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How to Build a Modern Pergola

There’s nothing quite like a beautiful, modern pergola to add value to your home’s exterior. When that pergola is a streamlined, two-toned piece of functional art, that’s all the more valuable. In this article, we will point you to the articles that walk you, step-by-step, through the process of building a pergola that will look gorgeous and function wonderfully for your backyard living. There are a variety of methods for doing this, so be sure to browse through all the steps (and even correlating how to build a deck articles) to see if one way matches better what you have in mind.

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How to Install Pergola Post Brackets

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For many people, installing a wood post into a hole with post-formulated quick-set concrete is the way to go. However, we recommend installing steel brackets for pergola posts for a couple of reasons. First, you aren’t “wasting” multiple feet of your expensive pergola post lumber by shoving it 4’-6’ into the ground, which gives you better height options for your pergola overall and/or a less expensive project. Second, installing steel brackets makes the actual installation of the pergola posts a much smoother and more accurate project. We highly recommend this method, although if you’re bent on the post-in-concrete method, you can check that out here where we talk about installing deck footings.

How to Stain and Seal a Pergola

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While this step might seem to be out of order, placed here before the actual installation of your pergola posts, it fits in perfectly here. And this is why: Staining a pergola isn’t easy when the pergola is already built. You’re suspended on a ladder, up high, trying to reach all four sides of each board, jamming your arm or face into whatever fresh stain you’ve just done as you move onto the next board. It’s possible, but it’s a pain. Much MUCH easier is this method: stain (and, if you’ve chosen the correct stain, you’ll be sealing in this step as well) all lumber prior to building the pergola. You’ll need to touch-up at the very end, of course, but not a ton.

How to Install Pergola Posts

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Pergola posts are most commonly 4×4 beams, but in this article, we show you how to install 6×6 pergola posts. Depending on the size and height of your pergola, the proportions of 6×6 posts will likely look more substantial and pleasing than the smaller 4x4s. Either way, this article takes you step by step through this process, which, happily, is pretty straightforward.

How to Wall-Mount a Pergola Frame

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In some backyards (often smaller backyards), the place that makes the most sense for a pergola is adjacent to the house itself. If your backyard is on the smaller end to begin with, you likely don’t want to take up more real estate with pergola posts if you can help it. In this instance, we recommend mounting one side of your pergola frame to the exterior house wall itself. This allows you to use the existing house wall as part of your pergola, without having to dig post holes right next to the house and cut in on the actual footprint of your pergola.

How to Build a Pergola Frame

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Once your pergola posts are installed (and/or your wall-mounted pergola frame is in place), it’s time to build your elevated pergola frame. This includes a solid perimeter of doubled-up 2x6s, although each 2×6 board is placed individually so the support is multi-directional. The outer frame boards are attached to the wall-mounted frame and/or the pergola posts (with mitered corners where possible), while the inner frame boards are attached to the outer frame as well as the inside corners of everything (90-degree angles only).

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How to Install Pergola Rafters

While the pergola posts and frame are all vital to the pergola’s existence, it is the rafters (slats) that really make the pergola what it is. And when those rafters provide the pergola with a modern two-tone aesthetic, even better. This tutorial shows a straightforward and cost-effective method for hanging your 2×6 pergola rafters, with the end result being a sleek, seamless look. This is the step where, really, it all comes together.

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How to Install Pergola Post Caps

With your pergola, for all intents and purposes, complete, it’s easy to move on without putting this finishing touch on the pergola posts. But, weather and harsh sunlight being what it is, the tops of your pergola posts are bound to show signs of damage in a relatively short amount of time without capping off the tops. Installing caps on your pergola posts is so easy, you can literally do it in minutes – including the sawing off of excess pergola post height. It’s worth it, completely.

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We hope you find this reference article for how to build a modern two-tone pergola useful. Enjoy your construction project! It will be worth it in the end.

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Now that you know all about pergolas and how to install and build them, let’s check out a few designs and options available for purchase. The Oasis pergola has a design which perfectly blends aesthetics and function. It’s simple and modern and it measures 14 ft in width x 10 ft in depth which is plenty of space for lounging, chatting and entertaining guests. On one side it has a built-in bar and on the opposite side there’s a built-in bench.

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If you’re in the market for something super clean and simple, a pergola to match your contemporary house, consider one with a metal frame as opposed to wood which is more traditional and has a classic look. This particular model has an aluminum frame and a convertible top which can be manually opened and closed. It’s easy to put together and to install using the included ground stakes and bolt and it’s super versatile.

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Of course, wooden pergolas are classic and they’re really great at making outdoor spaces and backyards in general look and feel warm, welcoming and comfortable. This one is made of cedar wood and has a prominent upper shade structure which can potentially be covered in vines and climbing plants for a more immersive and nature-oriented type of décor.

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If you want a pergola that’s big enough to frame the whole sitting area you plan to set up, check out a model such as this one. The Tyne pergola measures 132’’ width x 132’’ depth which is enough to offer optimal shade for the space below and to create a breezy and airy ambiance. The frame is made of aluminum and is complemented by a convertible top. The canopy slides easily along the frame allowing you to cover up the pergola for shade and privacy or to leave it open in case you want to enjoy the sunlight.

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The Wadebridge pergola is meant to be anchored to the side of the house, featuring only two support poles. It has a square shape and measures 12’ W x 12’D and it’s made of weather-resistant vinyl painted white for a classic and clean look. The flat lattice on top is perfect for holding climbing plants and flowers but also looks lovely when empty.

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The Novara pergola is perfect if you want something super clean and simple and with a modern design. It’s made of metal and has a flat top that’s only as wide as the frame itself, without overhanging sections. The roof louvers can be manually opened and closed depending on whether you prefer shade or a more open and exposed pergola.

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Simplicity takes a different form in the case of the Modena pergola. Once again, this pergola is made of aluminum which allows it to look very sleek and simple while also being highly durable and sturdy. It has a beautiful espresso finish and it has a canopy which can be operated manually, allowing you to control the amount of sunlight that gets through and to the area below. It’s able ti withstands winds of up to 80 miles per hour as long as the top is fully open.

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There are also plenty of small pergolas out there in case you have a tiny backyard or you want a structure that can frame a specific area. For example, the Wallingford pergola is perfect for outdoor hot tubs and small sitting areas. It has a simple and traditional design with a louvered roof and it’s made of vinyl which allows it to be weather-resistant and easy to clean. It’s the perfect accessory for a small patio or a little garden nook.

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This pergola only measures 8 ft in width and 3 ft in depth which makes it a good fit for small backyards and for framing small spaces such as a barbecue area or a gardening station for example. It’s made of red cedar wood and has a simple and traditional design with a top which can be decorated with climbing plants, vines and flowers.