM. We had to go over 4ft. deep.  When I was using the post hole digger, yes, a manual post hole digger.  It took me over an hour to get two feet. Finally, I told Josh, we MUST do something different, this is NOT going to work.

Digging the post hole.

Making progress.

After some research we rented a TWO-person, gas powered, post hole digger. Easier, yes, but still very, very hard work.

We accomplished four holes over four feet in less than an hour, yahoo! Time to return the post hole digger, ba-bye.

TWO-person, gas powered, post hole digger.

The next morning, PROBLEM number three. UGH, one of the holes we dug was about four inches off.  And yes, it does make a difference.  So, there we were filling dirt BACK into one of the super hard holes we just dug.

Time to go rent the post hole digger again. This time we measured three or four times to get the correct spot. We started digging again, and PROBLEM number four... the TWO-person, gas powered, post hole digger busted a nut, seriously.  After we got that fixed (it took a day) we had our fourth hole.

Cue Handel's Messiah, "Hallelujah".

Trying to figure out what we hit, that busted the post hole digger.  We never found anything.

All four post holes are FINALLY done.

Insert the 6x6 post into the hole.  Using a level, get the post straight and fill with dirt. Pack the dirt in tight, we used a 2x4 piece of wood to pack the dirt.

In order to hold the 6x6 posts straight, we tacked a 2x4 to the 6x6 post with a screw.

After all four posts are in and secured your next step requires a decision.  You will need to decide what type of rafter ends you like.  There are many online to use.  I ended up designing this using my expert Photoshop skillz. Here is our rafter end design if you want to use it:

Print the pattern out on paper, to preferred size, and cut with scissors. Draw the pattern on the wood and cut with a jigsaw.  This pattern was really easy to cut. 

Cutting 2x12 with jigsaw.

Sanding 2x12 edges.

Determine the height of your pergola.  Our height is 9ft. Then, tack the 2x12 boards to the 6x6 posts with two screws on each end.

Tacking 2x12 into the 6x6 post with screws.

2x12's are up but not secured.

Next you need to drill a hole to fit your bolt in.

Drilling a hole through 2x12, 6x6 post and another 2x12.

Pounding bolt through 2x12, 6x6 post and another 2x12 with a hammer.

Insert your bolt, and place your washer and nut on the other side.

Almost done!

Just need to trim the 6x6 posts...with a chain saw.

After the top of the posts are removed, it is time to put the rafters up.

Cut each 2x8 rafter with your design on each end.

Drive a screw at a 45-60 degree angle from your 2x8 board into the 2x12. Also known as toe-nailing.

Place your rafters about 1ft. apart.

Yahoo, our pergola is done!


  1. I felt "Hallelujah" cue up when I saw this in Pinterest! Thanks! This is exactly what I want. Thanks for the inspiration & details!

  2. Wondering how much it cost you when all was said and done...

    1. It cost us around $800 just for the pergola.

  3. I've never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is a temporary situation copertina

  4. Looks like you guys had fun! Here is a site for those who want a nice pergola but don't want to work so hard:
    Pergola kits, gazebo kits, eyebrow pergolas and more!

  5. Looks like you guys had fun! Here is a site for those who want a nice pergola but don't want to work so hard:
    Pergola kits, gazebo kits, eyebrow pergolas and more!

  6. I was surfing the Internet for information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject. pergolas


Blogging tips