Monday, November 10, 2008

Simple Pergola Plans

Simple Pergola Plans - T003 DIY. They don't get more simple that this. Pergola plan with trelliswork that can be stretched to about 12 x 12 and has detailing for trelliswork as well.

As usual with plans it has step by step instructions, material list (as shown), and full size templates for any sculpted parts and a stain guide to help you make it last. Switch to 6x6 posts and use hurricane clips if storms are a concern. These are all materials that are easily found in any local lumber yard.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Composite Pergolas

We get a couple of calls a week for composite pergolas. "Serves us right for making our pergolas look so flawless". People see the solid stain and tight joints and they often assume they are cast from plastic.

The fact is composite and PVC have aspects that make them unsuitable for building any structure that is in any way structural.

PVC products, (like siding, and plumbing materials), tend to get brittle when exposed to the sun for extended periods. In a place like Florida you will have a hard time finding an engineer to stick his neck out and stamp plans for a pvc pergola--and everything built in Florida needs an engineer's approval.
Here's a pergola hidden within a now defunct composite decking plant's yard...obviously not attractive enough to show in public. It even looks askew--and watch that last riser, looks like a killer.

Composite products have not been as wonderful as we all hoped. "Maintainance Free", turned into "Low Maintenance" after a few law suits. Recently those containing recycled wood and recycled plastic have been breaking out in mold spots that grow from the interior out, and troubles with disintegration, "Flaking".

There are a few new products, however they all have issues with weakness when heated, so without solid wood or metal within the structure they simply won't take high temperatures, wind or stress of any kind.

The last tragic issue has to do with fastening. It is difficult to make a secure connection from composite to composite, or pvc to pvc, (unless gluing--but even that lacks strength and doesn't look good with sleeves).

To create composite pergolas that don't have a metal frame or wood within will require designs that will change the look of composite pergolas. They won't look like pergolas as we know them--which means that they could be a hard sell.

If there are any composite companies looking to develop plans for composite pergolas give me a call and lets get moving on it.

For more about composite decking (click)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Large Span Pergolas

“I want a 22’ pergola but I only want it supported by two posts.”

We get numerous requests for pergolas that look like this. "Do your pergola plans work for a 16' x 18' pergola with 6 posts", and before I can begin to explain that "that type of span is possible, but that is no simple and basic structure to plan and build due to such a large span"--the guy hangs up! I was going to give him free information but the guy was too impatient to receive it.

Many people want to avoid posts for some reason. It is a common source of frustration for me. That kind of thing requires some engineering—heavy beams and structural tricks and in the end after you triple your budget it just doesn’t look right..

Inspired details need to be simple and practical. Unique Pergolas can be designed and built, however what will it look like and how much will it cost. I always said we can build anything—however you may not like the price.

Pergolas are typically built in a perpendicular way with supports about 8’ to 12’ apart.

The purpose of a pergola is to create a room without walls and offer a vertical source of interest. Just the framework to “Frame the View”. You don’t see very many walls that don’t have any support posts in a house…

“No… I don’t want mullions and I want a window that is 20’ wide”.

Now that would be kind of ridiculous. Even big glass buildings have support columns. There are always dividers and supports spaced between even a wall of windows if for no other purpose than to add strength to the glass.

Supports don’t detract from the view—they enhance it. They bring architecture to the view—blending nature with the human creation.

The last good reason for not having a 20’ span…

Proportional Correctness.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Adaptable Layout Pergolas

This article will show you how to use our P008 Pergolas Plan. It is by far the easiest to use pergola detail around. It is also adaptable to all the following arrangments of pergolas shown in the photos in this article.

The trouble with typical pergola plans and details for pergolas is they are predicated on square or rectangular layouts. Sure, rectangular pergolas are nice, however they are often not the kind of pergola layout we really envision.

What if the deck has a cut off corner? How do we develop plans for pergolas that just stop and start? Like this?

On these Pergolas we simply decided where we wanted to place the posts (in a pattern), with the supports not more than 10 or so feet apart.

Between the clustered supports we added a bench so that in the summer you can sit comfortably in the garden with a beautiful vantage of the entire yard.

These Pergolas were lit from below to give a nice ambiance at night.
Planter Pots were added within the pergolas to make them green.

We even made the pergola trelliswork into gates to allow easy access in a few spots.

Now, say you had a grape vine climbing on metal poles and wanted to do something a bit more decorative... say like the pergolas shown below.

With a very similar layout to the pergolas shown above, this one was built with 3 pods in a straight line. Angled rafters were placed to support this pergolas grape vines. This pergola bears on the masonary wall and the pergola posts.

This plan is the basis for all the photos shown in this blog entry.

