How to Build a Pergola over a Patio

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Well, you know what, I think it’s time for another road trip.  So, I’m heading to Voorhees, New Jersey.  Dennis and Joanne Cuderyo want help with, of all things, a pergola.

RON HAZELTON:
Hello, Dennis, Joanne. Hey, good morning.
JOANNE:
Hi, Ron, how are --
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
How are you both?
JOANNE:
Fine, thanks.

DENNIS:
Good morning Ron, how are you.
RON HAZELTON:
Pleasure to meet you.
DENNIS:
Nice to meet you too.
RON HAZELTON:
Oh, I love this yard. You guys must spend a lot of time out here, huh?
JOANNE:
We do.
DENNIS:
Yes, we do.
RON HAZELTON:
Joanne had landscaped their yard to perfection, but she and Dennis found that it got pretty hot sitting out on their patio, with no protection from the sun. The solution seemed to be a pergola. Popular in the gardens of Europe, pergolas are large arbors with trellis beams across the top, on which flowing vines or climbing plants can be grown.

I want to give you a picture of what we're gonna be doing today. You can imagine this pergola, if you will, as kind of a roof that's going to extend out over this patio.

The first piece we'll install is called a ledger. Since we want the pergola the same size as the existing patio, we start at the edges of the patio and draw vertical lines up the side of the house. By measuring between these lines, we can calculate the length of the ledger.
DENNIS:
Okay, 139.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay, Dennis, how we looking over there?
DENNIS:
Okay, we're fine here.
RON HAZELTON:
Now, to this ledger, we're going to attach about six beams that will run out this way. The two end beams are gonna be attached to the end of the ledger, no problem there, but the other four are going to have to attach somewhere here in the center.

Now, I could toenail this in, but I don't think it would be strong enough, and I don't want to use metal brackets. So this is what we're gonna do. We're gonna take this ledgers back down and we're gonna cut about four notches in it, just like this. We'll put it up and then we'll cut notches on the end of our beams, which we'll slip right in here, and that's how we're gonna support it.

We measure and mark the depth of the notch first, then use a combination square and scrap piece of wood, to mark the width.

And this is what we want to remove, right here.

Once Joanne expertly cuts out the four required notches --

Very nice,
JOANNE:
Thank you.
RON HAZELTON:
-- we drill pilot holes and attach the ledger to the side of the house with lag screws. With the ledger in place, we move on to installing two posts that will support the other end of the structure. The bottoms of these posts will be held in place by these post brackets, which will have to be attached to the concrete patio.

This is a hammer drill. It's gonna hammer and drill at the same time.

This kind of boring requires a carbide-tipped masonry bit, which can be used in any power drill. Today though, we're using a hammer drill that pounds as it rotates, eating through concrete at a much faster rate. Even so, Joanne gets a good workout.
JOANNE:
Whew --
RON HAZELTON:
Tuck the post base in place like that. This is an expansion anchor; what's gonna happen with this? We're gonna drop this into the hole. As we tighten this nut right here, the bottom of this is gonna draw up and it's gonna expand or flare out and jam itself inside the hole.

So go ahead -- and press that in.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
DENNIS:
All right.
RON HAZELTON:
Press down on it with your finger. There you go.
DENNIS:
There we go.
RON HAZELTON:
All right, good, that's good. Tighten it up as much as you can.
JOANNE:
Whoa --
RON HAZELTON:
Tight?
JOANNE:
Yeah, it's tight already.
RON HAZELTON:
Next, we install this post support to prevent the end of the post from coming into contact with the concrete, something that could eventually cause rotting. Dennis secures the bracket to the post with heavy gauge galvanized nails, while I check to make sure that things remain plumb.

To keep the posts vertical in both directions, we pound in stakes and then attach temporary braces with screws. This time, Dennis keeps his eye on the level.
DENNIS:
Yeah, we're nice and level.
RON HAZELTON:
Good. See, that, that's fairly steady now. It's not gonna go anywhere.
JOANNE:
That is good, yeah.
RON HAZELTON:
With the posts secure, our next job is to install the two end beams.

The bottom of the board on the line, all right?
JOANNE:
Good.
RON HAZELTON:
You there?
JOANNE:
Yeah.

RON HAZELTON:
We use adjustable clamps to temporarily hold these in place. To attach these beams to the posts, we're going to be using two tools, a cordless drill with a counter sink drill bit --

There you go, Dennis.

-- and a second cordless drill with a screwdriver bit holder. This has got a square bit in here because that's going to match up with the square drive hole in the end of this stainless steel screw.

Stainless steel screws are non-corrosive, which makes them a great choice for outdoor projects. Now, for the inside end beam.

Just drop that sharp piece of wood in to make sure that these notches are aligned. Okay, okay, now check the bottom edge for the line. And then when, when you're there, clamp her up.

Once we're lined up, we attach this beam the same way we did the first. This pergola really has three layers of beams. The first layer consists of the ledger and the end beams that we just put up. On top of the ledger and end beams will go five additional beams that will extend out from the house. And finally, set on top of those, eight more beams that will run parallel to the house.

