I've been searching around for tips on building a pergola. While I've
found some good ideas, I was wondering if anyone could share some of
their "hands-on" tips.
I'm want to build a free-standing box pergola over my
soon-to-be-constructed patio, a 13'x11' patio that will be made with
Here are a few questions I have:
1) What type of wood should I use? Is cedar be a better choice that
2) I'm not going to use paint. What is the best wood protectant for a
hot, humid and damp Florida climate?
3) Should I just sink the poles like you would a fence pole, with a bag
Any ideas or tips you can share will be greatly appriciated.
I would recommend that you browse the book racks at you local home
improvement store. They will have several nice books on garden structures
with discussions on wood selection, construction, and maintenance.
I helped my son build one in California.
I would prefer anything over treated lumber. My son used cedar; at home
I made my trellises from redwood. Both are nice looking.
My son painted his. On my trellises, I use flood cwf-uv (a clear finish
with uv protection) and it looks nice, but we have to renew it about
every other year (we have winters here). Of course, Florida has its own
climate, so I would ask around there.
California had specific requirements for mounting (due to earthquakes, I
think). I would check with your local authorities to see if they have
like requirements, probably something to do with hurricanes.
I don't like to sink wood into holes or dirt; water sits in there and
can cause rot. I think a better way is to sink bolts into concrete,
then get brackets to mount the poles on top of the bolts.
My son's was on his patio next to the house, which naturally turned out
not to be level, so we had to choose between level and parallel to the
It was a 2.5 person job, even with some clamps. Every once in a while
we had to call out one of our wives when we just needed an extra pair of
hands, or someone to stand aside and look at it to see if we had it aligned.
Last year I built a free standing pergola using standard 1x pine boards
and 2x2 posts (2x4s ripped in half). It's a reduced size because I don't
have a lot of room but it makes for a nice trellis for vines. Mine is
anchored in a base made of a 2x4 framed box that is held down by 4 22"
planters. I worried a bit about wind shear but after watching it for one
year, it was very sturdy in 50+mph wins and the planters that hold it
down make its center of gravity very low. The cross braces are 1x3.5" so
they don't catch much wind. I'm sure a direct hit by a tornado (or
possibly a hurricane) would knock it over but it would get knocked over
even if it were anchored to the roof. I used two coats of stain and two
coats of Minwax polyurethane and it still looks new after one Chicago
Here's a pic taken late fall last year:
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