DIY Network

How to Build a Custom Pergola

Pergolas are a wonderful way to add architecture to your backyard while offering protection from the sun. Building your own is not very complicated and is a great project for a moderately experienced woodworker.

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  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Select Site and Set Support Posts

Select the site and mark the placement of the four posts that will frame the pergola. Using a post-hole digger or two-person auger, dig holes to a depth of 30". Add a few inches of gravel to the bottom of the holes for drainage. Insert 4" x 6" x 10’ posts in holes. Ensure the posts are level and plumb. Attach temporary 2" x 4" bracing to hold in place. Mix fast-drying cement according to manufacturer's directions and pour in holes. Let cure for 24 hours.

Step 2: Attach Joist Beams

Cut the joist beams from 2" x 8" boards for the top of the pergola. To create a decorative look on the end of the joist beams, draw a curved design on the wood and cut along the line with a jigsaw. Attach the beams to the posts using 3" lag bolts.

Step 3: Attach Stringers

Cut the stringers from 2" x 6" boards to span and overhang the joist beams. To create a decorative look on the end of the stringers, draw a curved design on the wood and cut along the line with a jigsaw. Evenly space the stringers perpendicular to the beams and toenail in place using 3" galvanized deck screws.

Step 4: Attach Columns

Attach decorative column, column base and column cap to the outside of each post using 3" galvanized deck screws. The columns are bulky and heavy and require more than one person to install.

Step 5: Add Plants

Prepare beds near and around the pergola for new plantings by removing sod and tilling the soil. Dig holes, place plants, backfill the holes with soil, and water well. Add mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and give a finished look.

Step 6: Add Paver Walkway

To install a paver walkway leading up to the pergola, mark out the path, remove sod and place the paving stones in the ground.

Step 7: Add Lighting

Consider adding low-voltage lights to illuminate the pergola and the plantings. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when placing and installing lights.

Learn how adding a pergola to your yard or garden can increase your home's value at HGTV's




  • Tools from Black and Decker
  • Tools from Porter-Cable Corporation