Do you have a backyard that needs some sprucing up? Building a DIY pergola is an affordable way to bring character and shade to your space. Pergolas are essentially freestanding structures with open sides and a slatted roof providing partial sun coverage.
With the right materials, tools, and instructions, anyone can build their own pergola in a day or two. In this article, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of planning, constructing, and staining a DIY pergola. With our help, you can create a beautiful and functional outdoor space that will last for years to come.
Benefits of Building Your Own DIY Pergola
1. Cost Savings: Building your own DIY pergola can save you a lot of money compared to hiring someone else to build it for you.
2. Customization: Building your own DIY pergola allows you to customize the size, shape, and details to fit your exact needs and preferences.
3. Increase Home Value: Installing a pergola can increase the value of your home, as it provides an attractive outdoor living space.
4. Endless Possibilities: With a DIY pergola, you can create endless possibilities with its design and features- from hanging planters to adding lighting or fans for cooling on hot summer days.
5. DIY Satisfaction: Nothing quite compares to the satisfaction of completing a project yourself and admiring your hard work! Building your own DIY pergola is a great way to get creative and show off your skills. Plus, you can be proud that you did it all yourself.
Time to Complete
Download Printable Plans in PDF
Tools for this project
- Available with the purchase of PDF plans
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Level the Ground and Mark the Pier Locations
First, clear out the area of bushes and any vegetation. Then level the ground to eliminate any low or high spots.
Using provided dimensions in the picture, roughly mark the centers of pier locations. Choose one corner as the home base and pull all dimensions from that location. Otherwise, your measurement will contain errors.
Next, build the batter boards for the string lines to establish a more accurate foundation layout. Then pull and adjust the strings to the exact dimensions following the playhouse plans.
Using the string lines, you will be able to set a perfect outline of the foundation. In addition, string lines will ensure the foundation is squared and leveled. For more information about how to use string lines correctly, you can find it here.
Step 2 – Dig Holes for the Piers
Now dig out 14″ round and 24″ deep holes for the piers (assuming your ground is flat and leveled). Then take 12″ round concrete form tubes and cut six pieces to 24″ in length. If your ground is sloped, you might need to dig deeper holes, and some concrete tubes might be taller than others. As long as the top of the forms have the same elevation.
Place the concrete form tube into the hole. The top of the tube should be about 1″ above the ground. Make sure that all concrete tubes are leveled. Also, the top of all concrete tubes should have the same top elevation.
Step 3 – Insert Posts and Pour Concrete into the Form Tubes
When working with concrete, you have a limited amount of time before it becomes hard. After concrete becomes harder, it’s very difficult to adjust or change its shape. So you will need to have your materials ready before mixing the concrete.
Take 4×6 pressure-treated lumber and cut six pieces to 48″ in length. Then insert them into the form tubes. The top of the post needs to be 24″ above the concrete tube.
Draw an X on top of each post. This will show you the center of the board. Secure each post with cross braces so they do not move when pouring the concrete. Make sure the center of the board matches the dimensions provided in the picture. Also, check that the top of each post is at the same elevation.
When everything is ready, and the measurements are accurate, mix the concrete and fill the tubes.
Once the concrete cures, remove the temporary cross braces that were supporting the posts.
Step 4 – Cut and Install the Legs of the Pergola
Next, take 4×6 lumber and cut eight leg pieces to 8 feet in length. Even if you purchase 8-foot-long boards, you will need to double-check the measurements. Sometimes they are slightly longer, and you will need to trim them to get the exact 8-foot length.
Place two legs on the top of the pier on both sides of the post. Then drill a 1/2″ hole through the legs and the post to insert the bolt. You will need to use 12″ long bolts to secure the legs. Make sure the bolts and nuts have washers on each side.
The benefit of using bolts and nuts, as appose to screws, is that you can tighten the bolts when wood shrinks due to weather conditions. This will prevent the pergola from wobbling.
Step 5 – Join the Top of the Legs
To join the top of the legs, take a 4×6 lumber and cut four pieces to 23″ in length. Insert this piece between the legs so it’s 11″ above the top of the leg. See picture.
Similar to the previous step, drill a hole for the bolt and tighten the nut.
Step 6 – Cut and Attach the 12 Foot Horizontal Beams
Take 4×6 lumber and cut four horizontal beams to 144″ in length. Then place them on top of the legs. Make sure these beams are centered between the legs. Then secure the beams to the 23″ long piece with a bolt and a nut.
Step 7 – Cut and Attach 14 Foot Horizontal Beams
Similar to step 5, using 4×6 lumber, cut four pieces to 168″ in length. Then place them on top of the lower beams, as shown in the picture.
Once they are centered between the legs, drill 1/2″ holes from the top through the lower and upper beams for the bolts. Secure the lower and upper beams together with bolts and nuts.
Step 8 – Install Diagonal Brace
Take 4×6 lumber and cut four pieces to 49 1/2″ in length with a 45-degree miter cut on one end. Then chamfer the corners on the opposite side, as shown in the picture.
Now slide in the diagonal brace between the lower beams and the legs. The top of the brace needs to be flush with the top of the lower beams. Once you position the brace at 45 degrees, then drill the bolt holes. Secure the brace with bolts and nuts.
Step 9 – Install Additional Upper Beams to Pergola
Similar to step 7, take 4×6 lumber and cut three upper beam pieces to 168″ in length. Install one of the beams in the center of the pergola. Then attach the other two pieces equally spaced between the beams with bolts and nuts. See picture.
Step 10 – Attach the Slats on Top of the DIY Pergola
Take 2×4 lumber and cut 21 slats to 139″ in length. Place the first two slats on top of the upper beams between the bolts. Then space out the rest of the slats equally which comes out to be 8″ between each slat. Attach these slats to beams with wood screws or nails.
You are done with the DIY Pergola.