I haven’t posted a big project in a while. I have been so super busy with work, school, Jewell, and small projects that I haven’t gotten any of my big projects finished. However, I can finally say that I completed one this weekend! It all started when my neighbor, Shelley, posted a cool pergola tutorial on Facebook a few months ago. I bookmarked it thinking it might be fun, but didn’t really think too much about it. However, I have been wanting to do something with the back patio area since I moved in two years ago. I thought what I wanted to do was build a back porch, but when the contractors installed the AC unit they put it in an unfortunate place, foiling my plans. This summer we have been spending a lot of time outside grilling, working on projects, and hanging out with the pups and ducks, so the though reentered my mind to do *something*. Then I remembered the pergola. I am not going to tell you step-by-step in detail, as you can find that here, but I am going to show you what we did and tell you what little changes we made and what lessons we learned.
The first thing I did was go get some supplies. I borrowed Chet’s truck, because the bed is longer than mine, and headed to Home Depot. Jose, the tiniest little helper at the store, helped me to load all the massive wood onto the cart, and then into the truck. I had to unload it myself, which was super hard since the posts weigh about 150 lbs each, but I am resourceful! I only dropped one of them onto my new foot, and only gave myself about 600 bruises. I will spare you the pictures of them. I also had to purchase 600 lbs of Quikrete so I could set the posts.
Next was to set the posts. Here is where I made my first mistake. I am a little lazy and sometimes do things too quickly and cut corners. I assumed the patio was square, so I just started digging hole for my posts based on quick measurements. I was wrong. The patio isn’t square…if you decide to do this, I suggest you set up a string line to help you make sure everything is square and right. It will make life easier down the road in the project.
Regardless, I dug my holes for the 6×6 posts, filled with Quikrete, leveled, and braced for drying.
After everything was set, I gathered up the tools for the headers and cross beams. This required some tools I had not used before, like a big ass drill bit (which Chet said was a man tool), a reciprocating saw, my trusty T-Square (glad I saved that from undergrad drafting class), level, and plenty of screws. Not pictured are the circular saw, hammer, 10″ lag bolts, and tape measure.
Next it was time to put up the header boards. This is when we found out my posts were not square. Oh well, only a few extra holes drilled…no one will notice! Although I had come this far by myself, I needed Chet’s help to get the headers up. I can do a lot alone, but not lift those big boys! Chet helped drill the holes in the headers and poles, and for the record the ones that were wrong were my fault!
The headers were then bolted into place by 10″ lag bolts with washers and nuts.
After the headers were up, it was time to put in the cross beams. This is where we strayed from the tutorial. The tutorial suggested cutting grooves into the headers to set the cross beams. This seemed like a great idea to me, but Chet thought it sounded difficult. He suggested notching the cross beams instead, and then screwing them to the headers. I am so glad we did it this way, because we learned our original spacing measurements were off later, which would have sucked if we had cut all the grooves wrong! So, on the cross beams we cut the ends at an angle to pretty them up, and then cut in the grooves with the circular and reciprocating saws.
Chet suggested for measurement sake that we create a template for spacing. We used a scrap 2×4 and cut it to length. That turned out really well and I am so glad he suggested it! Since chet was flying while I was working on this thing, I cut and installed many of the cross beams myself. Thankfully I was able to move the cross beams around and slide them into place without hurting myself.
I think the final result is beautiful! I still need to get 2x2s to put across the cross beams for vining, but Home Depot and other home improvement stores didn’t seem to sell them long enough, so I will probably have to go to a real lumberyard. I also am trying to decide if I should paint the pergola, or just weather treat it. Most votes have been to just treat it and leave the natural color. I am also working up some decorating ideas, such as outdoor curtains, lighting, and others. But overall, I am SOOOOOO pleased with the whole thing! This is going to be awesome to sit under for BBQing and just relaxing.