Using this pergolas plan details you can create any number of layouts and of just about any size. You could do a 6' long and 2' wide pergola, it could be 12' x 12', and it could cover an L shaped area or even a football field.

Pergola Plan P008 will give you a material list, designer's notes, full size templates, details and notes on the trelliswork sample layouts and stain guide.

When you want to build a pergola on an existing patio or deck in a weekend-- this is the plan to use.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

DIY Pergolas as an Entrance to a Yard

Pergolas of this type are very Traditional in North America. Similar to what would be deemed a Lath House in some parts of the world. It features a large laminated curve (that can be deleted if too difficult to achieve). Pergolas like this can be used as an entrance to a yard or portion of a yard.

This Do It Yourself Pergola Plan walks you through the process of building the P121 Pergola. Ideally suited to the entrance to a yard or a separation hedge between two parts of a property it utilizes internal benches to serve as a nifty little hideaway spot in the garden.

These Pergola Plans include Step by Step Instructions, Material list, Cut List (to tell you which piece comes from what stick of lumber), Full size Templates, Curve Templates, Two options for benches (high back and flat), as well as a stain application guide to make it nearly maintainence free. (5 years without staining if you follow the instructions).

This pergola can be stretched slightly by adding to the center of the curve, or stretching the bench areas--but do it equally and maintain the balance of the structure.

The arch is about 5' as is, and the structure is roughly 7' deep, 9' high and 9'wide.

The best part about Plans for Pergolas from is that they offer Support by Email while you build! If there is ever anything that isn't crystal clear, send a note with a description and you will receive an answer normally within 24 hours.

BTW, if you have a builder locally they can supply this structure installed.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How to Build Pergolas on Existing Decks pt.1

When you want to add a pergola an existing deck the first consideration is whether the deck will support the additional weight.

Aesthetics is the second Concern. What will it look like? What style will suit the home? How much do you leave and what do you change? What details should we use?

This house was in a planned community near Guelph Ontario. Anything we did required drawings to be submitted and approved by a planning comittee. We do hundreds of designs like this. It all comes down to rules. My rules dictate Balance, openness and steering towards the best view.

I suggested the best course of action here was to open the deck to a patio eventually to add more capacity for gatherings, however phase one will update the tired builders deck with new rails, bigger steps and a pergola... and all within a few thousand budget.

These clients expressed a desire for low maintenance without rebuilding everything. I advised them that without changing the decking so that it could be pre-stained they will have to do that every couple of years. However, by pre-staining the new rails and pergola portion, even pressure treated materials should last a few years without needing recoats. Pre-staining is a lot of work and many people choose to do this portion themselves--rather than hiring us to do it. Compared to a typical stain job on a deck it is about 3x the work.

We anchored the posts and assembled everything on site. This pergola is open in the center to make it feel more like a courtyard. The larger wrap around steps make it feel less closterphobic and allow more of the view in to the living room as well. The details are simple and understated--there is nothing worse than a deck that entirely upstages a home. Too much is a tragic mistake in Exterior Design.

Plans for this pergola and deck project are easily adaptable for size. Most homes are slightly different in layout and this plan can be used on a straight or L shaped rear wall alike.

They show the details for the deck platform, pergola supports, anchoring into the understructure, the trellis screens, simple handrails and the pergola--along with rafter tail templates. Simply transfer them onto hardboard and use them to layout the full size cuts. We won't make you work from graph paper.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

P012 Pergola Plans

These Pergola Plans are popular among people with large yards.

This project can be built from Pt, Cedar, Redwood, Cypress or combinations of any of the above.

It is reccomended for areas that suffer from sustained strong winds over 100mph if hurricane clips are used. The large braces and footings in concrete bases 4' deep help it to resist racking and layover.

These plans can be stretched to 12' between supports using the same size materials to make it about 14 x 40' or build a single 10' x 10' section with a simple trelliswork within 2 sides. It could also be adapted to 40' x 40' in intersecting rows.
The plans contain detailed drawings and cutaway details to show how everything is assembled.

16 pages 11 x 17" Sheets of Elevations, Layout Plans, Total Material List and full size templates for making the knee braces and beam - rafter cuts easily, as well as designer's notes and a stain guide to help durability.
This is a plan that should be attempted by experienced or pro-woodworkers. There are many cuts to be made, some tapers as well as ripping on tablesaw. Structures of this capacity should last more than 30 years before significant repairs are required.

We will cover some much more simple pergola projects later on.

This plan is available at
To view all the pergola plans from

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Pergolas are all about adding vertical interest and drawing the eye. This pergola is viewed from the neighbor's vantage. It makes you want to investigate. There is nothing more inviting than well designed pergolas.

You can view the most creative and inspired pergolas at our portfolio of pergolas.
You can view our Diy Pergola Plans here.