• icon-wishlist
  • icon-cart

Build a Pergola

  • Difficulty: hammer hammer
    Close Difficulty
    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
    Professional - Expert
  • Completion Time : Week-end project

A pergola is a wooden structure that is used to form a partially-shaded walkway or sitting area in a garden or as part of a backyard deck. Composed of posts supporting horizontal beams it provides a break in a large yard space. It can also be built in a weekend with a minimum of carpentry skills and a few simple materials.

Aside from being a decorative element in itself, the pergola allows you to suspend flower pots and provides support for climbing plants.

The following project details the instructions to build a pergola on a deck.


Tools and materials required


  • Cardboard to draw template
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Electric drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Ratchet


  • 11 - 2"× 8" x 10' Treated wood joist hangers
  • 2 - 2"× 8" x 12' Treated wood joist hangers
  • 8 - 2"× 8" Metal joist hanger
  • 6 - 4" × 4" x 8" Treated wood posts
  • Joist hanger nails
  • 12 - 3/8" x 2" Lag screws for the joist
  • 12 - 3/8" x 2 ½" Lag screws for the structure
  • Masonry anchors
  • 6 - 4" × 4"Post anchor brackets
  • 2 ½"Wood screws

Before Assembly

Elevation of a pergola on a deck.These instructions are for a pergola attached to the house

  • Like any large structure it is recommended that the pergola be built onto the house structure using a ledger board at the level of the top rafters.
  • The structure will be stronger if the pergola is built at the same time as the deck. This is because the post would be at its full length and would support the deck as well as the pergola rafters.
  • One end of the rafters is anchored to the joist with joist hangers and the other end needs to be shaped and notched
  • You'll find it easier to attach the header to the posts if you do it on the ground, before erecting the structure and attaching the posts to the floor of the terrace. 

Planning and design tips

  • Carefully plan the size of the pergola. 2" x 8" are available in lengths of 8΄, 10΄ and 12΄however the rafters should not be more than 12΄long
  • For an appealing look and to have just enough shade, rafters should not be more than 14" apart.
  • A 4" post is, in fact, 3½" × 3½".
  • When adding the pergola to a deck, a handrail is required if the deck is more than 21" from the ground. 

A few tips when building a freestanding pergola

Call the local building office to see if a permit is needed as a pergola is a large enough structure that might need one. In addition, inquire as to the type of footing that is allowed. And most important, make sure to contact the utility companies before digging to avoid disruptions to household service or safety of the builders.

  • A free-standing pergola is supported with galvanized deck saddles embedded in concrete piers. Other foundations include pre-made footings anchored in the ground or supported on flat patio stones.
  • Clean the site of rocks and other debris and make sure it is level.
  • Both ends of the rafters needs to be shaped and require notches to accept the headers.


Show All StepsClose All Steps


See all Calculators

Helpful Information

A pergola adds unique architecture to a garden or deck.
Build a Pergola