DIY: How To Build A Pergola On A Deck (Step-By-Step w/ Videos)

Do you have a deck that needs a little something special added to it?

Are you looking for a way to improve the aesthetic appeal of your backyard and give your family a comfortable place to sit, too?

Have you ever considered attaching a pergola structure to your existing deck?

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to put up a pergola on your deck, whether you have prior experience with this type of project or not.

Why would you want to learn how to build a pergola on a deck, anyway? What can a pergola do for your deck? Here are a few bonuses of having a structure like this on your deck:

  • If you cover the pergola or add curtains, you can enjoy shade and privacy when sitting on your deck.
  • A pergola can add value and appeal to your backyard space, which can, in turn, make it easier to sell your home if you ever choose to do so.
  • A pergola attached to your deck can give you a great place to entertain and decorate your outdoor space the way you see fit.

Of course, there are many other great benefits to having this type of structure, too. Read on to learn more!

Materials

modern pergola design ideas
  • 4 pieces of 6x6 lumber
  • 4 post anchors at 6x6
  • 4 pieces of 2x12 lumber
  • 4 lag bolts at 8 inches
  • 11 pieces of 2x10 lumber
  • 16 carriage bolts at 3/8” diameter
  • 10 pieces of 2x4 lumber
  • 2.5 inch deck screws
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    3 inch deck screws
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    Power drill with bits
  • Socket sets
  • Ladder
  • Jigsaw
  • Clamps
  • Leveler
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    Palm sander
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    Utility knife
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    Circular saw
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    Safety gear
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    Help from another capable adult (this is not a single person job!)

Steps

  • 1
    First, lay out the size and position of your deck pergola. For the purposes of this guide, we will be working with a 14’ x 14’ pergola, but you can adjust the measurements and materials needed depending on the size you’ll be working with.
  • 2
    Set your post anchors first. You will need at least four posts for your pergola, or more if it is much bigger than 14’ x 14’. Your post anchors absolutely must be positioned over existing deck support beams below the deck.
  • 3
    Install the anchors using your power drill and deck screws.
  • 4
    Pre-drill a hole into the center of the 6x6 posts before you put them up.
  • 5
    Position the 6x6 posts into the anchors. Use your level to square it up and make sure it is even.
  • 6
    Temporarily brace the posts with 2x4 beams and attach with screws. These will be left up throughout the project, but you will take them down when you’re finished building.
  • 7
    Repeat the process for the remaining three posts and don’t forget to screw on support beams.
  • 8
    If you like, this is the time to use your jigsaw to make a decorative shape in the ends of your 2x12 beams. You don’t have to do this, but doing so can make your pergola look more finished and professional. It’s up to you.
  • 9
    If you make decorative designs in your beams, use your palm sander to smooth the edges when you’ve completed. Remember that you’ll need to do this on both sides of each beam.
  • 10
    Position the 2x12 beams so that they are even and level between the posts on two opposite sides of the pergola structure. Use scrap wood and clamps to support them while you attach them using carriage bolts. Tighten as needed and then remove the braces for the top posts.
  • 11
    If you like, you can now cut the ends of your 2x10 beams decoratively as well. Again, this is not a requirement, but if you do it, be sure to sand them smoothly with the palm sander before continuing.
  • 12
    Install the 2x10 joists on top of the pergola. Attach them using carriage bolts and deck screws and position them about two feet apart from each other.
  • 13
    On top of the joists, attach four 2x4 pieces of lumber with deck screws for support.
  • 14
    Now you can take down the support beams you have had in place since the beginning of the project. If you find that your pergola sways too much in the wind, however, you may want to add some permanent bracing at the corners where the top of the pergola meets the posts and where the posts meet the deck.
  • To do this, cut angled pieces from your 2x4 lumber and screw them onto either side of the posts. Attach to the deck if needed with brackets.
  • 15
    Paint, finish, or stain the pergola as desired to prevent it from weathering badly.
  • 16
    Congratulations! You have just finished building your pergola that is attached to your existing deck structure.

Conclusion

Do you feel comfortable completing this job now? As you can see, it’s not too hard to build a pergola, but you will need to make sure you feel comfortable working with power tools and have someone else on hand to hep you out along the way. This is not a quick project, but it’s also not a terribly difficult one. Overall, it is an intermediate job that should be a fun challenge for a more inexperienced builder and an easy project for someone who is more experienced.

Is it easy to build something like this even without experience, though, or should you just have a professional do it? We feel that this project can be completed by a beginner, but it is going to take some time and planning. If you have never built anything like this before, make sure you know how to work with your power tools effectively before you begin. You may also want to skip the jigsaw step or have these cuts made professionally if you don’t have experience.

Should you leave your pergola open or cover it? If you’re inexperienced, again, we think it’s better to skip covering the pergola and just leave it open with the slat roof as listed above. However, if you have more experience or feel more confident, you can cover it with screen, lattice, or a pergola canvas cover. The choice is entirely up to you.

Don’t forget to hang some curtains or mosquito netting on the posts of your pergola and include tie-backs so you can easily open and close it as needed for privacy, shade, and comfort. And remember that any materials you use on your pergola should be resistant to wind, rain, and UV rays too.

With the right planning, you should be able to complete this project in no time and enjoy your pergola with your whole family.

BONUS VIDEO