How to Build a Freestanding Pergola in 7 Steps

Do you want a shade structure in your backyard without having to spend a bunch of money? Here’s how to build a freestanding pergola in 7 simple steps. Plus, we included a step-by-step tutorial on how to save money doing it…

How to Build a Freestanding Pergola in 7 Steps DIY Tutorial

Step 1: Determine Pergola Size and Location

First, figure out where you want to put your structure and how big you want it to be. For instance, what area of your yard offers great views, privacy or convenient access?

In addition, it can help to think about what you’ll use the space for. For instance, outdoor dining, a fire pit, hot tub, etc.. can help you decide on the footprint as well as shape.

Step 2: Buy Your Pergola Materials

Of course, you’ll need lumber, post anchors, concrete, screws, bolts and nails. However, you may also need tools and supplies if you don’t already have them. For example, you’ll need a post hole digger, a drill, saw, level, bucket, ladder, etc..

Step 3: Set the Posts

Next, dig holes for your concrete footings, pour the concrete and set the posts. Use post anchors to secure the posts in the ground, making sure they are level and plumb.

Step 4: Attach the Beams

Now, cut your beams to the desired length and attach them to the posts using screws or bolts. Then, secure the cross beams. Also, make sure they are level before progressing to the next step.

Step 5: Install the Pergola Rafters

Next, cut your rafters and space them evenly apart along the cross beams. You may need to notch the rafters to fit around the cross beams.

Step 6: Paint or Stain Your Pergola

Sand the wood and add a protective finish to the wood with either paint, stain or a sealant. Use a high-quality finish so that you don’t have to re-seal as often. Alternatively, you can do this step earlier in the project if you cut all of your wood pieces at the beginning.

Step 7: Fasten Accessories to the Structure

Lastly, add any curtains, shade cloth, hooks and lights to the frame. This step really transforms an ordinary pergola into an inviting outdoor space great for entertaining.

Building a freestanding pergola requires some carpentry skills and knowledge of tools,. So, if you are not confident in your abilities, you may want to hire a professional contractor to do the job. Additionally, check your local building codes for any permits that you may need before starting your project.