Wood Pergola Designs – Some Pergola construction ideas

The usual image that comes to mind when we think of a Pergola is the typical four posted open slatted roof with some fancy scroll work ends. Using wood as your material of choice does allow for some creative deviations from the norm. So let us take a look at some wood pergola designs.

What is a Pergola ?

A pergola is an outdoor structure that consists of a slatted or latticed roof supported on posts and used to shade walkways, patios and such. In order to provide shade with an attractive natural look, many times woody vines are used.


Pergolas are popping up in more and more places these days as an alternative to more rigid and formal looking outdoor structures. They are often times attached to the side of a home to produce a nearby shaded veranda with an informal appeal.

Building a pergola from wood at your home allows you to take advantage of this material’s versatility to create wonderful unique designs. By using wood you can make your pergola as elegant or as simple as you desire. This will allow you to create an item that will fit in harmoniously with your unique landscape.

What are the different styles of pergolas ?

The type of wood used should probably be your first choice. Different types of wood will present differently in your design. The two main choices are cedar and pressure treated lumber as they are the most weather resistant. The area in which you live will affect the availability of other species for your use. Be aware if you choose a less weather resistant species you will probably need to apply a wood-pergola-designsfinish regularly. The use of vines could make this complicated.

To start off with you have the basic four posted freestanding structure. This will be topped with the supporting beams and the rafters with their decorative tails, which most of us will recognize. Sometimes the rafters will be topped with a tighter spaced lattice.

This type of design will often be used as a veranda by attaching one side to your home with a ledger board. The design varieties of this selection alone are endless. The posts can be placed on an eye-catching masonry base or the post itself can be dressed up with exciting details like carvings or decorative trims.

Many elements create a lot of choice

Roofs can be flat, rounded or peaked. As you can see, using wood to create your pergola can give you great versatility. It is smart to get all your ideas down on paper before selecting your design.

The top is the best place to start with design changes to create dramatically different looks. A pergola that will be topped with an aggressively growing vine to create lots of shade, should probably be topped with a tight-fitting lattice to help support the vine. Since the top will be covered by vine, the roof need not be elaborate. To allow in more sunlight you will want to use a more openly spaced design with limited or no vine growth. Here you will probably want to make the roof structure shine with more eye-catching design.

The parts of the pergola can be kept simple, straight and square to create modern looking designs. The sides can be altered with lattice work or interestingly placed slats to create further uniqueness and opportunity for showcasing plants and vines.

Pergolas do not have to be topped with vines and the use of fabrics and cut out toppings for controlling the amount of sun that gets through are becoming a common approach.

So what are my pergola’s roof options ?

Many modern pergola designs incorporate the use of fabrics. The fabric is sometimes looped over and under the top structure members to create interesting, limited shade producing results. Fabric can be fitted to be adjustable in order to provide shade when and where it is needed.

Fabric can also be used on the sides of pergolas to create sliding curtains or post wrapped shades. The use of fabric in your design opens up a whole other range of design options.

To further implement unique design elements, variations can be used in the pergolas rafters, lattice and solid panels . Slanted lattice or rafters can be used to create a blind like sun blocker. Panels with cut out designs can be used to give you limited sunshine through interesting patterns.

Let us not forget the roof option most pergolas are known for, that of course is the vines. Many pergola plants are flowering vines which provide some color and interest to your piece. Wisteria is a popular choice for pergolas. It grows quickly in most growing zones and adds pretty blue and purple color when it blooms.

Grapevine is also a popular choice as in addition to providing you with shade and privacy it will also provide fruit. Trumpet vine grows trumpet shaped flowers in a variety of colors and it will also attract humming birds. There are quite a few options here and some will vary based on your particular growing zone.

Where can I get a pergola ?

Pergolas are not very complicated structures. An accomplished do it yourself person could probably tackle such a project. There are many places online that offer detailed construction plans. Some of these are even free. Take a look, at the very least you will come away with some more ideas.

Some home stores offer pergola kits that use a combination of wood and metal parts in unassembled form. They come with detailed instructions for assembly. Maybe you can find something here that fits your need.

There are also online retailers who will ship you partially completed structures for completion on your site. They come with instructions and technical assistance over the phone, in some cases. I recently reviewed one of these called fifthroom.com. You can see that review by clicking here. The review is for gazebos but they produce many items.

Your gazebo can be constucted by a contractor from scratch. I’m sure that most areas will have a contractor who has constructed some of these projects before.

That is it for this post. Have I peeked your interest ? Please leave comments or questions below as I would love to hear any input that you may have on this topic.

Thanks, Rick




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