How to Build a Pergola from a KitPergola Depot
Have you been scouring DIY sites trying to find the perfect set of instructions for how to build a pergola? Have you considered more of a hybrid approach to creating the perfect wood structure for your backyard? Our pergola kits give you the best of both worlds. Take the guesswork out of knowing whether you’ve got the right materials. The cutting and drilling are the steps that will be most time-intensive and require special tools. Let us do all that and ship it to you, and you’ll get the satisfaction of building a pergola. Or, if you truly want the whole DIY experience, you can still find some helpful info here that might come in handy for your project such as pergola wood comparison and assembly steps.
These steps specifically apply to how to build a pergola from one of our kits, but could be applied to your project. These instructions are how to build our Brim Pergola Kit, our trellis or arbor style pergola that can be used as a garden or patio border. Our full-size pergola styles can be purchased as 2 post attached pergola kits, 4 post freestanding pergola kits, or custom sizes. These larger styles have more pieces and more steps to assemble. So if you’re scoping out generally what you’ll need, we’ve boiled it down here for our Brim pergola style, starting with pergola wood type.
How to Choose the Best Wood to Build a Pergola
An important decision you’ll make is what type of material to use for your pergola. In our experience, the top two choices for a lasting quality pergola kit are pressure treated pine and rough sawn cedar. Either type can withstand severe weather. Typically, pressure treated southern yellow pine performs best in humid climates and rough sawn western red cedar performs best in drier climates. But either is a solid choice to build a pergola.
What’s Required to Build a Pergola and How to Get Started
One of the first considerations when you’re planning to build a pergola is what tools and supplies will be needed. Make a plan in the beginning and make sure you have helpers for your pergola project, the proper tools, and supplies needed for digging your footings and installing post bases. Depending on the type of wood you choose for your pergola will determine if you need additional tools.
Tools and Supplies Needed to Assemble a Pergola:
- Helper* (for larger pergolas, at least 2 helpers are recommended)
- Tape measure, hammer, level
- Ladder (tall enough to work the top of your pergola during assembly)
- Screw gun
- Post Hole Digger
- 3/4” Wrench
- For new footings: post hole digger, dry concrete mix, gravel, trowel, shovel and mixing bin or wheelbarrow
- For installing rebar into post (if posts are going into new concrete foundations): drill, 5/8″ drill bit
- For all pergola kits using post bases on concrete: drill; 5/8” masonry drill bit; and 15/16” wrench
- For Pressure Treated Pine kits using post bases on concrete: you will also need a 5/32″ masonry drill bit, and a #2 Phillips bit or #2 Phillips screwdriver
Pergola components you’ll need for your trellis style pergola (these are components that are included in our Brim pergola kits*) include the following:
- 2×8 Beams (2 or 4 depending upon kit size)
- 2×4 Notched Rafters (6 or 8 depending upon kit size)
- 4×4 Posts (2 or 3 depending upon kit size)
When you purchase one of our kits, you’ll receive a packing list with a complete list of kit components, including the number of each type of lumber and hardware pack components, and complete installation instructions. *If you’re looking to build a larger, full size pergola kit with more patio coverage, our larger full size pergola kits will include more beams and rafters, 6×6 posts, angle braces, top slats, and hardware pack. Optional kit parts include post base trim, post base mounting hardware and Tapcons (for pine kits); and concrete footing form tubes.
Outlining How to Build a Border Pergola with Installation Steps
This overview gives you a glimpse of the play by play for how to build a trellis or arbor style pergola that you’ll love for years to come.
Overview of Pergola Installation Steps
- Lay out the pergola pieces where you would like to install the pergola.
- Lay one beam on the ground and lay the posts (inside the marks that say “post” on our Brim pergola kit) on top of the beam.
- Lay the other beam on top of the posts creating a sandwich with the two beams on the outside and the posts in the middle.
- Insert the four 1/2” bolts with a washer on each through the predrilled holes that go through the beams and posts.
- Now flip the assembly over by lifting the end of the posts up and over while the beam stays on the ground.
- Put another washer and a nut on each of the bolts and tighten with 3/4″ wrench.
- Now you are ready to dig your holes. With the assembly laying on the ground, line up the bottom of the posts where you would like the pergola to stand and mark the ground for the center of the post holes.
- Dig the post holes at least 2’ deep and approximately 12” diameter. See more information about post depth.
- Stand the assembly up and let the posts slide down into the holes.
- Have your helper hold each post plumb while you pour dry concrete in to each hole. Do not water in the concrete yet.
- Make sure the beam is level from post to post. If not, raise the lower side up to the level of the high side and let the dry concrete fill in under the post a bit.
- Once you have everything plumb and level, you can water in the concrete. You may want to chop the water in with a stick or a shovel to get rid of any air bubbles. Make sure while you do this the posts are held plumb.
- Allow the concrete to fully dry, overnight will probably be enough time.
- Install the rafters over the beam, secure using 3” screws provided with the kit into the predrilled holes in the beam.
Note: If you choose pressure treated pine, do not paint or stain until the wood is dry.
If you’re interested in a building a larger full size pergola, there will be other considerations including space requirements, materials, and steps.
Building a Full Size Pergola
When you build a larger size pergola, you’ll also add a few more pieces and steps. These images show the progression of a full size pergola build. For large pergolas, plan on having about 6 or 7 more steps in your process, including layout of beams, placement of rafters, and proper measurement of post depth and locations. Then piecing it all together and finishing it off with your top slats.
If it seems overwhelming, set your mind at ease and opt for building a pergola from a kit rather than trying to decipher DIY projects for how to build a pergola. See for yourself how it can be a fun and rewarding experience to build your own pergola, but make it a little easier on yourself and create your outdoor structure using a kit from Pergola Depot!