The very step on how to build a pergola is to decide on the size and the shape of the structure. Remember, make sure that it does not fully occupy the entire area so you’ll have ample space to plant and build walkways around your garden. You need to select a good wood as well. Cedar is a highly recommended material for pergolas or for any kind of outdoor structure because it is highly water proof and can resist decay. Apart from that, cedar can also age beautifully with time and can look great when stained.
The next step on how to build a pergola is to put up the four posts. The posts are the main supporting beams for the entire structure. Pick a 4 x 4 pressure treated core, sheeted with a 1-inch ply cedar wood. You can actually build the structure around a concrete pad or straight from the ground. If you are building the structure on a pad, secure the base on to the concrete surface with steel post-base anchors. However, if you opt to build it straight from the ground, make sure that you set the beams deep enough into the ground for stability.
The very next step on how to build a pergola is to add in the supporting beams. You can use a 2 X 6 crossbeam for this part of the structure. Cut off portions to form a notch that will secure the beam to the other crossbeams. You can also opt to make a curved cut to each end of the beam for a more dramatic look. Install the crossbeam pairs in the first post first (this means that you’ll need 4 pairs of crossbeams all in all). Make sure that you secure each crossbeam to the post and to each other with a screw.
Install 2 X 6 stock beams for diagonal braces what will give additional support to the crossbeams. Cut the wooden beam to the desired length at a 45 degree angle. Fasten the diagonal beams to the crossbeams above and to the 4 X 4 posts below with screws.
And finally, the last step on how to build a pergola is to install in the top slats. You can use 2 x 4 slats that are also cut curved at both ends (very similarly to the curved cut you made on the main cross beams). Position them accordingly and mark the areas where you need to cut out notches that will secure them to the entire structure. Make the cuts and install them to your pergola. Secure them to the crossbeams using 3-inch no. 10 screws.
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