How to build a wooden pergola for the terrace

Are you looking for a pergola for your terrace or garden, but you still haven’t found one that fits your budget? This tutorial will show you step by step how to build a wooden pergola in a simple way and without spending too much. In addition, you can combine it with the rest of the furniture on your terrace.

In summer it’s very important to have a shaded area to protect us from the heat and the sun. The pergolas or gazebos are undoubtedly the best solution, however it is not always easy to find the right model for the size and style of our space.

We want to show you how to make yourself the perfect pergola for your terrace, to match the rest of the outdoor furniture.

Tools and materials

To build a pergola like this one in the tutorial, you’ll need the following tools and materials:

  • Cutter
  • Orbital sander
  • Drill/screwdriver
  • Jigsaw
  • Chisel
  • Clamps
  • Hammer with rubber head
  • 7 spruce wood planks with size 2400x100x25 mm and 4 with size 2400x70x70 mm
  • 4 screw-on ground bases
  • Hexagonal head bolts
  • Impregnating
  • Brush

Cost, duration and difficulty

Making your own wooden pergola for your terrace or garden will cost you less than 150 €, a nice saving compared to the normal purchase price.

This DIY project is simpler than it seems at first glance. Although it requires some experience in performing DIY activities, for this reason we have classified it with a medium level of difficulty.

You will need a couple of days of work to complete your pergola:

  • The first day will be dedicated to its construction and wood protection.
  • The second day will be used for assembly, you will need the help of some people

We must also consider that the weather conditions must be favorable, in case of bad weather in fact we may have to postpone the installation.

How to make a wooden pergola

Building a wooden pergola may seem like a complicated project, given its size, but the reality is that following the steps explained below will be easier than you imagine.

Sanding wood

The first step will be to polish the wooden poles and sleepers with an orbital sander. In this way we will obtain a uniform surface eliminating all imperfections. When sanding, we recommend that you always follow the direction of the grain.

Sanding helps to open the pores of the wood, preparing it for the application of weather protection products.

Cutting the crossbars at an angle

Then we cut the ends of the sleepers with a hacksaw or with a saw and a cutting box. In our case, we cut the sides to a depth of 2.20 m in length. The rest of the beams will keep its original length of 2.40 m.

In addition, to give a rustic touch to the pergola, we have blunted the edges, leaving a margin of 3 cm in the upper end of the axis and cutting the rest with an angle of 45º.

Realize the slots for the joints of the crossbars

The next step is to make a couple of slots in each crosspiece for the joints with the structure of the pergola. The steps to follow are:

  • Mark the slot with a pencil leaving a margin of 3 cm at the top and 15 cm at the side. To help us, we can use a piece of wood of the same thickness as the crossbars.
  • Cut with the jigsaw following the signs.
  • Place the chisel at the top end of the slot and hit with a hammer until we can remove the excess wood.

Protect and paint the wood

Then we protect and paint the wood with the impregnating agent. The impregnating agent is a resin that penetrates into the wood and protects it, at the same time allowing it to breathe and self-regulate its internal humidity. For this reason it is particularly suitable for outdoor furniture.

During application it is important to remember:

  • It is necessary to give a minimum of two coats so that the product penetrates the wood and performs its protective function.
  • To obtain a better coverage, it is necessary to apply it with the brush
  • you can choose between different colours and shades, to better combine it with your environment, as the impregnating agents also have a decorative function.

Place the pillars in the bases

Once the impregnating agent has dried out, we can proceed and place the bases on the ground in one of the ends of the poles. These bases will help us to screw the pillars to the ground of the terrace so that they are well fixed.

To insert them in the wooden pole, we can help ourselves with a hammer with rubber head and then screw in using the bolts with hexagonal head.

Mount the pergola in the terrace

The last step is to mount the pergola. Given its size, we will need the help of some people. The steps to follow are:

  • Mount the crossbars by fitting the slots in the side of the pergola, leaving the same distance between each crossbar (in our case, 50 cm).
  • Drill a hole in the upper part of the pergola to facilitate the positioning of the anchor bolts and to prevent the wood from being damaged during fastening.
  • Turn the roof of the pergola and screw the poles internally, on each corner.
  • Turn the pergola with the help of some people (in our case 4).
  • Move the pergola to its final position and fix the base of the poles to the floor of the terrace.

After all these steps, you will have managed to build with your own hands a wooden pergola for the terrace or garden like the one in the image below.

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