Joanne wants these second and third tier beams to have decorative curved ends, so she sketches a design on a piece of scrap wood, cuts it out --

And there you go.
JOANNE:
Pretty --
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
Then sands the edges smooth. This pattern or template allows Joanne to trace exactly the same shape on the end of each beam. Curved ends completed, Dennis and I next cut the numerous notches that will allow the beams to interlock with one another.

Well, now it's time for some assembly. If we've measured and marked carefully, the layered interlocking beams should all fit together like the pieces of a giant puzzle. We purposely left our support posts long.  Now though, it's time to cut them flush.

My tool of choice for this? Why, my trusty Japanese handsaw, of course. Now for the third and final layer of cross beams. We cut these interlocking notches a bit shallower, so the beams will sit higher and appear more prominent. Joanne and I are the workhorses here.

Oh, gosh, I love the way this is fitting.

Then Dennis comes in to help out with the last few, and we have a ceremonial passing of the mallet before we call it a day.

Well, is this the way you imagined it?
JOANNE:
This is exactly what we wanted. It's perfect.
DENNIS:
Very good.
RON HAZELTON:
Happy?
DENNIS:
Excellent, yes, sir.
JOANNE:
Yeah.
  RON HAZELTON:
You know, it's fall right now, but I can imagine sitting here in the summer with the vines growing all over this and having just a lot of cool shade here, will really make this backyard special.
JOANNE:
Will you come back in the spring to see the flowers?
  RON HAZELTON:
I'd love to, I really would and thank you so much for working with me. You were great.
JOANNE:
Thank you, it was a pleasure.
DENNIS:
Thank you.
RON HAZELTON:
You were okay.
[LAUGHTER]
DENNIS:
Thank you very much.]
RON HAZELTON:
All the best to you guys.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
JOANNE:
A job well done.

Enjoy patio shade and airiness with a pergola whose semi-open roof of interlocking beams protects you from direct summer sun.

Build a pergola or arbor to serve as a semi-open patio roof. Made of two-by-eight beams, the roof rests on four-by-four posts on one side and attaches to your home on the other. This design uses three layers of interlocking roof beams, but remains open to sky and breeze to offer the best combined features of patio, porch and deck.

Mark the Pergola Elevation and Width on the House
Step 1

Mark the Pergola Elevation and Width on the House

Mark two perpendicular lines from your home's soffits to the patio to mark the desired elevation of the pergola, spacing them at the same width as the patio's concrete pad. Use a bar level to ensure the lines are vertical.

Cut and Notch Three Beams for the First Roof Layer
Step 2

Cut and Notch Three Beams for the First Roof Layer

Cut three two-by-eight beams for the first roof layer that parallels the house. Notch them with a jigsaw to support four of six second layer beams--the other two will butt against the ends of the first layer's beams.

Level, Pre-drill and Attach the Ledger to the House
Step 3

Level, Pre-drill and Attach the Ledger to the House

Level the ledger and pre-drill holes for lag screws through the ledger, and fascia board into the side of the house. Tighten the lag screws with a ratchet.

Drill Patio for Post Brackets and Attach with Expansion Anchors
Step 4

Drill Patio for Post Brackets and Attach with Expansion Anchors

Position the post brackets, marking their centers on the concrete with a hammer and sharp instrument. Drill a hole at each mark, insert an expansion anchor through the bracket into the concrete, and tighten it with a ratchet.

Install Post Supports and Posts to Brackets with Heavy-gauge Nails
Step 5

Install Post Supports and Posts to Brackets with Heavy-gauge Nails

Install post supports in the brackets to raise the posts above concrete and moisture to prevent rotting. Hold the posts in vertical position and secure each to its bracket with a hammer and heavy-gauge galvanized nails.

Hold Posts Vertical with Temporary Stakes and Braces
Step 6

Hold Posts Vertical with Temporary Stakes and Braces

Screw pairs of temporary braces to stakes in the ground and clamp the braces to the posts to keep them vertical in both directions for the remainder of the project. Use a bar level to confirm the posts are plumb.

Screw First-layer End Beams to the Posts
Step 7

Screw First-layer End Beams to the Posts

Align and clamp notched end beams in the first layer to the posts at the correct elevation. Pre-drill holes with a countersunk bit. Drive the stainless-steel screws into the beams and posts using a square-ended bit.

Cut and Curve One End of Six Second-layer Beams
Step 8

Cut and Curve One End of Six Second-layer Beams

Cut six second-layer beams with a decorative curve on one end. They'll be longer that the depth of the patio and run perpendicular to the house. Notch the bottom edges to interlock with the notches on the first layer's beams.

Interlock Layer-Two beams to Layer-One Beams and Trim the Posts
Step 9

Interlock Layer-Two beams to Layer-One Beams and Trim the Posts

Notch the second-layer beams eight times for the eight beams in the final layer and then interlock them to the first layer. Trim the post tops flush with the top of the beams with a Japanese handsaw.

Cut Eight Third-layer Beams, Notching to Interlock with Beams Below
Step 10

Cut Eight Third-layer Beams, Notching to Interlock with Beams Below

Cut eight beams with both ends curved for the third/final layer. Cut six shallower notches in the bottom edges to interlock with notches on the second layer. Fit them together and tap with a mallet to seat them.