Friday, 24 May 2024
Home & Garden

What Do I Need To Know Before Building A Pergola

Pergolas can provide shade and can improve your patio, deck, or lawn. It’s a quite simple home improvement project that you can tackle yourself if you can spare some time for it. However, if you want the best outcome, pergola builders do it best. While you’re planning a pergola, you should consider these things.


You should check with your local building authority to know if you need a permit for building a pergola in your backyard. Mostly, pergolas don’t need any approval in most states. However, some cities have strict building rules and they may require you to get a permit before building anything including a pergola.

Checking with the authorities beforehand is better than tearing things down later. Moreover, if you’ll be adding electrical wiring, you will need approval as well.

Underground Utilities

You would not want to puncture or damage the sewer line underground while digging holes for the pergola posts. It will require you to hire the corresponding professional and fix the damage which will be costly.

So, to avoid damaging any electrical, water, and sewer lines under your backyard and also the heavy costs that will come with them, determine where these lines are before digging.

Determining this is easy because every State in the US has a free service just for that. You can 811 and have utility companies visit your place and mark the places where electrical, water, and sewer lines are installed for free. You should call the number a few days before starting the dig and be sure that nothing will be damaged during the pergola building process.

Average Frost Depth Level In Your Area

What is frost depth? It’s the level of the ground that freezes every winter. You may think that what frost level has to do with pergolas, however, installing a pergola without determining the frost level can weaken the foundation much more quickly.

For proper pergola installation, you will need to dig deeper than the average frost level. Installing posts above the frost level will push the posts above due to the freeze and thaw cycle. Therefore, simply check with your local building code department and install posts below the average frost level.

Pergola Materials

The durability of your pergola will depend on the material you choose. There are various options that give you allow to choose with respect to your budget and the aesthetics you desire.

  • Pressure-treated wood: It’s a budget-friendly material for pergolas and it’s also readily available in hardware stores. You can get a classic, rustic pergola at a reasonable cost with pressure-treated wood. Moreover, it can be stained or painted. However, they are prone to insects, rot, and moisture even though they are treated to resist these elements.
  • Cedar wood: Cedar wood is more expensive than pressure-treated wood but cheaper than many other materials. It’s naturally resistant to bugs and rot. This makes it more durable than pressure-treated wood. Moreover, it has a unique smell that many people like.
  • Vinyl: It’s one of the toughest materials for pergolas. It is more expensive than the above two materials, but it’s low maintenance and the only care it may need is the usual cleaning.
  • Metal and aluminum: Both these materials have similar advantages. They are resistant to elements like mold, algae, and moisture. They are cheaper and sturdier than many wood types and if the metal is galvanized, it won’t rust as well. Plus, you can paint metal and aluminum to any color matching your landscape and if you don’t like a color, you can easily change it to another color because painting doesn’t damage the material.
  • Brick and stone: This is the strongest and most labor-intensive option. Brick and stone pergolas can last for decades without needing many repairs. However, you will need a professional to build a brick pergola.

The Purpose Of The Pergola

Before considering the size and design of the pergola, you should factor in the purpose of the pergola because it will determine other factors.

For instance, if you want the pergola for protection against the sun, you should choose the position where it’s least affected by the sun. However, if you want the pergola for aesthetics, positioning it in the middle of the yard will make more sense. If you want to host gatherings under the pergola, any location is fine as long as it’s big enough to give shade to many guests.

The Size Of Your Pergola

For the size of the pergola, you should take into account the size of your backyard. A large backyard will give the liberty to have a bigger pergola that will act as an outdoor lounge. It can be rectangular, circular, or any other shape.

For smaller yards, square and circular pergolas are better making the most out of the yard and making it a place for relaxation and gatherings.

Separate Or Attached Pergola

Detached pergolas in the backyard are desired by people because they improve the appearance of the landscape in a better way. However, if you have limited space, an attached pergola will allow you to take advantage of every inch of the yard space.

When choosing between these two types, you should consider the location of the deck, patio, or lawn as well. If it’s lawn, you can go with an attached pergola, but if your patio is away from the house structure, an attached pergola won’t make sense.

Pergola Kits Vs Traditional Pergola Building

Building a pergola is easier for the most part if you’re choosing materials like wood and vinyl. However, it still takes skills and time to build a pergola from scratch. If you want to save time and avoid mistakes, you can use pergola kits that come in pre-packaged skids that you only need to assemble using the plans provided by the manufacturer.

You can save time with pergola kits, however, if don’t like the designs of pergola kits and want a custom pergola, you should hire deck contractors Port Jefferson who can build a pergola exactly as you want.

Sun And Rain Protection

Pergolas provide some shade with the beam structure, but whether it’s rain or sun, it can’t block them completely. If your region receives frequent rains or summer days are more than just warm, then you should consider rain and sun protection.

For this, you should choose a location carefully that can minimize sun exposure. Moreover, install a retractable waterproof sheet or a canopy for keeping you or your furniture from getting wet in the rain.


A usually ignored part of planning a pergola is lighting. Most use of backyard areas is in the day, but you will want to make it useable at the night as well. If you don’t want anything special, standard lighting fixtures are enough.

However, for better aesthetics consider hanging lights. If you’re looking for modern-style lighting, integrated LED lights for your pergola will give it a sleek appearance.


To make sure your pergola building project goes smoothly, consider the above factors. Moreover, don’t forget to create a budget that will help you navigate through the building process better because you will know how much you can spend so you will choose the right size and materials. Lastly, find a pergola contractor Port Jefferson who you trust.

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