How To Build A Garage Pergola And Why You Should

If you’re trying to spruce up your curb appeal, you’re not alone. There are many DIY projects that can help you get more out of your outdoor space, including a garage pergola.

garage pergola

While garage pergolas aren’t as common as standalone versions, they can add detail to your home’s exterior.

What Is A Garage Pergola?

What Is A Garage Pergola?
image from: FBN Construction

A standard pergola is a freestanding structure with rafters instead of a full roof. Many homeowners use pergolas for gatherings and BBQs, but you can use them for anything.

A garage pergola differs because it is attached to the exterior of a garage. This type of pergola is more like an overhang or a canopy that extends just a few feet from your garage to shade the area beneath it. 

Benefits Of A Garage Pergola

Benefits Of A Garage Pergola
image from: Blue Sky Building Company

A garage pergola isn’t all that common, so many people wonder why to build one in the first place. But there are many benefits of a garage pergoal.


A garage pergola can offer some protection from the elements. You can stand under it and be safer than if you are out in the open.

If you had a canopy or canvas on top of it, then you are more likely to enjoy its protection. 

Added Shade

A pergola offers some shade while still letting daylight filter through the rafters. If you are working outside and want a bit of relief, you can lean up against the garage door or siding and be under the pergola.

This is especially important with increasingly hot summers and high heat indexes. 

Window Protection 

A pergola can do wonders for your garage windows. Garage windows never seem to last, no matter how well you take care of them. But a garage pergola can help protect the widows with a little bit of cover. 

Leave Garage Open 

If your garage is a space you love to hang out, yet you are also an outdoor person, then a pergola might be the answer. You can get the best of both worlds by leaving the door open.

So if you are working, working out, or even playing games in the garage, you can open the garage door and enjoy the outdoors too. Make sure you keep a nice landscape full of greenery if you choose this route. 


The main reason people get a garage pergola is for the look. They add curb appeal and always draw attention to the garage. So make sure you have a nice garage door to show off.

Garage pergolas are a lot like eyebrow windows or some other type of dormers in this sense. 

How To Build A Garage Pergola

How To Build A Garage Pergola
image from: Esposito Design

Now it’s time to get down to a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a garage pergola. For this project, we designed the pergola to fit over a one-car garage. Our dimensions are 12ft wide by 28 inches deep by 29 inches tall.

For this, we purchased 2×4 boards for the rafters that were 12 feet long. Then we got 2×2 balusters for the purlins that were 28 inches long. We also made brackets to hold them up, which you can build or purchase yourself. 

Step 1: Mark Your First Board

Start by getting one of your 2×4 rafters to work on. Mark a location at 1 and 4 inches from the end. On the 1-inch line, make another mark at 1 1/2 inches from the top edge. Next, you want to make a curved mark.

For this, we used a 1-gallon paint can to create a curve that connects the 1 1/2-inch mark and the point where the 4-inch line meets the rafter’s bottom edge. Follow the edge of the can so that you have a rounded pencil mark.

Step 2: Cut The Tails

Follow the curved line with a jigsaw to create that gorgeous first tail. Now that you have your first tail cut, you can use it as a template to cut the other boards. Use the same board for each cut instead of using the one you cut next.

After you cut the boards, lightly sand them with 120-grit sandpaper. Smooth them out – they don’t need to be roughed up or bared down.

Step 3: Cut The Purlins 

A purlin is a horizontal beam that runs along the length of the pergola. It rests on the main rafter and supports the other rafters. 

Take the first 2×2 and draw a 45-degree line across one corner at 1/2 an inch from the top edge. Then take a miter saw and saw it at a 45-degree angle. 

Step 4: Paint Or Stain

After you cut all of the purlins, it’s time to start the fun part. Lightly sand everything, and then get your paint or stain ready. Either works, but now is a good time to paint because it’s difficult to do later. 

After the first coat dries, add another. Then, finish with a sealer, which will protect the pergola from the weather. Ensure that you use an outdoor sealer that is safe to use on wood and on whichever type of paint you used. 

Step 5: Install Brackets 

You can choose any bracket design for your garage pergola. But be sure to choose brackets that can support the weight. A minimum of 2×6 brackets will be needed.

When installing the brackets to the garage or house, apply caulk to the back to hold them into position before screwing them in place. Make sure to use deck screws, as they will give the most support.

Step 6: Mark Rafters And Cut Spacers 

Lay the rafters out so that they are flush on both sides and all of the curves line up. Then mark a spot 6 inches in from each end and draw a line over each bracket. 

To position the rafters, subtract 4½ inches, which is for the three 2x4s, from the depth of the brackets, 24 inches. Then divide by 4 to get an even spacing of just under 5 inches. Cut spacer blocks at 4⅞ inches.

Step 7: Place Purlins

Clamp the spacer blocks onto the rafters to ensure they are spaced evenly. Then, install the purlins. We had 14 purlins or 28 inches of thickness, that we spaced out along the clamped-together rafters.

After you have them in position, screw them in. Then you can remove the spacers and get to work installing the pergola to the brackets. 

Step 8: Install Pergola

Place the pergola top somewhere between a quarter of an inch and a half-an-inch from the siding. Then, ensure the pergola is centered by finding the center of the siding and the center of the pergola. 

After you do, mark each and screw the pergola into the brackets. Keep in mind that this is a small garage pergola, not a full pergola. A full pergola is more complicated to build and not a beginner project. 

Building Vs. Buying A Garage Pergola 

Garage pergolas are small and easy to build. 

So choosing between building and buying isn’t easy. Building stuff is fun, but buying can be too. Most prebuilt garage pergolas are less than a couple of thousand dollars.

It all comes down to whether you can afford the extra money it costs to buy and whether you want a custom project.