Pergolas are by no means a new idea – they’ve been around since the middle of the 1600’s. Originally an Italian concept, they were soon adopted by the English whose Earl of Pembroke “watched the coursing of hares from a ‘pergola’ built on the downs” well before 1700.
Wood pergolas, especially when planted with vines such as rose, honeysuckle and wisteria, provide cool havens for entertaining and relaxing that feel wonderfully natural. These outdoor structures can be freestanding or attached to an exterior wall. If you’re limited on space, consider building a pergola over an existing patio.
Building a Pergola Over a Patio
Typically, pergolas attached to a house require a ledger, a board attached to the outside wall that provides support for attaching the pergola beams. It’s important that the ledger be securely fastened with lag screws or bolts, typically a half-inch in diameter. Usually the length of the bolt needs to be at least 4”-6″ to penetrate through the ledger board, the house sheathing and into the house framing.
The design possibilities are numerous, but, generally, the horizontal members or beams tend to be stacked in layers, with each layer perpendicular to the one above and below. The effect is a three-dimensional grid, of sorts.
Often, the beams, have an ornamental design cut on the ends. For consistency, a template is usually made to transfer a uniform shape onto multiple boards. A jig saw is the ideal tool for making the cuts.