How to Build a Simple Pergola in Central Texas


Are you in desperate need for some additional shade this summer? Want to define a space in your otherwise wide-open yard? A pergola is a great project for a weekend warrior that has already tried their hand at other backyard structures like a deck or planters.

With proper planning a simple pergola can be built in a few days for a fairly affordable price. To ensure a successful build here in Central Texas follow the four steps below.

Step #1 – Select a Spot for the Pergola

The location is important because it will affect how the pergola posts are mounted. Is it going over a deck? Will the posts need to be sunk in the ground? Do you plan to put the pergola over a concrete patio? All of these are viable options, but each one requires a different method for setting and securing the posts. Decide where you want the pergola to be before you start buying supplies, because it will affect what you need to get the project done.

Step #2 – Select the Right Wood for the Texas Environment

Outdoor projects are all about considering how the elements will affect the wood over time. Extreme heat over long periods, substantial sun exposure, dry spells, winters that can dip below freezing, high humidity after a rain and a insects of all kinds will take their toll on pergolas in Texas.

To ensure that your pergola lasts as long as possible you’ve got to choose a wood that can resist rot, insects and fluctuations in the temperature. Cedar and Redwood are both excellent options for exterior projects because they are highly weather resistant. When using Redwood clear heart and construction heart grades should be selected for the posts since these grades are rot resistant. For Cedar use the higher grades above sapwood for the best weather resistance. Pressure treated pine is also a great wood for pergolas as it has an insecticide preservative and may have been treated with a water repellant as well.

Step #3 – Get Your Pergola Supplies

After you’ve decided where you want your pergola to be, make measurements for the diameter and height. Get down to your local lumberyard and look for the following:

  • 4×4 posts
  • 2×6 support beams and cross beams
  • 2×6 diagonal braces
  • 2×4 slats
  • Screws
  • Steel post-base anchors (if you’re building on concrete)
  • Latticework (if using to create a wall)

The number of beams incorporated into the design is entirely up to you. The more beams and slats you add to more shade the pergola will provide.

Step # 4 – Incorporate Landscaping

Pergolas are often paired with creeping vines and planters to provide additional shade and privacy as well as to make the structure seamless with the landscaping. While it can add a lot of appeal you do have to consider how landscaping elements will affect the integrity of the pergola.

Avoid invasive vines like Ivy that send tendrils into the tiniest cracks and crevices. This can lead to a shorter lifecycle, and the plants could end up overtaking the structure. Instead opt for plants that aren’t as aggressive and incorporate a dash of color like wisteria or grape vines. You might also want to consider adding a trellis on one side to add greenery without having it on the pergola itself.

If you need help selecting a wood for your pergola or would like expert opinions on the design give us a call or stop by Timbertown Austin, and one of our lumber pros will be happy to provide assistance.

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