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Everything You Need To Know About Pergolas

Cozy pergola with lighting and curtains

Pergolas are a popular component of exterior renovations, allowing homeowners to create a stunning aesthetic while increasing the function space of the property. The following breakdown looks at all of the key details you ever need to know about pergolas.

Parts of a Pergola

Despite their ability to transform the aesthetics of an outdoor area, erecting a pergola is relatively simple. Many pergola kits can be completed with as few as two people, taking as little as half a day to complete. The following are the basic elements of a pergola:

  • Columns - most attached pergolas will have two columns, while stand-alone pergolas typically have four. However, the number of columns will depend on the size of the pergola and the amount of support needed. 
  • Beams - beams are located at the top of the pergola and are used to connect the width of the columns. Beams provide support to the rafters and stringers. 
  • Rafters - fit perpendicularly on top of the beams.
  • Stringers - run parallel to the beams and increase the shade of the pergola.
  • Ledger board - used only in attached pergolas, it is attached to the support wall of the adjoining structure.

Pergola Materials

White pergola with vines in front of office building

Pergolas can be constructed from a wide range of materials, including:

  • Wood - arguably the most classic perpendicular, wood gives the natural appearance that many people seek in their outdoor areas
  • Aluminum - widely used in commercial and residential properties, aluminum is durable and easy to work with
  • Metal - durable and easy to maintain, metal is used to create bigger, bolder pergolas
  • Vinyl - an affordable pergola material that comes in a number of designs

Types of Pergola Roofs

Pergola on the beach by pool

There are different kinds of roofs for different types of pergola design ideas. Ultimately, the roof will depend on a combination of aesthetics and shading requirements. The different types include:

  • Traditional slat - the most common pergola roof, this style uses evenly spaced rafters and stringers to create shade while still allowing some sunlight through
  • Louvered or motorized - makes it possible to adjust the roof based on the amount of protection desired
  • Fixed shade canopy - a full coverage option, usually attached to the house
  • Retractable canopy - provides the benefits of a full canopy while providing more flexibility
  • Tension sail shade - pieces of fabric attached to the top of the pergola to add some extra shade

Everything You Need to Know About Pergolas

Pergolas make for a great addition to any exterior space. For more information on pergolas, check out the comprehensive infographic below.

Pergola & gazebo infographic

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