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Friday, January 14, 2022

A Straightforward Guide to Selecting and Placing a Pergola

The results are in. According to Architectural Digest, pergolas are one of the top 10 most popular trends in the past year, and their popularity is sure to continue in 2022. It makes sense—many homeowners are upgrading their outdoor spaces to expand their useable living space and to accommodate safer get-togethers. Pergolas make both possible.

But what exactly are they? Pergolas are structures that use vertical pillars to support cross-beams and an open roof. They allow cool air to circulate within them. If oriented correctly, the roof's rafters can provide relief from direct sunlight-much like sitting under a tree. They can be freestanding or attached to a wall of the house.

Like most outdoor upgrades, building one of these structures can seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. With the proper know-how and the right building materials, almost any do-it-yourselfer can erect a pergola and start and enjoying the versatile living space this structure provides in no time.

Two initial ways to take the peril out of pergolas

One of the best ways to simplify this build is by consulting with a contractor. These professionals can offer guidance not just how to build but also how to best use an outdoor living space. For those new to consulting with a contractor, Fortress Building Products can help any DIYer find preferred contractors in their area. Even if a homeowner wants to tackle this project over a weekend (or two), sitting down with an expert initially can save potential headaches down the road as well as help ensure that the pergola will add as much value to a space as possible.

Another way to simplify a pergola build is with a steel pergola. Not only do these products have almost limitless design options, many steel pergolas offer post-to-pier bracketing to eliminate the need to dig below the frost line without sacrificing the structures’ sturdiness. This speeds up construction because homeowners do not have to dig and fill post holes. It also increases safety by sidelining the risk of hitting a buried electric cable. 

But not all pergolas offer the same benefits

A wooden pergola kit will need all the maintenance required for outdoor wooden structures (washing, painting, staining, sealing and fungicide treatments to name a few). Even with all this upkeep, wood will eventually succumb to rot. Vinyl, on the other hand, is lower maintenance than wood, but is often less sturdy, which may be an issue in areas that experience heavy snowfall or strong winds.

In contrast, steel pergolas are not only low maintenance but also easy to install. They are resistant to fire, rot, warping, splitting, and insect damage, so they can handle even the harshest climates. In addition, select steel pergolas are recycled, recyclable and fully customizable, so they are able to suit the needs of any homeowner while also being sustainable.

steel pergola on ground level decksteel pergola rafters with lights

How to build a pergola to maximize shade

There are two major decisions that should be made to maximize a pergola's use: where to face it and where to place it. Because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, these structures should be faced so their rafters run north and south. This creates longer and fuller shadows that cool occupants to increase their comfort in the height of the day.

The second decision affects freestanding pergolas more than attached ones because while freestanding pergolas are semi-permanent, they can be moved to adapt to the changing needs of any outdoor living space. For instance, as long as it kept its north-south orientation, a pergola could be moved from a deck near the home to a spot near the property line for another backyard gathering point without compromising the amount of shade it offers. This flexibility allows homeowners to design with their future in mind.

Building a pergola that extends a home’s style

With traditional materials, pergola kits have limited designs and customization potential. Fortress® pergolas, on the other hand, are made with steel and can be easily customized to fit any homeowner’s creative vision. This allows homeowners to extend their interior design aesthetics to their outdoor living spaces. Coming in two main styles, these pergolas can be assembled in a variety of configurations and over almost any type of outdoor surface, making them perfect for DIYers who want an outdoor space that reflects the unique design choices inside their home.

Because Fortress offers 25-year warranties, a steel pergola can provide homeowners with a modern look that throws the perfect amount of shade for years to come. Whether a final addition or the first step in outdoor upgrades, these structures pair well with a deck, so be sure to check out the Total Solution from Fortress Building Products.

dog in a standalone steel pergolabackside of standalone steel pergola

You may also like:

Pergolas vs. Patio Covers: Choosing a Shelter for Your Outdoor Space

3 Creative Pergola Ideas to Try

How to Design Your Own Deck

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