Tools you will need:
- Spirit level
- Claw Hammer
- Power Drill & Bits
- Measuring tape
- Circular/Hand saw
- Paint brush
- String line
- Carpenter’s Square
- Adjustable wrench
Here are some safety tips to consider as you undertake your DIY project, ensuring an accident free work area.
- Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is essential. Safety glasses or goggles should be worn whenever using power tools, and when you chiselling, sanding or hammering overhead. Ear protection when using power tools will reduce hearing damage. A dust mask should also be used when sanding.
- Keep all leads and lead connections off damp ground.
- Unplug or disable all equipment when not in use.
- Cut all timber on a waist-high work bench or saw horse, using clamps to firmly hold them in place whilst cutting.
- Don’t lift heavy beams by yourself; when working with large, heavy material ask for a helping hand to avoid injury.
- When working with ladders, make sure the base is firmly set. Extension ladders should be worked on at a 60 degree angle.
- Keep your work site clear of distractions; tidy as you work removing all excess material and rubble. Children and pets should also e kept clear of work areas as they can be a danger to themselves.
- Remember a building permit may be required. Check with your council first about local regulations.
- Double check all measurements and markings before you cut any piece of timber. Measuring is easy, materials are expensive.
- To weather-protect any timber that joins up against other sections of timber, stain or paint them first before fixing them together
STEP 1: Choosing a site
When considering the location of your pergola, consider an area that utilises the winter sun, whilst offering protection from the summer sun. Ideally, your pergola should lead to a patio or courtyard garden, or barbecue area. Consider places where you need privacy and protection from the weather.
TIP: Don’t build your pergola in an already shady area. You will be left with a space that is too cold for anyone to utilise.
STEP 2: Preparing your site
Check your plans to ensure there are no gas, water, sewerage or drainage lines under your site. Clearly mark out any objects before you dig your footings.
Lay out clearly the full extent of the area with stakes and builders string line.
Lines 1 and 2 should be equal length, 3 and 4 equal length.
To ensure that the site is parallel and square, join the opposite corners with a string line, and that this string is the same length.
Next you will need to mark out the positions of the post holes. As pergolas are generally light structures, posts can be positioned up to 3 metres apart.
Now is a good time to evaluate the proposed area in relation to your home to ensure that it’s all in proportion.
STEP 3: Setting the posts
TIP: Although treated pine can be put into the ground, it’s not recommended for the longevity of your decks life. Steel, hardwood or treated pine should always be placed on galvanised steel supports.
Concrete absorbs a certain amount of water; this keeps the posts moist most of the time resulting in premature rotting or rusting, causing a breakdown in the structural integrity of the post. Also by using a galvanised steel support for your posts, you are preventing termites attacking the timber.
Dig post holes that can easily accommodate a 300mm x 300mm x 450mm concrete footing to be poured for the post support bracket.
Mix only enough concrete for one hole at a time and fill the hole completely.
When pouring concrete into the holes, set a stirrup bracket in the middle of the footing and allow around 75mm clearance between the ground and the bottom of the post.
Allow about one week to set the concrete footings properly.
Once the concrete is set, posts can then be positioned, drilled through and fixed to the post supports with coach bolts. You’ll need to brace the posts temporarily with some timber support until the top beam is erected.
Joists can then be attached, and these should be bolted to the inside of the posts.
STEP 4: Adding the rafters
Rafters can be attached to the joists either by skew nailed (nailed at an angle) or with framing anchors.
The size of your pergola will depend on what size rafters you will require.
Set rafters no more than 900mm apart, dependant on the type of shade covering you are using. The heavier the covering, the closer the rafters should be set.
Before fixing rafters to the structure, make sure they are square in relation to the beams using a spirit level and carpenter’s square.