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Build a Timber Pergola
A timber pergola can make a big difference to the appearance of your property.

The instructions in this guide are for fixing a pergola to an existing house. For a free standing pergola these plans will have to be modified.  

 

Step 1: Getting Started
First determine where you want to locate your pergola against your house. Try and select as level an area as possible - it will make installation much easier.
Take into account where trees and gardens are now or will be placed, prevailing wind direction, summer and winter sun to determine the best position.  


(Click for a bigger image)

 

Step 2: Setting out
When you have decided where the pergola should be positioned pencil mark the position of the ends of the ledger beam on the wall. With a carpenter's level, plumb these markers to ground level. Now use the same detail for setting out (as our project guide for decking) to locate the posts, position the beams and rafters etc. Details are shown for fixing posts to an existing concrete patio and also into a new footing - if this is a pad type footing it should be no less than 300x300x300mm for each post. If Contractors a timber deck with pergola over it, it is usual to use common support posts for both structures - 100x100mm posts are ideal. All radiata timber must be adequately treated - refer to framing sizes span table at bottom of page.  

 

Step 3: Fixing Beams/Rafters
Fixing ledger beam to house: If the wall is brick, use masonry anchors at 1200mm apart. For a timber or cement sheet clad house, the ledger beam should be fixed to every wall stud.  

 


Rafter overhang should not exceed 25% of the allowable span, eg; rafter span of 2.4m = overhang of 600mm.
Pergolas with lightweight roofs should have the reafters spaced at 600mm centres.
Deep rafters may require mid span blocking to prevent possible twisting.
See below for details.  

 

Step 4: Staining/Painting
Make sure the stain/paint you choose is compatible with the timber treatment and galvanised fittings. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Sawn timber is best for a stain finish and dressed or gauged timber is preferable for paint finishes. Alternatively, you may decide to apply no finishing and leave timber to age naturally.  

 

Step 5: Fixing Lightweight Roofing
This material should be fixed according to the manufacturers instructions. Because of the open design of a pergola, these materials will be subjected to substantial lifting forces in high winds and the maximum number of fastenings, screws or clips should be used.
The pergola design must allow for the slope of this covering to permit rain water to run off.  

 

Step 6: Bracing
Pergolas which are fixed to an existing house may not require post bracing unless the width and length make bracing on the corner posts necessary for support.  

 

Step 7: Customise your Pergola
We have suggested sun control battens across the top of the rafters - use this technique in selected areas.
Trellis panels will provide a privacy screen and wind break.
Seating and shelving designed around the posts will look great. Hanging baskets full of flowering plants or climbing vines in tubs will look great as well.  

 

 

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