How to Install a Pergola


A pergola is a popular project for the backyard because it has a wide range of applications, from creating the framework for an outdoor room to providing shade for a deck and support for climbing plants such as roses or vines. While some builders choose to construct pergolas from scratch, there are also a number of kits that may be purchased. Manufacturers of these kits sell them with premeasured and precut wood or vinyl pieces included to take the measuring and cutting out of pergola construction. All the builder has to do is put the pergola together and install it in the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Flour
  • Post hole diggers
  • Gravel
  • Cement mix
  • Water
  • Carpenter’s level
  • 8 boards, 2X4 inches each
  • Pergola kit
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit

Examining the Pergola Kit

  • Check your pergola kit against the kit’s parts list to ensure all the listed parts are included in the kit. Group all similar parts together. (For example, the pergola's posts should be placed together in one spot, while the rafter beams should go in another.)

  • Measure each part to ensure that it is the correct size. Examine each post and beam to ensure that all predrilled holes for carriage bolts, hurricane clips and anchor bolts are placed correctly.

  • Determine if your pergola is designed to be anchored by the posts in the ground, or with metal anchors.

  • Measure the footprint of the pergola’s final resting place, and mark the locations for the post anchors by pouring circles of flour. Flour is more environmentally friendly than spray paint when used over bare earth and will not leave permanent stains in concrete or on decking.

Anchor Pergolas with Support Posts

  • Measure the length of the support posts. If the pergola will be anchored in the ground with the posts, they should be one-quarter longer than the pergola’s final height. This is because the posts will be sunk in the ground up to one-quarter of their overall height.

  • Dig four post holes in the ground that measure the same depth as one-quarter of the post length. Pour gravel into the post holes to a depth of 2 inches. Insert the bottom ends of the posts in the ground and brace them upright using 2X4 boards. Ensure that the posts are upright using a carpenter’s level.

  • Mix cement with water until it is the consistency of a mud pie. Pour cement in the post holes and allow to harden and cure.

Anchor Pergolas with Metal Anchors

  • Dig a hole in the ground that measures one-quarter as deep as the length of the support posts.

  • Mix cement with water until it is the consistency of a mud pie. Pour cement in the post holes.

  • Place anchor bolts in the top of the cement so that bolts extend upward from the cement. Allow the cement to harden and cure.

  • Screw metal anchors onto anchor bolts when the concrete has cured. Attach posts to metal anchors using lag bolts from your pergola kit.

  • Assemble pergola by lifting beams in place at the top of posts and attaching with carriage bolts. Lift rafters above beams. Slot them into place along precut slots and attach to beams using wood screws and hurricane clips.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pergola posts can be installed on a wooden deck by attaching a decking anchor plate directly to the deck's surface with wood screws. Pergola posts can be installed onto a concrete patio by drilling holes for anchor bolts into the concrete and screwing anchor bolts into the concrete.

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  • Photo Credit Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images
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