This is a pergola...
And this is the man who built us one...
JP's had this plan in the makings for a while, so he's super excited to finally have it finished.
Here are instructions straight from the carpenter himself:
(If you click on the pictures, they will expand)
1) Dig holes - Our generous neighbor (who has a plethora of handy tools) let us borrow his post-hole digger, so this step went quick. We dug 4 holes, one at each corner of the patio to the right of our yard.
2)Pour concrete footings -
A) Pour in dry concrete and mix in water according to the bag's instructions. (Although we needed WAY less water than the bag said, and watery concrete can dry weak...so be careful).
B) Insert J shaped anchor bolts (threaded side up) and put down metal brackets once the concrete starts to firm up. The brackets we bought are meant for 4x4 posts, but since they are open on two sides we can use them with our 4x6 posts. Using the 4x6's also gives us the chunky modern look that we were going for without breaking the bank on hardware or lumber (Jamie's awesome idea!). (Note: All hardware that will be touching the lumber should be galvanized or specifically coated to be used with treated lumber or the chemicals used to treat the wood could eat through the hardware.)
3) Raise posts into the brackets (use a post level to ensure they are plumb <----- JP's fancy word for straight up and down). Once each post is in place, have a buddy hold it in place and watch the post level while you drill three landscaping screws into each side of the bracket.
4) The next step is to cut the ends of the 2x12's and 2x6's into the design you have chosen. We wanted a more modern, clean line look so we used sharp angles and straight cuts. A more traditional pergola has scrolling edges.
5) Next, raise the 2x12's into place. Measure how far from the top of the post you want the 2x12's to sit (keep in mind that it should NOT be more than 5.5 inches from the top because you don't want the post to stick above the 2x6 stringers). We measured down from the top of each post and clamped the 2x12 in place. However, since the ground is not perfectly level, use a level and make fine adjustments by moving the clamps.
6) Once the 2x12's are in place drill pilot holes using a spade bit that is just slightly smaller than the size of the galvanized lag bolt that you are going to use to secure the 2x12 to the post. Also, only drill the pilot holes 3/4 of the length of the lag bolt. Make sure to stagger the pilot holes so that you don't split the wood. Once the pilots are drilled, slip the washer onto the lag bolt and secure the 2x12 to the post using a socket attachment on your drill (or by hand). You can then remove the C-clamps. Repeat step 6 on the other post.
7) Next, secure one 2x6 to each side of each post by drilling directly into the post at a 90 degree angle using the landscaping screws. This will help to give some stability to the over all structure, since the other stringers will just be "toe-nailed" in.
8) Before you attach the rest of the stringers, measure out and mark where they will rest on the 2x12's. They should be evenly spaced. Once the lines are marked, raise them into place and have a buddy hold them while you use a landscaping screw to toenail the 2x6 into place from each side (4 screws total per board). If you want a little more stability, you can use decking brackets to secure the stringers in place, but I wanted to save money on hardware.
The bones of the pergola are now in place.
A few extra tips:
~To obtain a finished look, stain the pergola with a deck stain and water sealer (we're waiting for warmer and drier weather to do this step).
~Since we installed ours on top of paving stones, I used a circular saw with a masonry blade to notch out the paving stones so that they would cover the post brackets and look seamless.
~We also decorated beneath our pergola to create an outdoor room...an extension of our home.
*Entertaining - We used 10x10 galvanized L-brackets to attach a bar top between two of the posts. We also found some great Pier1 bar-height director's chairs on craigslist for 75% off the Pier1 price!
*Seating - We also used the frame of a futon for seating. We used a outdoor rated material to create seat cushions and throw pillows. We didn't have to buy outdoor cushion padding (which can be SUPER expensive) because we found another GREAT deal on craigslist and bought 12 outdoor cushions for $20 which we just recovered with the fabric we bought.
*Lighting - The chandelier was one of Jamie's Christmas presents to me (isn't she thoughtful)! She bought a bunch of lanterns from World Market and hung them at different lengths from the center of the pergola to look like a chandelier. She also got me the awesome string lights for Christmas. The lights give off a really great ambiance for relaxing out there in the evening.
*The Lord also gave us a GREAT deal on an outdoor rug which really ties everything together beneath the fire-pit.
All in all, we really love our outdoor room, and we can't wait for it to warm up and quit raining so we can spend more time out there! I hope you enjoyed the how-to!